The people behind the Dawn of War and Company of Heroes real-time strategy games have got an idea for how to do the genre right on console - but they're keeping it a secret for now.
There have been few successful RTS games on console. Perhaps the most successful was Ensemble's Halo Wars on Xbox 360. Most agree, however, that RTS is best played with a mouse and keyboard.
But Relic's game director Quinn Duffy has other ideas. During a recent interview about The Western Front Armies, the upcoming standalone DLC for Company of Heroes 2, Duffy told Eurogamer the studio has come up with a "plausible solution" to the RTS on console problem.
"There was always a talk of strategy games on console," Duffy said. "We were just like, 'oh my God, how do you do that?' We think we came up with a plausible solution, which I'm not going to talk about.
"There's some stuff that's been back burnered for years because we wanted to see how technology, the market, control and touch emerged. Hopefully we will be positioned to adapt to some of that."
Even though Relic has something up its sleeve for RTS on console, Duffy admits that the mouse and keyboard will probably remain the ideal control input for the genre. "The purist interface control of a traditional strategy game is mouse and keyboard," he said.
And, even if RTS emerged on console, Duffy said he doubted console and PC players would be pitted against each other in multiplayer matches, simply because it wouldn't be fair on console players. "I don't know if you'd ever get them playing against each other."
But, elements of strategy, such as squad control, the god view, are perfectly doable on console. "But not in the same way," Duffy explained.
"There would need to be some changes. But I think it's possible. You need to stretch the boundaries a little bit."
"It's not an admission that we'd ever want to put it on console, but we think we've found a plausible way of doing it."
For now, Relic is keeping its cards close to its chest, which you can understand given it doesn't want another studio nicking its idea and running with it. It's all research and development for now, Duffy insisted, so don't expect a console version of Company of Heroes or Dawn of War any time soon.
"It's not an admission that we'd ever want to put it on console, but we think we've found a plausible way of doing it," he said.
Still, Relic would love to one day make it happen, especially now the latest home consoles, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, are closer to PC architecture than any previous console generation.
"The one thing we would love is to get the Relic experience on a console," Duffy enthused. "They can do great graphics and great sound. The things I love about Company of Heroes on the presentation side would translate, no problem. But the tactical squad control and cover, those would be harder to mechanically translate to a control pad.
"It's exciting. We've got an idea."
Talk of RTS on console came up as part of a discussion about the RTS genre in general, and whether there was still a potential for innovation when the core mechanics of RTS have remained the same for years.
"I think so," Duffy countered. It's just that the typical RTS audience have an... interesting relationship with change.
"You have a relatively, traditionally conservative audience of players who play strategy games," Duffy said.
"So if you want to innovate you have to do it with a plan and in steps. You have to introduce them bit by bit to something you want to ultimately get to. There's still lots of room to innovate. You just have to ease your community into it. And ease your developers. We're kind of old school ourselves."