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Battlfield 3 Developer Interview
Post by Dan @ 09:02pm 09/04/11 | Comments
AusGamers catches up with EA DICE producer Patrick Bach at EA’s 2011 London Showcase for another chat about the hugely anticipated Battlefield 3.

AusGamers: My first question is regarding the storyline. Battlefield 1942 and BF2 didn’t have campaign storylines as such and the Bad Company games were very light-hearted, but you guys are taking a much grittier and more realistic approach with Battlefield 3. Has that been much more difficult? Trying to craft a story that has to take itself seriously as opposed to being able to have a bit of a laugh with it?

Patrick Bach: Yes and no. I think that the mindset of the Bad Company series first is what the Battlefield core series stands for. We’ve never been super-serious, it’s about fun first. You know, games are supposed to be fun. But the whole mindset behind the Bad Company series is fundamentally different from what we’re building right now.

I think what you could say is the same -- when it comes to the campaign -- is that we care about the characters. We want living, breathing characters that have some kind of personality, but then the whole tongue-in-cheek type of characters that we had in the Bad Company series, we’re not exploring in Battlefield 3.




AG: Now you guys are all based in Europe, but the characters we’ve seen so far have all been American soldiers. Do you have any kind of external advisers on that, any ex-military types or the like helping you capture that culture?

Patrick: Yes, we have a lot of of “foreigners” working in the studio in Stockholm. So Americans and people from all over the planet. So we have all our bases covered when it comes to culture and references like that. Then when it comes to the feedback on military actions and behaviour, we do have some experts that we work with to get the movement right, to get the vibe right and get the gun-handling right and stuff like that. To some people that’s also very important and we want to make sure that we pay attention to those things.

AG: So will the core of the story be a U.S. centric thing, or will it have a more multi-national, international aspect to it?

Patrick: I won’t go into details on that just yet, because there’s a lot in-store to tell later.

AG: With the opposing force in the game are you making any kind of considerations to try and make the player be a little more sympathetic instead of having them all just be “terrorists” to justify shooting wave after wave after wave of them with impunity?

Patrick: It’s always a concern when you have a game where you’re shooting at something that’s supposed to be human. I think we have the same challenges and the same opportunities as other media. You know, looking at literature or movies or TV series. So there is a challenge on how you treat the subject you’re working with. I won’t go into details again on the exact story, but we are trying to have our twist on how you tell a story on the subject of war. It’s a challenge.




AG: A common criticism of many recent top shooters has been an all too brief singleplayer campaign, with five to six hours having somehow become the norm now. But we’ve heard reports of Battlefield 3 intending to buck that trend. Are you offering estimates as to how long that might be yet?

Patrick: No. I think any reports on the length of the campaign have been based on speculation. We haven’t released any numbers on that yet. To me, I personally think that a great campaign is more important than a lengthy campaign. So I don’t really have any comments on what is better. I’d rather have a shorter -- not too short of course, but the question is “what is too short? -- a shorter campaign that’s super great, rather than just making it longer for the number’s sake -- which some campaigns are; then no-one finishes them.

So that’s also a challenge. It needs to keep your attention for the whole campaign, otherwise you can just ignore building a campaign at all, I think.

AG: One thing seems certain -- from an outside perspective -- is that this is one game that’s just not going to look as good on PlayStation and Xbox as it will on PC. We’ve also heard mention of smaller maps in the console versions in some situations. It’s starting to almost look like a potential turning point for multi-platform titles this generation, with the PC finally unshackling from that console anchor to show the world what it’s capable of again.

Do you think that concept of “platform parity” -- with developers having to promise the same experience across all platforms -- is finally coming to an end for this generation?

Patrick: It’s harder and harder to have them being the same; I agree. I think the talk of us having smaller maps on console is a bit weird though, because the player number on console is the same as we had in Bad Company 2 and it’s bigger than most other shooters actually. So I don’t see a problem with that; with the number of players you have on the consoles. The maps themselves aren’t so much smaller on consoles as they are just bigger on PC.

It’s the conception of us making something smaller, when we’re not. We’re actually making something bigger, because we have the opportunity to do that on PC -- due to things like bandwidth, CPU and memory. So we are utilising the extra power that we have. We haven’t shown anything from a console yet, so all of that is based on speculation; we haven’t said that the game will look worse on console. I’m actually surprised at how good it looks on console, considering our stretched-goal on creating a next generation experience.

So I think that our biggest threat there is not actually other games, it’s actually our own game, but on a PC. So I wouldn’t be too worried about that and I especially wouldn’t speculate too much on that until we’ve shown you what it means.

AG: Well that question comes from the perspective of a PC gamer, having noticed that a lot of developers seem to have held back on PC capabilities because they don’t want to push the tech too far ahead of what’s capable on a console. But what we’ve seen so far from Battlefield 3 seems like a potential tipping-point for that.

Patrick: Yeah.




AG: The older Battlefield games on PC were massively popular among the mod community, but Bad Company 2 obviously didn’t offer that functionality. Will we be seeing a return to form there for Battlefield 3 with mod support?

Patrick: We haven’t released any information on those kind of details yet. In general though, games are becoming more and more complicated to build. We’re using a lot of bits and pieces from third-party middleware and stuff like that to be able to build the games we’re building today. Everyone thinks they want mod support but not that many people use it, to be honest. We do have a very avid group of people that really love the mod support.

So I’m really sorry to say, but it is a declining kind of art form. Which we see as a very, very sad thing, because we have recruited a lot of mod people to DICE actually. It’s becoming more and more complicated to build games in general so I think the mod community will shrink further in the future to be honest.

AG: Clearly you guys are making some big strides with graphics and physics tech, but what about audio? The Battlefield games have always been among the best sounding games, so is there anything you’re doing new there that you can talk about?

Patrick: I don’t have any details on exactly what we’re doing. Like you said, we are very successful when it comes to audio -- we just won the BAFTA for game audio, which is of course good proof that we’re doing something right, we have a very talented audio team working. They are doing some new and really cool things to make sure that Battlefield 3 will sound better than any other Battlefield game so far, and also making sure that whole style and tone of the game comes through in the audio as well.

Because to us, audio is a catalyst more or less to whatever game you’re building. You can enhance so many things; you can increase the emotions that you’re already creating with the rest of the game with the audio, so that’s a very important part of both the engine and the creative part.




AG: Is there potential there to re-use many of the old sound effects from previous games, or have you started from scratch, re-recording every gun shot?

Patrick: In theory, if we had been clever, we would have re-used everything. That would have been the cheaper solution. But since we are DICE and we’re always feeling that we have to improve on stuff, we actually re-recorded everything again [laughs]. To be able to take that step forward instead of just grinding on the same old stuff.

AG: Finally, back on the storytelling aspect. Quality voice acting is a very important part of really drawing people into the game and what we’ve seen in BF3 looks pretty solid so far. Are you talking about any of the specific talent that you’ve signed on for the game yet, any names?

Patrick: Sorry, no names yet

AG: Ok, well that’s all we have time for today, thanks so much for that.

Patrick: Thank you very much.



Latest Comments
Eorl
Posted 10:13pm 09/4/11
No question on dedicated servers? Bummer :( Only detail left to hear about.
FraktuRe
Posted 10:17pm 09/4/11
we already know it has dedicated servers.
rationsauce
Posted 10:25pm 09/4/11
brr, i kinda felt as if patrick brushed off all of the questions with general replies.
Dan
Posted 10:41pm 09/4/11
No question on dedicated servers? Bummer :( Only detail left to hear about.
They're still not talking multiplayer specifics, but they did mention in Steve's previous interview that they would be "following the old path" with respect to dedicated servers, what that means is open to interpretation, but probably means a similar setup to what Bad Company 2 currently offers.
Eorl
Posted 10:43pm 09/4/11
Mmm, I don't really like BFBC2's style of servers. Wish it could just be as simple as a CSS server :(
ctd
Posted 10:44pm 09/4/11
Do we know about movement yet? Eg sprint+strafe and prone
Trauma
Posted 10:54pm 09/4/11
Patrick: No. I think any reports on the length of the campaign have been based on speculation. We haven’t released any numbers on that yet. To me, I personally think that a great campaign is more important than a lengthy campaign. So I don’t really have any comments on what is better. I’d rather have a shorter -- not too short of course, but the question is “what is too short? -- a shorter campaign that’s super great, rather than just making it longer for the number’s sake -- which some campaigns are; then no-one finishes them.

So that’s also a challenge. It needs to keep your attention for the whole campaign, otherwise you can just ignore building a campaign at all, I think.

I took that as confirmation of a short campaign. He said he does not have any comment on what is best right after he commented on it and asks what is too short? He was just told 5-6 hours...

A few holes that could have been picked at there imo.

Mmm, I don't really like BFBC2's style of servers. Wish it could just be as simple as a CSS server :(

A simple and logical server browser? pfft plz.
Eorl
Posted 12:03am 10/4/11
I know, logic doesn't play well in Multiplayers now a days....
HurricaneJim
Posted 05:27am 10/4/11
Fail interview again. Not going into detail responses isn't worth posting.

The BF series is known for it's "all arms" concept but nothing really has been said about vehicles, aircraft and ships. Multiplayer is where it's always at singleplayer is a unique waste of programming unless it's an RPG with 20+ hours of play.

Is it me or has AG interviews become more obsequious.
Tollaz0r!
Posted 07:45am 10/4/11
I still haven't played the single player game for BFBC2 and I doubt I ever will.
koopz
Posted 01:45pm 10/4/11
I'm hoping the server admin tools that ship with the game are adequate.

The gear for BC2 never really was that good, and we're only now starting to see some good 3rd party offerings that are keeping the servers as cheat-free as they can be without having to reply on crappy old Punk Buster.

I'm looking forward to the game - though not so much having to upgrade.

*edit*

oh - and bring back Battle Recorder!!

last edited by koopz at 13:45:08 10/Apr/11
Bah
Posted 02:05pm 10/4/11
When you ask about mod tools, you need to say something like "Are you not releasing mod tools so you can sell map packs", because his answer to the mod question seemed especially terrible, "oh yeah its bad that the mod scene is shrinking, no chance we'll let people mod our game though"
trillion
Posted 02:07pm 10/4/11
yeah no s*** there sherlock that they're protecting their DLC revenue
Steve Farrelly
Posted 03:30pm 10/4/11
At these events guys, it's really hard to ask questions in the short time you get, with people around you shuffling you about to grind through, when all you've seen is a minor component to the game. Moreover, a deep question about a multiplayer aspects, say, vehicles will usually just net a "no comment" response. You have to roll with what you can in the time you have.

Unfortunately, this is how these media sessions work and I think Dan did an awesome job touching on aspects like audio, console parity, the pc-tipping point and getting the HEAD of DICE and EA FPS games in general to admit that the mod community is too small to really support actively these days, and that an equally larger problem there stems from advancing technologies and the inclusion of middleware which would probably carry heft licensing fees etc with.

Good interview Dan
Trauma
Posted 03:37pm 10/4/11
Arma seems to be doing fine in terms of mods. I think what Bah was saying is that he's bulls***ting when he says it's too small and I agree, although I also agree that it's getting smaller, but that does mean it's finished.
nachosjustice
Posted 06:59pm 10/4/11
I was at the same event and when I asked about mod tools, LAN play and dedicated servers, they were all met with "We're not talking about that." They really want to focus on the small SP section they showed off, which is very weird to formulate questions around because we all really want to know about multi.
Trauma
Posted 07:13pm 10/4/11
Hoping the 12 min reveal vid will have MP stuff.
Eorl
Posted 07:21pm 10/4/11
Most likely due to multiplayer not fully set in stone, and saying something and then turning around and saying "no that wasn't there anymore" makes the people who think games are made solely for them, go ape s***.

You did a great job Dan, and I understand the limited amount of time on questioning, just wish it could of been a little bit more informative, but yeah, can't get that always!
koopz
Posted 07:48pm 10/4/11
yeah, all in all - good work Dan
Crakaveli
Posted 07:49pm 10/4/11
Hoping the 12 min reveal vid will have MP stuff.
I had just assumed the 12 minute video was just going to be all those short clips rolled into one. Could be wrong though (and i hope i am).
ravn0s
Posted 08:01pm 10/4/11
kinda retarded calling it a "reveal" video if its the same s*** we've already seen.
Choumou
Posted 06:25pm 17/4/11
it will have dedicated servers without a doubt. But no mod support? That sux :(
Morbz
Posted 08:53am 18/4/11
fark just give us a beta MP or something to frag with! EA enough with the chit chat and time to step up and bring it on !
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