AusGamers Battlefield 3 Single-Player Developer Interview
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 04:37pm 06/10/11 | Comments
AusGamers chats to EA DICE Community Manager Daniel Matros and Marketing Manager Gustav Enekull about the single-player content of Battlefield 3. Read on for what they had to say...
Watch the full video interview embedded above, or click here to watch in HD
As you know, Battlefield is one of the big games on our site at the moment, you’re all very, very much looking forward to it, as am I. I’m here with Gustav and Daniel -- Community Manager and Marketing Guru out at DICE.
We’ve talked a lot about multiplayer -- we’ve talked to some of the other guys out at DICE. So I want to sort of get some perspective on single-player today and the co-op. We’ve learnt that the co-op weaves its way through the single-player stuff, so I guess let’s start at narrative.
What have you guys done to construct a narrative that differentiates itself from previous Battlefield games and Bad Company and any of the other stuff to sort of bring this to the fore?
Daniel Matros: So if you look at previous Battlefield titles -- if you look at Bad Company 1, Bad Company 2, we had a compelling single-player story. If you look at Battlefield 3, the single-player story has changed. You could see Bad Company 2 as this funny role movie -- these four guys on some epic adventure, like Indiana Jones with an assault rifle pretty much.
If you look at Battlefield 3 on the other hand, it’s more gritty, it’s more authentic. It’s more down to the bone. So that’s what Battlefield 3 is all about, it’s more about authenticity in every aspect -- in the co-op, multiplayer and single-player.
With the single-player campaign, we’ve spent lots and lots of hours on it. We’ve had some military professionals helping us out with it and we’ve definitely agreed that this single-player is the bomb.
Gustav Enekull: So one this is the tone -- that Daniel mentioned -- the fact that it’s not always at eleven -- in terms of volume. You will have these calmer moments with a lot of tension to them. If you remember the Thunder Run tank sequence at E3 for example, or the single-player you’ve seen here at Tokyo Games Show, it has these calmer moments, building up and leading into the battle. So that’s definitely one thing that we’ve been working with, it’s all part of the pacing.
We’re telling a story that’s not always just full-on, it has slower periods and moments where you really feel the tension, despite there not always being action happening.
AusGamers: So in that respect, would you say that the conflict is more of a character than anything else in the game? Because if you’re talking about authenticity being one of the driving factors, whereas some of the competitors out there tend to focus a lot on characterisation and really strong characters with crazy personalities; and you mentioned that Bad Company kind of had that as well.
For you guys, what’s the attachment for the player, from that perspective in terms of wanting to drive yourself through? Is it authenticity, is it the conflict? Or will we actually grow to love some of these characters?
Gustav: I think you will. And I think the characters are very different from Bad Company 2 for example, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not likable. You will feel -- I think -- a great deal of emotional attachment to them and some of the decisions that they need to make during the single-player campaign.
We didn’t want to have a story where you play as this one unbeatable soldier who goes into every conflict and comes winning out of it. So for that reason, we’ve decided to let you play multiple characters throughout the campaign.
They all have... one tank driver in Thunder Run for example: you play as Sergeant Black in the demo you see here. So it’s not this one uber-soldier who’s good at everything. You take the perspective of different characters and that makes them all the more believable I think.
AusGamers: Will you be specifically only playing one level as each of those characters or will you play them multiple times throughout the campaign?
Gustav: You will play them multiple times. It’s a few characters that we follow throughout the campaign. One of them is Sergeant Black -- you saw him in the first Thunder Run demo that we released. Here in Operation Guillotine, you’re again following Sergeant Black and they are approaching Tehran where some of the story-lines will actually intertwine with the tank sequence you saw with Lieutenant Miller.
So you play as different characters, they intertwine and it’s all part of the bigger single-player story.
AusGamers: Now we only had a very, very short demo before running on the PS3 -- which looks pretty good. What’s the sort of... it seemed fairly heavily scripted. There’s the sequence where your guys throw the grenade in the guy comes out in flames, on fire. How much of that will we be seeing? How heavily scripted is the game and will there be big open bottlenecks for you to tactically decide how you want to approach them?
Because one of the big factors in multiplayer is emergent gameplay; you just have this battlefield -- literally -- where you can create your own story, versus potentially a heavily scripted game. Is it juxtaposed like that or is there kind of a bit more of a crossroads between the two?
Gustav: I would say that yes we use a lot of scripted moments in the single-player to give you the immersion and the tone that we want to deliver in the single-player. I think we learnt a lot, starting at Battlefield: Bad Company 1 -- which was very open -- and we kind of narrowed it down to take you on a more emotional journey since then and Battlefield 3 is the pinnacle of that development I would say. But you still have the variety of the multiplayer in the single-player. You can play with all these different weapons, gadgets and vehicles so even in more scripted environments, you still have this huge variety to play with that in a way prepares you for multiplayer, which is what we want people to experience in the end.
Because Battlefield 3 is for a big part, about multiplayer, because that’s the heritage for us. So a lot of variety in single-player that will help you in multiplayer. Also, I’d like to mention there’s some more randomised events in co-op for example, so that it’s not always the same experience when you play it several times in a row.
Co-op is very much about playing the same mission a few times and trying to beat your previous scores or your friends scores.
Daniel: So when you actually make a game, atmosphere is important. If it’s single-player, if it’s co-op, if it’s multiplayer, atmosphere is very important. Scripted events add to the atmosphere. As Gustav mentioned, the immersive experience in single-player is that you can actually pick a role for what you want to do in the single-player -- in terms of driving vehicles, different weapons and that kind of stuff.
So it doesn’t really take away anything. We see it as it adds a lot of depth to an already deep single-player.
AusGamers: Now with the co-op, we’ve talked about playing various characters in single-player and I know that the co-op dovetails a little bit with the single-player. Is it just the same two characters in co-op or is it again, similar to single-player, in that you’re playing different characters?
Gustav: So co-op is actually a completely different campaign from the single-player. It’s not that you’re playing through the single-player campaign with your buddy. Across the six missions it’s a brand new storyline with new characters that you meet in the story; new characters that you play as.
It’s very much a completely separate experience that is, of course, tied to what’s happening in the single-player.
Daniel: Co-op is also very focused on you and your buddy playing co-op, whereas single-player is very much single-player. So we’ve added in elements to co-op such as “complete the map in a set time” in order to unlock stuff -- in order to achieve self-reliance and victory, that sort of stuff.
Playing the co-op campaign offers a lot of new incentives; a lot of new stuff. You can unlock weapons that you can bring with you to multiplayer later. That’s the big difference. Co-op is focused on the storyline, but of course, you and your friend play. Whereas single-player is focused on the storyline, but we want to give you yourself an amazing experience.
AusGamers: Ok, now post-release DLC stuff is big business these days -- and I know most of the time before a game comes out, when we ask these questions it’s like “you know, we’re not talking about DLC yet” -- but this type of game and your competitors out there tend to release DLC multiplayer map packs.
But a lot of people do get quite attached to the singleplayer narrative and it seems like there’s a bit of a missed opportunity to release episodic type content for the singleplayer and specifically co-op as well would be really good. Are you guys even thinking about differentiating your post-release DLC content at all in that way?
Gustav: We’re not ruling out any possibilities, but at this point we’ve only announced the Back to Karkand expansion pack, coming out later this year. What I can say, is that we want our dlc -- no matter how it’s set -- to be a new experience for the player. And that -- in theory -- could just be an extension of the co-op, for example.
But it’s important to us that it’s not just a map pack; it’s a new themed-setting; it brings you something that’s more than maps. Vehicles, weapons, new ways of playing; expanding the experience and giving players something fresh and new. That’s how we’re thinking and that’s what we’ve done with the first planned expansion which is Back to Karkand.
AusGamers: Now finally, I spoke to Karl-Magnus [Troedsson, DICE GM] out at GamesCom -- and this was an off-camera comment -- but basically, the idea is that there’s going to be a two year cycle as opposed to a yearly cycle, intentionally at DICE internally for the revamped Battlefield. But you still have Bad Company, so will we potentially see them staggered across that?
We might see Bad Company next year and then Battlefield 4 the year after that? Is that an internal direction maybe?
Daniel: We’re very dedicated to supporting Battlefield 3... with lots of cool stuff so that’s our focus for Battlefield 3. For Bad Company 2, the Bad Company series: it’s a very nice franchise, but right now we’re focusing on BF3.
AusGamers: Alright guys, we’ll leave it there. The game, once again, looks really, really, good. We just can’t wait to get it in our hands. It’s just over a month away now I think? You guys must be releived. Are you going to go on a big holiday afterwards?
Daniel: [laughs] No, no, no. We’re going to work in the studio and make sure the players get what they want. A good experience, a good launch -- very nice launch. Then when we’re releasing Karkand, we really want the players to enjoy that as well.
Gustav: We’re very keen to support the game after launch, so it doesn’t stop with the launch, I would say it almost starts with the launch.
AusGamers: Ok, well thanks very much for that guys. Enjoy Tokyo.
Daniel: Thank you.
Gustav: Thanks a lot.