AusGamers Spec Ops: The Line Multiplayer Interview with Scott James
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 10:59pm 18/04/12 | Comments
AusGamers had a chance to chat with 2K Games' Scott James who is serving as production assistant on Spec Op: The Line. Watch or read on for what he had to say...
Watch the full video interview embedded above, or click here for a direct videos link
AusGamers: Ladies and gents, welcome back to AusGamers. You are here once again with Stephen Farrelly -- who has found himself once again out in lovely San Francisco. I’m here with Scott James, who is Production Assistant on this title [gestures to Spec Ops: The Line poster], which has been coming for quite a little while.
We’ve just actually got ourselves some hands-on time with the mulitplayer -- which is shaping up pretty nicely, mostly because you guys have actually toyed a lot with the concept of the sand, which is a big component of the single-player narrative.
I want to get to Buried -- I want to spend some time on that, because that was my favourite mode downstairs -- but you’ve been playing the game non-stop to help with the balancing issues and just kind of getting that end-game product to the standards that it needs to be at -- especially in such a competitive field. For you guys, what has the process been since that multiplayer code landed in your laps, to where you are now?
Scott James: Well, we’ve been doing a lot of... you know, we play six to eight hours a week. We’ve been balancing; we’ve been giving our feedback to Darkside; doing a lot of internal stuff. And mostly we’ve been focusing on... obviously balances is very important -- we want to make it a competitive shooter -- but just making it fun and making it different.
As you said, Buried being such a unique mode to the game, it really ties into the whole feel of the single-player story as well. You’re in a wrecked Dubai; you’ve got two factions fighting against each other for control of the city, and really it encapsulates that desperation. You’re trying to hold onto whatever you can and the very bases are held together with scraps of metal and they’re just... one of them, in Consumed, it was a parking garage that has a plane land in it, and it’s sort of... you’re trying to guard your stuff, and at the same time, you’re trying to take out the other.
So it’s that really cool attack/defend type scenario. As you saw, we were communicating, we were saying “let’s start out really heavy offence, but we’ve gotta have a guy back on defence” and it ties in with that really intimate squad gameplay that we have here. You’ve gotta always be communicating; you’ve gotta always be using your strengths.
When I was on defence, I was going Scavenger, because he can repair the bases a lot faster, so it really helped. But when we’re on Exiles, your Breacher can do a little more damage. So it’s a lot of coordinating with your team, making sure you have all the right components in place and really working together to take down those vital points.
AusGamers: For a better understanding of what Buried is, make sure you guys check out my hands-on impressions.
Moving forward, there’s another component you’ve just mentioned, which is there are these archetypes that you guys have in the game and for a sort of tactical shooter, a lot of other ones that are released don’t follow that. It’s more like your base team red versus team blue.
How have you found, in terms of the intricacies of being able to be a medic or being able to be a gunner, to the subtleties that this game has, the differentiators it has over its competitors?
Scott: Well I think it has a lot of replayability. I remember we would do these sessions and I’d say “you know, I want to start as a Gunner; just let me play Gunner for a while; see how that feels” and I could... you know there’s a lot of replayability between the classes. Just trying different perks.
But as soon as I get out to Medic, it’s like a completely different game. I’ve got a new role. I’ve got to stick with my guys, I’m trying to keep them alive; I’m giving adrenaline boosts, I’m healing them when they need it. It almost feels like a different game. Like a lot of games that have classes, their differentiated enough where it’s not just “oh, this guy maybe does a little more damage” or something like that. They’re very drastic, so you have to make sure you’re always getting the right mix.
On top of that, I think what it really adds, and what I love -- and after having played it for so many months -- is that the skill ceiling is very high. I’m always figuring out new stuff I can do with my guy, and new ways to match up with my teammates. I’ve got a Gunner, I’ve got a guy who plays Gummer a lot on my team, and you get to know that, because you’ve only got three teammates.
So you get to learn what their strategies are, even over the course of one or two games. Then you say “ok, I’m going to match up with him. he’s always going Gunner; he’s a good Gunner, so I’m going to go Medic, or I’m going to go Sniper and make him increase his accuracy” and I think it adds a lot of room to improve. I’m still learning how to do things about the game even now -- new ways to use classes -- and I think that’s really cool. It’s really fun and adds a lot to the experience.
AusGamers: Now we’ve only played a really small number of maps. Can you reveal how many maps there are in the game?
Scott: We’re just talking about the three right now that we’ve got. And I think they give a really good idea of what range these maps are going to be. You’ve got Last Resort, which is the middle of a destroyed resort. You’re on the very top tower; you’re fighting through the penthouse suites; stuff like that. You’ve got Consumed, which has been... it’s almost like a downtown street and it has just been buried with sand and then you’ve got Crow’s Nest, where you’re fighting on top of skyscrapers. And I think a lot of those maps, each of them has a great feel.
And they play differently too -- it’s not just aesthetic, it’s... you know, Crow’s Nest, you’ll be sniping each other across the map, whereas in Last Resort, everybody was trying to use shotguns, because there’s a lot of cover and everyone’s really close together. So the maps each have a different feel and there’s really very different gameplay for each one.
AusGamers: Now talking about the perks. When the game landed in your laps, were you going in and playing it similar to how you would have played other mulitplayer games and then just kind of finding these incremental differences? And the perk system that you talked to me about during the gameplay was pretty unique. Can you run us through that?
Scott: Yeah. What we tried to do is, we tried to create perks that weren’t just going to... you know, it’s not just a trade-off: “oh I want to do more damage, but I’m not going to get this”. It was more “What perks are really going to help to augment the class abilities?”.
As I was showing you with the Sniper, there’s the covert perk that will keep crosshairs from turning red over you. There’s another perk Hunter, which was locked for you, but it will allow you to show up on a different spot on the map. For a Gunner that could be good. In one way, if you’re running around and you’re trying to get from point to point, you’re going to appear in a different spot and you’re going to try and confuse your enemies a little bit.
Whereas if you’ve got the Hunter as a Sniper, it helps you stay concealed a little bit more. You can take your sniper shot and not exactly reveal yourself immediately. So each one sort of interacts a little bit differently with each class and it raises that skill-centre a little bit more. You’ve got to really spend time with each perk to see how it works with each class and there’s so much room for experimentation, which I love. I always love that in shooters, where you’ve really got time to mess around and find your absolute best perk for your play-style.
AusGamers: Now we were talking to one another while playing sitting in close proximity, so i wasn’t really paying attention, but is there in-game voice banter? With actual characters carried over from the single-player?
Scott: There’s not any from the singleplayer, but there is a lot of voice chat. You can hear your guys when you’re down but not out -- which is if you get shot, but you don’t take enough damage to kill you, you drop down to your knees. If you hit X, your character will start yelling “help me out; don’t leave me here” and that will alert your teammates to that.
If you throw a grenade, you’ll yell “Grenade out!” and it will let everybody know that way. When you’re reloading, your character will say “Reloading!” so you can know “oh, I’ve got to cover this guy while he’s defenseless”. There’s a lot of that and it’s really entertaining. The writer for the singleplayer also wrote all of the banter for the multiplayer and i was actually talking to him about it at PAX and he was asking me about all the lines that made it in and the ones that he liked the most. It really is cool, he tried to give each one a unique character.
The Breacher has this kind of crazy New York accent, whereas the Snipers are sort of Southern boys, they’re hunters and you can really kind of feel the differences in the personalities. It’s a lot of fun.
AusGamers: Now in the single-player, one of the big hooks is the narrative, and we did talk about the fact that there isn’t a narrative component to the [multiplayer], barring the stories that you create for yourself. But another big element of the game is this awesome soundtrack that you guys have been quite quiet about, but I know it’s there because I’ve had a bit of a dabble in it. Is there any of that stuff that carries over into multiplayer?
Scott: There’s no real music that plays during the multiplayer at this point.
AusGamers: Ok, well we’ll leave it there Scott. It’s been great. Buried is such a fantastic mode, I’m really glad that you guys played around with that and created something unique for the game and I’m hoping... are we only dabbling in a couple of modes? Are there more modes to be announced?
Scott: Yeah, we’re only looking at three of the modes right now. There are more, but there are some more unique modes to Spec Ops that are really interesting and really fun.
AusGamers: Alright. No worries. Well we can’t wait to see and play more, so well done. Thanks. Cheers.
Scott: Thank you.