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E3 2012: AusGamers HAWKEN Developer Interview with Jason Hughes
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 05:31pm 12/06/12 | Comments
Out at this year's E3, AusGamers caught up with HAWKEN producer, Jason Hughes, from the newly formed Adhesive Games to talk all things mech multiplayer. Read on for what he had to say...

AusGamers: So, I just got hands-on with your new gem and... our site was built around a community of core PC players back in the day, specifically LAN lubbers who love multiplayer gaming. Since then we’ve grown into one of Australia’s biggest independent gaming sites, but I know those core guys, many of whom are still with us and are active on our site, as well as our more recent readers, will love this game, so I want to start at the beginning so we know the genesis of this product: how long have you been in development for, and where did the idea stem from?

Jason Hughes: So the game really got attention around March of last year, 2011, with that first trailer, you know. It came out on YouTube and it got a lot of hits and all of a sudden HAWKEN just sort of exploded, just from that trailer. It got a lot of attention. And then the second trailer got even more hits, but the game was actually in development about a year before that, and the core of the team -- the founders of the studio, were working on a title called Project Offset, it was a new game and a new engine and it was something that Intel had acquired. It didn’t end up coming together though, but the core members all knew each other very well and they decided “well, let’s do something different, let’s do a mech game”. And so as a very small team, they just started from there and Khang Le who is the creative director and one of the co-founders, he has always had a very distinct, very specific style to what he thinks HAWKEN is, and also what it isn’t, and so the look that you see -- he’s a great concept artist -- you know, all this art you see around here is all his and he’s been very good at driving that look.

And then the team just started growing as the project got more exposure. We’re still small though, just 15 or 16 people at the moment.

AG: Yeah right. Is there a centralised office you all work out of, or is everyone just working out of their home?

Jason: We do work out of an office, in fact we just moved into a proper space this year. Where we all were before, we were just in a corner and there were 11 of us and we were blowing fuses, like, there wasn’t even enough power for us to do what we needed to do, and so we finally got a proper space, and we’re now here in Southern California in Pasadena, and we also now have of course the media office (Meteor Entertainment) who’re handling all of the publisher responsibilities, and they’re based in Seattle.

AG: So what’s the process moving forward for you guys? I mean, I want to get into the nitty gritty of the game shortly, but for now, you know, the horizon must be looking very good for you guys because there’s so much potential in this IP and I think it’s going to explode, no pun intended...

Jason: Yeah I would agree, I mean for us we have a ways to go, you know, we’re aiming for December, but that’s coming up fast, and as far as HAWKEN goes we want to support the game for as long as people want to play it. HAWKEN is not going to be it for Adhesive, there’re other things that we’re going to want to explore, you know, and start developing as well, but HAWKEN is where the studio starts. So we’re going to support that and there’re a lot of places we can go with it; we have so many ideas and there’s no way we can get everything in we want to by December, it’s just not possible. But once it’s out and we start getting feedback... there’s so much we can do.

AG: Is the game 100% multiplayer?

Jason: Yes. I have some people ask me today if there’s some single-player component, and I have to admit there’s a lot of things we want to do for the game. Most likely we’ll be launching with... you know, we have our Team Deathmatch, we have our Siege Play which is unique to HAWKEN, and we’ll most likely have one other mode, and we want to give people an opportunity to get used to the game before they jump into multiplayer, and that can be handled in a variety of ways, but there are a number of things we want to do with the game that may not just be... versus (smiles).

AG: Right, okay. Sounds interesting.

So in terms of multiplayer and supporting the community, one of the main problems in Australia is location, location, location. And we also talk about this to anyone who’s releasing a multiplayer game on PC, so do you have a dedicated server model? What’s the process for you guys internally in terms of helping people like us in a faraway land?

Jason: Sure. We have a very new and unique solution to that. We’re doing something that hasn’t really been done for multiplayer as far as that’s concerned, and obviously with a free-to-play game there’s some monetisation involved and we have to protect the game, we have to protect the players, and that is a huge priority for us. But, it may be hosted on our servers, but we’re also looking at a variety of markets outside of the US; we have Europe, we’re also aggressively looking at Asia Pacific regions; we’re planning on supporting the game and making sure people have as much fun as possible, regardless. And so some of what we’re doing, hopefully you won’t experience what you have in the past as far as multiplayer goes.

AG: Will you support the mod community or anything like that?

Jason: We’re still talking about mod-support; we’re not sure how to handle that quite yet. There’s obviously a lot of value there [but] what we want to do is get what we have polished and out the door. It’s certainly something we want to consider, but how we do that and how we protect everybody is... you know, to make sure we don’t have cheaters and things like that, so that becomes delicate, so... a lot of great stuff comes from mods, there’s no question that community is huge, we just have to figure out if it makes sense for HAWKEN and if so, how do we implement in a way that makes sense.

AG: Now let’s talk about what it takes to run the game - is there a basic system spec?

Jason: We don’t actually have min specs yet, and part of that is because we’re still playing with the game. We want it to be available on as many PCs as possible, and a lot of that can be achieved with system settings, graphic options... we want the game out there, it’s free-to-play [and] it’d be a real tragedy if [as a] free-to-play game people can’t even run it. So it’s a matter of getting it into as many hands as possible, and actually the data that’s out there, you know Steam has its surveys and there’s a lot of stuff like that out there, and it can be really helpful in figuring out what people are really running so we can be on as many computers as possible.

AG: You’ve probably been asked this question a thousand times already, but I’ll go there anyway: if any one of the console guys came knocking on your door, would you consider taking your game to those platforms?

Jason: We have had a lot of those conversations... right now we’re focused on PC only, especially with what we have in mind for the game, and how we want to support it. Nothing to me is ever out of the question, but PC is our main focus, but I think also with our Gaikai announcement, you know, people are going to be able to play it on a tablet, on an Android tablet or on a TV. I think we’re going to be able to get it in many more people’s hands than we originally thought, so even people without a super PC, or don’t even have a gaming PC, are still going to be able to play. And with Gaikai people are still going to be able to play at a good resolution, you know, Gaikai and nVidia, those guys have turned out some really impressive tech; I play with it, it works, and it’s really impressive. So I think we’re on a really good path there.

AG: Now this might be ignorant of me, but is there a beta at all? Or plans for a beta?

Jason: Plans for a beta. Our open beta is 12/12/12, we’re also going to have a closed beta, that date hasn’t been announced yet, but if people go to playhawken.com they can register and hopefully get in. For me, from my perspective, I want to get the game into as many hands as possible as soon as possible. There’s a lot we’re going to have to ramp up on; we need to make sure the servers are working, we want to make sure the support is there, we want to make sure it’s balanced so...

AG: Okay thanks Jason, we’ll leave it there because I want to get back in and play it.

Jason: Thanks - did you have fun?

AG: Well yeah, I won, so of course I had fun (laughs).

Jason: That’s the best way to have fun.
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