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AusGamers Battlefield 3: Armored Kill Developer Interview
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 04:31pm 28/08/12 | Comments
AusGamers recently caught up with Battlefield 3 DLC Lead Designer, Niklas Fegraeus, to talk Armored Kill, Aftermath, End Game and to try and get as much Battlefield 4 info out of him as possible. Read on or watch for what he had to say...

Watch the full video interview embedded above, or click here for a direct link.

AusGamers: Ladies and gents, welcome back to AusGamers. You are here once again with Stephen Farrelly. I have Niklas [Fegraeus, DICE Lead Designer] (who we’re just going to call Nik, because we’re Aussies and that’s what we do) to talk about Battlefield 3, which has had a pretty solid run so far.

You guys have promised content; you’re delivering on content. You promised one of the most visually spectacular games of this generation, and you’ve done that. But it seems now that the Battlefield 4 beta is kind of looming, that you may be slowly wrapping it all up. How’s it all going in the office?

Niklas Fegraeus: It’s going great. I mean, we’re really committing to this DLC plan that we’re offering for BF3. And here at GamesCom, we’re revealing the Battlefield 3: Premium Edition, which basically means you get the game, with Premium, and a multiplayer head-start kit, which basically means that if you’re new to Battlefield, it might feel a little daunting to jump in when everyone’s so far ahead, so we give you a base of unlocks and stuff, so you can really be competitive from day one.

AusGamers: What’s been the process for you guys... obviously we’re into the third DLC now I believe? And two more to go? So what happens after that? When we get to Aftermath, what’s next for Battlefield 3?

Niklas: Well, when we get to Aftermath in December, we have End Game coming in March, and that is the five announced DLCs that we have. And whatever happens after that, the future will tell.

AusGamers: Because you guys talked pretty confidently about an aggressive post-release strategy -- even going into Battlefield 4 -- for Battlefield 3, so I am wondering if there’s going to be... will both games exist as far as the studio is concerned? Do you still think that even if Battlefield 4 is on its way, people are still going to be smashing through all the DLC, and all the maps in Battlefield 3? Or do you guys kind of want to bring it all to a tidy little end, so that you can kind of just come out fresh with Battlefield 4?

Niklas: Oh, it’s something we just have to see. We will support the players wherever they will go, that’s kind of the commitment that we make, and wherever that is, that’s where it is. And we just stick to that, and make sure that we support it all too.

AusGamers: So I guess -- like we talked about -- there’s three more DLCs on their way. What have you guys learnt from the first few releases, and just player feedback in general? Obviously, it’s an ever-evolving game, and there’s a lot of vocal people in the Battlefield community. There’s a lot of negatives and a lot of positives, and you guys try to broach it all. What are the strengths that you’ve learnt to embrace and what are some of the weaknesses that you guys have found?

Niklas: Oh, it’s been a super-exciting ride from when we released the game up until now and as we keep going, because we get so much feedback and comments from the community, and we’re trying to take that all in as we try to do this DLC and patching stuff that we do.

It just comes down to trying to find the best ways of approaching that, and I think with the DLC plan as we have it now, we have these five things announced where we’re trying to really theme the experience. Where if you’re a fan and you -- for example if you get Premium you get all five packs, or you can buy them separately, whatever you want to do -- you will get this very nice and varied choice as a player.

If you want to do this, or you want to do that, there is something for you to do, and I think that’s the strength of the DLC plan as we have now. You really cater to these different experiences, and you theme them properly so that you can have these unique experiences as a player in Battlefield. That’s really what I think people really appreciate and understand.

AusGamers: As Lead Designer, for you: all of the DLC packs seem (we just talked about this) varied, and you’ve got something like Armored Kill which has got some of the biggest maps that you guys have ever done, and that’s something that your community actively promotes.

Especially when it comes to calling out the other games across the isle, everyone’s like “well, Battlefield always has these giant maps, and it’s much more emergent in terms of its gameplay, and the drama that you create”, but then you had Close Quarters, which brought this intimate, narrow, much more confined, but visceral experience. For you guys, from a design perspective, is it that now that you’ve got this technology, and now that Battlefield is really back into the strengths of the FPS genre, that you’re just flexing your wings? That you’re just spreading out and doing as much a you can?

Or is there a basic goal, where you just had to have... “we have to have a small map; we have to have a large map; we have to do this; we have to do that”?

Niklas: I think it comes down to what I mentioned before, with the experiences that you’re after. Because Battlefield to me, is this pretty unique game, because it does have all of these different experiences in one. It’s the game where you can... one time, you can search through a building, and the other -- just the second after -- you’re soaring through the skies, or driving across rolling hills in a tank. I think that is the real strength of Battlefield, is the sandbox of things that you can do and experience, and I think the important thing is to allow the gamers to have that choice, and to really feel like “I can choose my experience”, and that’s what the packs are trying to do.

I think that’s kind of the core of Battlefield, and we’re not moving away from that. It’s this sandbox, it’s your choice, you can play it your way. I think that’s important.

AusGamers: I know you’re going to baulk as often as you can at Battlefield 4 questions, but I’m wondering: if the beta’s coming soon, then clearly there’s a contingent of people out at DICE that are working on it. How is the team split up? Are you focusing specifically on the DLC, or are you kind of spread across both titles?

Niklas: We have a dedicated team for doing the DLC, so that’s a team that’s perfectly... they’re committed to supporting BF3 as it is. And I am the Lead Designer of that team, and we’re creating those packs, and we’re hard at work doing all of that stuff right now. So there is a committed team to the DLC. We’re not like splitting things or... so it’s a focus that we have.

AusGamers: In terms of Frostbite, what’s been the process of evolution of that for you? Because obviously with new engines, you learn as you go along, and the beauty of having such a strong DLC plan is that... especially when you’re pushing boundaries like the Armored Kill maps and stuff. What have you guys learnt in terms of just getting more out of that tech?

Niklas: Yeah, we’re constantly trying to... the Frostbite 2 engine was a huge success, and took some hard work to get it done you know [laughs]. And we’ve seen how successful it’s been, and it’s been awesome as an experience, and we’re trying to improve stuff. You know, you figure out the kinks and really try to optimise the tech, and be as efficient as you can with everything.

So I think that’s just going to keep going, and we’re going to improve and learn and so on with the engine, and of course improve it with the technical side as well. So, I only see it moving forward.

AusGamers: Has it changed much since it was first rolled out? Just from a visual glance for you guys? Are you seeing more coming out of it?

Niklas: Well there’s been a lot of changes, but it’s more from a development point of view, where we improve our own tools, and those things, and workflows and everything to make the creative process much more efficient. So I think those are the big changes that have happened in development.

AusGamers: Now, as a designer, and a Battlefield player I assume: do you ever go through and see these crazy moments and think “that single thing that we just saw needs to be the focus of an entire DLC pack”? Obviously you have all these plans moving forward, but are you guys evolving those plans as well, as you reach closer to completion with the other packs?

Niklas: I think one of the really coolest, biggest things about Battlefield is the moments that you speak of. When you see something happen that’s like “woah, what was that!?”. It could be anything crazy that happens, and you might feel tempted to “we need to package that event into something, and script it so that we know that it will happen, and people will experience it”, but I think that kind of removes something really core in Battlefield.

Because, if the things that happen aren’t caused and controlled by the players themselves -- something they actively do -- then it’s not as interesting anymore to me. When it’s just scripted, it’s just like watching a movie, it’s not as interactive as we would like it to be. I mean, it could be awesome to watch, but it’s even more awesome in my mind, if you actually create it yourself.

So, I don’t think we ever want to remove that freedom, and replace it with something pre-packaged so that you get it like a scripted thing you run, for example. It needs to have that player interactivity and kind of emergent quality.

AusGamers: There’s that amazing video that was released quite a few months back now, where the gentleman in a jet does a vertical climb, then he jumps out, and then with a rocket launcher, shoots the other jet, and then gets back into his jet (Loop Zooking). That’s some great exploitation of the systems in play.

Do you guys ever watch that stuff and go “oh, we shouldn’t be allowing for that”? You know, in 1942, people would jump on the wings of the planes. So do you guys embrace that, or is it stuff that you think “well, maybe we need to fix the systems”?

Niklas: Oh, we fully, fully, one hundred percent embrace it. The Loop Zook video, that is awesome. To me, that is the best moment you can have as a gamer. If you manage to pull that off, and you capture it on video and upload it to YouTube, to me that’s a super-cool experience, and I would never want to remove that from players or anything. Those things are gold in my mind.

AusGamers: Do you have a specific moment that’s been captured, that you can remember that’s actually the stand-out one for you?

Niklas: Oh for me? I haven’t done anything as awesome as the Loop Zooking or something like that, but I do remember (it wasn’t my moment though), but there was this guy on Damavand Peak who stood on top of the base-jump, and with a machine gun, he shot the helicopter out of the helicopter, and dived down in the air, and caught the helicopter in mid fall, and then flew down. I wish I were the one doing that, yeah.

AusGamers: Ok Nik, well we’ll leave it there, because we kind of know what’s coming, and we know that it’s just more awesome Battlefield, so just hurry up and get it out there, so we can move on to Battlefield 4 [laughs].

Niklas: We’re working hard.

AusGamers: Thank you very much for that. Cheers.

Niklas: Thank you.
Read more about Battlefield 3 on the game page - we've got the latest news, screenshots, videos, and more!

Latest Comments
Posted 12:31am 29/8/12
Great Interview Stephen
Steve Farrelly
Posted 09:42am 29/8/12
Cheers - wish I could have garnered more about BF4 from him. I was originally supposed to interview Patrick Bach, but he'd left : (
Posted 10:36am 29/8/12
I found it interesting the suggestion that the only improvements on FB2 are from the workflow perspective. Seems to suggest BF4 will be similar quality graphics.

I was really hoping to hear it was about getting more out of the engine. Although we still really don't know if it's for current or next gen consoles.
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