Interviews

Battlefield 2142, part two

Squads! 'Mechs! And flying infantrymen! Our chat with producer Jamil Dawsari concludes

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So the objective is quite clear: destroy the other person's Titan. How you do that is completely up to you. You can either capture missile silos on the level which will launch these anti-Titan missiles and batter it down, or once the defences have been breached you can actually physically assault the Titan and work your way in with this really close-quarters combat, and destroy key components, thus destroying the Titan. And if you have the time you can just sit at a distance and pound at it. It'll take a while but again people will develop their own strategies and tactics for handling the Titan Mode, and what we want to do is give them as much freedom of action as possible.

Community is obviously a huge thing for Battlefield. How active and vocal are the community and how do they feed into the design of the game?

Jamil Dawsari: 2142 will be one of the most tested and active - as far as getting community feedback - of any Battlefield product. For example, we have a closed beta program going on right now. We will have an open beta later in the summer, we have over 60 testers on the product and we have everything that we've learned from Battlefield 2, so things like dolphin-diving and bunny-hopping will not be an issue in 2142 because we've already fixed it.

The community has been quite active. On the forums everyone is actually very interested - it's been gratifying. We were afraid that people would be a little more stand-offish, but I think they've gone with us with this whole new setting and it appeals to them in terms of 'it's not modern and it's not WWII and they're having a little bit more fun with it'. It's been good.

This year seems to have seen a bit of revival in the PC scene. Is it encouraging to you as a developer to see PC games coming to the fore again?

Jamil Dawsari: Very much so. There's a very distinct difference between console and PC gaming, and if you played Modern Combat on the Xbox you've seen that. As a PC developer and as a PC designer you have a freedom that you don't have on a console, so we can do things that we're doing now with 2142 that you couldn't do on a console really.

What do you think the lessons to learn from the console version were?

Jamil Dawsari: I wasn't involved in the development of that product so I couldn't say anything from that aspect, but I could really look at it from a consumer aspect if you will and it delivered on the visuals and it delivered on the core gameplay, but there were things that you couldn't necessarily deliver on like the really large battlefields. The gameplay mechanics were of course circumcised by the control, so for me coming from a PC background, while I enjoyed and appreciate it I couldn't really go there.

Any plans for console versions of 2142?

Jamil Dawsari: To be honest, I don't know what upper management has up their sleeve, but I can only imagine that seeing how popular the response had been in the community, if it's viable we'd probably go there.

Any ideas you had for Battlefield 2142 that have been weeded out?

Jamil Dawsari: We really did, actually. It's funny, some of them actually became part of the game. The Titan game mode... You're playing and you have this huge vehicle floating in the air and the challenge for the design was, how do you get people up there? Early on we were playing with assault personnel carriers that actually launched players up there. These eventually became our assault pods but originally, they just launched the players, we didn't have the vehicles. So we dubbed them the 'man cannons' and it was quite funny to see these infantrymen flying through the air screaming and then impacting suddenly - because they misjudged where they were going to land - on the side of the Titan and sliding and falling. We were very tempted to include that but it didn't quite work.

There's also... Hey, do we do teleporters for design? We want to get people up there, do we do this? Do we do a jetpack for the infantry? Things that finally just didn't feel right for 2142. But we're always about gameplay - we design for gameplay. And we want things to work there. And so it might be an outrageous idea, but if we can tweak it and make it work within the context, then we'll go there. For example, active defence. It's not much of a stretch to assume that there'll be a system in place that will protect you from projectiles, the idea being that active defence generates a field that fuses any electronics.

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