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Spec Ops: The Line - "Dubai is a great playground"

Art director discusses the game's unique setting

Spec Ops: The Line is being developed by Yager a studio founded by coders from both sides of the Berlin wall who were brought together by a love of games and born from the hacking scene.

Those who aren't familiar with Spec Ops: The Line should check out both parts of last year's feature on the journey of the development studio.


We sat down with Mathias Wiese, one of the five founders of the German development studio to talk about Spec Ops.

How's the Spec Ops beta going?

Doing a beta is like the best thing you can do. One of the things we learnt is that when lots more people look at the thing, you get really honest feedback, which helped us a lot with balancing.

Also it's forced us to bring the levels - like, six levels - to a quality we could show to the public. It's not a demo, everybody will go everywhere, and we learned tons of things from it, like getting the performance right; getting the details right.

It seems to us that Spec Ops is a game built on those details. Do you think it's that level of detail which makes a regular game great?

That's one of the ingredients I would say, but the overall experience is the thing that makes it great in the end - the story, plus the setting, plus the combat of course. But our lead designer has an eye for detail and behind us there's a system that makes it possible to produce every asset efficiently. I'm the art director so I'm all for details!

As the art director, how do you think setting the game in Dubai has either freed or limited you?

It actually sets you free from a lot of things, because it's a very unusual setting when it comes to architecture and the way the city is built.

Usually, a cityscape always means you have buildings all around you, and then there are roads in the middle. It's very straight and linear. We are way more free because we have the sand to make it a more organic landscape.

Dubai is just a great playground for us because it's by the sea, it has the highest building in the world, and has one huge canyon of skyscrapers in the middle, and one big road that is basically like a river in our game.

And the tallest building in the world - the Burj Khalifa - is that the focal point for the game? Is that where you're headed?


Yeah, you'll see it the whole time - not right from the beginning, we reveal it about halfway through. Your mission is to recover John Konrad but the closer you get, the more you understand what's going on in Dubai.

And the guys will be really different when they actually arrive than at the end.

You say you want to shock gamers with the things they see and the things they'll have to do. Was there anything you guys felt was too far?

Sometimes you hold your breath when you see something, but in the end when you think about some of the choices we make; it's all the real world like you would see on TV on the eight o'clock news, you know. It's just things that happen. You can choose to engage or you can choose not to.

Of course there are limits to everything and we also want to bring the game out in Germany, where the rules are strict - it's our home country.

Perhaps this is a question you can't really answer in any great detail, but as the decisions you make mount up, will one of your team mates begin to distrust your orders?

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