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Epic: How we fixed Gears Of War 3 multiplayer, and why you'll be playing it for months

Cliff Bleszinski talks CVG through the development process...

Cliff Bleszinski's never shy to tackle hot topics - but what really puts fire in his belly is Gears Of War 3.

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And more than anything, the Epic design chief's wild about the multiplayer. He thinks his team, thanks to the fans, might just have got it spot on. And so far, we're inclined to agree.

Cliff gave CVG a talk through everything the studio has been through to fine tune the game's generous online offering - which includes a revamped Vs. mode and the hugely promising Horde 2.0.

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As you can read below - where we repeat Cliff's words verbatim - the immense pride at what his team has achieved following GoW 2's online problems hangs from every sentence. It sounds like making Gears 3 has been a testing process. It also sounds like it's going to be just a little piece good.

Over to the man himself...

I can't overstate how huge The Gears Of War 3 beta has been for us. I'm so glad we did it.

If you remember, we were originally looking at shipping the game in April. We sat down with the programmers and they said: "There's no way of doing a beta in that time." I went away from that meeting crushed to the bone. But all that changed when we pushed the date back. We've learned a huge amount in that extra time and it's been so beneficial to the game.

We get teased about being 'innovative', and yet somehow the things we do keep winding up in other games. If I had a Google Alert for every time a game hard a 'Horde-like' mode... I'm fine with that - it's wonderful. But I have a feeling all the other Horde-like modes might start having fortifications after Gears 3.

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We were coming off the back of Gears 2, which we knew was rocky online. We needed to nail it this time. To be fair, we've put a lot of title updates into Gears 2 now and made it a pretty solid experience.

But we knew the memory of Gears 2 online is a bad one, and that hung over us during development. Matchmaking times were very, very long, and the game would lag out at times. Even though we fixed all that, the perception still existed: 'Gears 2? I'll burn through the campaign, play a bit of Horde and that's me done.'

We crafted this fun Vs. mode in Gears 2 that a lot of people ignored except die-hards. But those die-hards stuck with us, and that in turn allowed us to make a surgical decision with our Gears 3 beta to stick with the Vs mode. We owe them big time for that.

But we specifically knew we couldn't just run a copy of the Gears 2 version, where you die and you're out. Instead, we went with a mode that actually allowed you to respawn, because we knew that these days, more than ever, people are always connected to various feeds - Facebook, Twitter, everything that's out there. Even with the 15-second respawns in the Gears beta, I'm still checking my social feeds in that time. These are distracting times.

Imagine if we redid a mode like Gears 2, where if you die you're out for four minutes. That's someone moving onto another game, right there. Far, far too long. Once that was realised, we had to get the dedicated servers up and running.

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We had a couple of days during the beta that they went down - which my Twitter feed was very vocal in letting me know about - but we've ironed them out now. For the September launch we have a very smooth experience ready. In this day and age you don't want to be a campaign/rental - that's the bottom line, and that's what we've gone for.

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