Battlefield 2: Modern Combat Developer Interview
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat's demo has already taken the online world by storm, and the full version of the game is poised to do the same when it hits stores this week. With the game finally finished, I had a chance to talk with the game's executive producer about what sets their game apart from Halo 2, their reason for building the game from the ground up, and the team's favorite treats.
PSX Extreme: Thanks for taking the time to answer a few of our questions about Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. First off, please tell everyone your name, your role in the game’s development, and the development team’s favorite snack food.
EA: My name is Chris Gibbs, and I’m the Executive Producer of BF2: Modern Combat. This means that I am responsible for the overall planning of the game, provide the creative vision, oversee the schedule, and make sure all of the different functional teams are doing their jobs. As for our snacks, I am very proud of our vending machines, which have all sorts of free chocolates, sandwiches, and drinks. My favorite is the jelly beans.
What led to the decision to build the game from the ground up and not just port the PC version?
EA: We wanted to be sure we built something that was designed specifically for console, and was a little more accessible than the PC version. We also had to be sure we had a compelling single player campaign, with new gameplay there.
In what ways have you had to alter content (both positively and negatively) between the PS2 and Xbox?
EA: Actually, both consoles have the same content and gameplay. We’re very proud of the fact that we’ve been able to get 24 players on both platforms, in addition to over a dozen vehicles, and on huge maps.
If someone wanted to know why they should play Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, instead of playing their 1,458th game of Halo 2, what would you tell them?
EA: Halo 2 is a great game, and in fact we have been known to play a few matches now and then. But Battlefield is such a unique experience with its core gameplay of rocks, paper, scissors. Everything in the game has been balanced so that it has things it trumps, and things that trump it. An enemy comes at you with a rocket launcher, so you take him out from a distance with your Sniper, then he takes out your Sniper with a tank, so you come back at him with a helo. The battle is constantly escalating that way. Also, there’s this little thing in the single player campaign called Hotswapping that we’re pretty fond of, which lets you take control of any other soldier in your squad with the press of a button.
People that invest lots of time in online games love to see the fruits of their labor via statistics and/or rankings. What kind of stat-tracking and/or ranking system will the PS2 version have?
EA: You’ll be able to track your stats globally as
you rise through the ranks from Private to General. There are also tons of
medals to collect for different online accomplishments, such as the number of
victories, kills with different vehicles, etc.
Many people are intimidated by online games, especially ones with a "2" at the end of the title, because they think they won't be able to compete. How have you made the game accessible to people that are unfamiliar with the franchise?
EA: The good news is that since this is the first time the Battlefield franchise is on console, technically everyone is starting from the same point. However, people who have played Battlefield on PC are going to have an advantage since they know the core gameplay mechanics. That being said, we’ve set up the online experience so you can choose to play with people of a similar skill level. You can also join a clan to get some strength in numbers. So there are ways to make sure you aren’t a n00b for too long. Also, as I stated earlier the game is more accessible than the PC version, and we’ve even added a beginner setting for the helo controls.
Obviously the game’s main appeal is its multi-player aspect, but many people will be playing the game offline because the internet is scary or some other crazy reason. How have you made the single player mode a compelling experience?
EA: I mentioned Hotswapping earlier, so that is a huge new feature that will change the way you play Battlefield in single player. The campaign has 20 missions, and forces you to fight on both sides of the war, so you’ll control both NATO and Chinese troops. Along the way, you’ll receive conflicting news reports and mission objectives. At the end, you have to sort through the propaganda, decide which army you believe is right, and lead that side to victory.
With the sounds of your teammates yelling, machine guns firing, and rockets exploding, the game’s audio really helps you become immersed in your surroundings. Is this something the team placed heavy emphasis on?
EA: Yes, very much so! Your squad chatter is extremely important since you need to get some audio clues as to where you should think about hotswapping. You’ll hear guys talking about enemy contact, killing enemies, where the attack is coming from, etc. So that combined with your TAC map let’s you decide where in the action you want to be. Other than that, we of course wanted the sound of firing weapons as well as the music to be top-notch, to immerse you in the experience.
What kind of feedback have you been getting from people playing the online demo, and have you been able to incorporate that feedback into the game’s development?
EA: We always welcome the opportunity to adjust and improve the gameplay. We got a lot of great feedback from the demo and the online beta test we ran, so we were able to fine tune some of the soldier classes, vehicles, etc. For example, adding the beginner controls to the helicopters was due in part to feedback from the online beta.
Quick – give me the top three reasons your game kicks ass.
EA:1) Hotswapping keeps you in the middle of the
action at all times.
2) We have player-controlled helicopters to let you take the battle in the air.
3) With 5 soldier classes, 30 vehicles, and over 50 weapons you have all the tools you need to wage war your way.
Anything you’d like to mention that I didn’t bring up?
EA: Let’s see, Hotswapping, helicopters, 24 person multiplayer, deep online stat tracking, compelling single player campaign…no, I think you’ve covered just about everything.
Thanks for your time! We can’t wait to get our hands on the finished product!
EA: Thank you!
10/24/2005 Aaron Thomas