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07-05-2011, 07:08 AM

<hgroup></hgroup> DICE on Battlefield 3's Multiplayer


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July 05, 2011Author: Edge Staff

Lead multiplayer designer Lars Gustavsson discusses catering for every type of player.

Prised from our hands-on with Battlefield 3ís riotous Rush mode at this year's E3, we sat down with Lars Gustavsson, lead multiplayer designer and 12 year veteran of the franchise to talk about the seriesí development, level design and tactics.

Is Battlefieldís hitherto insistence on big teamplay strategy, objectives, vehicles and classes too much to take in for a massmarket fed on CODís twitch clicking carnage? Is that the thinking behind the introduction of simpler modes like team deathmatch? When we were a young studio, we were extremely proud of what we did. We still are, of course - but we more or less told people: if youíre a team player, youíre a good citizen, and if you arenít, there are plenty of other games you can play instead. Through the Bad Company splinter branch, we learnt so much about what our audience wants and doesnít want; weíve accepted the fact that people are different and want to play differently. Even though I stubbornly said that Battlefield is always about teamplay, vehicles and big maps, not everyone agrees - not even everyone at the studio.

We shipped 1942 with 24 people; Iím afraid of saying just how many people make this [Battlefield 3] game! We have so much more input in the design process, that we are really happy to be able to cater to everyone. We can provide a good lone wolf experience. We set up our kits to allow for that powerful teamplay unit, but separately they need to be able to stand on their own. We can cater for singleplayer, coop, multiplayer - we can give you the range from lone wolves who hate vehicles to, at the other end of the scale, all out war in Conquest with jets flying overhead. Itís enough of Ďyouíre a good citizení - if you bought the game, itís up to you how you want to play it.
Are there conflicting needs between single and multiplayer in terms of what the engine needs to be able to do? Definitely. Singleplayer and multiplayer both have their own needs, but in the end I feel itís utterly important that it feels like the same game. Thereís no better way of proving your singleplayer run-and-gun experience than seeing what it feels like against a live human opponent in multiplayer. But weíre more than willing to make differences to deliver the best experience in each. For example, in multiplayer, we do an additional pass for animation. In singleplayer you donít mind if a guard up on a balcony does a nice Hollywood death animation when you shoot him - stumbling around a bit before falling over. While in multiplayer it needs to be a one-to-one correlation between action and result.
A striking thing about the Paris-set Operation Mťtro level is the way it radically changes the shape of the battlefield in each of its stages - can you take us through the design process? If people walk away from that level having been surprised - ďIs that where weíre going? Will we really do that?Ē - those reactions make me really happy. Itís all about a journey - like Lord of the Rings: now we go into Mordor!The Paris map could almost be three or four different levels.
Exactly. Thereís nothing preventing us, if people had the time and the will, we could probably do a ten base Rush map! Itís definitely doable.
Do you have a plan for how the environments shape gameplay and which classes that benefits?Battlefield games are always hard to balance, since for different locations different kits have advantages. The beauty this time around, with the gun attachments and upgrades, you can easily adjust to the location you are in. So out in the park area, you get snipers at the back, and if youíre a defender you want to go recon or engineer to take out the vehicles. When you go into the subway the support class comes into its own as you run through the tunnels. The challenge for me is to ensure that our telemetry data shows that all the classes are equally used across the whole map.
Bad Company 2ís complex tactics put some people off, leading to many resorting to standing at the back and sniping [a group known as Chewbaccas to the community]. Weíre still in pre-alpha, so there are a lot of things you havenít seen today. But for them, itís part of an educational package. Nothing of this is set, but it could be anything from instructional videos to a lot of additional aiding systems in order to let people really know what itís all about. I think our work with the Bad Company franchise on console, and what that makes you do when it comes to context sensitive systems, it made for a smarter and well thought-through design. Hopefully weíll reel in the Chewbaccas!
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