First of all, you must get a huge volume of data with a huge audience like that. But also is it things that people say? Do you also mine data based on server logs and stuff like that?
AB: So, data mining is a big thing for games, right? I've been attending all these lectures at GDC, and everybody is doing that. You look at Valve, the Steam stats, that Bungie thing, and we're doing a lot of stuff on Killzone that's going with the Battle Replay. It's really awesome, I think that's the next step in how you see that kind of stuff evolving.
And trying to get that data back in and anonymize it -- within the legal bounds of not dealing with personal information -- there's a lot of value to be had there. I think that you can also use it to keep on improving your game.
And even the single-player aspects. You know, if you find levels that have too many deaths in certain sections, you can kind of fix those during development but maybe also after development. We can also patch such things if we need to.
And just analyzing all that data, you know. 700,000 or more people, how long are they playing? Why are they leaving? What patch do they reach? Is it our ramp up of reaching patches? Is that good enough? Does that need to be steeper or not?
Those kinds of patterns, we're all analyzing and thinking about, "Do we want to fix this for Killzone 2 or for our next game?" Such things, you know, it's really important.
You are also getting data about the single-player game. Is that something you prioritize when releasing patches, or is it mainly multiplayer?
AB: So, the longevity of the game is certainly in multiplayer. People are spending way more hours in multiplayer. That's dynamic, you know. It's where people are talking about the cool games they're having and inviting friends over. It's the key to success, to selling really, really many millions of copies.
HH: Plus single-player, you can user-test it a lot better before release. So, you know, there's only so much you can do in terms of duration and in terms of amount of players in a beta. We try to do as much as we can. There's always stuff you're going to oversee, that slips internal QA as well as external user-testing, particularly on the multiplayer side.
It's also a complex game, right?
HH: It's rather complex. I mean, it's very feature-rich, and it's got a lot of stuff in it. A lot of stuff can be changed.
To change tracks, Alex pointed out that you had a real-time demo of the 4D bullet stuff, so I'm actually really curious... [note: the demo was released onto PSN April 2.]
HH: Couple opening comments on that. You've seen the trailer probably on the TV here, but we wanted to create an interactive version of it, kind of as a testament of our technology and kind of a statement that we as Guerilla Games no longer have to rely on pre-rendered stuff to communicate our vision.
I think this is a great way of doing that. Arjan is just demonstrating it now. He tracked the bullet across the battlefield, just like you are in the trailer, however...
Obviously, this is scripted and for show, but when you do something more experimental like this and more visual, does this give you a jumping off point where you can do something? Like give you ideas to experiment for gameplay.
AB: Yes, I think it also has that, but more importantly for us... So Martin came up with the idea of having another kind of trailer and let's render it in-engine. You know, "Let's do it in real time! Let's get away from that whole fricking trailer thing, ever."
AB: That was kind of scary, but we managed to do that.
But also, what you see is that you put in Hollywood quality, 100,000 polygon models into an engine, and to see how that pipeline works is really interesting. Sometimes in development, we think, "Well, this is so difficult. Nobody understands how we do this kind of content."
And we've got people from the special effects industry, that helped us with throwing some high-end models in. And that actually worked fine, so our engine can even handle that kind of stuff. And we had to fix a couple things, so we found a couple of things that actually we can improve. So with future games, we can do even more high-poly models, etcetera. So it's a really good learning experience for us.