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Entering the Battlefield: Building Homefront To Compete
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Entering the Battlefield: Building Homefront To Compete

November 12, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

I think you're quite right about pointing to some games that didn't emphasize multiplayer enough but still felt like they had to have it, and I felt like that was a waste.

SD: [Incredulously] You stole that much polish? From the single player game that was awesome before?

If you're not going to actually go for it, then you'd probably be better off spending that money on making the single player campaign better. I'm glad I'm not the only person who thought of that. [laughs] And you have more perspective on it, I'm sure.

SD: Well, then again, this is where we as publishers can really screw things up sometimes. It's like you get that idea of, "Oh, we have to have multiplayer." And in this market, it's shown that having multiplayer can be extremely advantageous to the sales -- but not half-assed multiplayer.

I mean, half-assed multiplayer is worthless, and it probably degrades the quality of your product. We're very careful about that. There are certain games that just don't warrant multiplayer and we won't put 'em in. And games that do, we make sure that we go the full mile, make sure it's of very high quality.

You briefly alluded to Frontlines. It sounded like an interesting game but it seems like it didn't quite come together. It does not appear to have become a franchise.

SD: No, it was a game with tons of potential. I mean, it had instances where there were things that were fantastic about it. The drones were great, the progression of the maps, the size of the maps, those things were really cool. The vehicle play was cool, the only problem is that the barrier to entry was the whole control scheme. Sluggish, not very responsive, it didn't have a lot of the base control features that the competition had, and it just wasn't something that we focused right and so just kind of missed the bar there.

So we took great pains that in Homefront multiplayer, we really focused heavily on the controls and the accessibility of the game and all of the features of every little bit. Whether it's jumping to sprinting to going prone to throwing the grenade, the cycling of all those things, so it feels like you are in absolute full control of it.

As the audience for games like this expands, you can say there's probably a casual shooter player and a hardcore shooter player, right? So how do you correct for that?

SD: Well, that's a huge part of what we've focused this game on -- is being able to capture a wide variety of player types. And one of the ways that we do that is we provide a number of different tools. So when you're driving a jeep, you have a certain amount of relative safety, you know, in quotes, from like assault rifle fire.

So you feel empowered in a certain way, you may live longer than you would if you were a very casual player, trying to play on a pure infantry shooter where it's enemy recognition, shot, someone's dead, and you have no idea where you died from.

So things like the drones, it's an out of body experience. If you lose a drone, it's not a total negative experience. There is a risk/reward involved in it, you standing in the back with a remote control, someone could sneak up on you and stab you in the back of the neck. But that's a semi-rewarding experience in and of itself.

The controls that we put into the vehicle -- some other games you get into a vehicle, get into a helicopter, and the first 35 times that you try to fly the helicopter, you flip it over onto its rotors because it's just super hardcore. And we want players to be able to execute on that fantasy of being an expert helicopter pilot.

And so we transfer the ease of controls, like in a racing game -- they don't try to make the method of racing into this extremely complicated system like a real race car is; having to worry about understeer and oversteer. We want that idea of all the things that you can do.

If you're unsuccessful on one part, in your next spawn, or even in the middle -- if you're getting owned by some sniper up in a bell tower and you can't pop your head out, you sit back there, you pull out your air drone, you fly up and you sick a missile on his face. And that's extremely satisfying.

But that hardcore player, it's really important to cater to them as well. So getting the counters for those types of things, being able to shoot javelins at the missile drones, having really, really tight response of controls so that they feel like they're gaining a mastery over the systems.

Providing progression choices that they can execute to min-max to their play style, and therefore make themselves more effective. That's all really important. We think we've hit on a nice balance where we can cater to all the different play styles as well as the different kind of casual versus hardcore players. We'll see on that one.

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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