When you talk about different elements, are we talking about mechanics, are we talking about modes, are we talking about maps?
PB: Yeah, it's everything. It's everything from animation, to characters, to specific mechanics, gadgets, -- so there's a lot of different threads that run in parallel at all times.
When you have a production process like you describe, how much work ends up getting done that doesn't end up getting used?
PB: Sometimes, quite a lot. But in this project, actually less than I thought. I think it's because people were so focused, and they knew exactly what they wanted to build. Of course, you always end up throwing something away and there's like, "Oh, we built these things wrong -- and now we need to rebuild them from scratch again!" People get really fed up with that, of course.
But I think one very important part of building games is avoiding waste, because if you can avoid waste, you will keep people inspired. And if you lose your inspiration, then you won't do a good job. So keeping people inspired at all times is, to me, key. Because once you lose the spark, you won't do a good job.
How do you avoid waste?
PB: It's, first of all, having everyone understand what they're supposed to do. And "supposed to do" meaning, "How does it fit to the other stuff in the game?" Not only, "Just build it -- shut up and build it." That will never work, because then we definitely create waste.
Because if you just build something based on what someone told you to do, you will misinterpret it. You will maybe get an order that was actually wrong. And then you build it, and it doesn't fit, because you didn't talk to the person that it fit to, because that was not your order.
Again, if you're inspired to build something, you also make sure that it fits. And if you understand where it fits, you will talk to these people, and you will make sure that you don't create waste. And if you create waste it's because -- it could be any reason, but the waste will be minimal, compared to if you got an order to build something.
So I think that having people understanding how their work fits to other people's work, and thus being inspired, minimizes waste automatically. In my world, you don't need a process to do that; you need heart. Because that will automatically minimize waste.
And does that work on all the way up and down the hierarchy?
You say you don't really have one, but obviously there's some people building props, and some people…
PB: Yes. If everyone understands why they're doing what they're doing, and that they want to do, it and they want to make it great, then you will minimize waste in all levels of the hierarchy.
How long was this game in development?
PB: It's really hard to say, because the engine has been in development for a longer than the actual game, and some parts of the game have been in development for a very, very long time. So, some design things actually started back in 2006, and other things have been built later than that, so there's no clear date when the project kind of started.
I guess as a studio, you had it in your minds. You knew this was the big goal, and that you'd get there.
Is that kind of how to look at it?
PB: Yeah. We knew that we wanted to build Battlefield 3 since we shipped Battlefield 2, of course. It's just a question of, "If you want to make that leap, what is it?" How do you avoid getting feature creep, how do you avoid getting some kind of "let's build something that we don't understand"?
You need to find a very clear vision, a very clear goal, and say "this is what we're building," and then build it. But that's actually harder than you might think, because there are always people that want to build something more, but they don't know what it is.
How did you avoid looking at the competition? A lot of games, that's very much what they do. They look at the competition either for "How did they solve this problem?" or look at the competition for "Well, this is what everyone else who has played our game has already played, so they're going to expect this."
PB: I think that's the biggest challenge we have. How do you get inspired, but not stealing, or borrowing too much, from other sources? And it's not only other games -- it's like movies, and books, and whatever media you might consume.
I think the important part there is to have a vision of where you want to be in two years, five years, rather than looking at, "What did we do last year, and how can we improve on that?" Because if you only look at what you did, then you will only get a small kind of version plus point one. It's hard to create something that makes you feel like, "Wow, this is something new, that I haven't seen before."
But by doing that, you also put yourself at risk. Because then you're building something. Us building a new engine to build this game -- if you look at it from a monetary perspective, it's stupid, and why would you do that? We could have built this game on the Bad Company 2 engine.
But then again you wouldn't get this. You would get something that felt more like Bad Company 2, maybe, and I think that wouldn't be beneficial for anyone. So I don't know, it's really hard. You want to be inspired by other things, yet you want to create something unique. But unique doesn't equal good, so you need to do both.
Unique doesn't equal good. It's a fair point.
PB: Yeah, everyone wants unique. But when they get it, they don't like it, because it's different. (laughs)