How do you balance the real with the fiction? I don't necessarily mean this in a narrative sense, but more on a gameplay design sense.
KB: It is a game. Fun has to be there. It has to be fun. We're trying to always be true to the soldiers that tell us these things. We're very honored, humbled to work with them. We want to show them respect in everything we do.
That being said, we mostly use the authenticity as a source of inspiration. We rarely feel held back by it in the design process. It's pretty cool, actually. I thought that would happen a lot more. But it's more inspiration. "Yes, we want that. We want that." "Oh, you did that?" "That is really cool, we'll lift that into the game as well."
Then all the designers know that we're making a game. It is an entertainment product, and we need to stay true to that. So, it's our own design sense that we need to make those decisions right. Do we want to have a health reading, for instance? Do we want respawns in our game? Now, we don't have that in all game modes, but of course we don't want death to be as definite as it is in the real world. That makes sense.
We don't have rule set or guideline for when to choose authenticity and when to choose fun. Because they don't collide a lot. And when they do, it's up to us as a development team to get together, decide, brainstorm around it, and pick what we feel is best for the product. Does that make sense?
KB: I wish I could show you, like, "This is our checklist," this is how we do it. But there really isn't one.
Well, it's good to know there isn't one. I think that's just as useful information if there were one.
Following from that, obviously software and the power of the modern PCs and game consoles is very high. The degree to which you could actually simulate the behaviors and weaponry and physics is also very high. To what extent is that a necessary part of the design of a game like this, and to what extent do you have to say, "This doesn't have to respond like it would?"
KB: I think the most important thing when designing gunplay is to sell the power of the rifle -- what it feels like when you're actually firing a rifle. Because it's the sound of it, it's the kick, it's the feel of gunpowder smoke coming to your face. All of that. That is pretty much all our systems coming together.
It's a designer who makes all these things, it's an effect artist that does both what happens to the gun when they shoot it. Is it just a muzzle flash, is it smoke, is it a powerful shell action? But also, even more importantly, what happens over there when you hit something. I think that's the more important part for an effects artist.
And of course this is where we can use Frostbite's pretty amazing sound system. Our guns sound absolutely fantastic. We did some really advanced sound recording shoots. We've been out in the desert, we've been on the Warner Bros. backlot to capture what the gun sounds like in an urban environment.
I think on the desert shoot, the microphone we had that was furthest away was almost a mile away. And the mic we had that was closest to the gun was taped to the gun. So, that's where Frostbite really helps us, I think, to build this entire experience of what it is like to fire a gun. It's pretty cool to sit down with that and all the opportunities that are there.
Working with an engine means we had a stable platform to start with very early in the development process. So we could start playtesting features very early. So we could take more risks than we've traditionally done, I think. We added a lot more gameplay features. We have six classes as opposed to three in the last game. Every class has its own weapon system, of course, also different abilities, grenade types, even different run speeds. I mean, we could never have done that if we weren't able to playtest from day one.
Did you design to a certain, you know, "We have to have this many weapons, classes, maps," or was it about finding, actually, what would make the core of a great game? Because I find when things are designed in numbers and checklists, just because you're hitting them doesn't mean you're succeeding, right?
KB: No. That is true. The classes, we started off with four. We thought that was a good number. And then we had one of our consultants, who we were listening [to] -- a lot of cool ideas about what he was doing. "Oh, yeah, let's make that class as well." And then we were up to five. This was very early in the design process, and then the sixth class was created out of a gameplay. We saw there was a hole in the layout.
With our weapons, like, the number of weapons? A lot of that comes from the authenticity part. That's where that comes in. We know that if I'm a Swedish assaulter, he would use that gun. Okay, then that gun should be in that game. If I'm a Korean sniper, oh, he should have this gun. So that, the weapons, and a lot of the weapon parts, that design, came from the authenticity. Which was really cool. That was a cool way to look at it as well.
We also saw that -- weapon customization came out of the global concept, because one of our Polish consultants came, and he showed his M249 -- M249 is a light machine gun -- and I noticed it's very different from what a Swedish M249 looks like. I was in the Swedish Air Force for a short bit.
So what we did was we added the functionality both visually and gameplay-wise to customize the weapon to make it look like a Swedish 249, or you can make it look like a Korean 249, or a Polish 249. I'm not sure how many gun parts, but I just know there are hundreds of thousands of combinations you end up with. It's cool to let authenticity drive gameplay, in that sense, a lot of times.