Page 2- DICE to Focus on the PC with Battlefield 3
For me, when I first saw the gameplay trailer, it was sort of reminiscent of that first Killzone 2 trailer.
Oh, you mean the one that was fake?" (laughs) That's good.
So what exactly is this engine allowing you to do with Battlefield 3 that you couldn't otherwise do with Frostbite one?
First of all, as mentioned, I think the rendering is completely new, we're using a completely different rendering model. Deferred lighting, we're using dynamic radiosity, combined with all the particle systems being rendered in the same world, looking completely different than what we've seen before in our engine, at least. That combined with, for instance, our animation system that will be working with a central EA tech service, where they created this animation system called "ANT," primarily for EA sports titles. So you can see it being used in FIFA, for instance, and the characters in FIFA look amazing, probably the best looking sports game out there, but taking that into first person experience was quite cumbersome, it took quite a lot of energy and time, quite a lot of collaboration to get that going, but if you look at the result today in the images you've seen from Battlefield 3, we're taking this to a completely new level. It looks completely different than other first-person shooters, just the fluidity of animations at any time is unseen in other games, I would argue. For us, that's a huge step forward.
Battlefield 3 will feature "ANT" motion technology which is what makes the movements in EA sports titles look so realistic.
So we have the rendering, we have the animation, and we have the improved destruction that we've talked about. We're going into the cities, and then, of course, the audio is something that we've been really good at before, I would argue that we're the best in class but we still have improvements to do and we're taking that step now with Frostbite 2. So there's lot of bits and pieces from everywhere that adds to the whole package, it's not just one part. It's actually all the parts that make a better game. We also have of course, the benefit that the consumer might not see directly, but it's on the development side. We have faster iteration times. We have sub-level streaming, you can actually stream things in real time on any level, in and out of memory, it's super-fast, which gives us room to scale down high-end PCs to console.
So performance should be pretty good across the board?
Performance should be very manageable cause of this because we can choose where to add or remove stuff in run time, which is amazing.
Still from the movie "Beowulf" raises the question, "When will videogames look photorealistic?"
In terms of the visual style, are you guys trying to go for realism? Is that the end goal? Because it does look very realistic.
Yea. The goal is to give you a realistic kind of rendition of the world so it feels like, “Okay, I understand this world. I see people, I see the world, I can recognize myself in it,” and then add all the gameplay elements of the core Battlefield experience into that and if you remember in 2005 when people played Battlefield 2, everyone said that was the most realistic-looking shooter at the time, but if you look at it today, compared to what we have, it looks like a cartoon. (laughs) It's way better today and I think we can of course, in the future, hope that we can take another step forward so games should not look like games, but games should look like what you want to create. If that’s reality or more stylistic cartoonish style or whatever, then we can't blame technology anymore, because then we'll have taken that step. We can then in theory create whatever we want. And I think to us, a very creative team, that's the big benefit. Then it becomes a discussion of not what can we do, but what do we want, which puts a lot of pressure in the creative part, of course. Back in the day you could blame technology, but now it's like, “Okay, we can do whatever we want, we don't have limitations."
Do you think we'll ever get to a point where it will become impossible to distinguish between real life and a videogame?
...hmmm... Yes? Maybe. But I still think there's a lot of…well, I can't see it being in the close future. Because there will always be people, it depends on who you ask, if you talk to the experts, the developers, they will see right through that. I remember when I saw Gran Turismo 2 for the first time, I was blown away. I saw it as photo-real. When I look at it today, it's like, “That’s not photorealistic. That's a game! It looks crappy.” (laughs) So I think it has to do with what you relate to, but you know, getting to reality is a big step, it's really hard to get there, but I think we're closing in, and at moments, in even our game sometimes, we actually have to ask each other, “Okay, is this part a rendered movie or the actual game?... Oh, it’s the actual game? Cool." So I think we can get there at times, but you know, creating a whole experience looking like real life, I think that’s really hard. There's so many small details.
Battlefield 2: Back in 2005, people thought this looked realistic.
Moving on, let's talk about the game's single player. That was never a big focus for the main Battlefield franchise; yet, from the trailers, it seems like this one's going to be pushing a campaign pretty hard.
I won't go into any details on the single-player. We're not releasing any info on that right now. In general, we want prove with the footage we've shown so far that we know what we're doing and we have a really strong idea on how we want the game to feel and look, and so I won't go into any details.
Will it have co-op?
We will have co-op in the game, but I won't go into details for what that means...
Interesting... *strokes chin*
Games don't have to always strive for realism. Technology has allowed games to look more stylizes, as seen in EA's browser-based Battlefield game, Battlefield Heroes.
Before we began the interview, we talked about how there was this perception that the Battlefield franchise has been "consolized" with Bad Company. It seems like DICE is really trying to get away from that perception.
How are you addressing that?
Well, first of all, we're using the PC as the lead platform. We’re setting the target with our high-end PCs, making sure that when we show footage now, it's on the PC. And we are a PC studio from the core and also looking at the audience today, the hardcore PC gamer is no different than the hardcore console gamer. That was not the case five years ago. Then, you had the more casual console audience and the more hardcore PC audience. I think that is very blurred today. People are extremely hardcore on consoles today. Extremely hardcore. So we don't have to dumb the game down in any way to make it fit on the console. It's still a very hardcore game, but then you still want the game to be accessible and some PC users might think that it’s a good thing that games are complicated. We do not agree. Battlefield 2 was a very accessible game. It's real easy to get into, but it's super deep and really hard to master and that’s what we wanted to achieve with battlefield 3.
In multiplayer, how many players will the PC version support?
And the console version?
So that’s one of the benefits of being a PC user right there.
That's one of the benefits of the PC. More memory, more bandwidth. The network bandwidth is higher on the PC. Consoles have a limitation, which is a problem for us, but we want to create the same experience on the consoles. 24 players is still more than almost anyone has on the consoles. In addition to that, we have vehicles and infantry on the same map.
From a gameplay perspective, what can we expect to be different about Battlefield 3?
It's going to be bigger. It has to be big, we're going to have jets!
Are they going to be hard to take down?
Our goal is to make a fun game first - we don’t put anything into the game that is not balanced. That’s not how we do things.
In real life, I wouldn't know how to shoot down a jet...
There will be plenty of ways to take down a jet. There will also be plenty of ways to defend yourself from getting shot down as well. It’s a part of the rock, paper, scissor way of thinking that we have. We don't necessarily try to see things from the shooters' perspective, but from the getting-shot-at perspective. We focus on how you can defend yourself given any weapon you might have, we then try to give you options and that's what creates the magic.
Patrick, thank you for your time.
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