Battlefield 3-Interview (englisch): Development, Singleplayer- and Multiplayer-Mode
Sebastian Stange: You finally unveiled Battlefield 3 to the public and one of the more unusual things, next to the fact that there is a singleplayer, is that you've said pc is the lead platform. Can you elaborate a bit more on that and explain what pc gamers can expect from the final product?
Patrick Bach: We picked PC as the leading platform for two reasons. First one is: PC is what made Battlefield 2 a great game. You know it's a pc game and this is based on battlefield 2. So we want to go back to the roots of what that game was and then take that into the next generation. The other thing is that if you look what the most powerful platform on the market is today, that's the PC. If you go back 5 years it was the consoles because when they were released they were slightly more powerful than the pcs. It took almost two years for the pc to surpass them, because of all the complexity of the actual platform. But nowadays the pc is way more powerful than any console and I think that's our way of showing that the world has moved on. There's a new kind of bar that's been set by the PC and no one has really explored it. Everyone is going back to fit everything to the consoles and then they port it to the PC and have higher resolution. I think that's a bit weak. The target that we are setting is actually beyond what the consoles can do and what we are doing is trying to scale that back and create the same emotion the same experience on the consoles. And also because the frostbite 2 engine is build from the ground up to fit on all of this the platforms. So the streaming system, the animation system everything is build to scale no matter what platform you're on.
Sebastian Stange: What was you motivation behind the deciscion to bring in a singleplayer-mode?
Patrick Bach: Why? It's more the opposite question. Why not? There've been a lot of people actually asking for a campaign in Battlefield. Of course there is also an other side. "No we don't want singleplayer in battlefield!". My answer to those players is: "Well you don't have to play it!" The Battlefield 3 team just building the multiplayer is way bigger than the Battlefield 2 team was. So it's not that we're taking people away from the multiplayer to build the singleplayer. We are adding people to build the singleplayer. And actually the benefit yout get from that is that you can exchange a lot of stuff in between. Adding a singleplayer doesn't make a worse multiplayer. And I will make sure that we can prove that to everyone, that we actually have a very strong multiplayer because of this. If you want to create a true blockbuster game you need to have all the ingredients. A lot of people just love to play singleplayer and it doesn't really help that: "Oh I only want to play multiplayer. I see singleplayer as a problem.". You don't have to play singleplayer. I wouldn't worry too much if I were a hardcore Battlefield 2-fan, that we are taking focus away from the multiplayer because we are not!
Sebastian Stange: With the singleplayer-mode and a hopefully strong multiplayer-mode you're clearly competing against the Call of Duty franchise, aren't you?
Patrick Bach: That's up to the consumer to decide.
Sebastian Stange: Very diplomatic!
Patrick Bach: I am very diplomatic! [laughs]
In general I think we have battlefield as a core game. The rock-paper-scissors, the vehicles, the strategy behind, it's a very, very strong game. Our biggest problem actually is to reach out to the audience because once you start playing it most people prefer that experience compared to other first-person shooters. To us it's more up to marketing and PR to make sure that everyone is to know about battlefield. Battlefield has never been about a hard core small community exclusive title. It's actually been a very accessible and easy to get into game but takes forever to become an expert on the game and that's what people love about it. You get better and better and better but it only takes two minutes for people to get into battlefield 2 and start to understand the strength of it. That's the same goal we have in battlefield 3. We're not doing anything different here.
Sebastian Stange: The Call of duty game is a typical...let's say American shooter with a lot of patriotism. So we hope that you as Non-Americans won't do the same.
Patrick Bach: I really hope that people don't think that we are trying to build the same game because we are not! Battlefield as a core concept is something that we will never change. There is no point in trying to copy in someone else. What we are trying is to build the best Battlefield game that we've ever built and that's actually quite hard because Battlefield is not only one thing. For each individual it's one thing because that's their experience of Battlefield but if you take all the different play-styles, the different types of people that actually play battlefield, it's quite complex to build the full Battlefield experience. You need to have anyone to get in the game at every time and feel like you can actually change your tactics and do better on the Battlefield. It's not about simulating something that only a few people can get into. It's actually a very open environment but it's really hard to get really good at it.
Sebastian Stange: Was it always clear that you'll choose a modern war face scenario?
Patrick Bach: No. We're doing so many different time periods now so it wasn't completely clear. We do like we always do. We are Swedish so we are very social people. We try to talk to everyone and try to find the best ideas and you narrow that down to: This is it! This is what we want to build! But we've done crazy stuff before so you'll never know for the future.
Sebastian Stange: One thing that a lot of shooters in the singleplayer-mode do is to offer a very linear and very restricted cinematic experience. So for me Battlefield is that one franchise where you can choose how to play. How will you combine this? Will you offer a more cinematic and linear thing in the singleplayer? Will there be different possibilities, open spaces and situations I can tackle the way I want? Please tell me there is more than: You can go the left side of the corridor or you can go the right side of the corridor…
Patrick Bach: That's a very hard question to answer. The goal is to create a game that is versatile. It's not about being open all the time. A lot of people think that Battlefield is only about being open. It's not! It has never only been about being open. There are a lot of people that play Battlefield in a very linear way even the multiplayer. They take the same route every time and do the same thing. To a lot of people the choice of doing whatever you want is more or less only doing the same thing over and over again. To us having choice in multiplayer is key. That's the core of the franchise. That doesn't mean that everyone loves it and that doesn't mean that everyone plays it. Singleplayer is supposed to be something different. Yes it's going to be more controlled and cinematic and more dramatic than multiplayer but in a different way. Yes we're doing more open spaces in singleplayer and yes there will be places we're you'll have two paths instead of one. It's all about the contrast. Our goal is to create a contrast from one game mode to the other but also within that game mode create contrast. You don't only do one thing. You don't only shoot people over and over and over like you do in some other games. It's about different weapons, different gadgets and different vehicles in different ways. You can see the singleplayer as a training ground. It's more or less a planned training session to go online. You should be able to try all types of weapons, all types of gadgets and all types of vehicles before you feel ready to go online. There are people who are afraid to go online because they thing that they'll get old the millisecond they go online. So you need something where you can practice and that's also a goal for our singleplayer.
Sebastian Stange: In former battlefield games you always had matches with bots for training. Do you intend to do that again for Battlefield 3?
Patrick Bach: No. We won't have bot-matches in the same way. We think that bot-matches were kind of a emergency solution for Battlefield 2. It wasn't the dream scenario even back then. Then again we were much smaller and we didn't have all the resources that we wanted to have. Now we have it and we want to create a great campaign, where we can create more drama and create more things as you saw on screen here [presentation at the GDC 2011]. If we weren't allowed to do this because of the Battlefield 2 heritage I think we would do something very wrong. I think this is the right way of moving forward with the Battlefield franchise and again … I want people to understand that we don't want to dump down the multiplayer and we don't want to create a worse multiplayer just because we make singleplayer. It's about creating the full experience.
Sebastian Stange: When will you begin to show us the multiplayer-part of the game?
Patrick Bach: Soon! [laughs]
Sebastian Stange: You dont think that there are a lot of players out there wanting to see something?
Patrick Bach: In general people used to have trust because we at Dice have been building Battlefield for so many years. We are using the same team and the same designers. It's the same people building it. We won't screw up completely. We know this shit. We've been doing it for quite some time. We don't want to stay in 2005. We want to move on! We want to create something better, something that is more interesting than what we had back then. You people loved Battlefield 2 and honestly I think people should keep playing Battlefield 2. We don't want to build Battlefield 2 again, we want to build Battlefield 3 and that's quite different. Look at the evolution from 1942 to Battlefield 2. People hated us when we released Battlefield 2 . They thought it was the worst game ever because it wasn't exactly like 1942. Then it took six months and everyone started to love us, except for the people that kept playing 1942. So know we have two great games that you can keep playing and we want to create a new experience with battlefield 3. Accumulate the knowledge from everyone at the studio and learning about building Battlefield games over so many years would actually give you new perspectives. That's what we are adding to Battlefield 3.
Sebastian Stange: Did you ever expect the huge success of the Battlefield: Bad Company 2-mulitplayer?
Patrick Bach: Now we didn't know that people would like it that much. We tried to make the best possible Bad Company game looking at all the things we learned from Bad Company 1. Of course we took a lot of inspiration from Battlefield 2 and trying to turn it into its own type of game but keeping the Battlefield core. And I think the things we learned from the Bad Company series is something we are moving slightly into the Battlefield 3 game, like destruction races. We didn't know that it would work out so great because it was a bold move to add destruction into a first-person-shooter. No one has really done it, at least not in this way. It's also a very tactical move. It adds a tactical element to the game that we didn't have in battlefield 2. So you could argue that Bad Company 2 is a much more strategically and tactical game than battlefield 2 because that's a very static world. You can't really change it but Bad Company 2 actually evolves as you play it and turns into something different. That cover used doesn't exist anymore. That sniper had a great position but that house is now gone so he needs to find a new spot. There are a lot of tactics that we're using from the bad company series and that we are moving to Battlefield 3.
Sebastian Stange: I had the feeling that the people were like starving for a Battlefield game and then there were the Bad Company and everyone was rushing the servers and playing.
Patrick Bach: The people also hated us when we released Bad Company 2. We are sorry but we've got used to people hating us because we know that if we've done everything right people start to understand what it was we tried to achieve and then actually start to like it a lot. So were quite surprised with the success of Bad Company 2.
Sebastian Stange: As always you had problems with the server browser!
Patrick Bach: Yes.
Sebastian Stange: I think it was in every battlefield game the same that you had problems with the server during the first month. Why?
Patrick Bach: This is the truth: All multiplayer games that have a server have problems with it if the game is popular. We actually had five times the traffic than we planned for which meant that we had to scale up five times in about two months. It costs a lot of money and energy to scale up that fast. What you do before a launch is to plan how big the game will be. You have your servers and everything set up to work accordingly and there are a lot of complicated systems. It's not as if you take a PC, put software on it and have it run that's not how it works. There are a lot of stat servers that need to run 24/7 and then you have the game servers that need refreshes and have their own reboot cycles. If you have to scale up it takes time. It's because of the fans that we had problems [laughs]. If people wouldn't have bought the game we wouldn't have had any problems. And if you look at other games that are popular, they have the same problems or worse I would argue. If you look at nonpopular games, they don't have any issues because no one is using their servers.
(Interview Sebastian Stange)