With the open Beta for Battlefield 3 released into the wild, the marketing machine goes into overdrive. The good thing about that is we get more insights into the inner workings of DICE and BF3. In an interesting Q&A with Craig McLeod, who heads the team of game testers, and executive producer Patrick Bach, he answers a question in regards to Bad Company 2 as that he is ashamed of of the game?
No doubt Bad Company 2 was a huge success across both consoles and PC, in fact the whole Battlefield series has been a huge hit worldwide. So it was interesting to see that Patrick mention’s that when asked if he was proud of his achievements his response was,
I don’t know why, but I always feel ashamed about the games I’m involved in making. I can’t even bring myself to start up “Battlefield Bad Company 2,” our last game, because I feel so ashamed. I know it is a great product but still I only see the things we could have done better.
Whether that’s marketing speak or an honest opinion I don’t know, but no doubt DICE has pushed the game and the genre forward both graphically and technologically in each version of the series. Before playing the open Beta I actually though it would be more of a demo as the launch date is so close, its hard to imagine fixing many things this far in. But in the age of day 1 patches anything can be released and fixed pretty quickly. For example one of the biggest issue we noticed was falling through the ground when you were around rocks at the start of the level. Thankfully Daniel the community manager for BF3 just recently,
@seeson #BF3Beta @istizo99 The issue is known and is caused by the terrain deformation. We are currently working on a fix to get into the BETA as soon as possible
It was also interesting to see the way in which DICE handles the period just prior to release. As things get closer to lock down Patrick mentions that the focus turns to cutting out the stuff they aren’t happy with and ensuring that problems are taken out of the game, not looking at what can be squeezed in last minute. As they say less is more sometimes.
Its good to see that they are trying to leave the least amount of problems possible to be patched after launch, the more they can get right now means the more they can work on extra content for later. Ive included some of the interview below and you can check out the rest at the WSJ here
What’s the big challenge right now?
PB: Our biggest challenge right now is holding back a bit. Just before this interview I was extremely upset about how ugly our animations looked in a specific part of the game. But five minutes later I realized that I was comparing it to our own standards. Every other game developer would have been extremely happy with that animation.
Please explain more.
PB: There is a definite risk that we narrow down on details that, in fact, aren’t that important to our players. Everyone in the team has been sucked into the idea that this will be the ultimate game. And when you feel that you have to ship a tiny detail which isn’t perfect you feel extremely disappointed. But to be honest, when you look at the game it is pretty cool. You just have to step away from it.
So what are you focusing on?
PB: We are focusing on cutting the bad stuff rather than adding and changing things. Instead of adding ideas, we are removing problems, and that is what our testers are helping us with. We have deleted portions of maps, we have skipped passages in the single player campaign. Everything that doesn’t meet our standards we chop out. A lot of games fail at that, they seem to think more is better and often, that isn’t the case.
How does Battlefield 3 differ from other games you’ve worked on?
PB: We started from scratch making this game. Sure, we took our best ideas from our previous games, but we built the game from scratch and started with a clean slate. For our testers that has meant that they have spent a lot of time doing core testing. That is making sure that basic core aspects in the game, such as running, shooting and hitting, works. These are core things that should work in every game.
Is it fun for you?PB: Some days we get really frustrated, when we finally managed to make something work, but when testing it we realize it isn’t fun. Now we need to make sure people in this company to feel happy about closing this project and shipping the game. Many, including me, are feeling that if they only had one week more, we could have done so much more. People seem to focus on what they could have done, rather than on what we have already managed to achieve.
So you aren’t proud of your achievements?
PB: I don’t know why, but I always feel ashamed about the games I’m involved in making. I can’t even bring myself to start up “Battlefield Bad Company 2,” our last game, because I feel so ashamed. I know it is a great product but still I only see the things we could have done better.
Okay…so how close are you to shipping the new game?
PB: Right now we are weeks from being done. The only thing you see when you are so close to finishing is more opportunity. When you have been building a game for such a long time you get bored with the things that you liked so much before, that you feel like changing them just for the sake of it. You agreed with everyone that the line this guy said, the sound of that gun, was perfect and suddenly you want to change it, just because you’re bored with it since you’ve seen it too many times. But just because you’re bored with it, it doesn’t mean it’s bad.
Could you ship the game today? Is it that close to being finished?
PB: We couldn’t release the game today. You can’t just put the bonnet on the car and drive it out of the factory before you have assembled the stuff inside it and know that it works.
PB: When you make a game you don’t have it shippable every day, and just add on pieces to make it better. At times the game is literally unassembled into various pieces. And that is a hard sell to the executives, who would like the game to be shippable every day and just have us keeping improving it until the day we reach deadline.
Is there something that keeps you up at night, worrying?
PB: We have shown this game to many people, and we have gotten approval from our audience that this is going to be something really special. But I’m still extremely nervous, not about what other people will think, but about how I will feel about the game. My biggest worry is that I will feel bad about the product. For me my job is very personal.
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