Army of Two EA Interview
EA's Matt Turner tells us about getting the OK to keep the game in development, and why the team chose to focus on the present day.
Much like the wars that form the thematic core of Army of Two, development on EA's new co-operative multiplayer third-person shooter hasn't exactly gone according to plan.
With development seemingly wrapping up at EA's studio in Montreal late in 2007, everything was set for the game to come out in November. Then EA pulled back, conceding that the game needed more work to live up to its potential. Many saw that as a good move because, on paper at least, Army of Two has a lot of potential.
Start at the obvious place, with the two-player co-operative play that defines the experience. Two players control Elliot and Tyson, potty-mouthed operatives at a clandestine private military company called Security And Strategy Corporation. SSC is all about war and money, and not in that order. Like the now-infamous Blackwater, which has stomped its way through Iraq over the past few years, SSC, is a private company involved in international disputes and its primary goal is to turn war into cash.
Following a terrorist attack, Elliot and Tyson are called into action, their bosses sending them on missions around the world, including to Somalia, China, Afghanistan, Iraq and even Miami in the US. The heart of gameplay is teamwork. The two characters need to work with one another at all times, co-operating under fire and in the field.
One of the new offensive features of the game is the Aggrometer. This is an on-screen gauge that shows which of the two characters is more powerful at any time. Why this matters is because enemies will turn their attention to the character with the highest Aggrometer level, leaving the other character open to using stealth instead of direct action.
Much of the game rides on how well EA has managed to implement not only the online modes that enable two players to play online but also the adaptive artificial intelligence that needs to fill the hot-seat when there's no one else around.
To find out more about Army of Two we went straight to the source. We sat down with Matt Turner, Assistant Producer for Army of Two at EA Montreal to ask him about his team's game.
Kikizo: Could you tell us a bit about the background of the development team that has been formed at EA Montreal?
Matt Turner: We're a pretty big team, we have a big diversity of people from all over the world who are really, really talented. We have all those kinds of guys that do the jobs of four people, and that makes development go smoothly, when you have one guy that can handle a lot of stuff. Out cinematics team is absolutely fantastic, as you saw in some of those cinematics earlier. Out AI team is amazing. I mean, there are so many talented people there, with lots of history in the games industry, and it's really fun to come in to that team. With all the passion and drive, going in to work every day you know that people are there to make a cool game in a nice environment.
Kikizo: This game was meant to come out last year. How were you able to get more development time from the powers that be at EA?
Turner: Surprising enough, it wasn't much of a process - it was just more us being vocal about how some of us weren't satisfied, and one day it just kind of happened, and we were like, "Really?" We were very surprised and at the same time very relieved. All of us were really happy to get the chance to really fine-tune our baby. So it was kind of like, "Really, we're going to get two months to finish this thing? Wow!" So we were really excited and took the value of that time to heart, we set up our schedule and stuck to it, and it really contributes to the game and makes it that much better.