DICE Battlefield: Bad Company Interview
When your game is focused on multiplayer, keeping your audience happy is paramount. We ask Jamie Keen why DICE responded how it did to gun-gate and feel the love in the process.
By Kikizo Staff
Remember the Battlefield: Bad Company beta test? Jamie Keen does. As multiplayer producer on the game at DICE, Keen kept a close eye on the happenings in the game world over the course of the test. And he witnessed the furious flames of righteous anger emanating from gamers upset at the idea of paying for weapons. The company stepped in to fix that.
In many ways, that's the story behind Bad Company. Sure, there is the new Gold Rush mode that emphasises action, and yes, the smirk on the developers' faces is still visible in the undertone of the game, but Bad Company is about meeting fans' expectations and working with the most passionate players to ensure that the game goes down well. Even if it means changing the game on the fly.
So why did DICE and EA decide against making players pay for weapons? We asked Keen at EA's recent PC gamers days in London. During our chat, he also told us more about the singleplayer game and what DICE has done to make sure Bad Company still has that Battlefield feel.
Kikizo: The last time I saw Bad Company was at Leipzig. What's new since the last time you showed it?
Jamie Keen: I think it's a general progression of development of the game and gameplay tweaking. Obviously the destruction's coming into its own now. We've been tweaking a lot of the multiplayer and had the beta running, and that's given us loads of feedback from the community about how they'd like to see the game developing, and it gives us a chance to see how people are playing the game. We can then react and tweak things accordingly. So it's probably a fairly similar feature set to the one you would have seen before in terms of what's in there, but there's tweaking and making sure that the game's balanced. That's really, really important for a multiplayer game.
Kikizo: You announced Conquest mode here today. Can you tell us a bit more about that.
Keen: Conquest mode is the bread and butter of the previous Battlefield games. It's the game mode that most people will know from Battlefield. We got a lot of feedback from the beta that people miss it and really want to see it, so we're reacting to that and leting people get in there and do it. But we're not going to have it for release. When it comes out for release it's just going to be Gold Rush, but then once we've finished finaling the game and getting everything in the box, we're going to move the dev team over to actually start working on Conquest then. So we don't have any set date for it, but it's going to be forthcoming definitely.
Kikizo: What about Gold Rush. Could you take us through that.
Keen: This is a brand new mode for the game as a whole. This is the brand new multiplayer mode that we've got for Bad Company. It's an objective-based mode, so it's a little bit more directed, but we want also to keep the really open gameplay that people know from previous Battlefield titles. It's kind of a mix of the two. You're going to be directed towards things without being forced towards them and then when you actually get into the areas around the objectives you've got 24 people all fighting with each other. It's intense. We've got a lot of focus on squad play as well. You're going to be able to join up with your friends online and go play as a squad, and that's something that will give you a really big advantage on the battlefield if you're playing together coherently as a squad. It's quite intimidating when you meet a good squad when they're playing together.
Kikizo: You said that the weapons are going to be free now. What was the reason for that decision to drop the for-pay scheme?
Keen: Something that cropped up during the beta was that people reacted quite strongly, and we decided that at this point it's just not something that we want to do. If people do feel that strongly then it's something we have to react to. Community relations is something that's really important for Battlefield historically and moving forward we want to make sure that we keep that close tie to the community.
Kikizo: You kind of have to, don't you?
Keen: Absolutely. If we want to be successful with this kind of game then we need to listen to what people are saying. So all the weapons are going to be free. Conquest mode, when that comes out, it's going to be free as well. Hopefully people can see that we're reacting to it in a positive way and that's something that's come out of this.
Kikizo: You can't mess consumers around that much these days. It's not necessarily that they're getting smarter but they're taking less crap.
Keen: Absolutely. It's good that people have found a voice and then we've also been able to react to it as well.