VG247 was fortunate enough to land an invite to DICE‘s offices in Sweden over the last several days. It was there that they interviewed David Goldfarb, the Lead Designer for Battlefield 3, about the single player portion of the title.
As they indicate in their first question, the Battlefield franchise is primarily known for its multiplayer approach. The original game and its subsequent sequels and offshoots, Bad Company not included, were multiplayer experiences above everything else. Goldfarb indicated that the DICE studio knows that their strong-suit lies in multiplayer development, but he made it clear that the team was working with this knowledge to better their product.
The team also didn’t want to make this game seem too much like Bad Company 3 would. They wanted to actively make this a third Battlefield title, not the next in line for the more offbeat, silly plot within the Bad Company line. Here’s Goldfarb:
We had to reboot everything, and ask what was going to make the franchise different this time. There was also a conscious articulation of the values that it would take to make that break. It’s not that the guys we have now aren’t funny sometimes, or that there aren’t moments that aren’t humourous I guess, but the context is completely different. The stakes are much, much higher. We are trying to be authentic and grounded in a way that we never even came close to before. I think that’s the thing we’re trying to be honest with ourselves about when we make this game: it is going to be, in some cases, scary to people that we’re doing the things we’re doing, but that’s where we are.
The challenge doesn’t stop there for this veteran team. There’s also the fact that fans, and even EA execs, are pitting DICE squarely against the other massive shooter in the consumer arena; Modern Warfare 3. VG247 asked Goldfarb about whether or not DICE intended to go bombastic with their story in order to keep pace with Call of Duty.
We aren’t doing that. It’s not about the competition. You’re always aware of what other people are doing, but I know I feel that when we made this game, there’s a certain point at which it becomes unbelievable…We need to make it feel as though you could read a paper and feel this could have happened.
One of my biggest complaints when it comes to the world of story in contemporary shooters is their pacing. More often than not, these games trend towards a constant stream of gunfire, action and over-the-top killing. The issue is that racing from one room of death to another tends to take the wow-factor out of the moment.
A great game lulls you into a sense of comfort in between those moments of intense action. If you spend every waking moment of the experience getting shot at, getting shot at doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. However, if the game takes you on tours of silence, the gunfire that breaks those moments up is jarring. You know, like gunfire should be. Goldfarb on pacing:
…we are looking for a broad pacing, from 1-10 as opposed to 10-11. I think that’s a pretty big deal for shooters, to try to do that kind of pacing, to have it be slow for a little while and to make people wait…that sniper section on the roof from the Faultline stuff earlier this year? That shit took forever to get right. Just the first six minutes where you don’t fire a shot took a long time to make it be good.