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Battlefield 2 Updated Q&A - Locked and Loaded and Ready to Go

"Now that the game is finished, we caught up with assistant producer Benjamin Smith to discuss the challenges that went into making this highly anticipated sequel."

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This clip captures the frantic action that can happen during just 60 seconds of Battlefield 2.

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Battlefield 2 will ship to stores next week, and while we know that you can't wait to get your hands on this highly anticipated sequel, the good news is that you won't have to wait much longer. To help pass the time between now and then, we caught up with Benjamin Smith, the assistant producer for Battlefield 2. With the actual hard work of making the game behind them, it was a good opportunity to ask some reflective questions about the development process, and this included talking about challenges that cropped up, as well as the reasoning for certain design decisions.

Though there are plenty of vehicles in Battlefield 2, infantry combat still plays a huge role in the game.

Though there are plenty of vehicles in Battlefield 2, infantry combat still plays a huge role in the game.

GameSpot: How soon after Battlefield 1942 did the team sit down and actually start planning Battlefield 2? Was there a deliberation process in which the team whittled down a list of possible choices for the setting of the game? Why did the team select a modern/near-future conflict, rather than another historical conflict?

Benjamin Smith: The team in Stockholm spent some well-earned time recuperating after Battlefield 1942 shipped and then they worked on the Road to Rome expansion pack. Following this, the team moved into preproduction on Battlefield 2. The team took some time to think about the advantages and disadvantages of setting a Battlefield game in different eras and genres, and since DICE had done World War II and was in the process of starting Battlefield Vietnam in the Canada office, the next logical step was modern era. At the end of the day, we felt it didn't make a lot of sense to stray very far from the vehicle and weapon mix that resulted in the award-winning package that was Battlefield 1942 (like recognizable, drivable land, sea, and air assets in combination with hand weapons that are reasonably straightforward to use), which ruled out pre-World War I as well as far future.

GS: How much of an advance would you say Battlefield 2 is over the previous two games in terms of technology and gameplay? How much have you learned from the previous games in the series, in terms of feedback from fans?

BS: Technologically, we feel that Battlefield 2 is a revolution in comparison to Battlefield 1942. The new rendering engine really does amazing things graphically and also manages to support 64 simultaneous players at the same time. In terms of gameplay, we think that we've kept the core of what made Battlefield 1942 so amazing when it first shipped but have taken it to the next level in terms of team play enhancements (integrated voice-over IP, squads, commander mode). As far as feedback, we always take fan feedback into account in terms of adding features to products postship, like the buddy lists and the voting interface in 1942, or tunnels in Battlefield Vietnam. Obviously, we learned a lot about what people liked and didn't like in the previous Battlefields from interacting with fans and forums, and we had these in mind constantly as we developed and tested Battlefield 2.

GS: Was it easier to develop Battlefield 2 overall, now that the team has the luxury of having the experience of making two other Battlefield games? Or were there all-new challenges that made developing the new game even tougher? Any examples you'd like to share?

BS: Building a sequel that could live up to and surpass its predecessor was a daunting task anyway you slice it. Sure, there are things you get better at from building that predecessor and lessons you can carry over. Our focus on delivering another game of the year candidate kept us on our toes though, and delivered a whole new set of challenges. Primary among these was keeping the game as easy to pick up and play as possible (not overwhelming a new user with data), while at the same time providing that higher level of organization to experienced players who are ready to take the next step. We feel that we hit the target on this goal.

GS: How did the team approach the design to compensate for the fact that modern weaponry is so much more lethal and effective than World War II- and even Vietnam-era weaponry? Was it simply a matter of scaling back the lethality of various vehicles and weapons?

BS: The emphasis in Battlefield is always going to be arcade action over realism, so in a lot of ways the overall lethality of weaponry (or even relative lethality) is not going to be a reflection of the real world. Just as an example, while the M1A2 has, in reality, proved ridiculously hard to disable in the real world, all three main battle tanks in Battlefield 2 are treated as pretty much equivalent in gameplay terms. We've also given some kits body armor to make them more resistant to modern ballistic weapons and, overall most weapons are not one-hit, one-kill as they would be in real life (given a high-lethality hit location).

It's fast. It's sleek. It's lethal. It's the F-15E Strike Eagle.

It's fast. It's sleek. It's lethal. It's the F-15E Strike Eagle.

GS: Tell us about the process of designing maps that can scale in size from 16, 32, and 64 players. How tough was it for the designers to wrap their heads around these expanding maps? What were the design considerations for each map size? What were some of the lessons learned from previous Battlefield maps, layouts, and vehicle spawns (and "tactical suppression," also known as "spawn camping")?

BS: The biggest lesson learned in Battlefield 1942 is that it is simply no fun to walk across the desert in El Alamein. So to that point, control points are generally more evenly spaced in Battlefield 2 and the vehicle concentration is much higher than before to make sure that there is usually some vehicle available to that poor guy who just spawned a mile behind the front lines. Obviously, this was more of a focus in the larger 32- and 64-player maps. There are still plenty of vehicles in the 16-player maps to cover basic needs, but as these conflicts take place on a relatively small section of the map and have only three or four spawn points, it's not as much of a deal to hoof it. In terms of what our executive producer refers to as "tactical suppression," well, it's still possible, but generally home spawn points are either uncapturable or quite far behind the lines.

Posted on Jun 17, 2005



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