GamerZines: Killzone 3. It’s out in a few weeks’ time. Are you glad to finally get it out there?
Steven ter Heide, Senior Producer, Killzone 3, Guerrilla Games: Very, very much so. During development you always look forward to the next big thing. You have the E3 demo, then you have to hit alpha, then go gold, and now we can’t wait to see what the press thinks and the audience themselves. But now I’m very happy with being able to talk about the game and its features. Sometimes it’s very difficult to keep your mouth shut and not be able to show everything that you’re working on!
GZ: Whenever we’ve seen Killzone 3 in the past, and indeed today, you’ve always been very keen to push the game’s 3D and Move support. Do you believe you’ve set the benchmark for stereoscopic 3D gaming?
StH: It’s early days for 3D. Our game has always been very visually appealing, so we asked ourselves whether translating it into 3D would hold up, and it does. But again, it’s still early days. I think we’ll see some big improvements still. It hasn’t been a real struggle to get 3D implemented. It hasn’t taken a great deal of investment from our end in terms of resources, but we did run into a couple of things that we didn’t anticipate. Initially when you think about 3D, you realise that you have to render one image to one eye and another to the other, you implement the code for it and there you go. But then you think, what about the crosshair? Where does that live? Our world is already in 3D, that’s what first-person shooters do, but then elements that don’t actually have a place in the world like the crosshair or other HUD elements, where do they need to go? If it’s not at the right depth it immediately distracts your focus and makes it a little bit awkward to look at. It’s things like that that we didn’t initially think about.
GZ: Even without the stereoscopic 3D the game looks stunning. Do you think we’re reaching the limit of this generation, and the PS3 in particular?
StH: Every time we make one of these games we say yes, we’re firing on all cylinders and pulling out all of the stops. But then for the next one we find some smarter way of doing things. (An analogy) Christophe Balestra (co-president, Naughty Dog) recently used was that you have six SPUs in the PS3 and we should look at them as a six-lane freeway. So along the freeway everyone’s driving at 60mph and that’s Uncharted 2. But for Uncharted 3, we’re still in a six-lane freeway but we’re driving at 120mph because we’ve gotten smarter about how to deal with all of the problems that arise from going at that speed. If you look at the PS2′s launch titles and then God of War at the end of its life-cycle, there’s a huge leap in terms of what we’re able to achieve. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of what’s possible on PlayStation 3. There’s still more of these things where we can be smarter and better utilise the SPUs. Yes, we’re keeping them fully occupied, they’re working 100% of the time, but they could be doing smarter things, and that’s where the advantage lies.
GZ: How far along in development did Move come along? Is there anything you look at now and realise you could have changed, or do you think it works the best it possibly can with the controller?
StH: I think we’ve landed on a good implementation. It’s something that from playtests is easy enough to pick up and play and is hardcore enough with the accuracy and those kinds of things. It’s got a nice mix, but it’s a difficult one because the book hasn’t been written yet with the Move. Again it’s early days; people still have to invent what the best way to work with it is. There might be new gestures that people start inventing which become household, like the jump button on the DualShock is expected to be X. We haven’t had that with the Move yet, we still need to define its language.
GZ: We were shown Resistance 3 yesterday which looks incredible. Is there a sense of rivalry between Guerrilla and Insomniac? You’re both developing the biggest shooters exclusive to the platform, so presumably you’re always trying to outdo each other?
STH: Of course! The funny thing is, with all the Sony studios that we work with, we’re able to be a lot more open with those guys. Generally if you go to trade shows, GDC and the like, all game developers have similar problems with trying to get stuff working, but there’s very little that you can talk about with other studios. It’s always ‘what are you working on?’ ‘Oh, I can’t tell. What are you working on?’ ‘Well I can’t tell either.’ And that’s where the conversation ends. With first-party studios we’re able to go much further. But the problems we face are ultimately the same kind of things; how do you deal with those kind of bugs or how do you write a better story? We talk about those kinds of things with other studios, but at the same time, yeah we want to outdo each other. There’s this friendly, we’ll show our tips and tricks, but we’ll use that to make a better game. When Killzone 2 came out, the guys at Naughty Dog were kind of, ‘okay we’re going to outdo them’. Then Uncharted 2 and God of War III came out, and we were looking at that thinking, that looks better than what we had. How can we outdo them yet again? So yeah, we constantly try and one-up each other and that’s great because ultimately it benefits the gamer. You get better games because of it.
GZ: Herman (Hulst, Managing Director, Guerrilla Games) suggested earlier that you’re going to be implementing feedback from the KZ3 beta via post-release patches. Can you tell us what some of those changes are going to be?
STH: Absolutely. We’ve taken on board feedback from our previous beta where people were saying the LMG was too accurate over a long distance, and that some of the balancing was off. So we take all those kind of things and treat them, constantly looking at the numbers, the balance. And not just take the forum’s word for it, but look at the data and the telemetry, because on the forum’s we have a very focal fan base, a lot of the hardcore guys who are really outspoken in what they would like. But they don’t speak for the majority of the gamers. We have to keep a good balancing act. For us, beta is one way of getting a lot of feedback, but once the game is actually out you get so much more feedback on just day one, and you want to be in a position to respond to that.
GZ: The PS3′s security issues have been a big focus in the media recently. Do the hacks pose a problem for the security of Killzone 3′s multiplayer?
STH: It does, yes.
GZ: Is it a concern?
STH: It is. We’ve seen the cheats that are possible in other games. Our biggest concern is that one person is able to ruin other peoples’ experience. That’s something we need to clamp down on. From our end we’re constantly monitoring what is happening in the games and we’ll try and plug holes that people start abusing. We’ll make sure that those people don’t get a place in the Killzone universe.
GZ: So are you potentially talking bans?
STH: The banning and moderation system on PSN has been going on for a while now. That was happening with Killzone 2 and other games, so that system is in place. But specifically going against cheats and seeing if people are using aimbots or activating a god mode, from a code perspective we can make those changes, and we can monitor the data that’s being pushed through. Say a person’s stats are abnormal, we can take action, release a patch or update something to make it a lot harder for them to actually perform those things.
GZ: Is Guerrilla committed to the first-person genre, or would you like to explore other genres?
STH: We’ve announced we’re going to look at new IP, to look at something different. What it is we don’t know yet. It’s early days. I’ll first take a holiday before I start thinking new IP! But yes, it is interesting. A lot of people have been with Guerrilla since day one and of course they’d like to branch out and do other things. The engine and genre that we’re in is expanding and there’s a lot of stuff you can do. There are definitely ideas to do other things.
GZ: You developed Killzone: Liberation on PSP. Are you working on the NGP?
STH: There is a Killzone title coming to NGP. We are not working on that. Our sister studio in Cambridge is doing that. We’ve been working with them very closely for a couple of years now. They’ve been helping us develop actual Killzone content for all the games. We feel like the game is in good hands. We’ll still oversee it because the universe is something we’ve built up, we know the war and the rules that have been established, but they’re driving the development.
Killzone 3 launches on February 25th, exclusively on PlayStation 3.
Tags: Killzone 3
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