GamerZines: How does it feel to finally have Homefront finished and in the hands of the media and the community?
David Votypka, General Manager, Kaos Studios: It feels good! It’s been a long haul, three years of working on it so it’s good to get it out. It’s always a mixed thing. You always wish you could have done this or that, or polished something and it’s never really done. But it’s good to be done with it, so to speak, and it’s exciting to let it out to the gaming community and see how it goes.
GZ: There were reports last week that the game had leaked onto Torrent sites. That must be quite disheartening to see.
DV: As far as I know it’s not playable because it’s through Steam security. That’s the most recent I’ve heard. We’ll see what happens.
GZ: What does the immediate future hold for Kaos Studios? There have been reports that the team could be moved over Montreal once Homefront was completed and that employees are fearful of their job security. What’s the current situation with that?
DV: There really isn’t anything new other than what’s been said so far. We’re looking to utilise Montreal one way or another in future Kaos products. THQ just has to make the decision after this game ships on how they want to do that.
GZ: You’ve already announced at least one DLC pack for Homefront. Will Kaos be working on that, or will responsibility be handed to another team while the fate of the studio is decided?
DV: We’re already working on DLC.
GZ: Will the DLC be strictly limited map packs or are you looking to add new weapons and single-player content? We noticed there was a shotgun in the Downloadable Guns menu in the loadout screens, for example.
DV: We’re not limited and there’s no reason why we wouldn’t want to do all those extra things, but the only thing we’ve announced so far is the map packs. The game has a lot of areas where we could expand it in some of the areas you mentioned.
GZ: And presumably you’re looking to do more than just the one map pack?
GZ: Danny Bilson (THQ Core Games VP) has been quite upfront about the future of Homefront, suggesting that a second game is already in production. Is Kaos willing to jump straight in to another game in the franchise or will THQ alternate studios, much like Activision does with Call of Duty?
DV: We’ve always viewed Homefront as a franchise and I think everybody in the studio is pretty jazzed to start on the next one to improve and expand on what we’ve done in the first. The world of Homefront is so rich and fertile with the idea of occupation – not only occupation in the USA but occupation as a philosophy in a video game and experiencing the human/civilian side of it. And then there are all the new systems we brought to multiplayer and just experimenting on that. We’re super excited about all the ideas we have. In fact, there are so many ideas that we have to try and figure out which ones we can fit into Homefront 2.
GZ: What area of Homefront are you most proud of in particular?
DV: I guess I’m probably most proud of the occupied America that we created, and not just as a backdrop for combat but actually as an experience with the civilian side of it. Adding civilians into a game is always a big undertaking, but if we didn’t do that it wouldn’t have been anything near what it’s become. So on the single-player side, it’s definitely that human experience; occupation from the common man’s perspective and our ability to create this never before seen America. On the multiplayer side there’s Battle Points and Battle Commander, and I think all the things we have in the multiplayer game work really well together. They don’t step on each other, they really complement each other. We have this large-scale warfare game but it flows really well and is honestly a lot of fun to play. You’re constantly being engaged by it.
GZ: On that emotional side, some moments we’ve seen of the campaign can be quite hard-hitting. Were there any scenes that you had to cut because you thought they may be too controversial, or did you just go with whatever you felt fitted the scene?
DV: Actually, the parents and the child scene on the bus ride was a tough one for me at first. The original idea for the scene was for the child to be on the street corner crying and abandoned, which I think would have been fairly emotional as well. But the scene that got into the game was thought of during the motion capture shoot. They tried it and they brought it back and told me about it and I’m like, ‘I dunno, man’, you know? But we put it in the game and it was very emotional, no question, and I realised that if we shied away from things like that then we’d be shying away from truly representing the goal of occupation and the things that happen. So that’s why we didn’t really do a lot of cutting of the hard-hitting scenes. We didn’t put them in there for shock factor; we just put them in because our goal was to represent occupied America. We couldn’t not do them.
GZ: We’ve seen a few people in the community refer to Homefront as ‘Korea of Duty’. With that in mind, do you think there’s a threat that Homefront could be passed off or seen by the people that matter as just another Call of Duty clone?
DV: I would honestly be very surprised. When you play Modern Warfare 2 in America it was very much about two military forces fighting in the streets of America. But when you play Homefront it’s about the civilian experience under occupation in a future America. As you play further into the game you’ll find it’s very different.
GZ: It was revealed recently that Homefront is the most pre-ordered game in THQ’s history. How difficult have you found it to enter the most competitive genre with a new IP this late on into the consoles’ life-cycles, and why do you think you’ve already seen such great success?
DV: I guess we won’t really know until it’s out, but the reception that we’ve got from the media and our focus groups has been really positive. One of the reasons I have high hopes for it is because the premise is immediately engaging. I think most people want to know more. Not every game or every movie can say that, but whenever I work on a concept for a game I really want it to have that. And then our marketing department has been fantastic. They really get the game, they really get the concept and they’ve really brought it to life with the marketing materials. That’s critical for launching a new IP.
GZ: What was it like working with Digital Extremes on the PC version?
DV: It was good. They’re a talented studio. They did BioShock 2′s multiplayer and they’ve done some of their own games. When we went and visited them they definitely had their stuff together. For us it’s been great because we had Frank Delise who was the original GM of Kaos and lead designer of Frontlines, and who started Trauma Studios and is a big PC gamer. He’s the executive producer on the PC SKU working with Digital Extremes, and so those guys are off geeking out on the custom PC features we’re doing and really enjoying it. It’s nice to have that separate dedicated team to the PC SKU and building that SKU for the PC community specifically. They were like a fish to water, it’s been really good.
GZ: Are you looking to release mod tools for the PC game?
DV: We haven’t actually made a final decision on that. It’s obviously some additional undertaking and fairly significant, but at the same time a lot of the roots of the studio go back to the mod community so we totally get that and love that community. We haven’t made a final call on it just yet though.
GZ: Do you envision Homefront becoming a household name alongside Call of Duty and Battlefield?
DV: You always want your franchise to be as successful and well known as possible, so when planning out Homefront we do what we call ‘franchise planning’ to see how it’ll look over several iterations and which can help inform your decisions earlier on. So.. yeah!
Homefront launches on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC this Friday, 18th March.
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