Army of Two: The 40th Day Interview

Written by Joe Martin

October 18, 2009 | 14:19

Tags: #40th-day #army-of-two #interview

Companies: #ea #electronic-arts

Tech and Technique

BT: And you've added in things like weapon crates that lock if you alert nearby guards too, so you only have one chance to get that weapon upgrade.

M: Yeah, things like that help add a little more replayability and depth that will make players say that "I want to go back and play it again". There's the morality choices too that are built into the game and there are certain weapons which you can only get in certain ways and at certain points too. There are executions which you can only do once. There are collectibles that you'll probably miss on your first go.

We feel we've definitely added a level of depth that's really going to encourage players to play the game multiple times and in different ways.

BT: Do you think - and this is something I've noticed from listening to the feedback players give developers - that there's a schism between what people claim to want and what they'd really like?

M: <laughs> For sure. Oh, yes. I really do think that, yeah. I think a lot of people really make a big demand for innovation, but when they actually get it then they don't like it because it's new. I've found that's happened a few times in games, where people say "oh, it's so derivative, blah blah blah" and then when something original and new does come along then they just bemoan that it's too new and it doesn't have the stuff they like.

*Army of Two: The 40th Day Interview Tech and Technique
Click to enlarge

I think a good example of that is Mirror's Edge. That was something really new and really different and the type of thing that people had been asking for and people just turned round and said that "oh, but the shooting sucks". Eh. They miss out on the fact that it's not actually a shooter, so...yeah. It's like saying that the driving sucks in Army of Two and that's because there is no driving. It's not a driving game. With Mirror's Edge I think people focused too much on actually fighting in those bits, rather than running.

I think people just sometimes have unrealistic demands of what they want. They don't really know what they want. At it's core, people just want to be entertained and challenged at the same time and however that is given to them...well, that's our job to make.

BT: Do you think...well, this isn't really something I can phrase as a question, but I was having a conversation with Harry the other day and we got on to the topic of next generation hardware. It always seems like a lot of developers are chasing the next lens flare or god ray or HDR effect and chasing the next technology, while the technique of making games is being left behind.

M: I think that, yeah. You're definitely right. People are always trying to stay on the cutting edge of the graphics stuff and looking at what they can do there...absolutely. We tried to take that into consideration actually and was the reason why we didn't change the engine. We use the Unreal 3 Engine and we wanted to focus on mastering that because the advantage there is...we know what UE3 is capable of, we know what it is good at and what it's not so good at. That way, we can master and optimise how the technology works for us.

*Army of Two: The 40th Day Interview Tech and Technique
Click to enlarge

BT: I'm guessing you won't tell me what the UE3 engine is not so good at?

M: <laughs> Ha, no I can't tell you. Like everything though it has weaknesses and strengths. We learned a lot about how to use it from the first game too, so we're a lot more precise and we can get what we want out of it.

Like you were saying before; people are always trying to push the technology envelope in big business. You do have a lot of people, smaller indie developers on Xbox Live, that are doing the opposite though; they're taking what they already know is there and mastering it.

BT: Do you think that the reason that smaller developers can do that kind of super-inventive and more outrageous stuff because they are smaller, while big publishers like EA have to make more mainstream titles?

M: Well, maybe. Bigger teams have more resources, while smaller teams are limited in terms of what they can actually execute with their budgets and so on. I think it's more a matter of direction though, rather than to do with the capability to do it. I think our direction for example is really well grounded and that EA recognises what we are and what we're capable of...I mean, we could have gone for some crazy tech stuff, but we wanted to make a great game first. And that's distinct from the tech. Tech can only support a great game, not drive it.
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