When FZ at the end of January asked our readers to send us questions about DICE's forthcoming tactical shooter Battlefield 2, the response was stunning. The feedback suggests a huge intrerest for the title, which seems to have the potential to get as popular as the past games in the Battlefield series. Out of all the questions sent to us, we've picked the top-15 and passed them on to Lars Gustavsson, designer at the DICE headquarter in Stockholm, Sweden. Our intention is to give the interview a form that suits both people who isn't really into the game yet and the hardcore fans of the Battlefield franchise. Furthermore, we hope to reveal some new, previously unknown facts about the game - of course thanks to our readers' thirst for knowledge! That being said, we wish you pleasant reading and pass the word to Gustavsson:
We've read about the option of recording matches and distribute them to friends and clan members. It's a bit of an understatement to claim that this feature is highly important to create a strong community. The centralized ranking system is another part of this. What other tools and methods of community building will DICE use to to create and expand a Battlefield 2 community? (Question asked by Mattias Köhlmark)
- We've learned our lesson from Battlefield 1942/Vietnam and we're shipping the game with a much more powerful editor than that of previous Battlefield games. The editor bundled with Battlefield 2 is the very same that we've been using to create the game here att DICE in Stockholm. It's a complete set of tools, including landscape editor, effects editor and so on. We hope this will make our community continue their enormous efforts in modding the Battlefield series.
Battlefield 2 gives us the opportunity to record full matches, to watch and analyze at a later moment. How will the process of recording work? Is it client or server based? If the latter, how does the server distribute the recorded files? (Mikael Larsson)
- The recording process is operated by the server, which means that anyone can set up a server and then distribute the recorded game session as he och she wants to. If you participate in a game marked "Autorecord", a link shows up in in the demo library. When clicking it, the demo file will be downloaded to your computer. You're then able to start the demo and relive the battle by jumping between players, increase och decrease the playback speed, pause and place the camera in any position or angle, all in hunt for the ultimate battle scene or the perfect screenshot.
Many of our readers have been curious about how private servers will compare to official. It has been mentioned Electronic Arts will be providing servers where statistics will be stored and distributed to the other official Battlefield 2 servers, which private servers do not - probably due to security reasons. Would it not be very likely that private servers will quickly become a "no no" for players wanting to play the same character on different servers? (Mikael Walling, Georg Marcusson)
- It is correct that only "official" Battlefield 2 servers will collect player statistics and we have done this only because of security reasons. Should you want to see your character gain ranks and get the rewards you have already made your choice. That character will only grow on the official servers. The private servers are still an excellent choice to do some good ol' fashion Battlefield 1942 and Vietnam combat where the "present" fun is what counts.
The "mapscene" have been declared dead for Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield Vietnam because maps created by enthusiasts and amateurs have not been able to be distributed through the game servers like Quake and Counter-Strike maps can. The consequence of this is that only official maps are being played and used - which hardly benefits the "community spirit". How will DiCE approach this problem and enable homemade maps to be distributed properly?
- We are aware of this limitation but offer today no solution to this problem because our maps are so much bigger than for example Quake and Counter-Strike maps. It would require a lot of data to be downloaded by the players in order to participate on this "new" mod-map thus resulting in a lot of waiting. We are looking into it but offer no good solution at this time.
When Valve released Half-Life 2 last year criticism quickly arose due to the fact that they assumed people wanting to do modifications would have access to the commercial compiler and IDE Microsoft Visual C++ .NET 2003, which costs several hundreds of euros. What tools will be required to fully modify Battlefield 2 in addition to the tools that DICE will provide?(Steven Svensson)
- We have greatly enhanced our support for modders by giving the option to create modifications through the script language Python. This means that there will be no requirement to have access to Microsoft Visual C++ as you mentiond in your question.
Former games from the Battlefield-series have often been compromised and known by the fact that players could, without problems, jump onto the outside of an airplane during transport, when all seats are currently taken. It has been suggested that this removes some of the semirealism of the game and the possibility to walk around on the airplane while currently being in the air creates a bit too much of an arcade gaming experience. What have DiCE done to prevent this problem in Battlefield 2? Will it be possible to freely move around inside and outside of the vehicles or will players be locked to certain passenger and driver positions? (Mom Hedblom, Joona Besada, Daniel Farsi)
- The possibility to freeride on vehciles have been possible since Codename Eagle where the so called "wingwalking" quickly became a common way of transporting more people on the plane than originally intented to. We've kept this in mind whilst making Battlefield 2 and we're trying to adapt this to modern vehicle characteristics. Our goal has always been to maintain the fun of the game, and realism might sometimes have to accept itself beaten by gameplay. Where we end up with Battlefield 2 is something with still work on and remains to see.
The preview material we've been shown so far have not displayed how vehicles will be rendered in dusk and at night. To what extent will Battlefield 2 incorporate atmospheric enhancing lighteffects such as searchlights, lanterns and anti-collision lights (light with different colors usually found on airplanes)?
- We decided early in the project that night should not be part of Battlefield 2. Dusk and dawn are included in the game but no pitch black night.
It has been mentioned that several vehicles will be equiped with a so called HUD ("Head-up Display", function to project certain information onto a glass panel for example in a cockpit of an airplane). What type of data will be displayed on this HUD panel in different vehicles?(Joakim Bergqvist)
- Obviously it differentiates between different vehicles but in an airplane fighter information about the select weapon system will be displayed. Should you choose to select heatseeking missiles a tracking system will be displayed with information regarding heatsources and other such targets, when a target is locked and information like that. Should you however choose to select bombs, different information will be displayed. We have with our best efforts tried to accomplish a very hightech apperance but at the same time maintaining simplicity and not making it overly complicated, this especially because Battlefield is supposed to be easy to get started with yet very powerful for the experienced players.
Helicopters seem to be one of the things that caused most reaction from our readers. Several people claim that neither the BF1942-mod Desert Combat nor DICEs own BF: Vietnam accuratly reproduces the way you actually fly a helicopter. Mostly, this is because both Desert Combat and BF: Vietnam lacks the ability to control the veichles collective. This function is especially important since it decides how easy, or hard, it would be for a player to hover the aircraft. Some readers are worried that the possible lack of collective control will produce a far too simple helicopter, which in turn would affect players who wants to specialize on being helicopterpilots. How has this been discussed within the designteam? What are you doing to make helicopters attractive to both beginners and advanced players?
- We have gotten alot of feedback from the community and as a result of this our veichledesigner Linus Josephson and our physicsprogrammer Peter Österblom have talked to a helicopterpilot to find out what really makes a helicopter unique. Based on this information we have further developed our helicopters, making them easy to learn but harder to master. Above all we have made the transporthelicopters alot more stable to fly as opposed to attackhelicopters which will be harder to master, but in turn allow more advanced flying.
The Battlefield 2-material shown by Electronic Arts and DICE has solely been visually impressive outdoor-levels. How does the BF2-engine handle indoor enviroments and houses with more than one floor?
- The Battlefield-engines strength has always been outdoor enviroments, but this version will, as well as previous ones, support indoorenviroments and multi-leveled houses. There is nothing stopping you from making a level that takes place indoor only.
In the movieclips we've seen so far, bodies are seen thrown around like gloves(bättre ord?) in the proximity of explosions. To some of our readers, it looks like bodies just weigh a couple of kilograms. Is this a choice made by DICE or is it subject to change before the game eventually hits retail?
- This is not something decided by DICE. It merely shows our physicsengine in its current form and not in a final, retail-adjusted state. Our goal is to produce alot more realistic simulation of bodymovement in the final product.
Lots of Battlefield 2-previews have made it clear that the game has impressive graphics, making it a good looking game overall. DICE haven't said much about what the graphicsengine is capable of, making alot of FZ readers ask what differs this one from previous engines and what features, like Pixelshader 3.0, the engine will use?
- Battlefield 2 adds, among other things, much higher geometrical complexity, higher object density on maps and improved system for vegetation. It will also support advanced per-pixel bumped or virtually displaced materials as well as per-pixel dynamic lighting and shadowing. Post-processed effects are included as part of the gameplay itself. We will also be using ShaderModel 3.0 for optimization if it's availiable.
In earlier previews we have found out that each teams commander will have the ability to call in artillery support. This has raised concerns about artillery being used to wipe out the entire enemyteam or destroying important veichles at the beginning of a game. What steps has DICE taken to prevent such abuse?
- Artillery fire won't be availiable at the beginning of a game. Instead, it will need time to "load". When used, artillery will need additional time to recharge, making it an effective weapon, not a devastating one. On top of this, the enemy can destroy the artilleryguns to prevent such attacks, and the commander in turn can use his engineers to repair them, thus making it a "game in the game".
Many team-based shooters use nametags above the head of both teammembers and opponents to make it easier seeing who is friend and who is foe. One obvious downside of nametags is that they make it quite easy to be spotted by the enemy. Will Battlefield 2 make use of nametags at all? And if so, will this be set to on or off by default?
- Battlefield 2 will ship with nametags on, but we are working on adjusting this so it won't be too easy to scan the horizon looking for enemies. Instead, you will have to aim at an enemy for a period of time
before the nametag appears.
When looking at clips showing Battlefield 2 it's hard to see the true pace of the game. If you were to compare it to well known games and mods like Battlefield 1942, Battlefield Vietnam, Desert Combat, Counter-Strike and Quake 3 Arena, where would you put it?
- I would say the pace of the game is somewhere in between Battlefield 1942 and Desert Combat. Although this varies depending on the map and the number of players playing.
In conclution, Battlefield 2 looks like it could be something extraordinary. Even though the publisher Electronic Arts hasn't yet set an official release date, it's a good idea to clean your hard disk, practice your aim and pick up a copy of a Chinese dictionary - if the game lives up to many gamer's huge expectations, it'll surely leave the majority of todays top-notch games behind. FZ would like to thank on one hand DICE and Electronic Arts for making this interview possible, on the other hand our readers for submitting questions.
Fotograf Manuel Ek
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