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Interview

IGTV: Operation Flashpoint Dev Interview

Tim Brown, good to see you again, especially after E3. The game has come along leaps and bounds since we saw it at E3. What’s the biggest change you’ve made since that early build? Obviously we’ve tweaked up the graphics a bit, we’ve put a lot of polish in as you’d expect in the final stages of the game, but one of the key things you’re going to notice – and have probably already seen – is that the balancing of the game, the general way the game feels, has been turned up to 11. The other thing is the AI. As you can imagine, with such an advanced set of AI features that we’ve got in our game, there were issues that people would see at E3. You’re going to see a lot less of those. We’re still working on it, and we’re just getting rid of those last few ones.We’ve used various different advisers throughout the development of the game, and not just on weapons but on tactics and everything like that. What we did have access to was a lot of the weapons – not all of them – and obviously the PLA, the Chinese weapons; it’s very hard to get hold of those weapons. So some of those have been recreated using video footage and then the sound designers have done an absolutely sterling job on recreating that audio. But a lot of the weapons we recorded the sound of, at a firing range out in… Nevada, I think it was.We’re very proud of the authenticity in creating this game, and obviously weapons are a massive thing. Obviously we couldn’t get a Javelin to fire, because they cost a ridiculous amount of money, and the US military are a bit worried about game designers just playing with that type of hardcore weaponry.On the weapons, we have modelled realistically the amount of time it takes to reload. From the basic weapons such as the M16 we have timed how long it takes for some of the guys to reload the weapon – not our guys, some professionals – and we’ve also modelled things like the SMAW and the anti-tank Javelin missile and how long it takes to reload that. So you’ll see how long it takes to reload in real-life in our game, and that brings over a completely tactical point to the game, because you have to consider “Do I have enough time to assemble my Javelin and pop a shot off before any enemy spots me, or do I need to fall back and find a better location to take the shot?”Did you use a British military advisor for the tactics, or did you use somebody from the US Marines?We used both, actually, in some cases. Because it’s obviously a lot easier to get hold of British military advisers, we did use a few guys. A lot of the stuff like the mo-cap [motion capture] that was done originally for the animations was done with an ex-SAS guy just to get the motion and everything correct, but the actual advising on tactics, that came direct from some United States Marine Corps guys who have given us a huge amount of information. We’ve got reams and reams of data on all sorts of things, and stuff that we’re not using in this game but who knows, may be used in future games.The reason we chose United States Marine Corps is they have a lot of the toys that people want to play with, not least me. *grins* So yeah, one of the reasons we went was partly to do with a bigger audience would like to play with United States Marine Corps weapons over British or that sort of thing. And the British do use quite a bit of US kit over in Afghanistan and Iraq at the moment. That’s not to say that in the future we might not be doing anything on other armies and things like that, or military wings, or that kind of thing, but we did feel that it would be very interesting to see United States Marine Corps versus the Chinese PLA.{PAGE TITLE=IGTV: Operation Flashpoint 2 Interview Page 2}A lot of the people who are on the dev team are original Flashpoint fans, so that was one of the things that already helped us. At the same time, we knew that the other games were in development and we wanted to make the game more of a… obviously a sandbox game, but a tactical shooter. We also knew we were going to be bringing it to the console market, so that was something that we knew from the outset and something we had to do. We didn’t want to dumb it down for the console market. There’s this ridiculous opinion that PC gamers are better than console gamers, or console gamers are better than PC gamers. At the same time, gamers are gamers. Everyone’s intelligence is the same. So we didn’t want to dumb the game down for the console market, and we didn’t want to worry the PC gamers when we said we’re bringing it to the console. But the game you see now is three years hard work of really, really crafting it into the great little package that is Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising.We have seen a lot more map editors and other kind of editors within the console range. Far Cry 2 is the thing that comes to my mind at the moment. Why didn’t you opt to put an editor in the console version?One of the things, it was going to be a push to get the editor to work on the console as well as the one on the PC. The one that the PC guys are going to get is almost the exact same one that the mission designers at Codemasters use. So does that mean they can create as big or as small an area as they want?Absolutely. They can make entire missions. They’ll be able to do missions as good as the dev team from-But is there a limit on the perimeter of how far they can create?Not at all. They can do exactly what the mission designers can do at Codemasters. We can’t wait to see what happens when the PC version comes out with the editor, because we’re looking forward to seeing what the community comes up with, with all the cool things you can do with the editor, because at the end of the day we’ve only got ten mission designers, and when you open it up to thousands of people, it’s going to be really, really fun to see all the new stuff that people come up with, especially as you can create entire missions based around being the PLA rather than the USMC, which will be cool.Going back to the point about editor on console though, yes, it is a thing that we’ve been hearing from the community, and it’s something that obviously we said we’re not doing now, but who knows for the future, or possibly future projects? One thing that we are proud of is unlike the last Flashpoint, this game is coming out on console simultaneously with PC, which is something that’s never been done before from Codemasters of the Flashpoint brand. We’re very proud for that and we hope that the console guys stay with us. The game, when it comes out – we’re not going “Right, here’s your game that you’ve been waiting for for ages, that’s it, we’re off doing something else.” We have lots of plans for DLC and we are going to be supporting the community because the community has stuck by us and has supported us for a long time, and so we want to give something back to the community. So there is DLC planned, and I can’t really go into more detail than that.You can!I know, I know.You can. It’s only me, Tim.I know. But no, I can’t. I’m sure you will hear stuff… I’m not exactly sure when, but likelihood is sometime shortly after release.{PAGE TITLE=IGTV: Operation Flashpoint 2 Interview Page 3}Obviously it’s now four-player co-op, which is brilliant. Is it drop-in drop-out?It’s not drop-in drop-out. Unfortunately we’re not doing drop-in drop-out, but to allay some of the fears of “Oh, what happens if my mate gets disconnected, or someone has to go for the tea,” or that kind of thing, if they drop out, AI will take over and it will be using the exact same advanced AI that’s in single-player, in multiplayer. So you don’t have to worry that you’ll just suddenly lose one guy or two guys or however many people leave; you’ll still be able to play it all the way through.Are there any limits on the vehicles that you can use?No, there’s – well, there are a few limits, but this is more in the single-player than in the multiplayer, but that’s more from a balancing point of view. So certain vehicles we don’t expect the player to just be able to run up to and get in and use; or, say, a vehicle you’ve destroyed, obviously you can’t just magically repair it and use it, but that’s not to say that in the editor you’re going to be able to do whatever you want with all the vehicles available.That said, the player is always able to attack objectives and complete missions in totally new ways. We give the player an idea of what they may want to do, we sometimes give them tools for the job so they might get the Javelin, but there may be two tanks and they’ve only got one Javelin.I know you said it’s not necessarily a kind of training game, as such -*laughs* Yep.- which I find quite hard to believe, since your trailer is effectively “Be the best” – the army adverts!Yeah, I think it’s safe to say this is the most realistic shooter you’re ever going to play – oh, sorry, not ever going to play. The most realistic shooter on console this year, and almost certainly next year. I’m very confident to say that. I think it’s a very authentic game to be playing on PC. Obviously there are competitors out there that are also military simulator-type games, and that’s why I describe it as a tactical sandbox game, because we’re not the same as Armed Assault II. It’s a different game. People seem to think that there’s a big fight between Codemasters and Bohemia Interactive. I disagree. We haven’t had a chance, because we’ve been too busy on this game, to look at Armed Assault II yet but I’m looking forward to it once this game’s finally out.There must be something that you like especially about Operation Flashpoint 2.There are, yeah, lots of things I like. If I had to choose one it would probably be the artillery and airstrikes and stuff. We’ve spent a lot of time on that, looking at the video footage from Afghanistan and Iraq, getting it looking just right, and it’s still fun to call it in. Unlike the E3 demo we’ve now fixed it so that there is a simulated delay between the shells coming in for artillery, or when you call in an airstrike it doesn’t happen instantly. You have to wait some time for the plane to come in, and then you’ll hear it fly over, and then you’ll see the missile coming in, and that’s added a massive amount of anticipation in the game, and it’s great. It’s very satisfying to call in an airstrike on a target and then you wait, and then it comes in. Very cool.

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