IncGamers recently caught up with Tim Jones, head of art and design at Rebellion, to discuss the upcoming Aliens vs Predator. Don’t know your pulse rifle from your trophy kill? Read on…How will the three single player campaigns differ in terms of gameplay and storyline? Is AvP primarily a multiplayer experience?Each species has its own separate story driven campaign and right from booting up the game for the first time, the player can choose to play any of the three campaigns. Each campaign has its own story that interweaves with the stories of the other two species’ campaigns so there will be crossover in the narrative between the three.
The three species are unique and have their own set of controls and means of traversing the game environment. The Predator is a specialist at stalking from high vantage points before leaping into the fray, whereas the Marine has to keep lots of distance between him and his enemies and rely on his awesome firepower to kill from afar, and the Alien is all about lurking in the shadows and striking from unexpected angles.
How hard has it been to balance the weapons and abilities of the three protagonists?Balancing in this game is extremely important, especially when you’re working with three species with very different abilities. We have invested a lot of time in ensuring that we get the balance right in both single player and multiplayer and we’re finding that each species have their own advantages that make them all really compelling to play. We are consistently hearing reports from everyone that gets their hands on testing it what a great time they are having!
Can you explain how the new melee/block mechanics will work? Can you attack two enemies who are locked in a melee struggle?We have a kind of “rock-paper-scissors” system where blocking beats fast attacks, heavy attacks beat blocks, and fast attacks beat the slower heavy attacks. It really introduces a level of depth and skill into the melee combat which is obviously important when both the Alien and the Predator are so heavily armed with claws or blades. And yes, you are absolutely able to attack two enemies locked in a melee struggle – fire off a Pulse Rifle Grenade at a grappling Alien and Predator in multiplayer and you are likely to score a particularly satisfying double-kill!
The level of violence in the game has already become a talking point, with SEGA stating the game will not be released in Germany. How important is the violence to the gameplay/atmosphere? Would you consider editing the content to ensure the game is released in a certain country (*cough* Australia)? We’ve tried hard to ensure that the game is as close to the content of the movies as possible. The Aliens and Predator movies are very much intended for adults and as such have some pretty violent moments in there. We and SEGA decided not to release the game in Germany as we would’ve had to make significant cuts to the game which would have harmed the gameplay experience. So, there’s one version and it’ll be up to the ratings boards in each territory as to whether to pass the game or not…
Can you talk us through the main multiplayer game modes (Deathmatch, Infestation and Predator Hunt)? Will there be any further game modes?To date, we’ve let people play Deathmatch, Infestation and Predator Hunt. Deathmatch is pretty self-explanatory but in our game we’ll also have Team Deathmatch modes where teams comprised of all three species will be able to face off against each other. Infestation sees one player starting as an Alien and the rest as Marines, the Alien then attacks the Marines, and each Marine it kills respawns as an Alien so eventually it’s a battle to be the last Marine standing. In Predator Hunt, one player starts as a Predator and the rest are Marines, if a Marine kills the Predator he then becomes the Predator, and it’s a competition to see who can get as many possibly kills as the Predator. Also while you’re the Predator you have to kill a Marine within a set amount of time – if you do so, your time as the Predator is extended, if you don’t, you respawn as a Marine and somebody else is picked to be the Predator.
How much variety can we expect to see in the maps/ environments? We have plenty of variety in our maps and environments for both single and multiplayer. Fans can expect to see environments that will be familiar from the Aliens and Predator movies, so abandoned space colonies, sprawling jungles and testing laboratories, to name but a few. The three species also have their own means of traversing the environment so there will be areas that only certain species will be able to explore!
Historically, AvP has been associated with the PC. How have you found developing for the console versions? Will the PC version be different?We have developed all three platforms simultaneously as our internal tech allows us to do so. It’s been a smooth process and a massive help to have the game at exactly the same stage on all platforms so we’re not having to port over formats at the last minute, as is what often happens in development these days. Our PC version will have the same game content as the console versions, but those with state-of-the-art PCs will really be able to show off how beautiful the game looks at high resolutions. Our support for DirectX 11 will really take it to another level too.
Recently, amid the furore about dedicated servers, some hardline PC gamers accused developers of “dumbing down” PC gaming. Do you think this is a legitimate concern? How healthy is PC gaming at the moment? Well, as we have recently announced, we are pleased to be able to support the PC community with dedicated server functionality in the game. As you have mentioned, AvP has a PC heritage so it goes without saying that we take it very seriously as a platform and have no intention of “dumbing down”.
How important is the PC community to Rebellion? To what extent is fan feedback used in the development process? Is there ever a point where you have to stop and say “look, we know best”? The PC community is the grass roots that drive us to deliver everything we can with AvP: they’ve been there with us since the very beginning. We always read the fan forums with interest and are pleased at how often our thoughts on the way the game should be coincide with the ideas of the fans. That said, there are a lot of wide-ranging (and vehemently held) opinions out there and we have to follow what we believe is our own coherent vision – and we also have to consider our partners at Fox and Sega of course!
What do you class as the most inspirational games you’ve seen in recent times? Have you seen anything and thought “I wish I’d worked on that”? Both Dead Space and Left 4 Dead were hugely entertaining – creating a terrifying atmosphere in very different ways. I’ve had an absolute blast with both of them and would have been very proud to have been involved. Though much as I love deformed space mutants and zombies, Aliens remain my favourite monster!