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Blacklight: Tango Down Interview

Zombie Studios’ downloadable multiplayer FPS Blacklight: Tango Down caught our attention, so Tamer Asfahani hunted down project lead Jared Gerritsen and quizzed him on as much as we could. We started off by asking for the reasoning behind selling the game as a downloadable title…

We really believe in the idea of DLC, with the big DLC games coming out that are very, very viable to the industry, we saw that as a great opportunity to do Blacklight in the sense of a very, very good, $60 USD quality multiplayer experience, and we just dropped the single-player campaign with it. But we added co-op four-player.
The thing’s going to cost €15 EUR, which is about 1200 Microsoft Points?
Yeah. [Grins]
What do you get for that?
For €15 EUR you get five maps – no, I’m joking! You get 12 maps, and they’re not going to be the same maps but night-time. We’re going to give you, for $15 USD, 12 maps, ranging from small, medium, to large. The small maps being good for two-on-two up to six-on-six, and then very large maps that’re great for sniper battles and all that fun stuff. Seven game types, ranging from team deathmatch to control points to capture the flag to last man standing to bomb defusal. From there, we have four levels of four-person co-op where you play against AI, including an AI that you don’t play as or play against in the multiplayer maps, which are the SIVs – an infected civilization. They’re essentially zombies that know how to shoot you, now! So the next evolution of the zombie in Blacklight.
What’s going to make this unique, bearing in mind the stigma that comes with buying an Xbox LIVE Arcade game – that it’s not going to be as good as a box copy?
The big things that we’ve added are the weapons customisation that gives you thousands – and maybe even millions – of different combinations of weapons. The HRV, the Hyper Reality View, allows you to get up-to-date combat data in your visor. That allows you to see where your enemies are, so it’s this new, faster mechanic that keeps the speed really, really quick. Then we re-imagined the idea of the visor to be, instead of flashbanged or smoke grenaded, you can see these digital balls which are actually scrambling your visor. When someone throws what used to be a flashbang at your feet, you get EMPed and you get blue-screened.
So there’s a lot of new things, as well as the minigames when you take control points and minigames when you plant bombs. We’ve taken the game and evolved it. It’s not going to be the same old stale game – it’s a fast-paced, fun action game.
We kept away from the destruction mechanic just because it’s becoming kind of a box title, and we want the play to be a good experience every single time, versus destroying this wall where you’re normally going, and there were some mechanic issues that we just really didn’t want to do with that. We kept it really focused to fast-paced, and that’s all we wanted to do. We don’t want to have someone sit there and start shooting the door to open the door – we just want them to go, go, go, and just kick ass.
We actually based a lot of the architecture off of Europe and Pioneer Square in Seattle. So we’re not picking on anyone, anymore! [Grins] The idea behind Blacklight: Tango Down is to give you kind of a fresh look on something. We went for true architecture, but added an overbuild of fantastic views and all that fun stuff. We really wanted to make something that was visually cool to look at. So we didn’t do the middle of nowhere in Afghanistan, or the bombed-out village in France. We really wanted to stay away from that. I do think that it’s totally burned out – I just don’t want to see it anymore.
DLC makes so much sense, and it’s kind of absurd not to see where the trends are going to go. When was the last time you went to a record store and bought an album? You download movies. You download everything, now! And with consoles and PCs getting better and better, and faster and faster, DLC just makes sense. I get sick of going to a game store and having a guy try to cross-sell me another game, or pre-order this, or “Oh, sorry, you didn’t pre-order this so you can’t have it even though I’ve got 50 behind me.” It just doesn’t make sense. So we saw that and that… that just needs to change. A lot of things need to change with it. And so the DLC idea is get the game, get the game now, get the game at a great price, and get it as quick as possible. It makes a lot of sense. It’s kind of the independent game revolution, almost! You’re going to see a lot of great DLC games that you wouldn’t see for $50 USD, because when you see a $60 USD price tag, it should be X hours for a single-player experience. So it’ll be really interesting to see what comes out. There’ve been great, great games that’ve popped up.
How do you think this will compare to something like Breach? I think it’s fair to say they’re in a similar category.
Yeah, they’re definitely in a similar category. I really don’t know what Breach is going to be doing. I don’t know how many game types, or how many maps, or how many weapons they have to work with, or what engine they’re using. There are a lot of unknowns, and we’ll probably find out more at E3, but it’s going to take a lot to give the amount of content that we’re giving. It’s probably ruining a lot of people’s day!

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