In an insightful interview with Rob Crossley of Gamespot, DICE studios general manager Patrick Bach described various aspects of the development process for the highly anticipated game, Star Wars: Battlefront.
Crossley asked Bach all about the pressures from the hardcore fans of the Star Wars franchise as a whole, as well as what sorts of challenges the development team faced and what their overall goals were with the new installment. The last Battlefront game, Battlefront II, launched for the original Xbox and PlayStation 2 and eventually found its way onto PC and PlayStation Portable, but this all started way back in 2005, ten years ago now.
Since then, a period of hope among fans arose when rumors circulated about the development of a Battlefront III, followed by the leaked confirmation of said game’s development and the immediate announcement that the project was canned altogether.
But that drama is in the past, and the present has a shiny new Battlefront coming out soon enough. If you haven’t yet, check out the gameplay shown at E3 a couple weeks ago.
Back to the interview, though, Bach explained what it’s like to develop such a promising game for such a demanding and relatively content-starved fanbase:
Now that you’re showing it to the world, I gather that the response from fans has been rather strong. That must be uplifting, because there has always been a curse with Star Wars games, in that they tend to show so much missed potential.
Yes, you want it to be as good as the films, which means that if we don’t do that, players will be very upset. They will be very clear about that fact.
How much pressure does that put you under?
It’s a different pressure, and of course it’s stupid for us to put ourselves under more pressure. There’s a very… avid Star Wars following, who all want Battlefront to be great. I’ve never heard the expression “do not f*** this up” as many times as I have with this. So that’s where it starts. We get it, “don’t f*** this up”.
Have you reached a point in development where you’re worrying less?
No, but I think we’ve reached a point where we’re worrying less about what we are doing and what we have done. Before you show a game to the world, there’s ongoing speculation about it. There are 10,000 ways to f*** this up, and people are super detailed on how we will screw up. And I read these posts and I think, hey, I think fans are going to be super happy with what we’re doing.
So, to come here, and to show the game to real people. I mean, actual real people…
And not just Reddit threads…
[Laughs] Exactly, speculating on a trailer, or something. To actually show this to real people and to get their feedback, and to read their emotions, you realize that, oh, these fans are describing the experience that we actually wanted to make. Yes! Now we just need to finish it. But I think we have given people hope.
This perspective is a refreshing and positive one for fans and critics alike, who just want a good Star Wars game. Fans have commented in countless social hubs online praising the finer details of the experience demonstrated at E3. Bach explained just how closely the team worked with Lucasfilm to ensure the experience was authentic and true to the source material.
Changing the subject to something I’m sure you’ve been asked about many times already: How has it been working with LucasFilm?
Extremely exciting. Working with someone else’s IP can of course be limiting, because you can’t do all the crazy shit you might have in your head. But it’s also good to be guided in a very clear way. I would say we probably have the same goal as Lucasfilm.
When people ask that question, they often do so because they think that working with another IP is horrible. I think in this case, there’s no conflict in interests. And we have been given access to things that will make this game much better, things that make us all giggly. So I would say the experience has been surprisingly smooth.
Well that is a surprise, certainly. My instinct would be that working with Lucasfilm would be a nightmare. Even their own games division couldn’t work with them. They must be, at the very least, a little precious about their IP.
Yeah absolutely, and obviously they are a bit precious and cautious about certain things. But that’s what makes Star Wars, Star Wars.
I’ve made sure the link provided in the quoted dialogue still works for anyone interested. The other Gamespot article it links to is from back in 2012, but the information is tangentially relevant.
And while this is all good news, players looking for a single-player campaign will be a tad disappointed. One of the other major topics covered was the amount of options available for lone players. Bach explained that a single-player campaign was never intended and will not be a part of the final product.
I must confess that I also ask this for selfish reasons, because I don’t really enjoy playing online shooters anymore. For example, at the Battlefront booth I was transported to your vision of the Star Wars universe and I was blown away. The sights, the sounds; it all was so wonderful. Then someone camping at my spawn point shot me. And I thought, hmm, that’s not really Star Wars.
[Laughs] Actually, if you’re a Storm Trooper it very much is Star Wars.
Would you like to make a Star Wars single-player game, or would you rather stick to your strengths?
Hmmn, no, we don’t want to stick to our strengths. That’s boring. That’s why we’re making Mirror’s Edge.
If you look at what Battlefront stands for, it’s to recreate these battles. But we’ve also added in some offline missions, that you can play alone or with a friend. Because what you told me about what you loved about playing the game was not describing the story, it was about the world and the actions. The sights and the sounds. That is exactly what we’re giving you.
I get it though, you also want a parallel Star Wars narrative experience. That is not what we’re building. But we are building these small missions too. If you like our world and mechanics, but you don’t want to play with strangers on the internet, then you can still enjoy this game.
One of my colleagues played the solo missions, and he explained it was rather like a horde mode.
That’s Survival, which is one of the types of missions that we have, which is what we showed your colleague. But there are other types as well, such as Battles, where you and a group of AI will fight me and a group of AI, which makes it a sort of online-offline hybrid. So, killing all those AIs will make you feel very powerful, until of course, you meet me [laughs].
Again, I’ve left the links provided by Gamespot functional.
So no campaign, gotcha. The option for single-player mission playthroughs are a thoughtful gesture, however the focus on multiplayer at the cost of single-player will mean the multiplayer gameplay will be held to an even higher standard than it would otherwise. If you’ve been paying attention, you know DICE is aware of all these factors. With this interview, they seem more competent, more confident, and genuinely more hopeful about the end product than ever before. This game is truly one to look forward to.