Source: http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=143035Producer Jamil Dawsari tackles our question salvo as we discuss near-future warfare
EA and Digital Illusions' latest Battlefield game, Battlefield 2142, transports combatants to a near-future war zone where world powers are battling for land in the wake of a second Ice Age. During a recent press jaunt to Digital Illusions' Stockholm offices, we managed to corner BF2142 producer Jamil Dawsari and quizzed him about the title, and part one of the resulting interview is below. We'll be hitting you with the second and concluding part shortly! But now, over to Jamil...
So, firstly, how did the idea for Battlefield 2142 come about, why did you go for a futuristic scenario this time around?
Jamil Dawsari: Well, the original idea behind 2142 was to take the Battlefield gameplay and put it in an entirely new setting, a new genre if you will. Funnily enough, our original design idea had it on an entirely different planet and it was a US-Russian sort of alternate history where the Cold War had never stopped and the space race kept going.
We changed our mind about a month after we started the whole thing and brought it back to Earth and it was more relevant. The Battlefield fans always like realism, and it seemed like we were going away from that core, so that's why you have 2142 as you see it today.
Past Battlefields have been rooted in historical scenarios. Do you think this move has allowed you to be more creative?
Jamil Dawsari: Very much so. Our artists were ecstatic to go someplace where they could be as imaginative and creative as possible. However, we did have some constraints. Notably, because realism has been an aspect of Battlefield, maybe not necessarily in gameplay but in the way it looks and feels, they see a Tiger tank, they see an M1 Abrams or a Cobra helicopter, they want to believe it. So we worked quite hard to make sure it was grounded in a believable reality, the idea being that if you had a Discovery Channel or a History Channel 2142 that you would see these things on it. In part, that's why we don't have things like laser beams in the game, we have slug throwers, bullets. First of all it feels better when you're shooting them, but it feels more credible.
You've chosen a very interesting storyline and scenario. Perhaps you could expand on that?
Jamil Dawsari: In a nutshell, the year 2142 finds us in the midst of an ice age in which the 10 billion inhabitants of the Earth find that the only remaining land will hold 2-3 billion, so there's quite a lot of competition for it. In a nutshell, that's it right there!
True, but you've got two opposing forces the Europeans and the Pan Asian Coalition. Do they have a different emphasis, different weaponry as the game evolves?
Jamil Dawsari: We have a couple of fundamental differences, one is really with... the main battle tank, for example. The Pan Asian Coalition has a hover tank which controls quite differently from the EU tank, which is built along more standard lines. The interesting thing is some people love both of them, most people love one not the other and it's very much specific to your gameplay, how you like playing it. So it will be interesting to see how people react to it.
How would you characterise the two sides? Are the Europeans more like a modern mainstream army for example?
Jamil Dawsari: Interestingly enough, to go back to your earlier question regarding the history... We built a very big context, the history of our world. Part of that is people want to believe in the world and the context of it. So you read our battle descriptions, like the fall of Berlin, the battle of Verdun and they give you a real flavour of the history of this conflict. As far as the back-story for the EU - and while we don't explore it in-game - the whole idea there is that European countries fell into a massive civil war, prior to the whole building of the alliance.
Here we are in Sweden, can you imagine what the Swedish government would say if they needed to go south and everyone else said, 'you're not coming south this way.' The idea behind that was there was a big fallout worldwide with country fighting country and the realisation was, it's only going to support so much, we must form these coalitions and alliances and go from there.
So Battlefield 2142 gives you license for a whole new bunch of cool weaponry and gadgets to play with - can you fill us in on what we'll get to play with?
Jamil Dawsari: That's the fun stuff. I mean we have 40 unlocks and the way we're pacing them is to be fairly quick early on and then of course it gets longer as you play. So people will be able to explore quite a few of the unlocks and then you'll really have to pick and choose as you move on.
Two that deserve special mention? Well, one is a weapon and it's the rifle rocket. In its standard mode it fires just a slight ballistic arc and detonates on contact. But when you zoom, it actually sets the range at whatever you're looking at and it will explode automatically at that range. You can also increment the range with your mouse wheel. In practice, when you're fighting someone behind cover who keeps popping up and ducking down, you bring out the rifle rocket, zoom on the cover over the wall, increment by a metre and fire a quick spread. These explode in airbursts above his position - boom! It's quite a skill-based weapons system - but in standard mode it rewards someone who's just getting used to the game. But in zoom mode, it really rewards the skilled player.
We've also heard a whisper about cloaking devices and mines?
Jamil Dawsari: The active camo? The darling of the recon set and the bane of everyone else. People seem to think it's going to be this complete invisibility shield. It's not. Battlefield has always been about balance and so as part of the unlock for the Recon kit you can get this active camo, which enables you to be invisible and wander around. In the play area you will see this person's shadow and a blurry motion, think Predator if you will. The effect in things like Titan mode is when the assault have laid these clouds of dust which are sitting there and you can't see through the dust and you see this blurry thing moving through the dust at you. It's one of those moments when you think, this is pretty cool!
The motion mines are another favourite, and these are mines that you lay on the ground and what they do is acquire vehicles who are moving at velocity. So there's a moment when they'll acquire you and they'll pop up, so as a driver if you're going carelessly... say it's the M25 at three in the morning, you don't really care how fast you go, then you could be in trouble, because if you're not paying attention, they'll acquire you, home in on you and then they follow you. So if you're quick, in one of the faster vehicles and you can use your boost you can stay ahead of them.
But they will track you eventually. The other idea is you slam on your brakes when you see them and you try to move back slowly and there's a little bit of gameplay. In the end the engineer also has a defuser so he can defuse them and if you have a sniper on your team, who has the heavy sniper unlock, those can shoot and destroy the motion mines. So gameplay- wise we've tried to balance out and foster a bit more teamplay.
With regards to teamplay, something of special note is the networked battlefield. This is something which is really going to reward squad play. In essence, you will see as targets anything that your squad mates see. You'll see these red icons moving and if you put your target reticule over them, you query them and get information based on what unlocks your squad has - you'll see what kit that person has, if they're in a vehicle, they may even stay up longer based on other unlocks in the world. What it gives you is this situational awareness, if you will, and the people who play it are going to have an advantage.
Part two - and the concluding part - of our Battlefield 2142 interview with producer Jamil Dawsari will be hitting these pages soon. So keep eyes peeled!