Developer Follow-Up: Battlefield 1943By Andrew Pfister - Posted Aug 20, 2009
It's been a little over a month since Electronic Arts and DICE released the wildly successful downloadable version of Battlefield 1943 over Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. It's coming to the PC early next year, but with a whole month of players battling each it out on the consoles, it felt like a good time to check in with Battlefield 1943 producer Gordon Van Dyke about DICE's reaction to the game so far.
G4: Were you surprised by the success of the launch?
Gordon Van Dyke: We weren't as surprised with the overall success since we made a damn good Battlefield game to add to our existing portfolio, but more the amount of day one players. That felt good and put us in laser mode getting more servers online at any means necessary!
G4: The stat tracking to unlock a new map was a fantastic success. Are you going to bring it back?
Dyke: We are looking into this for future titles, but we'll never force it if it doesn't fit like it did in this case. Plus we like trying new ideas, but will always keep the main focus on everyone in the community making a difference.
G4: Why did you disable the kill counter once the map was unlocked?
Dyke: Even when we weren't playing, it was fun checking it. We are looking at bringing it back as it is one of those cool things to check out when bored at places like work. ;-)
G4: Does the success of Battlefield 1943 change the direction of the next major Battlefield on the PC?
Dyke: Nope, Battlefield 1943 is its own unique star in the Battlefield universe. It has caught a lot of people's attention that download only games can be more than just an Arcade or Retro style experience.
G4: Why is Battlefield 1943 launching later on the PC? In retrospect, was this the right decision?
Dyke: We haven't released a Frostbite [DICE's game engine] built game on PC, so going into this project we lacked a starting foundation we had on Console. There are also many different and unique only challenges to the PC that has lead to us pushing the release even further to Q1 CY 2010 [early next year]. This was a hard pill to swallow, but it was absolutely needed to ensure the features and functionality that PC Players have come to expect from Battlefield on PC are not missing. Things like support for DirectX 9 and 10, higher player count (up to 32-player matches), wide peripheral support i.e. Joysticks for flying, VoIP, and ranked server provider hosting. So it was and still is the absolutely right decision, for quality sake, to not release until it is ready.
G4: Is it easier to gauge the success of Battlefield 1943 because people are paying for it vs. free-to-play Battlefield Heroes? Could this have worked as a free-to-play game?
Dyke: Both games are so different in their respective business models I don't think it is possible to compare them. However both are proving to be a success because of the amazing talent and leadership at DICE.
Dyke: Battlefield 1943 was always thought of as a complimentary FPS in someone's games catalog even though it could easily become someone's primary game of choice. We also feel it's unique enough in the experience and expect people to jump in for a few rounds to mix up their experience while playing some of the bigger FPSes coming this year.
G4: Battlefield's been around for a long time: Are new players approaching Battlefield 1943 in the same way PC players did at the beginning of Battlefield 1942? Have you seen any fresh strategies emerge from the console crowd?
Dyke: It definitely feels that way. It seems like this became a lot of new player's entry into the Battlefield franchise, giving them the opportunity to learn Battlefield with a game focused on the core of what the Battlefield experience is. And, like all Battlefield games new or experienced players always find new strategies and techniques. Battlefield players always get so good at our games they constantly come up with things we never expected and still amaze us with their endless creativity within our games.
G4: What differences are you noticing between Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 users? Does each need to be balanced differently?
Dyke: Not a whole lot in playing behavior is different between the two. I play on both and unless I think about it I wouldn't think of which console I was on. There are hardware differences for the controllers, but that is it. Everything else is the same.
G4: How soon do you expect to roll out downloadable content? If/when new maps come, will they be more remakes or brand new ones? Any new weapons or classes?
Dyke: At this time we have no solid plans for what we would do if we do anything at all.
G4: What's the community feedback been like so far? Planning any significant changes based on initial reaction?
Dyke: It was all very positive for the most part. People all really feel like this nailed the marquee Battlefield experience and the truest version yet on console and that was a great feeling for the team. For the game itself we won't change anything, it works and is insanely fun and addictive to play.
G4: When we polled them for questions, a lot of our readers were wondering about updates to the party system, that team communication could be sometimes lacking, and that they were frequently separated from their friends on different teams. Any plans to re-evaluate this?
Dyke: We are looking into this as we never want to separate squads, as it defeats the point of the feature. For VoIP it is all down to what our system can provide and works best.
G4: How's the reaction been to the 3 classes? Is one clearly more popular than another? Have any glaring balance issues emerged that you're going to address?
Dyke: It seems a lot of people like the three classes because it fits the experience. For the most popular kit it's Riflemen hands down. As for the kits they are very balanced and I don't see any reason to mess with something that is working. That usually results in even worse results.
G4: What's the coolest/most ridiculous kill you've performed or seen?
Dyke: It was definitely when a sniper headshot a strafing pilot going for a tank. Just pure awesome Battlefield moment!