1) Will you please state your name, title and previous titles you've worked on?
Jeff Brown, Lead Designer. Previous titles include Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War, Abe’s Oddysee, Abe’s Exoddus, Munch’s Oddysee, Pitfall 3D, and Demolition Man.
2) Please give some insight into the process Relic has undergone while working with Microsoft on a next-generation console like the Xbox 360?
Working with Microsoft has been a real pleasure, as always. They are extremely professional and responsive to any issues we have had. We have regular meetings with them here in our Vancouver space, as we are only about a three-hour drive from their studios. As always, with new hardware come new challenges, and Microsoft has really done a good job of answering our questions and keeping us informed of new API’s or TCR’s for the XBOX 360.
3) Where do you begin when faced with a new technology like the Xbox 360?
With the overall game vision. The most important thing on any console, PC, handheld, etc. is what you want the gameplay to be. We have been kicking around some of the ideas in The Outfit, like Destruction on Demand, for some time, and with the XBOX 360, we are finally able to realize the gameplay we envisioned. Destruction on Demand, the freedom of total destruction, and the non-linear structure of The Outfit isn’t something we could have done justice to on any system before the XBOX 360 came along.
4) In your opinion, can we expect a deeper gaming experience or just prettier games on the Xbox 360?
Both. Obviously, the games will become better and better looking as the next generation of hardware comes out and matures. This is great, because it really increases the immersive nature of games. However, more memory, more power, and better tools also mean that we can bring gameplay to a level that just hasn’t been possible before. The focus on High Definition gaming also means a bigger focus on 5.1 audio, which again increases player immersion.
5) Please give us your overall vision for The Outfit? What do you think will set The Outfit apart from other action/shooter games?
The Outfit really sets itself apart in three major ways from other action/shooter games:
Destruction on Demand – As you progress through the game and complete mission objectives, you’ll earn action points that can be used on the fly to call-in “Destruction on Demand” – air-dropped into the action at any time. Everything is available from tanks, jeeps, half-tracks and other combat vehicles to machinegun nests and anti-tank emplacements or call in for squad reinforcements, air strikes and artillery strikes on enemy targets.
Freedom of Total Destruction – Featuring interactive and fully destructible environments, The Outfit gives you the freedom to shoot, blow up or demolish anything in the world. Destroy fences, walls, bridges, and buildings – virtually everything can be leveled in your battle against the Nazi forces.
Choose Between Three Playable Squad Leaders - Each possesses specific skills and abilities (i.e. Hand-to-hand combat expert, Heavy arms specialist or Anti-tank specialist.) You will lead a squad of battle-forged soldiers on a variety of combat missions – ranging from reconnaissance and rescue to search and destroy. With automated squad AI, your squad will act like a highly trained infantry unit that responds to your actions as well as dynamic battlefield situations – laying down suppressing or covering fire, taking cover or rushing enemy positions.
6) What development advantages have you found thus far while working on a console title like The Outfit as opposed to a PC title?
The biggest advantage that console development has over PC development is a stable platform. Unlike PC’s, there are no hardware differences between users, no min spec to worry about, and you can guarantee that every player’s experience with your game will be the same. This allows us to optimize the game to a much greater degree than we could with a PC. The approach to the whole game is different, just by virtue of the fact that you play it on a controller instead of a keyboard and mouse. The controls and UI have to be much tighter and cleaner on a console game than they do on a PC.
7) Can you give us more information on the Destruction on Demand feature as it's presented in The Outfit?
Destruction on Demand refers to the player’s ability to air-drop equipment, vehicles, and soldiers anywhere in the game. It really fits in with Relic’s philosophy of player choice. We aren’t telling the player which vehicles and emplacements they can have or where they go; we are letting the player decide. This makes it so the player can tailor the game to their desires instead of us forcing specific solutions on them all the time.
8) What specifically has the team been working on between E3 and now?
It’s almost hard to believe it’s been less than 3 months since E3; we have really come a long way. The majority of the single player game is now to Pre-Alpha, with all the layout and primary objectives in and working the way we want them to. All the vehicles are now in the game and fully drivable, and most of the ‘core’ art is done. This includes all the Heroes, soldiers, weapons, vehicles, and emplacements. The programmers have been working hard on optimizing the game and we are now running on the XBOX 360 Beta hardware. Almost all the game features are coded, and the UI has come a long ways as well. The multiplayer game is at Pre-Alpha, with everything tuned to first pass and ready to go to focus testing.
9) Can you give any new insight into how each squad leaders' specific skill set will be utilized throughout various missions?
Each mission has been designed so that the player can play as any of the three Heroes and be successful, so a lot of it is going to come down to play style. If you like the idea of keeping your distance and sniping at enemies, then moving in fast to try to get some sticky bombs on a vehicle, JD Tyler is your guy. If you prefer to charge in, guns blazing, play Tommy Mac. If you like to blow stuff up, pick Deuce Williams.
Every Hero has a specific weapons load-out. They also have special weapons upgrades that only they get, Hero specific commands they can issue to their squad, and difference in speed and health. Since you don’t choose one Hero that you have to play a whole mission with, but can choose to respawn as any Hero when you die, you can pick one Hero and stick with him or change your mind depending on the circumstances.
10) You just unveiled a new level of the game - can you give me a quick overview of what the player's mission is in this level and where it fits in in the storyline?
The mission you are seeing is called “Assault on Rochereau”. The player’s primary objective in this mission is to save the French Resistance leader, Adrienne, that has been assisting the Heroes. I don’t want to give away too much about the story, but Adrienne has come under heavy fire by SS troops somewhere in the town, and Deuce Williams, the leader of The Outfit, has broken with orders to try to save her.
This level is a great example of some of the urban terrain you will find in The Outfit, and really shows off some of the outstanding level design and artwork we have under way in the game.
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