Q: Can you tell us more about one of the new feature in BIA HH, the destructible environment/cover?
RP: In Brothers in Arms Hell’s Highway, being able to shred the kinds of things soldiers hide behind is a big deal. Yes, it does look awesome to see bullets tear apart a wooden fence splinter by splinter, but it is about more than just looking amazing. You see, if the cover that the enemy is protected by is invulnerable (as it is in just about every game you’ve played before), then your only option is to wait them out or charge up on them. Brothers in Arms has always been about suppression and looking for flanks (like real combat), but now it’s also about combined arms and volume of fire. It’s intense and the feature takes Brothers in Arms Hell’s Highway to a new level of authenticity.
Q: How does it impact the gameplay?
RP: The enemy can run, but they can't hide. Wood can be shredded splinter by splinter and hard cover emplacements, like sand bags, can be blown away with high explosives (grenade and bazookas). It's amazing to watch and great fun to play with. I can't believe we're actually doing what we're doing because no game I've ever played feels this cool with destructible environments. Having destructible environments/destructible cover changes the decisions that are made on the battlefield and the options for winning. It changes the game quite a bit. And there's a lot of variety too, not just in the gameplay but also in the background, in the level design and the ways that you progress through these environments and the tactical encounters you run into.
Q: Can you tell us more about the development process of the destructible environment?
BW: The very first destructible was a 12 piece checker-board prop that resembled a fence. This was used as a proof-of-concept to ensure that we could get it to break apart the way we needed it to and also to set memory and performance budgets.From there we designed the workflow for getting destructibles into the game. It starts with the art guys modelling their pieces, setting up a skeleton which defines how the destructible needs to break, getting it into the engine, and level designers placing them into the levels.
With that in place, art began cranking out various destructible objects, while code had to develop a few other components to the system like telling soldiers when the cover they're on is destroyed, etc.
Q: Did you meet any particular challenges?
BW: Yes, our destructible system requires interaction with many other game systems. They have to interact with the cover and navigation system, physics, and even some rendering tricks needed to pull it off. Each of these considerations was a challenge of its own.
Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway is scheduled for release August 26, 2008.
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