Interview with Zombie Studios Lead Designer Jared Gerritzen
Q: What were some of the key first person shooters that inspired your studio’s upcoming title?
JG: In term of gaming inspiration, we’ve played a lot of Half Life, Counter Strike and Metal Gear Solid to design the foundations of Blacklight: Retribution. Lately, we’ve been playing Call of Duty: Black Ops and loved the weapon customization experience, so we’ve added a lot of depth to that part of the experience in our game.
Q: Any other key inspirations for Blacklight: Retribution?
JG: First, a lot of the futuristic action movies that we love: cult classics like Blade Runner or The Fifth Element or, more recently, Babylon AD. A lot of our art guys here are big fans of anime, so as well the cult classics like Akira, Ghost in the Shell or Appleseed.
Otherwise, a lot more inspirations came from places where you might least expect them:
- For the weapon customization user interfaced, we were big fans of the Project Gotham Racing car customization tool
- For the Hyper Reality Visor (HRV), we were seated in LA and toying with a cool iPhone augmented reality app when we felt that it would have an awesome application as a way to spot others players in our game
To sum it up, a lot of our influences came from anime to cult futuristic movies to just life.
Q: How does this new game relate to your previous game?
JG: We think Tango Down was an awesome way to build the foundation of Blacklight: Retribution with the solid game system. But we’ve received as well a lot of feedback from fans on how to make our game even more tailored to what they were expecting.
What we’re aiming at is comparable to the gap of quality between Red Dead Revolver and Red Dead Redemption. Remember this feeling of “Wow, it’s 100 times better!”. Well, we think we can achieve a comparable to what Rockstar did!
And remember when Ubisoft Montreal listened to the Assassin’s Creed fans when they were working on Assassin’s Creed II? Well, we’re in the same mindset of listening to all the gamers who’ve played our first shooter and shared their thoughts, criticisms and hopes for the next one. Taking notes and working hard to make the great game they all want. And yes, I know those are big shoes to fill, but I believe we will deliver an amazing shooter for all PC gamers.
Q: Is this game developed with PC as a primary platform?
JG: Yes, unlike a lot of games these days, we really wanted to focus on a game that feels right for PC gamers. Blacklight: Retribution is at the top of cutting edge technology thanks to the Unreal 3 Engine, but will also be a free-to-play game that all PC shooter fans will be able to try.
Hey, after all, we’re all PC gamers in the studio so we wanted to make sure that we’re doing a kickass game that all of us will play, but as well a game where you can invite a bunch of friends to play with you without asking them to spend $50 while doing so. Our game will be easy to pick up, yet hard to master. And yes, that’s a challenge to all of you!
Q: What are the key technologies is behind this upcoming game?
JG: Well, first we’re free-to-play which allows a lot of cloud computing and makes all the patches available right away. It’s a big plus to work in an environment where, if any bug or exploit occur, it’s possible to correct them quickly.
Then, we’re using the Unreal 3 engine with DirectX11 and a lot of the fantastic options allowed by this engine and DirectX11. We’re thrilled to offer a free game with the most advanced technology.
Q: Advanced technology is awesome for the top PCs but what are the minimum specs?
I have seen a lot of discussions around minimum specs lately, and I know that media outlets like to publish min specs for numerous games. The responses I’ve seen in the past include “big deal, these games are being developed with the console as the lowest common denominator” and “my PC has run every game at max graphics for the last 5 years.” I totally hear where those guys are coming from and that they want something that will push their systems.
Well, we plan to do that with our support of DX11 and other tech that we are planning to bring forth. But at the same time, we also want to get to as wide an audience as possible, so we have set some reasonable min specs as a basis point to start.
So all that said, Here it is:
- OS: Windows XP / Vista / Windows 7
- Processor: Dual Core Processor
- Memory: 1GB RAM
- Graphics: ATI x1800+ / Nvidia 6800+
- DirectX: 9.0c
- Hard Drive: 2 GB Space Free
- Sound: DirectX 9.0c compliant sound card
Q: You’re working with Perfect World as publisher, why this choice?
JG: The Blacklight team here at Zombie has wanted to develop a free-to-play first person shooter for years. We were chomping at the bit to do it before we started doing the whole XBLA and PSN thing. So in many ways working with Perfect World Entertainment is an opportunity to get to where we have wanted to be for a long time. We still feel strongly in digital distribution and all that, and this is sort of the next step in that evolution.
So we have been looking to make free-to-play titles and Perfect World Entertainment has been looking to get into the shooter space. So it was an alliance of expertise. On our team, we have tons of shooter experience. My producer and I alone share over 20 years of shooter experience and we have many people here that come with lots of deep knowledge in the genre. So we are, in essence, the first person shooter experts. And Perfect World Entertainment are the free-to-play experts. They can share their knowledge and experience with us – what works, what doesn’t and so forth.
And that should make for a great partnership. Last, but not least for gamers like us, those guys are gamers and were really excited when they played our game. They were super excited to work on the game. And that is what we want. That is what we look for when we hire people and that is what we want in the people we work with. I don’t want a publisher on the other end who is just putting out a title to make a quick buck and move on. We want people who care. People who will be working as hard as we are to make the title a success. Gamers, that is, who will drive the product to be a better product. And I feel strongly that Perfect World Entertainment will do that.I am really excited for the future of this partnership!
More articles about Blacklight Retribution