Battlefield 4 is today available for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC, with the Xbox One and PS4 versions available when those consoles launch. Lars Gustavsson is the Creative Director at Sweden based developer DICE. He loves coming out to Australia, so we booked a small amount of time with him on a recent visit.
[iTWire] Without a doubt the new Frostbite engine is churning out some wonderful visuals, how much more freedom do you have in creative design given the new development tools available?
[Lars] In the old days we used to build the engine and the game at the same time which left us with no, or very basic tools to be creative with. With the new organization within DICE and EA where we have our own dedicated Frostbite team that supports multiple projects within the organization, we finally have a much more reliable tools chain to rely upon which allows us to focus on the creative side. As an artist, you don’t want to worry about squeezing the paint out of the tube; you want to focus on your piece of art.
[iTWire] In reference to the console versions of BF4, in 2011 you mentioned that the hardware would be pushed to its limits with BF3, Has the team managed to squeeze more performance from the end of this console generation?
[Lars] The hardware is still the same but with Frostbite 3 being built to scale even better, some great optimizations and overall more creative ways of using our tools, the team has once again managed to push the boundaries for what we thought was possible. I’m extremely proud of working with this talented bunch of people that keeps on surprising you when you almost have given up.
[iTWire] Working on the 12th iteration of a game franchise, how do you keep the creative process new and motivating?
[Lars] There are three main factors that constantly push us to stay in the forefront:
- The constant addition of new fresh minds into DICE that dare to challenge how we have done things previously.
- An ongoing communication with our brilliant community who’s very outspoken about their likes and dislikes as well as their dreams for the future.
- Healthy competition within the games industry where other studios in the same, and other genres, keep on pushing the boundaries for what was seen as possible. This challenges us to try even harder to find new approaches to keep the franchise new and fresh even though it’s been around for a while. We always want to see jaws dropped when we start revealing news about the game and to stray from that would be to accept that you would no longer attempt to lead the future. For us, the mindset is and has always been that anything is possible!
[iTWire] What advances can players expect to see in this new version? In particular which area of the game gets the lion’s share of love from the development team, Multiplayer, Vehicles, Storyline?
[Lars] We have such a large team now that no part of the game should go untouched. There is a new single player campaign with a new storyline supported by new gameplay mechanics, many of them inspired by our multiplayer gameplay providing more freedom of choice. We keep on pushing to maintain the lead with a more impressive multiplayer experience than ever introducing the concept of Levolution, the highly dynamic and interactive battlefields that reacts to your every move. We’re also delivering 64 players at 60 fps on the next generation of consoles and a new and improved Battlelog experience which allows you to stay connected to your battlefield experience wherever you go. We’re also pushing for the next generation of team play with extended teamwork within the squads and the addition of commander mode, both from inside the game client as well as on your iPad or Android tablet on the go. The list is long and I’m extremely proud of what we’ve managed to accomplish.
[Lars] We are really excited about the new generation of consoles and what it allows us to do. To finally be able to provide the community with 64 players at 60fps, after all these years of having to cap it at 24 players on console while PC had 64, is a huge step forward for Battlefield as a franchise. Consoles provides a way of consuming games, physical copies or digital versions, that is very accessible and user friendly so I do think that that formula will stay with us for quite some time. Still, new competing console versions might turn up in the years to come as well as new ways of accessing and consuming games on them, but the concept remains.