I've compiled a list of questions that were asked to zh1nt0 (Dice Community Manager) and the answers he kindly provided.
Community Manager Q&A Pre-Podcast
Here's the Q&A that happened before the podcast:
A: Can't comment on Gameplay aspects just yet
A: Well first off, Battlefield Bad Company 1 and 2 were sort off spin-offs. You can clearly see it as a road-movie compared to BF3 which has a more serious tone. The tone in BC1 and 2 was more humorous. We also brough back Prone, Large scale and also Jets. The title also gives it away as a true successor since it's just Battlefield 3.
A: I've used it a few times. Not really my type of weapon
A: Suggestions from the community counts a lot. Tune in this saturday to find out!
A: Not talking about footage that hasn't been shown yet. Let's give the dev team some time to perfect their work. Still a long time left before the release of this masterpiece.
A: As I said previously. I'm not commenting on any gameplay specifics at this point. Changes are being done to everything from one day to the next so whatever I would say now, might change in the course of a few days. Let's make sure everything is settled before making an announcement on weapons and gameplay specifics.
As for mod tools, yes. We are aware of the modding community in Battlefield all the way from BF42 to BF2142. Nothing has been decided yet regarding mod tools and that's an answer that will come further down the road.
A: Can't announce how many maps just now just like I wrote a few posts higher up. " Changes are being done to everything from one day to the next so whatever I would say now, might change in the course of a few days". The Karkand pack will bring additional 4 maps to the base game.
A: Thanks for posting! I'll let them know.
A: For us to show anything, we really need to be happy with the quality and what we're showing. MP footage will be shown further down the road.
A: Tune in to the cast on Saturday and find out.
A: Oh yes! And I loved them both. Feedback on older games is a strange thing. Some people really embrace the nostalgic feeling and praise the older games as if they were the best things released to date. I had the feeling that BF2 really promoted teamwork with a bunch of different elements to point players in the right way. BF42 was the same for me. Great teamwork and awesome game!
A: Theater mode or Battlerecorder as we call it is a great addition to any game. I've passed on the feedback mentioned several times since the launch of BC2 and let's hope it gets integrated.
A: Feedback noted. Thanks!
A: Too early to discuss such things at the moment.
A: Of course. Every gamedeveloper has something called a QA Team which means Quality Assurance. Their job is to try out the game to make sure it runs and then some.
A: Well since we're in Sweden a lot of us are from around here. We do have other nationalities present though. British, American, Japanese, Germans and many more
A: We're monitoring the servers and putting a lot of effort into organizing the stats databases and other values. We're very sorry for the inconvenience but we're hard at work with both BF3 and making sure BFBC2 is playable for you on all platforms.
A: Now now.. Let's just wait for BF3 to launch and then you will see. The Karkand pre-order initiative has already been announced.
A: I never played PR but I've heard good things. Will fire up BF2 and give it a try in the coming days.
A: "Giving" players guns during different levels of the game depends also on how you have performed. If you have reached level 12 or 16, you should feel like a level 16 player. You put time and effort down into making it that far, of course your weapons are going to be slightly better.
The weapons have also been balanced back and forth after a few patches and we feel they are pretty optimal as they are right now.
A: PC 64, Console 24
A: He means Sandbox games that are just sandbox without a real concept or purpose are boring. You can't just make a sandbox game and expect the players to come up with all creative solutions. Might work for some but doesn't work for others. The best thing is to balance a sandbox game in a way that everyone can enjoy it. Take a look at BF2 for instance or BF42.
A: We have a lot of people playtesting maps, weapons and all other beautiful things in this game. I can't reveal our team-size and I'm not going to comment on work routines.
A: Not commenting gameplay specifics right now
A: I can't comment on multiplayer gameplay or features at the moment but what we are using that you have already seen in the fault line episodes is the new ANT system that offers are more physical gameplay.
A: I don't really see it as a load of bugs. We have successfuly patched the game and fixed the different issues that was present after release and during early fall. Of course there are still some issues there and we are doing are best to see how to solve it. As I've said before, right now our team is focused on bringing stability to the game with stats, connection, matchmaking etc..
Onslaught and BF43 was cancelled because we wanted to have more people working on Battlefield 3. (For BF43 same as above)
Our backend monitoring tools and database engineers see that we have maintained the same level of performance for some time now. I have looked at the tools and stats myself and confirm this.
We're not revealing wether we are working on a patch or not at the moment. We are however as I said above putting resources into making sure that the game runs smoothly and stable for everyone on every platform.
These kind of questions really piss me off. "Why do you choose to ignore them?" NO, we don't choose to ignore them. Every day we spend time looking through the forums, keeping a low-profile to not cause any speculations or rumors.
Read above lines.
A: Stick around and find out
A: BF3 will feature micro-destruction and destruction as you've seen in the fault line episodes. More to come!
A: Battlefield 3 is being built on PC
A: Thank you very much! I appreciate you're taking your time to ask questions I've forwarded the server browser request and been in several meetings since last year.
A: No comment since development process isn't at a final stage yet.
A: It's just too early to say right now wether that feature will be present or not. Remember, the game is far from finished.
A: Don't worry about it. We have a history of making awesome multiplayer games. If we decide to include something we've given it a lot of thought and tried it out many many times.
Battlefield 3 will be an FPS masterpiece!
A: I do hope so
A: Completely new since it's a brand new game
A: you will have to tune in on Saturday to find out
A: Not really a fantastic story. I really like japanese mythology and japanese history so I got it from there. Unfortunately the name "shinto" was already taken so I haxxored it and made it zh1nt0.
A: Good thought. But then again, it wouldn't be BF3 we would be building.
A: To give out PC specs, some parts of the development need to be set to final. I'm guessing we will give out the PC specs before the beta so stay with us for this one. Nothing has really been made public yet.
A: Good question to ask. If you haven't received a reply it's because it's still top secret..
A: We actually sat down and had a look at what we wanted to build with Battlefield 3 which means we had to throw away the old engine and re-write it from scratch. The streaming technology, the rendering.. Well everything is brand new.
A: We've announced co-op for BF3 as well as SP and MP. We haven't shown any Co-op or MP footage yet so I can't really comment on which way it's going to play.
A: If you mean console player count? It's been set to 24 players because of hardware limitations.
A: If you take a look at previous Battlefield games (BF2 for instance) the recoil system was more based on realism. Also in BC2 you had realistic recoil for the different weapons. Expect BF3 to pitch in with some cool stuff.
A: Tough question. I can't really answer that without giving away some parts that we're not ready to discuss .. Although, we've said there will be many different vehicles in the game.
A: Can't comment on console footage at all. My personal thoughts though is that split screen would be cool.
Can't comment on the lobby question either sadly enough =/. Mainly because we haven't shown anything and also because the game is far from finished and changes are being made to every aspect of the game from this day to the next. If I would answer your question, I would like everything to be final.
A: As I said in the above text, everything is brand new and with that, comes new issues. Then again, we have learnt quite a lot from the BC2 days and the Vietnam days and we will also have a full beta-test with an unannounced date at this moment.
Hit registration is a peculiar thing really. It's based on so many different factors that a straight answer would be difficult to give. You have a) Your connection to the gameserver, b) your connection to your ISP and c) Other players ping on the server. We're taking all of this into account and hopefully we will be able to deliver something really big this fall.
A: Can't talk about consoles unfortunately.
I just have to make one short comment on the topic of bugs and issues in games in general.
When a product (a game) is being worked on, there are different parts of a development team that do different tasks. You have teams that work on the weapons, maps, gameplay aspects, UI and other things that make the game as a whole.
Now, to try all of this out, every game company has something called a QA Team. This QA team ensures that the most crucial issues are being worked out in time before big release dates and so forth. All feedback that is given during beta-stages is also considered by these people.
I've been getting the comment recently that "DICE used to care about their gamers in the old days of BF2″. From what I experienced as a pro player in BF42 who spent years playing both BF42 and BFV right before BF2, I have to say that although DICE cared about their games which we also do now, there were certain aspects of those games which people didn't really find perfect then either.
When BF2 launched there was a lot of complaints on the hitreg, animations, glitches etc.. To my memory, the last patch for BF2 was even given out last year.
To "care" about the game does mean that you need to maintain a high level of support for it, but, it also means that you need to stop yourself from making too many changes that will drastically change the experience for many thousands or even hundreds of thousands of players out there.
A: The idea has been pitched and I really can't say more than that I do however agree that LAN Support is a great way to give the game large amounts of playability on different venues such as E-sports, LAN-parties or just to train with your team.
Can't comment on Mod or SDK Support either. Ask me again further down the road and I will definitely have an answer for you.
A: First things first. The QA Team is a very skilled and talented one over here at DICE. If they weren't they wouldn't be here. It's as simple as that.
Making a game from scratch is not easy and there are bound to be issues with games and have always been since they came out. There has always been patches to fix issues that came up post-release or pre-release during beta access.
I don't see BC2 as a fiasco at all. I see it as a very good game. So do industry professionals, critics, communities and we're very proud of that game as well. It has tought us a lot and we've also taken a big leep forward since 2010 when it was released. Looking at sales figures, players online, amount of awards and the amount of appreciation for this game. There are more sites covering Battlefield that were based around BC2 than ever which is a very healthy sign.
A: It all pretty much depends on what consoles there are out there. In our statements in regard to console player count we have announced that itīs difficult to raise the bar because of hardware limitations. Itīs the same thing for PCīs. If you donīt have a good enough PC you wonīt be able to run 32+32 battles. I remember playing BF Vietnam on PC before I got my first rig. It was impossible for me to jump on a server larger than 24 people.
A: Itīs very important actually. Suggestions let us know that people are amped up for this game and with these many suggestions that we have itīs great! Itīs also a great way of letting us know what the hardcore community thinks and feels about things we say online. If there was no one to monitor forums/twitter and all that sorts of stuff, the request for new maps in BC2 probably wouldn't have been heard as loud. The feedback needs a line into the studio.
A: I canīt answer whether or not there will be more updates coming to BC2. What I can say is that we are monitoring online status and activities to ensure that your experience in the game runs smoothly.
Community Manager Q&A Podcast
Here's the Q&A that happened during the podcast:
A: I think I'm insane doing this job. It's a lifestyle pretty much, you have to be available and the time to do it. I actually used to be doing this before I worked at DICE. If you don't have it as your lifestyle it becomes very difficult. I realized I wanted to work in the gaming industry after jumping into Bad Company 2 from Casual Gaming. The gaming industry is interesting, I was never interested in the industry, more the games themselves. It was never part of my initial interest in terms of networking or setting up contacts. I was more interested in setting up my own teams, being creative, etc and I'm doing that by being a community manager.
A: The working environment. It's great, it's creative, it's also important to have fun at work. We play sports games, hang out in the kitchen and have a tea. It's really important for your creativity to relax. This studio makes you feel very valuable, they make you feel like you are really apart of something important.
A: It's amazing, a lot of people are saying we are doing the best community management. But there a lot of things I think we can improve on. There are always things we can make better, we are always competing with ourselves. Some people will say it drives you crazy but I think it pushes perfection.
A: I think it's very important for the community to see the community manager as not the vice principal. Patrick Bach was saying in a recent interview that DICE has a very socialist way of making video games. I'd like to say that we also run the Community in a Socialist way.
A: I try to go online as much as possible. It's very important to play with the community but sometimes there isn't much time in a day, week or month to do so.
A: We look at all the social networking sites and we just don't comment due to time.
A: We wanted to make something after Battlefield 2 that was the true sequel to BF2. If you look at Bad Company 1 and 2 that was more of a tongue and cheek experience to the Battlefield series. We didn't have single player in older versions. We started implementing single player with a real movie experience. With Battlefield 3 it's going to take a much more serious approach then Bad Company. It is situated around a conflict in the Middle East, there will be levels like New York and Paris that won't be exclusive to the Middle East.
A: Some people say Battlefield aims to be very realistic, we've never claimed that title. We wanted to make a semi-realistic gameplay. Our top improvements are:
Animation (ANT EA tech in FIFA) You can feel when you crouch, when you drop, when you get shot. Makes the player feel much more immersed in the gameplay then before.
Scale is very important to us. Remember the big maps in BF2 which were a lot bigger than BF1942. Not all areas in BF2 and BF42 were combat zones but added to the map. In Bad Company 2, it's still a sandbox but lacks those extra areas like previous Battlefield titles. We are going back to the big scale levels for BF3.
Destruction: Another key point, I don't think I need to say much about it as everyone has already seen it. The destruction in BC1/2 kind of changed how you played the game. We are taking that a step further in BF3. It's going to be more tactical then it was in BC2.
Sound is very important for us and I would dare to say that our sound team is the best out there. Battlefield 3 is aiming to be much more realistic to Bad Company 2. The voice overs will be more gritty and if you don't like cuss words, don't use your headphones, turn your sound down!
A: Nothing that I can actually say in relation to PC and Consoles. I really feel for the people who want more then 24 players on consoles. But what we are creating in BF3, will be enough for 24 players.
A: We don't want to give out footage that will change in the next few months. We don't want to be in the position to cut things. When we do release multiplayer footage we want to stick with that. With the current stage of BF3 that's not possible. So we are going to wait until we are really sure that will stick in the game to release any multiplayer footage.
A: Yep, it's still in pre-alpha.
A: The main answer is to support the community but then again what's supporting the community? The Community will grow to a certain extent by themselves but we have to help them grow too. In terms of what we will do, we will keep this high level of communication, pumping a lot of information into social networking sites and forums. It's very important for us to know what people think. We've got an exclusive BASHandSLASH podcast series. We've got community challenges going up, there were so many funny posts from our recent Community Challenge.
A new Community challenge is actually on it's way. Remake the BF2/ BF1942 theme song with any instrument you like. If you have a bagpipe record it.
A: We've announced E3, which is going to be great. I've never been to E3 and I'd like to go. Except the only problem is I don't like flying!
A: We haven't really announced any details on the beta. I can't really say much about it as I don't have enough information to make a statement.
A: The EA CEO stated that BF3 will be released november. We aren't really sure when in November, could be December, could be October. But it will be around that time frame
A: We didn't implement things like Battle Recorder in to Bad Company 2 because it wasn't polished. We aren't confirming battle recorder. We have to work more on the features of the game. But that does not mean that are not going to support competitive play features in BF3.
A: We are always open to feedback. As I said before we are constantly reading websites and forums to get information from the users. Just shoot us a message on twitter, even if it's not a game related question
A: My advice for anyone running major or small community sites. Stay in touch with each other. Share images. Stick together and let's make it perfect. Also I've been getting a lot of questions about why DICE didn't do anything for competitive play in BFBC2. Most people have said there hasn't been much of a scene for competitive play. That's not exactly true. There was great support but the features were missing.
A: We decided to drop it for PC to focus on Battlefield 3, since it is mainly developed on the PC platform.
A: I can't really say as that's very far in the future.
A: I hope so