Blacklight: Tango Down

Zombie Studios project leader on the future of DLC and the wider industy

Blacklight: Tango Down is a 2GB DLC first person shooter, which has little choice but share a battlefield with some of the biggest names in gaming history?

But are Zombie Studios really the underdogs here, or could they actually be the pioneers that could force the big boys to up their game?

CVG talked to Project Leader and Lead Game Designer, Jared Gerritzen, to find out what was driving the small team at Zombie Studios and what he thought about some of the firmly established names they were in competition with.

Which came first the desire to do an FPS like or the idea that you might be able to do something this big for download?
Well how it worked was we had the universe, we had the Blacklight universe, and we had a very very big game that we were working with a big publisher on and the market fell out and all the money for new IPs went away across the market. So we said, "Ok we've got a few months, what do we want to do? We still want to do this game, how can we do it? Change it into first person, pull the team out and let's go make it a multiplayer only game, worse comes to worse we do something like Battlefield 2 but we do it ourselves, and we just publish it, put it out on PC and see what happens to it."

So we did the three months and in that three months Trials HD came out and everyone stopped working for a week because we were just playing that stupid game. So that came out and DLC really kind of popped, you know, there was Castle Crashers and Trials HD and we thought, "This could be it, this could be how we get it out on the consoles."

We finished the project and right around then Battlefield 1943 came out and we were like, yeah we can do this, we can totally do this. We took it to a couple of publishers and we found Ignition and Ignition fully got it and so we kept on going from there.

So the DLC thing was in our head but we didn't know if we could do it and then we started talking to Microsoft and they were kind of shocked by it. They said "Hold on, are you sure you want to put this much out?" They actually said, "This might be too much to put out on DLC..."

From a logistic point of view or...
Well because it brings the standards up, you know? Anyone else that puts out a game on DLC will have to put out as much as we did and it was a lot of work. We really busted our asses on this project. We have a really small team, but it's a small team of passionate guys who really work smart and work hard so it's really turned out good.

How big is the game?
For consoles it's going to be under 2GB. Right now it's 1.6 or 1.8 and PC will be a little bit larger because we're going to put out larger textures. On both consoles the textures get baked down. All of our textures are 2048 so they're really really big.

What's enabled you to do this? To put all this in such a small space for DLC? Is it the technology you've been using or just technology more generally?
Well, I think the way we've been able to do it is we're using Unreal 3, we've been using Unreal 3 for, gosh, 6 years. We've been an Unreal 3 studio since the beginning so we knew the engine and we knew the tech.

A lot of the time, the big thing that developers hit is, "Ok we make it on this, how do we get it on the console?" and we knew how to get it on the console because of all of our experience so that went away almost instantly. Then just the laser beam focus we've had for this game. We knew this is going fast paced first person Shooter. Every time anyone would bring that up, they'd say something like, "Hey can we add Prone?" That is not fast paced first person shooter.

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