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Interviews

Blacklight: Tango Down

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

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So we just kept on going, that was our mandate that was our guideline. Then when we had the art direction of it we had these amazing concepts done in the beginning and it was like, "Yes this is the visual look, this is how its going to be. It's going to be this very broken down society with this over built technology." So we had all those pieces and the design team really busted their asses making the maps good and the art team's done an amazing job on the art so it's been really that kind of power train where it's been sheer will not only of one person to put it out, it's been sheer will of everyone.

We've really really crushed it I think. I want to see other games, DLC especially or 60 dollar games, bring their level up to that magnitude. I think a lot of studios that have 120 people or 200 people would never be able to what we did in a year.

What do you think the difference is?
I've been on both sides of development. I've been at a big studio with 30 producers and it's like, "Oh we need to have a meeting about that. Oh we need to have a meeting about that." The bull crap that happens, it happens in offices all the time, you know? You have fast and agile systems and then you have meetings and reports and a crap load of documentation.

We have the whole game documented but when we documented the game, it was in lock down, we documented it in the first month of the game and after that it never changed and it's because if you have people constantly coming in and changing it and saying, "Mmm this doesn't work" it ruins it.

But I think for a lot of the big companies and a lot of companies with a shit load of money it's like, "Oh we can let it slip." and when you have 'we can let it slip' in your mind, that's when you ruin it. It's like "Oh I can paint the house next month." With us it's, "We need to paint the house today" and the mentality's a lot sharper.

And you found your publisher when you had a pretty much finished product?
We had the first playable. We had four maps, what we would consider an alpha. The look and feel was there and the core gameplay was there. We had the core weapons systems but not the customisation added to them. So you were able to select all these guns and play the game and have fun with it as well as connecting with everyone, but there were still systems that we added after we worked with Ignition. Ignition's been an amazing publisher. They've done nothing but make sure that they've given us everything that we've needed. It's been a really great project actually.

I suppose you only need to look at Activision and Infinity Ward to know how wrong it can go...
Yeah and that's kind of the sad thing. Everyone wants to do the best thing and there are formulas that publishers use and we spoke with publishers that were interested in it but were like, "Well we need five new USPs." Ok well, you know, what about the game? "Yeah yeah but we need these things. We need to make sure it gets approval by thirty different departments." I think that's where a lot of things get held up. There would be a lot more new IPs if people were to understand a different mentality.

I think DLC is going to have that different mentality. A lot of new cool things are going to come out of DLC because of that. If you want to do a 60 dollar game you need to do the big budget movie. You have District 9 that was a small awesome passion project and was done with 3 million dollars, but it looks like it's been done with a hundred million like other big movies. Why did that do that? It's that passion and the beliefs that they had. It's just making sure that the others can be just as good.

You know, when you're buying our game for the price of five maps from the other guys, step it up. I mean really if there's a little guy snapping at your heels all the time you'll catch on otherwise we'll catch you.

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