Battlefield 3 is one of the biggest games hitting stores this year, going up against the might of Activision's Modern Warfare 3. With development now well into the crunch period before launch, we caught up with DICE general manager Karl-Magnus Troedsson to find out how things are going, what the future is for the Battlefield series and what lies ahead for the studio.
Q: What's the current status of development? Are you deep into the crunch period?
Karl-Magnus Troedsson: Definitely yes. Pretty much everyone back at the DICE studio is working on Battlefield 3 now and has been for some time. As it always is when you ship a big title like this, the last month of the project is very, very busy. The awesome dev team is back home, working really, really hard to finish off this product in time.
Q: Are you planning a day one patch for multiplayer?
KMT: We are looking at the whole post-launch plan for what we're going to do with this product, and we are dedicated to the fact that we want to take care of this product - not just on day one, but for a long period of time. There will be booster packs with more content and DLC, and also updates to the client and server code in the background. Without knowing exactly what we're going to do with the game, yes, there will definitely be updates for the game.
Q: How have you dealt with the leaked footage of the Xbox 360 version of the game? Has that been an unwanted problem this close to release?
KMT: The problem is we don't want people to experience the game through a crappy YouTube video with a 320x200 resolution, or something like that. We want people to see this game in the great HD way that we want people to see it, of course. Except for that, we are trying to focus on the leak. It's sad to see but we just move on and focus on building the game.
Q: What would you say to people online, who have seen the footage and have expressed how it hasn't met their expectations?
KMT: I would ask them a question, and that is, 'How can you even make that judgement by looking at the quality of those videos?' - which I've seen, by the way. I'd follow that up by saying that they don't have to worry. The game is going to look really, really good on 360 as well, and we want to show them that now and up until launch.
Q: We've seen Battlefield 3 running at trade shows and events on PC and PS3. Is there a reason we haven't seen it running on 360?
KMT: I mean, we have to select which platforms we're going to show it on, and there might be a lot of reasons behind it, but I don't think people should worry about the 360. We do have the beta coming out very shortly now, we haven't got the final date but it will be coming out in September, then people can play it themselves on 360 and hopefully can see that it looks and plays really well on 360.
Q: I read a story that said you could technically support 256 players in BF3. Why did you choose to set the max at 64?
KMT: I don't know where you've read that, but yes possibly we could support more players like that but it comes down to gameplay and balance, and we believe even creating a 64-player match is not easy. It can become very methodical and unbalanced in many ways. It's easy for one team to push out the other, and this kind of thing. So it's not easy to create a balanced and equal game with so many players.
I would also say - perhaps as more of a personal reflection - that people seem a bit obsessed [with the idea] that more players is always better. I would argue that that's not always true, and I would look at what the E-sports community is doing. You see the people that actually compete in these games actually want to have smaller teams, because that's more equal and easier to play and more tactical from many aspects. But I understand that everyone plays in different ways, and our ambition is to have a significant amount of players on the battlefield, which I think we have managed in Battlefield 3.