Friday, 15 November 2013

Interview: Tim Browne(N1tch)

Hi guys,
I am very excited and pleased to bring you all an exclusive with the lead game designer  on Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag multiplayer, Tim Browne! I do hope you all enjoy the insight into the multiplayer of one of the biggest games of 2013, without further ado here it is:

1) What is it like to develop the multiplayer for a game with a fan base the size of which AC has?
In a word ‘Awesome!’. We have such a great community who are very supportive makes things really great. That said when I first started it was a little daunting. Fans and players have very high expectations so we know we have to make a game that lives up to these.

2) What was the biggest problem you faced whilst developing Black Flag's multiplayer?
This year we were very ambitious. Partly on some of the technical obstacles we wanted to overcome and partly on some of the new features we wanted to give to the players. Developing on the Next Generation of consoles also came with its challenges but the 1st parties have given us huge amounts of support to allow us to be part of their fantastic launch titles.
3) What academic route did you take to end up in your current position?
I didn’t know I was going to be a game designer back when I was finishing high school. I actually wanted to be a Paramedic at the time so the route I took when I went to college was more focus on Health and Social care. That said I did do a course in computer programming (not that I remember so much of it now). I spent a lot of time modding maps in several games and when I was 18 I sent out examples to lots of companies. One of them loved my work and offered me a job as a level designer so you can see things have changed since 15 years ago!
4) Where did the inspiration come from to put Game Lab into the game?
This came about partly from the community and their discussions on the forums and twitter. Often there are abilities in the game that get discussed and players would talk about how they would change it or how some would just outright ban some of them. We started discussing ‘what if we could allow players to ban certain abilities’ and this is where the initial idea came from. After we though more about it we said ‘why stop at just banning an ability, why not allow players to make their very own modes’ and so Game Lab as it is today was born from that.
5) Did you ever consider holding a beta for Black Flag?
We do have a beta program but this is known as a closed beta. We use this to do stress tests on servers and check aspects like the match making of the game. We also used it to stress test the clan system. To make a beta that is open for the public would take a great deal of time and we currently work on roughly a yearly iteration. If we did a beta like that we wouldn’t have the resources to be able to have as many great features we have in Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag multiplayer.
6) What are your thoughts on the next generation of consoles?
I’m very excited about the next generation of consoles. I have both pre-ordered and I know I’m going to have a hard time deciding which one to play on and which game!
7) Would you like to see a competitive scene form around AC games?
I think there already is a competitive scene around the AC games but its not very big at the moment. Oh amazing community however have made it grow year on year and I’d love to see it get much bigger. I’d actively encourage people to run their own tournaments and leagues which I know some of the community already so. Also with the addition of Game Lab this allows players to create their own modes to run tournaments on so I think we’re going to see an even more competitive scene developing over time.
8) Ubisoft is known for having passionate workers. What is it like to work in such an enviroment?
Having been in the industry for 15 years now I can say that this environment is one of the most exciting, challenging and rewards I’ve worked in. The drive and passion that I see from my co-workers is fantastic and we have a great team spirit here.
9) What games have you worked on the past?
Assassin’s Creed III, Operation Flashpoint Red River, Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising, Pirate of the Caribbean: At Worlds End, Batman Begins, Predator: Concrete Jungle, DJ Decks and FX, Rogue Ops and Blade. That covers PC and consoles from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all the way back to the original PlayStation.
10) How did you feel when you started reading the reviews for Black Flag?
Similar to previous game launches. I was nervous, excited and curious. The reviews have been great and some high praise has come through for multiplayer and in particular, Game Lab and the improvements we did on Wolfpack.
11) What games did you play as a child that inspired you to enter the gaming industry?
A lot! I’d say one of the earliest games I remember played was Chuckie Egg on the Acorn Electron which I still occasionally play on online emulators. Growing up I had both Atari and Amiga machines and then progressed on to consles. Other games I remember fondly from a long time ago are Road Rash, Bomberman and Worms.
12) What inspires you in your day to day work?
There is a lot that I get inspiration from. Things like TV shows, movies, other games. This will sound a little cheesy but comments on twitter from fans are very inspirational and they can really spurn you on. Also because Assassin’s Creed is such a big internationally known game I get them at random through day and night which is really cool.
Thank you very much for reading, and a special thanks to Tim for doing the interview with me.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

My thoughts of the week

Hi guys,
Firsly I recently surpassed 5,000 views on my blog, and I would like to thank each and every one of you who has come onto my blog and read even the smallest of articles. I hope to continue producing articles that interest you are provoke thoughts of your own! Anyway enough of the soppy rubbish the show must go on!
    To mark the special occasion of passing 5K views, I thought is was high time to start a new series of articles! So I welcome you to my thoughts of the week, in these posts, I will be talking about many different ideas or thoughts I have had about gaming that don't really deserve their own post! Let's get on with it:
 Current and Next gen multiplayers: Due to that fact that this year particularly a lot of people will be upgrading to a next gen console, and many people will be staying with their current consoles. That will mean that multiplayer lobbys will be considerably lower in population than last year. Last year there were 3 platforms that most game could be on: the PS3, the PC and the Xbox 360, however this year there are 5 platforms to play a game on: PS3, PC, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One. Does it concern you that current gen multiplayers may be considerably under populated in comparison to last year?
 User Created content in more games: I know it is a stupid thought, but just imagine if every game you bought has the ability to create your own content!  Now the main problem from the developers point of view, is money, the commodity that is rumoured to keep the world going! As it stands dev's make a lot of money from DLC and micro-transactions(which are technically DLC but anyway!) so if they were to introduce UCG into every game, they would have to sell the game for considerably more money in the first place. You would be looking at around £100 just for the game! I can dream though.
Developer's working on the same project: A project that would see at least 2 major developing company's join arms and create one super awesome game, this is more realistic that my above thought, but still unlikely. Just because a game has been made by two company's doesn't mean the game will sell more copies than if it had been made my just one company. So each company would more than likely make a loss due to the same size team being used, but only half the profits coming it. Just think of it though a game that saw both Activision and DICE teaming up to create one mega shooting game!
     Once you have finished drooling over my last thought I have the unfortunate news of telling you that this post in now over! I do hope you have enjoyed if you have, you can click here to tweet about it!
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Thanks for reading