of 2005, several GhostRecon.net staff visited Red Storm Entertainment
studios in North Carolina. The following interview transcript
is the result of hours spent talking to RSE. The answers given
are from a particular slice of time within the development
cycle (close to beta). Keep in mind that game features and
details may have changed since then, and RSE’s statements
shouldn’t be taken as descriptions of the final product,
but rather as a ‘snapshot’ of GR:AW MP for 360
during that period of game development.
- Christian Allen (CA) – lead MP designer
- Brian Tate (BT) – overall lead artist
for GR:AW MP
- Pete Sekula (PS) – co lead artist
for GR:AW MP
- Robbie Edwards (RE) – producer
- Travis Getz (TG) – authenticity
- Hatchetforce (HF) – GR.net Staff
- ZJJ – GR.net Staff
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HF – The game,
is it only designed to run in one fashion on both the core
system and on the premium system or is it all going to load
into resident memory or if you have a hard drive will it stream
off the hard drive?
RE – It’s going to be the
HF – So no
difference in the load times?
BT - You wouldn’t be able to get
DLC if you don’t have the hard drive, but otherwise
it’s the same.
HF – Does
the system pre-load on the hard drive when you are first booting
it up like GR2 did when you go through the pre-loading process?
RE – That’s actually one of
the changes they made to the Xbox that they hated. That’s
how everyone used the Xbox hard drive for was cache to make
the load time faster so it’s a requirement that you
cannot do that on the Xbox 360, you have to do things differently.
HF – I knew
that that was a requirement, but I didn’t know if they
gave you the option, you know, for the game to basically do
a check if someone has a hard drive and I’ll do this
because it is more efficient.
RE – TCR is for loading and such
so it is pretty strict.
BT - It’s a technical checklist
of requirements for players even if you had a hard drive you
wouldn’t notice a difference.
RE – Even if you did cache to hard
drive, you are talking less than 30 second load times.
HF – So you’ve
been that impressed with the 360?
RE – We’ve got a game down
there that loads up in 6 seconds. From the time you boot the
console until you are playing the game is 6 seconds.
CA – What you saw today was with
like load times and stuff is all unoptimized.
BT – Yeah the load times will be
no higher than GR2 Xbox, yet we are loading 10 to12 times
as much data.
HF – You consider
yourself at a late alpha, a beta, mid beta stage? Where do
you think the game sits at right now? What were we looking
BT – That’s a good question
CA – That’s a Robbie question.
RE – As far as content, we’re
still a few weeks away from beta. As far as features and engine
technology we are pretty close to beta. There are few other
things we got to deal with. There are some technical things
we got to sit down and talk about.
HF – Is the
AI code locked? Did you already hard code that?
BT - It’s still getting tweaked,
Nothings locked right now. Of the things you saw today probably
the in game, the HUD and the interface, the reticules, are
the most unpolished, unfinished.
HF – I know
it’s a requirement for all Xbox games 360 games to run
at 720p. That’s what you are fixing to run it at, 720p?
Talk about a few titles running higher than that.
RE – What we run at 720, and well,
is the 4x3 format, right?
BT - Yeah, we do native wide screen and
4x3 if you have a non HD television or a non widescreen television.
And the vertical resolution is 720 either way. If you have
a widescreen TV you are getting a little bit extra screen
real estate out of the deal.
HF – Which
makes a difference in some games in MP, because your peripheral
view is actually an advantage.
BT – It’s definitely more
playable for split screen. I would say, if you want to play
you and a buddy side by side, it’s a lot better experience
on a wide screen TV because you basically get a square view
port instead of having to split the screen into two thin slivers.
It’s definitely a lot more playable that way. I’ve
really liked playing on a wide screen TV playing split screen
RE - I’ve been playing a whole lot.
HF – The SDK
for the Xbox 360, there has been a lot made of this. I asked
you about it earlier, about the tools that MS furnished you
for the 360 for development. Is it this quantum leap in development
that we were lead to believe the 360 was going to offer real
easy to use?
RE – Depends on what you worked
on in the past. If you worked on the Xbox, you know, it’s
not that different, but if you worked on maybe other consoles
or other platforms I think you wouldn’t have a very
favorable view of the SDK and stuff offered by MS.
HF – Has the
XNA, which has been harped on has that sped up in anyway?
The boilerplate code which were going to take care of the
XNA has that in anyway helped you out?
BT – Not a major factor yet.
RE – But what has helped us out
is the friend’s list and game advice. All this stuff
we had to do for GR2 that easily took man months or man years
of development over time is done for us now so we have been
able to focus on making our UI fun for our game and not dealing
with the TCR requirements of the Xbox.
BT – We don’t have to do any
of the stuff that is common to every game. MS handles all
of that, it’s a godsend.
RE – Seriously, it’s easily
a year’s worth of development time done for us. Not
only with this title, for every title we ever do on the Xbox
CA – It’s great for the gamer
too, because when you go on your friends list it is the same,
no matter what you do, you’re going to have one list
scrolls this way, or one game works this way, it’s really,
really been nice. Nobody wants that kind of stuff.
BT – It’s also nice for the
customer because the customer is getting a better product?
Red Storm is able to spend a lot more time working on the
fun parts of the game that the customer really enjoys, versus
all this background minutia stuff. You should be able to take
it for granted as a consumer. It’s almost to that point
as a developer, that you can take those features for granted.
HF – Even
at the stage you’re at, the frame rates are pretty good
in there. Do you think you’re going to see at least
above the 30 mark?
BT – Definitely. Definitely. 30
would be like the floor…
HF – Thirty
is like the minimum right now the most people say if they
stay above 30 right now, they’re OK. PGR3 is the one
that had to play around with the 720 scaling to get them above
BT – Right.
RE – There’re having to do
HF – Yeah,
they’re actually not running at 720p, they’re
actually using this scaling trick, and there are some big
articles on the web about it. It’s technical, you can
go read it. But they are actually I might say cheating, in
order to get the game to run at 720p.
BT – Well, no cheating here. We’re
going 720p all the time, and 30 FPS would be our floor for
BT - Pete might be able to spit out some
info about the texture memory and polygons, and how it’s
different from GR2 and GR3.
PS – It’s apples and oranges.
Xbox, we need specifically a budget 13.5MB of memory to work
with for a map. And you know, we’re not streaming data
on the fly, it’s all just loaded up front, so it kind
of put a little cramp on detail, but the maps still looked
great. As far as Xbox 360 is concerned, we have a budget of
about 200MB of memory, so we’re throwing a whole lot
more on to that.
RE - 15 times more.
PS - And that’s just on texture
memory alone. As far as triangle count, 4 or 5 times as many
BT - if not more.
PS - And combined with performance optimizations,
I mean the whole map can be millions of triangles. So it’s
more than just a jump between Xbox and 360, it’s just
a huge, huge difference in quality. It’s great.
CA - It’s funny, because on like
the weapons models on GR2, the guys made the weapons models,
right, and they were like done, I reviewed them, and I was
like “Yeah, those look good, everything’s right,
they look good”, and when we first did the weapons models
on GR3, I was like “Oh. That screw should be a Phillips
head, not flat head, and the distance between these two rails
is a little bit too wide, and this scope latch here is too
curved.” Because you had so much detail, you could literally
see that much stuff and go “Oh well” you know
there has a screw head on both sides. The kind of detail that
goes into the games is just amazing.
HF – One of
the problems with SOCOM II in order to balance the weapons,
they reduced rates of fire on the weapons, well, consequently
it affected the fire so when I heard the weapons sounds in
the game I went, pft, the weapons doesn’t sound like
that. SOCOM III comes out, I’m running it, one of my
guys has a 60, he starts cranking away, I put the controller
down and listened. I went, “This is a 60.” They
decided that just the way to balance the weapon in the game
because they said, you know what, we have to find a different
method rather than retarding the weapons because that was
a big issue with the gamers and it was all over the SCEA boards
about doing that. I was talking to Justin about it, the sounds
in that title are just phenomenal. The M4 you hear, that’s
an M4 running, because an M4 sounds a little bit like a buzz
saw. I mean it’s more rapid than people realize and
an M60s got that chugging sound and when I heard it I was
like they are dead on the money with it. So I am kind of curious
about the sounds in that regard.
CA – Yeah, definitely. Wesevich
will be able to give you more detail. I know they went to
a new studio and got almost all new sounds, we go through
a 5 panel review process to get rates of fire and type of
ammo, the difference between a 6.8 suppressed and a 5.56 suppressed
… all that kind of stuff.
BT – It’s all over my head.
As long as the gun looks pretty
PS - and the shell casings have that nice
BT - I had to get the highlights just
right on the shell casings.
HF – He was
pointing out the little Red Storm logo
PS – on the shell casing?
HF – no side
CA – on the receiver
PS – no one’s found my Red
Storm manufacturing text that I had written on the shell casings,
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