Transformers: War for Cybertron Interview

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posted 6/8/2010 by Tina Amini
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Drinking and gaming wasn't the only thing to be had at last week's Transformers: War for Cybertron event held in San Francisco. Us journalists had to do journalisty things, and Gaming Nexus got a chance to speak with Rob Burns from High Moon Studios. He worked on the sound of the third-person shooter game, and gave us some insight into both the development and the experience of developing the game. Read on to see what we learned.

Transformers titles in the past have had a reputation of being lacking in content, having repetitive combat and gimmicky transformations. What did the team put into development to try to avoid that?

We started out just trying to make a good action shooter game. That's the basis of it, and then we tried to say, "how we can layer Transformers into it?" It's got to feel good to play, it has to be fun. Everyone at High Moon Studios plays a lot of games. We play the game every night, kill each other a lot. We play tons of multiplayer and everyone plays the single player all the time to send the designers feedback. A lot of it is a constant loop of feedback that we create. It really helped to drive the content, depth and action. Also, we made sure to say that we don't necessarily have to do something just because it's Transformers, or not have to do something. We decided to do what made it fun to play, and then make that fit into Transformers.


There was similar criticism for The Bourne Conspiracy game that the team worked on. Did you take any of that criticism and try to apply it?

We read all the reviews. We took it all to heart. We are very harsh critics on ourselves and to each other, as well. I think the short answer would be: yes.



Was there anything specific that you took from it that you wanted to learn from?

Well, it's a very different game. It's a completely different license. I couldn't give you any specifics right now, but it's a completely different style of gameplay, and one that I think we personally enjoy doing.


Are you worried about that negative reception that other Transformers games had?

No. Not at all.


So you think that it will sustain itself?

Yeah, I'm a gamer and I think it's fun. So I'm not worried about that at all.


Being that it is a completely new game, what new ideas did you incorporate? Did you have to learn anything along the way when you were developing it?

We started out with multiplayer, and we learn stuff every day. We wanted to put in the system for customizing characters and we worked with how we could do that to help balance the gameplay. That's how we came up with the idea of the different classes of the scouts, scientists and leaders and their unique abilities. We created a system where this specific ability can trump that ability, which can trump the other one. And this weapon can trump that one, which can trump that one. And the scientist can fly, but the solider has a lock-on rocket. So we started with playing lots of multiplayer and putting one aspect in the game at a time while play testing it a lot so we could go from there.


Would you say multiplayer was more difficult to create?

We had done it on a coupe of previous projects, among them was one that was unreleased and we also did it on Darkwatch 1, which had a multiplayer component to it. That's what a lot of us at the studio really love. So it wasn't necessarily more difficult as much as it was that we just wanted to make it our focus. We had to invent Cybertron, essentially, which was more difficult. The concept art really just knocked that out of the park: you can't go take photos of it really. It was like the designers already knew what Cybertron looked like.
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