Interview: SOCOM: Fire Team Bravo

Interview: SOCOM: Fire Team Bravo

Written by The GN Staff on 12/5/2005 for
More On: SOCOM: Fire Team Bravo

The SOCOM franchise has been a huge hit for Sony for the last few years and it was only a matter of time before the franchise made it’s way to Sony’s luscious Playstation Portable.  Today we talk with Torin Rettig, the associate producer for the game about what it took to downsize the game for the PSP.

GamingNexus: The past three SOCOM games for the console have taken advantage of every button on the PlayStation 2's control, what kind of concessions did you have to make in order for Fireteam Bravo to fit on the PSP?
Torin Rettig: The biggest change we had to make was our Target Lock system. It became evident very early on that transplanting look control to the face buttons would not be a feasible option for a number of reasons. One, it would immediately take 4 buttons away from us and we were already 4 buttons short on the PSP going in. Secondly, and to us more importantly, the face button look control never felt natural and responsive enough to be a fun and useable control option in our game.  So we came up with our Target Lock scheme and made sure it was deep, robust and fun enough to add to the game instead of taking away from it.

However, this still left us about 4 buttons short so we had to get creative about our use of the remaining buttons to still give the player the same degree of control that they had in the PlayStation 2 SOCOM games. We made some buttons do double duty by making a tap and a hold of the button initiate different functions. For instance, tapping Triangle will change stances, but holding Triangle will quickly switch between your primary weapon and primary grenade. We also made it so that you had to be in your inventory to change fire modes. Not ideal, but quick when you get used to it.

At the end of the day we managed to keep just about all of the traditional PlayStation 2 SOCOM functionality alive and well on the PSP and actually, we think players will find our control scheme faster and easier in some ways, once they get used to them. We’re really proud of how it turned out.

GamingNexus: When SOCOM 1 was released on the PS2 it quickly became filled with cheaters, what steps have you taken to make sure there is no cheating in Fireteam Bravo?
Torin Rettig
We employ the same cheat protections in SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo that we do on SOCOM II and SOCOM 3. It is a very powerful, thorough and adaptable system that allows us to quickly deal with new and existing cheat devices and punish the offending players accordingly, through warnings, banning and suspension of accounts. SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo will be just as secure as SOCOM II and SOCOM 3.

GamingNexus: Are the multiplayer levels the same as what is found in the single-player campaign, or should we expect a different variety of levels?
Torin Rettig
There are 12 multiplayer maps total and four are based upon single player missions, but the remaining eight are totally original.

GamingNexus: Are there any plans for downloadable content for Fireteam Bravo?
Torin Rettig
Currently there are no plans for downloadable content.

GamingNexus: We noticed that there is a PSP headset available that allows SOCOM players to talk to each other, was there ever thought of bundling Fireteam Bravo with this headset (in the same way the headset was bundled with the original SOCOM on the PS1)?
Torin Rettig
That was a consideration, but the schedule for both the game and the headset were really tight, so we took that option off the table even though we know there are dedicated players out there who won’t hesitate to pay extra for bundles. It’s only a matter of time before the PSP headset is compatible with many more games.

GamingNexus: Are the multiplayer maps in this PSP version smaller or larger than the PS2 versions of the game?
Torin Rettig
Well the 12 SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo multiplayer maps are certainly smaller than the SOCOM 3 maps, but the SOCOM 3 maps can be five to six times larger than the SOCOM II maps! We actually made a conscious decision early on that there would be larger 16 player maps and smaller maps for eight players or less. The 16 player maps are basically the same size as average 16 player maps in SOCOM and SOCOM II, but we definitely wanted to make smaller maps to accommodate Ad Hoc play situations where there may only be four, three or even two players. There are actually one or two maps where two players can run around and encounter each other relatively often and have fun and we felt that was very important since the likelihood of having 16 players with PSP’s standing around in an Ad Hoc situation is slim. We’re pretty sure people will have LAN parties with SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo, but we really wanted to make it so even a very small number of players can have fun in a map. Thus we created maps that cater to anywhere from 2 – 8 players. In total six of the maps are 16 players and six of the maps are for the smaller numbers.

GamingNexus: We hear that owners of both SOCOM 3 and Fireteam Bravo will be able to "link" the two games together; can you explain how that works and what will change in either of the games?
Torin Rettig
The link you’re talking about is our “crosstalk” system. Crosstalk is the system between the two games that allows your actions in one game to affect the other.  Certain bonus objectives that players complete in the course of missions in both games are crosstalk objectives. These are objectives like finding an extra piece of intel, taking an important photo (in PSP), blowing up a weapons cache or communications tower, etc. However, when players complete these crosstalk objectives and finish the mission, they can sync the data between the two systems and have their performance in one game affect the other. So for example, if you pick up a piece of intel on an enemy leader in one game, once you sync the crosstalk data, the location of the enemy leader will appear on the map and through a waypoint in the other game. This is just one of many similar examples. You can also reduce the morale of enemies, eliminate their heavy weapons, reduce their numbers and gain other similar advantages in missions through your efforts in both games. Crosstalk objectives also unlock weapons and special multiplayer character skins.

Basically, a player who has both SOCOM 3 and SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo can connect the PlayStation 2 to PSP with a USB cable (the same cable they would use to transfer files between their PSP and home computer) and sync their crosstalk data to unlock these mission changes and features. We wanted to foster the idea that both teams simultaneously are supporting each other and also help players get more out of both games. We also thought it was just plain cool. 

GamingNexus: Are there any vehicles available in the game like there are in SOCOM 3?
Torin Rettig
There are no drivable vehicles in the game.

GamingNexus: In the past, some gamers have complained about the balance between the SEALs and the Terrorists, what has been done to make sure both sides have been balanced to assure competitive multiplayer games?
Torin Rettig
Well, like with the previous games we just make sure that both teams have access to weapons that balance the other out. The M4A1 may be more accurate on the move, but the AK-47 is more deadly close up and in shorter bursts. Things like that. The easiest way to achieve this balance would be to give both teams the same weapons, but that wouldn’t be very interesting. There will always be some weapons that players think is too powerful and that’s natural, but we’ve tried to make sure that even though both teams have different loadouts, they each have access to equivalent tools to get the job done.

GamingNexus: Was there anything you wanted to add to this PSP SOCOM that you were unable to because of system limitations?
Torin Rettig
There was nothing in terms of gameplay or technology that we couldn’t do on the PSP. Sure we can’t have textures that are as big and pretty as on PlayStation 2 and we may not be able to have the same number of animations, but in terms of features, we got everything in and more. We actually originally thought we would only be able to support eight players online with PSP. We were truly ecstatic when we were able to pull off 16 with voice chat!

GamingNexus: Can you talk a little about some of the multiplayer games; are they the same as what we've seen in SOCOM II and SOCOM 3?  Are there any new PSP exclusive modes?
Torin Rettig
There are five multiplayer game types total in SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo. Three of the multiplayer game types are those seen before in SOCOM. There’s Suppression, which is team versus team death match, Extraction, where the SEALs have to try to go in and rescue hostages being held by the Terrorists, and Demolition where both teams try to pick up a bomb in the map, plant it at the other team’s base and guard it until it goes off.

The two new game types, exclusive to Fireteam Bravo are Free For All and Captive. Free For All is basically no-holds-barred every many for himself death match. Of course though, we couldn’t have SEALs running around and killing each other so you are only allowed to play Terrorists in this mode. This mode was really important for asymmetrical situations in which three players want to play. Two versus one isn’t very fun and that’s the best scenario for Free For All. Every player is his own team and all three can go and compete with each other for glory and bragging rights ;-)

The second new game type is Captive and it is basically Suppression, but the twist is that you’re able to freely revive fallen teammates as much as you want. So the goal is not only to kill the other team, but to keep them dead. It leads to a lot of new and interesting tactics and players on the public beta really responded positively to it once they understood how it works. The tides of battle can really change dramatically in this mode since it only takes one guy left alive to run around and revive his entire team!

GamingNexus: Quick non-game question to wrap things up.  You have a blog up on your website where you talk about the game and the development.  Can you talk a little bit about why you put the blog up and what kind of feedback you’ve gotten from it?

Torin Rettig
We put the blog up partly to generate interest in the game, but we also put it up to give developers a rare chance to actually talk to the public about what it’s like making a game, while they’re making it. Not many games that I am aware of have done this. It is certainly a first for us and we thought that gamers would really appreciate getting an insight into what goes into making a game from the makers themselves as well as get the latest news on anything relating to the SOCOM franchise, direct from the source.

Response to the blog has been overwhelmingly positive and we’re really excited and glad we put it up. Players are really digging it and we plan to keep on posting when the developers have anything interesting to talk about or share. Keep your eyes open. Could be some cool stuff coming soon  :)

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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