Gears of War 2 Launch Party Interview
By Eli Green November 7, 2008 - 16:30
at the Gears
of War 2 launch party
last night, Lee Perry, Senior Gameplay Designer at Epic Games, took
from various members of the mainstream and video game media. Perry
spent the entire night brutalizing other gamers in multiplayer
matches, all while being interviewed. I had the chance to speak to
the process of creating the game and the work that goes into the
general elements core gameplay design.
main role at Epic Games constitutes mostly the technical aspects of
creating the game, correct?
Basically, I try to come up with the ideas for creatures, the
weapons, different abilities for the player. Basically, I try to come
up with the core game design decisions that make the game fun from
minute to minute, as well as prototyping the stuff to making proof of
concepts, pretty much trying to nail down what it is that makes the
game fun, what we should be trying to improve, or cut, or trim, or
add to the game to make it a better experience.
How do you go from building
something like the original Gears
then move into something even more sophisticated ? How does the
design advance so much?
Well, there's good and there's
bad. With Gears
made what we thought was fun, and we were hoping that people would
think it was fun, but we didn't know. You send your baby out there,
and you hope that people enjoy it while they're playing it. With
got the benefit of you know what people like and what people don't
like, and so you can selectively build on the strengths of your
previous game. The problem that comes with that as well is that
people have a lot more preferences now, about what they like and they
don't like, so everything you tweak is potentially something that's
going to upset somebody else, because they liked it the way it was or
any number of gameplay decisions like that. And so, you really just
have to balance the making it new and better without breaking what's
had actually mentioned in the developer diaries that “you killed
this person off, how could you do that?”, but that was from a story
aspect. Your perspective was really not so much changing how the
characters were affected in what happens to them, but more in what
exactly. My day to day work is not involved in the story, or dialogue
or what people are saying. What I do is come up with the idea for a
if we made a monster that's got this big explosive flail, and a
shield that you can pick up and play? How do we make that control for
the player? How do we make it fun? How do we balance it? And then
kind of go into a prototyping stage, where I'll make a rough version
and try to prove that it's fun and it's something we should try and
do before we kick it over to artists and programmers to spend a lot
more time polishing it up.
The concept art for the Mauler/Boomer
are these prototypes like compared to what we finally see? There's a
lot more work involved once it's already essentially been approved,
There's a boatload of work. Most of it is, we'll take something, for
example the Shield Boomer, which I mentioned before, the Mauler,
which would basically be opening up a blank level, putting in an
existing Boomer and then attaching different things to it, and then
working with our scripting system, kind of doing a simplistic
programmer pass on it to make it function. So they rarely would look
like what you'll see in the final game, but we play them, we take a
video and we can tell pretty quickly if it's something that's fun or
compelling. It also lets us take advantage of the fact that we can
iterate very quickly. So we'll make a new weapon, we'll see some
problems with it initially, and then we can make changes to it really
rapidly and turn around and try different versions of it.
Are there any particular features that you would have wanted to get
just couldn't have made it in?
man! (laughing) I could be here for hours.
favourite, that you were working so hard on, but you just couldn't
squeeze it in.
know, it's not even necessarily... A game to a designer is never
done. You just ship it. Because if it were up to a designer working
on our game, we would be a decade into it and still adding stuff.
Nukem Forever style.
you go, yeah. But you can see how people fall into that trap, because
it's not necessarily one feature, but everything that gets
implemented, you want it to be better, or you want it to be more
options, or you wish the character... you wish so and so monster had
the ability to, y'know, do something else cooler. And so, across the
board, you always want it to be more, more, more. But that's what's
great, I mean, because there's sequels. There's always next time.
that being said, I'm extremely happy with the leap between Gears
(means from) Gears
that's basically what this is. This is stuff we really wanted to do
So, from Gears
the future, do you see this technology still being viable for what
you want to in your next games, or it will be, whatever's next is
going to be the thing that really pushes your limit?
we're always trying to push the limits of what the technology can do,
because we constantly learn more and more. Every time we're doing
something we're learning more about how to do it more efficiently,
how to squeeze more into memory. Are we wasting too much space here
or there? There's always room for improvement on it. And it's not
like, the way the engine technology works, it's not like there's a
hard day where you throw everything away and you make a new version.
You're always building on your previous stuff, one incremental step
at a time and so, just as Gears
better than Gears
you can still... there's still room for making the stuff look even
better before the next generation of consoles come along. There's
always room for improvement.
get a lot of questions from younger readers at our site about how to
get into the industry. Do you have any particular tips of things they
can do, from your side of things at the very least, on how to become
somebody who will be ready for a job in the industry?
The Mauler/Boomer in its full form.
One of the coolest things, by far, about the industry is the amount
of resources online, and the availability of the tools that they need
to be able to just hop right into the industry. If you've got the
time and the inclination to do so, you can buy any number of versions
of the games that have our editor, learn to play them, learn to use
the editor – there's tutorials online, etcetera – and just
basically be active in the online community. The road from being a(n)
online mod guy to being a professional in the industry is a very
short one. We have a huge amount of people at Epic who started out
as, y'know, people who were just making stuff online in their free
time. So all you can really say is it's up to those people to have
the self motivation to stay up late at night, making something cool,
and to do it themselves, because there's absolutely no reason you