Game developers are passionate people. Perhaps one of the most interesting of them all is Daniel "zh1nt0s" Matros, a producer behind Battlefield 4. He's been working for DICE since Battlefield 2142, and I somehow don't think he'll be leaving them any time soon. I caught up with him at rAge 2013 this year. One of the most pressing things gamers want to know about Battlefield 4 is - how well its been geared for eSports. Join me as I uncover everything you need to know, directly from the source.
Tell me about what you do
I'm a producer on Battlefield 4. I was a spectator in my team, they did an awesome job. Great people to work with. As a producer you oversee the development of your game, you oversee the quality and need the vision to say you want to do something and pitch the idea. Get the manpower for it and then start working on it. Develop a good idea, get ready for the shows, stabilise the build.
As a producer you just have the vision, you know. You kind of lead your people through your vision and get everyone excited about it. You're kind of the salesman of the team. There's a little bit of PR, marketing, project management and development. At the end of the day the people who put the game together, those are the people who made an impact. To be honest all the credit goes out to the designers, coders and all the other people like the backend engineers. Truly awesome people to work with.
What's the most common question you get asked in interviews?
"What's new in Battlefield. Every person. "What's new in Battlefield."
We know Battlefield 4 looks & plays better than B3. Can that be attributed to the systems the game was shown on?
Overall it's well optimised. You'll need a PC that matches the software. You'll need 4GB RAM minimum and Core i7.
What are you doing to bring more people into Battlefield 4?
Make a good game. Make it more simplistic and easier for people.
We found out the User Interface (UI) was a bit too messy in Battlefield 3. So we remade the UI and as a result it's a completely new interface in Battlefield 4 that tells you what is going on and tells you what you're seeing. The golden rule is "What am I seeing?" right? You're looking at a customisation screen, tabs with weapons, accessories and gadgets. Stuff that is very easy to understand.
We've got Testing Ground in multiplayer. When you join a server by yourself, you're the only one on that server that gets to try out everything from weapons to vehicles. We're making a single player that is more tied in with the multiplayer. You can now customise your weapons in single player, that touches on multiplayer. Battle Log across all platforms. Second screen experiences. All of these to make it easier for people.
What is your original idea - to take what was in BF3 3 & improve it in every way with B4?
Battlefield is what it has always been - teamplay, all-out warfare and recently destruction. We just wanted to take that and improve it.
How did we improve teamplay? Well we added a Commander and Squad bar. We added squad orders and progression.
Destruction? How did we do that? Well we introduced levellution with huge moments and small moments. We can now change the map dynamically depending on what the players does.
You need to have a foundation. In terms of sequels you need to build on that foundation. Players expect certain things. It's our duty as developers to run with our own ideas then work with player expectations.
How much do you involve the community in what you're doing?
All the year round, look at where we've been. We've been all around the world with Battlefield 4, whether at E3, GamesCom, Tokyo Games Show, Madrid, Seattle - Everywhere! Now we're in Africa. This is all feedback that's going into the studio. Gamescom was the biggest event of the year. What was it? 400,000 people? It's huge, you know, 9 hour lines, 64 player booths. It's crazy and it's the best type of feedback you can get when you're live with an audience where a person can tell you "this is what's going on, on my screen". You stand next to him and say "Okay, I understand.". That's the best type of feedback. That goes for any studio.
That's the most honest feedback
That is. It's also the easiest feedback too because you can see the steps the person's been taking.
Now that you point it out - there is just so much complexity in games that we don't see while playing
Games are more than guts and guns right! As I said we have to have an idea. What is the idea? Is its teamplay? All-out warfare? What does that even mean? You have to first define what you're doing and then go back and ask yourself if that was your original definition, or are we too far away right now.
You always have to head back to your core feeling of what the game is. That's what its always been about from Battlefield 2142 coming up to Battlefield 4 right now. You could say that Battlefield 4 is a brand new game but with the same kind of core as Battlefield 2142 was in terms of teamplay.
How are you improving competitive play?
It's huge in South Africa. Two competitive game modes: Domination and Defuse. There is the spectator mode we brought out. I'd say Battlefield is easily the best in the market right now, not because I'm biased but because I really think so. Our intention was to make the best game in the first-person shooter (FPS) market today.
I like it. You have confidence in your product
Yeah, the team really needs it, so good job to them. We're going to come up with some really exciting announcements regarding leagues and stuff. Talking about BF competitive it's very easy to say that it is a competitive game. What is a competitive game? The foundation is that you need to have a losing side and a winning side. Any sport overall has a winning or losing side. That's where it starts and then you start working on the features.
You can't make things too biased for one side against the other right?
You could a proper imbalance from one side to the other but they need to be able to counter each other. Developing Battlefield as a sport is going to take some time. We're moving forward in a very fast pace. Almsot so fast I almost don't have time to be here!
When you look back at what you've done I think you're going to be happy with the results
Definitely. When I started at DICE there was a blog post where I said that one of my biggest ambitions was to turn Battlefield into an eSport. We're getting there. We're definitely getting there at a very fast pace. We're very happy to see that. In 6 months Battlefield 4 is going to be the number one FPS to play.
Are you willing to put money on that?
Not money! I'll definitely put a gentle handshake on that because that is what I think. It's going to be the next big competitive FPS.
A massive thank you to Daniel for taking time of his insane schedule to chat to us and also to EA South Africa for making this possible. The GameZone team cannot wait to get their hands (and hopefully servers hint hint ) on BF4.
If you want to delve even deeper into Mr Matros' mind, then read this "Meet Daniel “zh1nt0” Matros: A Beautiful Mind."
Daniel Matros Twitter | Twitch | Tumblr
Battlefield 4 invades all major platforms on November 1st. Don't miss out on the best FPS of 2014, pre-order it today from kalahari.com!
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