Gears 2 has changed multiplayer a bit. Is it safe to say that the Gears of War (1) being played online wasn’t the game you originally intended it to be?
I think it’s safe to say, yes, in regards to the shotgun-rushing that occurs. In Gears 1, the grenade tagging was ridiculous, and I personally hold myself responsible for that because that was a number I should have reduced before we shipped. You could do it at 256 units, whereas it should have been 128, so people could basically tag people from like five feet away, which was just dumb. We addressed that in a title update, and after that players wound up finding the most effective technique was to roadie run up to each other, roll, and shotgun each other in the face. When people start depending on that as their primary technique that’s not very cool. In Gears of War 2 we added in the idea of stopping power in versus multiplayer where if you try to run up to a locust you will actually get stopped if the bullets hit you so you can’t do that kind of get-towards-me-roll-shotgun BS that’s become so prevalent online.
We were told at the time that the extra chapter in the PC version of Gears would never work on a console, but it felt as though it was content cut from the original game. Is that a fair assumption?
Some of it was cut from the original game, and that is a fair assumption. It was a time reason on Gears 1. Yeah, it would have been possible (on 360). I’m not gonna lie – certain plot points were unfortunately intended to be included in that level, as far as explaining where that whole train came from, and what the hell was the lightmass bomb doing on the train – that was not at all clear in Gears 1 and it became very clear in Gears PC. We’re not perfect, and that was an oversight.
Do you think we’re seeing the upper limits of the 360?
I honestly believe that our talent at Epic has many more tricks up their sleeve if need be for future products. I think Gears 2 looks head and shoulders above the first one but, y’know, give us a couple of years and I guarantee you we’ll turn out something that looks even better on Xbox 360. You look at the Super Nintendo; you had the first generation of games – “Wow! This looks great” – right? Then the second generation, and by the time you get to the third or fourth generation and it’s like “they’re using Mode 7 in ways I never imagined! How did they do that?!” Y’know, it’s always possible with code mojo to do all sorts of great things.
So, would you say you’ve poured a lot of your own influences into this?
We’re very much influenced by everything. I believe that when you’re young, everything – from when you’re about six to when you wind up having a career as a creative – everything is grist for the mill in regards to your life experience: the movies you watch, the toys you play with. I grew up with Transformers, GI Joe, and all that stuff and some of the little bits sometimes creep through. Gears in particular, there’s a little bit of Starship Troopers in there; Predator, Aliens. But there’s also a chunk of Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan. It’s important to make sure that we get that sense of camaraderie in there.
Resident Evil 5’s appearance at the Tokyo Game Show was the debut of a whole new Resident Evil control scheme, based on Gears’ controls. Has western game design surpassed Japanese design?
I have a tremendous amount of respect for the game designers in Japan. I mean, I was born and raised on Nintendo – Miyamoto’s games. I realised growing up that everything I loved was Japanese at one point – Transformers and Shogun Warriors and Anime and Star Blazers and all this stuff. Good games and good developers tend very much to be influenced by one another and I don’t think it’s necessarily limited to the US, Europe, and Japan. I think Gears of War was probably influenced by Resident Evil 4 which was a Japanese game and so to see Resident Evil 5 being influenced by Gears – a western game – is very much a… Well, I saw those guys backstage at E3 before we did the briefing and they were sorta like (pointing) ‘Gears of War!’ and we were all like ‘Resident Evil!’ In a way, I don’t want Resident Evil to be more Gearsy, because I work on Gears – let Gears be its own thing and let Resi be its own thing.
(Following on from that…) Do you think the change in controls will force Capcom to change the way RE5 plays?
I don’t think they’ll have to re-jig the level design but if for instance they add the ability to strafe a little bit while targeted that could affect the difficulty loop and they may need to affect enemy movement speed as well as how much damage enemies do – those are all variables that aren’t impossible to tweak.
Dec 9, 2008