Homefront – dev interview

You might not know about THQ’s big 2010 shooter Homefront… but after this year’s E3 games show, we confidently predict that’ll change. Think Killzone’s intensity meets Half-Life’s emotive storytelling, as Dave Votypka, Kaos Studios’ General Manager explains…

What’s Homefront?

Dave Votypka: Homefront is set in America 20 years in the future, and Americans are living under foreign occupation. In single-player, you fight as the resistance, and we’ve been working with John Milius (writer of Apocalypse Now) to flesh out that world. The multiplayer will be later on in the timeline and features huge armies on a larger-scale.

The demo (shown behind closed doors at E3 2009) was really intense. What’s the secret of its success?

DV: We’re using something called the Drama Engine, a collection of five or six smaller features that come together to create really dynamic, cinematic action. In the demo we show a player shooting a rocket at an incoming enemy jeep, which flips over and careens towards them. We track the position of the player, so the jeep will always come towards them no matter where they’re stood. We want to make the game intense and bring the action into the player’s face.

Then there’s little things like the gunplay, and the environmental narrative, which is a really big thing for us. With our previous game (Frontlines) we spent a long time getting the engine to where it needed to be, but now we’re all about fine tuning and getting AAA quality out of the technology.

How will the technologically advanced setting be reflected in the gameplay?

DV: In the demo, we show an autonomous, six-wheeled, unmanned combat vehicle. You direct it by giving it a GPS co-ordinate. It finds its own way there. It’s based on real prototypes that several real world manufacturers are developing for the US military. You can also fix a targeting device to the side of your rifle and give it commands, plus you’ll get recon drones, assault drones and other unmanned vehicles.

Will your weaponry be grounded in reality or more futuristic?

DV: It’ll be both. One of the things we’re doing is having a progressive unlock system for the weapons, so you’ll start with the weapons you know from today – the M4s and shotguns – and as you play through you’ll not only unlock new weapons, but you’ll also take the ones you’ve got up the futurisation tree. Richard Mackwoods from Future Weapons on the Discovery Channel has been doing a lot of work for us, so we’ve got some of the best tech that the military is using and currently thinking about.

Can we expect more emphasis on technology when playing online?

DV: In the single-player you’re fighting for the resistance, so you get your weapons from raids on military bases and things like that. In the multiplayer its army versus army, so you’ll have full access to all the best weapons as well as helicopters, jets and things of that nature. It’s similar to what we’ve done before in things like Frontlines. Our goal is to lead the large-scale warfare genre.

May 17, 2010