Sony and Zipper on MAG
MAG: Massive Action Game is Zipper Interactive's latest shooter IP, taking online multiplayer to a whole new level by providing support for up to 256-players.
Following the success of Zipper's SOCOM titles and their early championing of online multiplayer on home consoles - specifically on PlayStation 2, MAG is a uniquely ambitious online-only FPS that incorporates vehicles, persistent levelling up and a ranking system into its own brand of frantic military shenanigans.
We caught up with MAG's Senior Designer, Scott Rudi and Sony Computer Entertainment America's Director of Development, Seth Luisi to chat about the game and find out where that very literal title came from.
Why didn't you want to continue with the SOCOM franchise on PlayStation 3? Do you actually consider MAG as SOCOM's spiritual successor?
Scott Rudi: The main thing we looked at when the PS3 started was dealing with what the PS3 was capable of. We actually looked at opportunities for a new challenge and we had been wanting to do large scale stuff for a while. So, we took the opportunity to really make MAG as a massive multiplayer game and we learned a lot from the SOCOM period. We were just looking for a new challenge really.
Did you not want to exploit SOCOM's established fanbase who already recognise the brand or are you confident enough that MAG will stand out on its own merits?
SR: We are really excited about MAG and confident it is going to stand out on its own, as its own franchise.
MAG stands for Massive Action Game. Who came up with that? It's very much a title that is what it is.
SR: Actually, I don't know the answer to that.
Seth Luisi: It started as an internal code name for the title, as the Lead Designer at the time was looking for a way to describe the game and sum up the power point presentation. He came up with a very descriptive acronym - MAG - Massive Action Game. Somewhere along the way it stuck, unfortunately.
MAG is incredibly ambitious in that it offers huge games for up to 256-players. How tough was it to get that all working properly?
SR: Actually it was a big challenge. It took up a lot of resources. We created this unique architecture from the ground up and nailing the gameplay was very hard as well and then there was a bunch of art talent to consider, so it was a very big challenge for all of us.
How did you get the balance right when you have 128 people on either side, it must be pretty chaotic?
SR: We tested it immensely and we really took an innovative process, where we saw what worked and what didn't work and kept on trying to encourage things that we liked and change the things that didn't work out. So it ensured a lot of playtesting, planning and changing.
What kind of stuff did you have to incorporate into the level design to make sure that everything worked and flowed well for the player?
SR: Really it was a unique challenge for us, because I don't want to say it was easy to design a level for players, but its something we thought was a unique challenge. Trying to seek the areas where small unit tactics would be worthwhile and continue the feeling that you are still part of a larger war - that was the biggest challenge for all of us.
Did you have any access to resources from any of Sony's other third-party dev teams? Did you share technology with any of the other guys? Say, the guys at Insomniac for instance?