Aliens vs. Predator: Interview with Dave Brickley
Rebellion love Aliens vs. Predator. They would: even a decade later, the original game in the series is still what they're best known for developing. But they also love talking about gaming, and in-between multiplayer rounds of their upcoming sequel I find myself entrenched within conversations about Counter-Strike, Battlefield and Modern Warfare, everyone trading tales of our favourite online moments over the years. It's clear they're taking their new game seriously. Which is for the best: Rebellion's last title, Rogue Warrior, was atrocious.
In the midst of all that, I sat down with Aliens vs. Predator's Senior Producer Dave Brickley to find out how the game is coming along, what it's like to be working with such recognisable characters and why the movies are so terrible.
The last time I played this was a couple of months ago. It's changed a bit since then. Can you talk us through some of those changes?
On a technical level, what we showed initially was... I think we were happy enough with it to get it out there, but there were certainly comments in some of the articles about the animations and the frame rate and the rest of it. I think, all that considered, it was nice to see how well it went down. We knew in time we'd sort out the frame rate and sort out the jittery issues and all that kind of thing.
I guess what we learned that day, and at subsequent events, was how people got on with the melee system; how people found the timing of the rounds; the placement of weapons and how powerful those weapons were. It's kind of been a relentless task since then: we keep trying to build on that to make the three species interaction as interesting and as... fair, for want of a better word, as possible.
We want the game to have longevity, and that means looking at all the little game-breaking scenarios. Every game's going to get, ultimately, a way to achieve quite a dominant spirit. God help us; the more popular a game is, it seems the more broken it is!
So, yeah. Basically, we've been doing our best.
Alright. I've been playing Borderlands lately. Get this: what about a gun that shoots baby aliens into other players?
You'd have to wait, like... I don't know, how long does gestation take? You'll want to accelerate the process.
I noticed a lot of people were very good at the Predator [at the previous event]. The Predators today have often been coming, if not bottom, pretty close to it. Is that really a class that will develop with time?
It has to. I think the thing with [the last event] was that we were so short on time. Today's no different, to be fair; until people get the game in their hands they're going to have many questions about the 'how do I do this?' strategy with the Predator. He's got his agility, his invisibility, his vision modes and a multitude of weapons; if you gave them all at once, like we did in Chiswick - you saw for yourself, it was a turkey shoot! We knew at the time that was going to be the case but, the thing was, if we didn't [give full access] you wouldn't have seen half of what we had to show.
I've still not found the Predator's Disc on any level today....
I think that's a cool thing! I think it needs that. You know what multiplayer is like; it needs longevity.
I imagine it's very empowering when it works.
Yes! But one of the things that's been added - people kept complaining that they just couldn't see him coming - again, that was part of his... one of the things I loved actually, that we've lost a little bit of, is that you'd actually see the foliage move. By the time you'd realised it was the foliage that was moving you were dead. I love that as a fan of the movie; I think that's exactly how it should feel. But one of the compromises we reached was that, when the Predator is moving, as well as being visible on the motion tracker you'd get a little shimmer. It gives you a little bit more of a chance.
But if you're still, if you stay still, and pick your points - by which I mean your vantage points - then the Predator can achieve a hell of a lot.
You mentioned compromises. Are there any more you've had to make?
Well, [the characters are] coming from movies. They're coming from movies where you have the ultimate hunter in the universe and the ultimate biological weapon - that's not a game, that's game over! Immediately we're starting off with the point of view that the Predator is not a god; he's not invulnerable. He's stacked with gadgets and technology but, ultimately, skill will out. Same for the Alien; on a technical level he's unbeatable, but you have to put his adversary in a position where they can fight back and win a 1-on-1 encounter.
It gets the real fanboys going 'that wouldn't happen, that's blah blah blah.' But we had to make every decision on its merits. We want to make a game at the end of the day.