Star Wars: Battlefront Devs Talk About Development, Playtesting and Negative Media Spin

on May 9, 2015 4:25 PM

The reveal of Star Wars: Battlefront has created quite a stir in the community, and today Producer Jesper Nielsen gave some more information on Reddit, concerning development and playtesting.

“We’re playtesting the game every day. Balancing is definitely one of the most challenging parts of MP game design, and it requires a lot of testing, tweaking and more testing. There’s no silver bullet, but the more we play the game ourselves, the more we understand what needs to be tweaked and see if previous tweaks have worked, so we make sure to play the game a lot.”

We also learn that the game is being tested both by the internal QA department and by external testers:

“Of course! We have a lot of playtesting going on for the game, whether it’s internally or with people coming in from the outside to test it, and the game designers are constantly seeking feedback from that and it leads to a lot of continuous changes, some bigger and some smaller.

The key aspect, though, is that we want/need feedback from people who have played the game and actually tried it.”

Nielsen also described the creation process for level, responding to a question on what comes first between level design and level artwork.

“The process works a bit in parallel. All levels almost always start out whiteboxed, i.e. it’s about the terrain layout and various objects and obstacles. However, artists are often at the same time working to set the setting and mood for various locations.

For Battlefront, some great “toolkits” were made early on that made it easy to create new levels set on the various planets, even if you just wanted to create a “whitebox”. So, as easy as whiteboxing, but you instantly got the feeling of how it would be to play it on that planet.

I think that great levels always have strong visual elements that tie it together. It can be strong focal points, something that sets a special mood, something that helps explain what has happened before you entered the fight, etc. So for great levels to happen, you really need to combine and apply both “disciplines” in parallel.”

Finally, he was asked whether it’s difficult to develop a game from scratch in just two years:

“Game development is always hard. Whether you work on something for 5 years or 1 year, it’s always intense. I think there’s a general idea that working on a game for a longer period of time is always better, but I fundamentally disagree with that. There’s no silver bullet. It always depends on the project and the team and what kind of goals you set.

So of course it’s hard. But, do or do not. There is no try : )”

Lead Level Designer Dennis Brännvall also talked about playtesting on Twitter:

Incidentally, he also expressed his displeasure about how the gaming media often tries to spin things negatively.

While this kind of attitude is hardly only limited to the gaming media (but the media often instigates it), I can’t say I don’t agree. Negativity sells more than sex nowadays, and feeding it with “concerns,” “downgrade” articles and focusing on what a game lacks instead of what it has, especially when it’s about hyped games, is the perfect way to bring home that traffic goal for the day.

That’s definitely quite sad, and Star Wars: Battlefront is just the latest victim of a long list.

 /  Executive News Editor
Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.