Interview with Kristoffer Bergqvist Creative Director at Danger Close Games for MOHW
During the EB Games Expo 2012, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to sit down with Kristoffer Bergqvist, the Creative Director of Multiplayer at Danger Close Games, and talk to him about all things Medal of Honor Warfighter. We covered a variety of subjects, with Kristoffer fielding questions on multiplayer, authenticity vs fun, spidermines and more. The full transcript of the interview is below.
An interesting point about Danger Close is that you only made the single player version of the last Medal of Honor, with DICE handling the multiplayer. What made you decide to handle the multiplayer yourselves this time, and what were some of the challenges involved?
I think finally getting the chance to develop multiplayer internally with Danger Close games was a great opportunity. Finally getting to sit down with the guys who’ve been making Medal of Honor – some of them have been there for 15 years, since the first Medal of Honor. Also the big, and also largest advantage aside from being in the same location is being on the same technology – obviously both on Frostbite 2 – which makes it a lot easier for us to help eachother out, move features back and forth, if we see something cool in single player it’s easy for us to lift it for multiplayer, and the same way around. Without that we couldn’t have expanded on multiplayer the way we did this time around. Now we’re at six classes instead of three and they all have their unique score streaks and class abilities, weapons systems, grenade types, all of that. And that would have been very very hard to do if we weren’t in the same team and same tech.
So it’s definitely helped the development of the game?
It helped so much. It also gives an experience that is more true to the Medal of Honor experience – it’s easier to make an experience that’s more true to the Medal of Honor experience. Also there’s parity in terms of features – we got feedback the last time around that singleplayer had peek and lean and prone, multiplayer didn’t, and players were expecting that. All those things we can fix now. So obviously mulitplayer has peek and lean and prone this time around.
Did you learn any lessons from the first game, and if so how did you implement these lessons into Warfighter?
One big lesson was that one – that singleplayer and multiplayer needs to feel like the same experience. Also, one big thing for us was increasing the offering – we want this to be a game that players play for months and months and years. We did that in serveral different ways, one of course being what I talked about, just increasing the scope of the core gameplay, adding more abilities, more ways to play the game and more ways to kill eachother, basically. We’re also adding end game features such as – we have platoons which were introduced in BF3 which is our take on clans. So we are expanding that and we now have platoon vs platoon matchmaking which means you can get your friends together and matchmake towards another clan and you will get together and battle it out and that will affect your rating as a platoon.
We’ve designed a new game mode specifically for this – the open game mode – it’s no respawn, very tight combat kind of game mode with fewer players – we decreased this to six vs. six just to make each player more pivotal.
For someone like myself who’s more of a single player gamer, and I don’t touch much on the multiplayer, is there something in Warfighter for me? Can I play through the single player experience and still feel a sense of achievement?
The single player campaign this time around is pretty awesome. It’s actually written by two special operators. It was written while they were deployed many years ago and we got hold of that story four years ago, so that was kind of mid-development of the last game. So we took parts of that and added the characters so it turned into a bit of a prequel to the actual story and this time around we get to present the entire thing. So of course it’s a very authentic history – this comes from what you call the event book where they were just writing everything down just to get it out there. It’s also about their brotherhood of course, but more importantly it’s about their families. We’re showing you what happens at home when you’re away fighting for 300 days a year, when you live under constant threat and where you are forced into very violent situations. Of course this affects who you are and that in turn affects your family, so it was just a great opportunity to get that into the story.
I’ve played a few levels of Warfighter, and the game is looking exceptionally sharp, however one of the things that I was most struck by was that focus on realism, and the fact you have been working very closely with real life Tier One soldiers. How important was working with them during the development process when making the game, and how do you think fans will react to that?
For us, as a studio, the relationship with the Tier One community is very important. It’s important to deliver the best kind of game and that experience. There is also a lot of..we touch on some sensitive subjects. We do not intend to exploit anyone, so it’s important for us to keep a dialogue with these guys and make sure that they feel we are representing that in the right way. We have even met wives who lost their husbands while being deployed, and to talk to them – it’s really important for us that this is done right.
And putting that on the flip side – how difficult is it to balance that realism with the inherent conceits of the FPG genre – people like to have big explosions, they like to see a lot happening – how do you balance those two?
I think there’s often talk about authenticity vs fun but I feel most of the time, they are working together. An example – we were designing a claymore based gameplay – we wanted that for snipers so they could add the anti-personnel mine behind him, behind his back, and we struggled to have fun with it. Traditionally the way they place it there’s a radius, you go in there and it goes boom. It’s not very exciting. So we were looking for alternatives and we sat down and talked with them and they told me that they didn’t use them anymore. They have something new they call M86 Pursuit Deterrent Munition but we call it spidermine because it’s easier to say. It’s basically a mine that you throw down on the ground that shoots out tripwires in all directions and if you go on them boom goes the mine. And it creates a lot of strategy when you throw it because the wires are only so long, and you need to conceal them, and also when you encounter them you can jump over them if you see the tripwire soon enough. It just creates a lot of fun gameplay and that was one of the cool moments where oh! authenticity and fun happening at the same time.
So that is not..that hasn’t really been a problem. Of course we’re a game. Of course most of our game modes have respawn. You can never compare a death in real life to death in a video game and that’s nothing we’re interested in doing. So I think multiplayer is more about….singleplayer touches on a couple of the big things like what happens when you get too violent. What happens when you kind of start to lose the line between the good guys and the bad guys. Whereas in multiplayer we are working more with…we have these twelve units for multiplayer. So when we talked to them they all talked very highly about the other eleven, but theirs is the best one. Speak to a Navy Seal, ‘oh, army guys are awesome. But we’re the best.’ So what we’re doing this time around in multiplayer is more we have blue vs blue…it’s more like a sport. I want to go out there. I want to play a Swede and I want to show you that I’m the best. So we take that kind of approach to multiplayer.
Final question: when the Warfighter campaign is done and the credits are rolling, what emotions do you want to have players feeling?
Of course being the multiplayer creative director, I want them to feel ‘I should play multiplayer now. More of that please.’
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Many thanks to Kristoffer Bergqvist for taking time out of his very busy day to sit down and spend some time answering our questions. It’s always a privilege for us when we get to speak to those making the games we love to play, and it is especially enjoyable when we get to speak to someone as passionate about their game as Kristoffer is.
Medal of Honor Warfighter releases October 23 in North America, October 25 in Europe and Australia, and October 26 in the UK.