Battlefield 3 dev on decision to leave civilians out

EA DICE executive producer admits to self-censorship, says team didn't want to take the blame for players indulging their dark sides.

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In 2009, Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 made headlines for its "No Russian" level, which allowed gun-toting players to walk through an airport casually gunning down helpless civilians. While Electronic Arts has made much of its aspirations to outdo the Call of Duty franchise with the DICE-developed Battlefield 3, that area of controversy is one the publisher is perfectly happy to let its rival own.

This should make it considerably easier to win hearts and minds.

Speaking with Rock Paper Shotgun, Battlefield 3 executive producer Patrick Bach said his studio is drawing the line at populating its modern-day first-person shooter with innocent civilians for players to shoot.

"[I]f you put the player in front of a choice where they can do good things or bad things, they will do bad things, go dark side. Because people think it's cool to be naughty, they won't be caught," Bach said, adding, "In a game where it's more authentic, when you have a gun in your hand and a child in front of you what would happen? Well, the player would probably shoot that child."

While it would be the players pulling the virtual trigger, Bach told the site EA and DICE would be blamed for allowing them the option of shooting innocents. He acknowledged it as an instance of self-censorship but said that the development team is still trying to do something more mature with the single-player narrative of Battlefield 3.

For more on the game, check out GameSpot's previous Battlefield 3 coverage.

Discussion

489 comments
flammable_zeus
flammable_zeus

"In a game where it's more authentic, when you have a gun in your hand and another human being (or literally anything else that reacts to bullets) in front of you what would happen? Well, the player might (or might not) shoot that human being (or thing that reacts to bullets.)" *Fixed.

ghoward79
ghoward79

rasputin177, "mind numbing" lol you haven't seen Obama lately. how's the unemployment line?

ghoward79
ghoward79

COD-dud133, don't be so ASSuming

CoD_dude133
CoD_dude133

i think the only successful integration of civvies was in BIA hells highway but that wasnt in the combat sections but it still really made you think about how civilians suffer as well especially when that kid dies and his face flashes on the screen a few times during combat afterwards

CoD_dude133
CoD_dude133

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idk95
idk95

@danoskies I completely agree with you.

idk95
idk95

I don't mind the choice to take innocent civilians out of the game but I also don't mind the no russians mission in Mw2 and I also don't mind GTA because it's all just simple fun and it's a game. I would be heart-broken to take the life of an actual person but when it comes to a game, I don't mind. In a game like battlefield though, I would take my role seriously and wouldn't kill an innocent civilian, but GTA I really don't mind.

netter99
netter99

I for one did not really like that level in MW2, i like GTA because it is kinda funny but in that level it felt wierd doing it

billybobbarvis
billybobbarvis

they should add least put some babies in the game those things creep me out

Chemical-mix
Chemical-mix

Yeah i have to applaud this decision. No point stirring unwanted controversy by putting cannon fodder innocents in the game unnecessarily. The game is great on its own exisitng merits without having to artificially construct a potential moral issue

Da_Don_Mega
Da_Don_Mega

I think that Dice made the right decision. I dont think the choice to exclude civillians is a bad one. Not having them will certainly not detreact from the game. It isnt necessary...."if you put the player in front of a choice where they can do good things or bad things, they will do bad things, go dark side. Because people think it's cool to be naughty, they won't be caught," this statement is pretty much a summation of what a video game. Doing something you cant/ wouldnt in real-life is what makes videogames so appealing.

tforbes
tforbes

they definitely shouldnt have civvies. I never noticed to be honest, and it just takes away from the game that there would be random people running around. The game already feels real enough with the banter among the troops and how they scream and what they say. Enough that you get chills if you have friends who have lived this kind of stuff. Adding civvs would just allow the people with the maturity of a 15 year old to shoot a woman and laugh, and honestly, it just isnt needed in a game like this. if you feel like you need to go on a civvy kill spree, play GTA or grow up.

danoskies
danoskies

I played virtua cop on my old sega saturn this weekend... LOADS of civilian casualities. end of the day, all that happened was I got a lower rank officer score, not the urge to go out on the street and shoot everything that moves!

rasputin177
rasputin177

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Carlos161
Carlos161

Poor psychos, now they can't kill innocents. Anyway good decision

WickedWeavile
WickedWeavile

Moral panic has infiltrated the gaming industry. Apocalypse now.

Shantmaster_K
Shantmaster_K

Wow pathetic. Trying to be the more mature company. Having civs in a game makes it more realistic. Having that terminal level in MW2 was awesome. Who cares its a game.

Kastigador
Kastigador

I have an issue with censorship in general, but the lines between reality and video games is getting awfully blurry due to the high end graphics and big time immersion. Sure, everyone clamors about things being hyper-realistic, but let's face it, games aren't realistic... not at all. Not even remotely close to real. Reality 101 is you die or get seriously wounded and it's game over. Thanks for your $60. Point is that's not fun or entertaining for most people and neither is shock and awe violent scenarios with innocent civillians or children. Yeah, it's still a video game and I've done my fair share of GTA rampages in the day, but the lines are blurry enough these days that it's noble when a developer steps up and makes the call of what adult focused entertainment should primarily be by their definition. If people are so hard set on being able to rampage and kill innocent bystandards, you have plenty of options to do so elsewhere. In my opinion, it's kind of a cheap "holy crap they let me do that?" option that serves more to shock people than add to the ambiance of the game from a true realism perspective. Developers can easily still build a great game and ambiance without giving the player an opportunity to mow down innocent people. I think BF3 will prove this.

BovineDivine
BovineDivine

You know... This isn't an issue because if there wasn't a news article about it, no one would notice the lack of civilians. That being said, I'd shoot the hypothetical kid. Throw a grenade at the hypothetical nun. Burn hypothetical libraries. And teach intelligent design to my hypothetical family. But only in a game.

RitterXplode
RitterXplode

That is a good idea, I don't need to face moral situations explicitly made for the weak minded.

ghoward79
ghoward79

but it's okay for the industry to have a FPS with Tea Party and Republicans as targets? Yeah sickos, shoot your fellow Americans! I'd expect no less of the children of Democrats and Liberals.

DKant
DKant

Putting civilians in front of the gun is not mature in any way for that matter. Not when it's in a flashbang things-go-boom setup where there's hardly any backstory or moral weight to your actions. Now if you had been led up to the point, believing you were doing good, from a moral standpoint, for your community, for even the world perhaps.and *bam* at the end it came to a point where to hold up your ideals, you had to shoot a child - now that would have made you think, it would have provoked in a manner that games and all art forms should provoke in. Call of Duty, the airport level....they were all anything but 'mature'. When all that mattered were the explosions and the constant threat of the bloom or the general excess blinding or seriously decaying a part of your mind in some way, how could anything 'mature' be told in that setting? It is utterly depressing to find that EA thinks that was 'mature' in some way, or to try justifying not having civilian killing fields by saying effectively 'it will be mature in other ways' - what the heck do you think mature means?

dalua360
dalua360

I killed more civilians in Prototype and GTA than all the known genocides in history! So let me keep killing civilians please! I'm not a criminal, and I'll never be! I have guns in my home and it doesn't mean I'll go out shooting people on the streets! Parents: Take care of your children ! If they are stupid enough to be influenced by video games, it's your fault! Not video game's fault!

TigerRifle1
TigerRifle1

I think people were too hard on that MW2 level. It fit in the context of the game, you were undercover or at least thought you were. How many games out there when your gun passes over a civilian the reticle becomes a dot and the gun disappears. BF3 good have done that without the morality dig at MW.

baninolioumpa
baninolioumpa

I think that in most fps games in multiplayer mode you kill mostly civilians , unless the guy that sits on the other side of the computer has military background. So game players these days are used of killing anything to get the job done , unless there is a penalty for it. And yes I have killed civilians , medics , innocent bystanders , bards and all kinds of crap like other gamers do. But I think no mentally stable person spends hours or playing gta for example and killing just civilians. Censorship is bad at any artistic industry specially the ones telling stories. Protecting the children of course from violent gaming is another thing and I agree that age limitations must be very strict.

Skargamer
Skargamer

@Eddie82x I agree with you. No matter what I can't make myself to go Renegade in Mass Effect 2. :P

Granpire
Granpire

I personally go out of my way not to kill civilians in most games, but I have been known to rage Megaton in Fallout 3 when I was frustrated with not finding my objectives :P. But that's about it. Usually I try to be a good guy in games. :P Even in games like GTA, I try to drive clean and not run over civilians, but I don't think I speak for the majority of gamers.

RPG_Fan_I_Am
RPG_Fan_I_Am

On Rigges note about chickens, I have to say I have never attempted to use a chicken as a glider after playing OoT.... But the again whe you kill chickens they horde up and attack you.... Maybe they should make it so if you kill the babies in a game they horde around you too....

Rigges
Rigges

People don't go around randomly killing chickens in real life (unless you are a farmer) but who hasn't knifed that chicken in the original counter strike. I'd say the underlying fact is that there is no consequence to killing something made out of polygons no matter what it represents. If the game does want to have moral obligation just do as you do in Assassins Creed with civilians or with a VIP in most games, if you kill a civilian its game over or you get some form of punishment. People don't kill innocent game characters because they want to or it adds to the fun, they usually just do it because they can! Interesting topic though.

Tigers_Claws
Tigers_Claws

If they are afraid that people will kill the civilians, then make it where you can't kill them. It's just that simple. Besides having civilians in the game would give me that feeling that I'm fighting for them.

TheWarSov
TheWarSov

I dont understand why everyone is throwing such a big fit over civ's in a game. i personally dont go around a game looking for innocents to mow down. In their shoes i can see why they might leave them out, probably because of the stupid people that say video games are bad, and other things along those lines. Also this is a game in which you shoot ARMED people, why would in matter if there are a few civ's in the back running for shelter, it would add to the realism greatly. i am not asking for a level akin to no russian, i just dont want my game to look like a ghost town when i get there.

0Silverwolf0
0Silverwolf0

Having civi's in Single Player could add a depth of atmosphere to the game, but really I'm not concerned about it. Frankly it's rare for shooters to be populated with a whole bunch of innocent NPCs anyway, thats more an MMO/RPG thing. And certainly not in Multiplayer. There's been civi transports in Multiplayer modes, and in the Project Reality mod for BF2 the Insurgent team even had a civilian spotter class, but there's never been NPC civilians. I don't think players would even think to make an issue out of it if it hadn't been brought up in the first place.

Gusz2
Gusz2

kmurrill2 i don't which game have you playing, but you said there're plenty of games where you can shoot children, i don't remember an adult game where you can do it.... can you say some???

mario-nin-freak
mario-nin-freak

@Frame-Dragger Yes I agree, he exaggerated somewhat. I personally am a gamer, and I would not choose to shoot the child. It would just feel wrong to me. I also know a few crazy people who would probably do it though:P So I think he shouldn't have acted like ALL gamers are that sick.

Lil_Keit
Lil_Keit

But one thing I would agree on is that there are no issues if civilians are left out at the moment but it will definitely be a step forward if they do.

Lil_Keit
Lil_Keit

@OldKye - Unfortunately, even without civilians, there are already plenty of psychopaths out there, thus adding civilians will not make any difference imho. However the issue with warpaint is true but as I said with consequences, every time you team kill or shoot civilians on purpose in multiplayer specifically, nerf the player's guns for example which will make it less fun for him/her for a set period of time and he/she will eventually play properly. Of course they could just stop playing altogether and that will get rid of them from spoiling the game for everyone else and I am all for that @XIntoTheBlue - In regards to restarting the game entirely, that is only for single player and thus will not annoy players in multiplayer mode as I do not see restarting a multiplayer game every time as a feasible option. As per my explanation for OldKye of how consequences for multiplayer may work, it might benefit us mature players and also makes it more challenging for everyone to pay attention before shooting. Although I do agree it will be difficult to implement civilians into a game, especially multiplayer as for one it has never been done before plus all the possible performance issue but hey, who knew technology would advance so significantly in 10 years?? Even 5 years ago we wouldn't be able to play these kind of games with such great detailed visuals, designs and graphics.

Slash_out
Slash_out

Meh. I wouldn't shoot civilians or childs either. Not on purpose. But I would appreciate if they were there. It would ramp up the difficulty since I wouldn't have to shoot at just about everything that pops up on the screen (because I would actually feel bad killing one, not because I killed a human being... it's just a GAME but because I wasn't good enough), and it would also ramp up the realism... it IS a war simulation right? And let's not forget, it's the player's choice to decide what he does. If he decide to go the dark side, and do whatever he wants in a virtual world, let him do so. And I also wouldn't have to ask myself, why the whole city is populated by an army that just happen to wait for me behind corners.

JakeX28
JakeX28

I understand why EA DICE would decide to do this and I'm not really bothered but it would still be nice to have civilians in the game. I personally, try and keep them alive and save them.

cyberslammer
cyberslammer

In other news Steam is replacing all of the hostages in the new Counter Strike with 6 foot tall pineapples.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

SOUP_MAN_242
SOUP_MAN_242

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Eddie82x
Eddie82x

I agree with EA that removing the option of shooting inocent people is an intelligent decision. I just disagree with Bach when he says that players always go dark side when they have a choice of doing good or bad things. Sometimes it's also cool to be a nice guy also on a video game.

coylenintendo
coylenintendo

and here come the MW3 players laughing for basically no reason while the Battlefield 3 players say, oh it's okay. all I need are my online buddies, no people inside or outside of the game.

kmurrill2
kmurrill2

Who gives a damn if you can't "shoot" children in the game? There are plenty of games where you can't shoot kids. How is shooting children going to add any type of value to this game? At the end of this game, are you going to stop and think; wow, I realy wish I could have shot some kids? LOL.

mario-nin-freak
mario-nin-freak

@Frame-Dragger Exactly. You realise how much RAM it must take to add civilians? If there programmed well it would take quite a lot. I would much rather have a huge massive hoard of tanks attacking me than have a few tanks and a couple of civilians you have to avoid shooting. It just makes sense for a war game like this.

SmashBrawlerBoy
SmashBrawlerBoy

Y'all seem to have your own ideas. I hear they're looking for game devs boys...

XIntoTheBlue
XIntoTheBlue

Lil Ket wrote, "My opinion is to have civilians in there and if players shoot them on purpose comes with consequences such as ending the game instantly and you have to restart the entire level." You know how much the "trolls" are going to LOVE that? Public matches will be impossible to have any fun in because those trolls will constantly shoot civs on purpose just to anger everybody and they'll get a kick out of it. No go, in my opinion. I don't see civilians to be necessary in BF3, anyway. It won't add anything significant to the game, except to the "realism nazis". EA and the developer are just afraid of public perception. The bad PR, to them, is not worth adding civs into the game, and I can't blame 'em. I mean, who seriously would refuse to by BF3 solely on this feature?

XIntoTheBlue
XIntoTheBlue

Lil Ket wrote, "My opinion is to have civilians in there and if players shoot them on purpose comes with consequences such as ending the game instantly and you have to restart the entire level." You know how much the "trolls" are going to LOVE that? Public matches will be impossible to have any fun in because those trolls will constantly shoot civs on purpose just to anger everybody and they'll get a kick out of it. No go, in my opinion. I don't see civilians to be necessary in BF3, anyway. It won't add anything significant to the game, except to the "realism nazis". EA and the developer are just afraid of public perception. The bad PR, to them, is not worth adding civs into the game, and I can't blame 'em. I mean, who seriously would refuse to by BF3 solely on this feature?

Kevin1985_basic
Kevin1985_basic

Can't believe time is wasted on this sort of bs. Shoot civilian. Other people witnessed it. Run around shouting. Exposed. Achievement lost. Continue. That is a working formula.

OldKye
OldKye

@Hornet85 yeah but the other team is terrorists so is it there goal to involve as many civilians and do as much collateral damage as possible? if they just try to play their part they would so you'd simple get one team handy capped and the other shooting everything that moves it would be very realistic but not very fun(well maybe for the terrorists)