Medal of Honor: European Assault Q&A - Combat Realism

Director Chris Cross and USMC Captain Dale Dye discuss Dye's role in bringing battlefield accuracy to the latest Medal of Honor.

Since its inception, EA's Medal of Honor series has strived for the right balance of realistic military elements and fast-paced, entertaining action. The long-running series' most recent installment, European Assault, is fast approaching, and this latest iteration will make some noteworthy changes to the established formula of the previous games. Most importantly, the game will open up the battlefield, allowing you more freedom than the more-linear past Medal of Honor games.

To bolster the realism aspect of the series, EA has established a long relationship with retired US Marine Corps Captain Dale Dye, who many gamers may be familiar with as Colonel Robert Sink on HBO's Band of Brothers. Captain Dye has served as Medal of Honor's military adviser since the original game was released on the PlayStation way back in 1999. He'll pull the same duty for European Assault, but this is the first time that Dye will appear bodily in Medal of Honor--players will get to fight alongside a character bearing his likeness in the infamous Battle of the Bulge. We recently spoke to both Dye and European Assault director Chris Cross to discuss all aspects of Dye's involvement in the game.

GameSpot: When and why did you decide to include Dale Dye in the game?

Chris Cross: Dale was recommended to us by Steven Spielberg. Steven and Dale have been working together on projects for quite some time and most recently on Saving Private Ryan. His thinking was that if we were to make as authentic a game as possible, Dale was the man for the job--he even had Dale put us through a mini boot camp, the same thing he did for the actors on Private Ryan.

GS: How did you approach him to participate in this aspect of the game?

CC: We've been working with Dale since the very beginning of Medal of Honor. I've personally been working with him for almost seven years, now. He has a daughter and knows firsthand how video games are a part of mainstream day-to-day life. I think he realizes how much of an impact a game like Medal of Honor can have and literally affect millions of people, and because of that he has an interest in making it as realistic and authentic as possible. I think he feels, much like I do, both proud of our product and a responsibility for us to properly represent WWII, its veterans, and veterans of all wars in general.

GS: Why has EA stuck with using Dye for so long with its games? What makes him such a good fit?

CC: We have a long-standing and great rapport with Dale. I trust his opinion and experience on all things military and he trusts mine on games. Together we can approach ideas or problems from different angles and look for the core idea of what we're trying to communicate to the player, then pass that information on to the team.

GS: What does his input bring to the MOH games?

CC: Dale not only brings an authenticity to our games, but also contributes greatly to the way we think about what we put into the game. He gets the team to think like soldiers. That is his main goal and what we try and leverage the most. Taking a bunker isn't just facing down a machine gun. It's also about access routes and accessibility, strategy, and command and control.

GS: What role is he going to play in this game?

CC: Captain Dye has been working closely with us on our new features, making sure that they are as authentic as possible. Adrenaline is a good example of this. Captain Dye often refers to a "gut check," which is when ordinary people can somehow accomplish extraordinary things due to a seemingly inhuman amount of focus on what has to be done. We turned this into a new feature that tries to emulate some of that. There is no way we can accurately depict what that really feels like; however, we can give the player an impression or interpretation within our gameworld.

This is the first time Captain Dye will actually appear in one of the games he's helped to create.

GS: How closely did you work with him on this aspect of the game? How does his participation affect the gameplay?

CC: Very closely. Over the years it's been staring us right in the face as a feature. Captain Dye and I have covered this topic many times during our various research trips and boot camps over the years. Most recently, while we were on Peliliu, researching the Pacific theatre, we encountered a .30 machine gun sitting on a rock facing down a ravine. We were able to reconstruct most of what happened there and what probably happened to the Marine on that weapon by the artifacts around the emplacement. We then speculated on the mental state of that Marine and what, if anything, was going through his head when he got overrun, which was something we later tried to tie into that game.

Continue on to the next page to read an interview with Captain Dye himself.

GS: How long have you been working with EA on its MOH games? How did that relationship come about?

Dale Dye: I have worked with EA since the franchise inception in the early '90s. I was working on Saving Private Ryan as the film's military consultant, and Steven Spielberg shared his vision of creating a video game that captured the cinematic feel and epic proportions of the film. I thought he was just talking, but then when we got back to the States a couple of months later, I got a call from him asking me to come on out and assist as a military consultant on the game Medal of Honor. This will be the eighth MOH game that I have worked on.

GS: What made working with EA on the MOH series attractive?

DD: The series is attractive to me because of the commitment to historical accuracy, realism, and authenticity. These aspects show respect that is deserved by those who served.

GS: How has working with the MOH team changed over the years?

DD: I tend to be a little less involved conceptually these days. The development guys have got most of that stuff down to a science. What I do lately is give advice on new gameplay features and--as always--serve as a reality check at various levels. We have developed a sort of shorthand over the years, so the designers and engineers can pose questions no matter where I happen to be in the world, and I'm able to understand what they are after and provide the quick and dirty answers. It's a very comfortable relationship.

GS: How are you involved in the latest MOH game?

DD: I acted as the military adviser on Medal of Honor: European Assault by helping craft new gameplay, including what I call gut check, in the game it is called "adrenaline," which is a feature that helps the game to feel more authentic. Adrenaline is essentially the moment in battle where you go above and beyond what you thought was physically possible and succeed in your goal.

GS: After all the time of working on the series, why was now the right time to appear in the actual game?

DD: I am thrilled to appear in the game. Appearing in the game is an idea that the development team has had for a while and I guess they decided with this one that there was enough time to do it.

GS: Where specifically do you appear in the game?

DD: My likeness appears as one of the characters in Battle of the Bulge. My voice is also the voice of the OSS handler that you hear over the radio in some of the missions.

GS: How much input did you have on your appearance in the game?

European Assault isn't that far off--budding soldiers can look for it on shelves in June.

DD: I didn't really have a lot of input regarding where I would appear or what my character might do. The development guys have been talking about doing this for years...and I guess they just found the right time and place. I did ask them not to make me too hideous or feeble. They just laughed and told me not to worry. As it turned out, I'm really tickled to be included as a game character. Not everybody can say they appear as a character in one of the world's most popular video game franchises.

GS: How did the process of getting you in the game go?

DD: The development team at EA LA has been sending me builds when they can and I have also made a few visits out to the studio to look at the progress of the game. Throughout looking at the game during the various stages of development, I regularly give them input on proposed new features, as well as the look and feel of the existing features to make sure they are accurate and authentic for what would have been seen in battle, etc.

GS: Thanks for your time.

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