Q&A: Nerve Software

GameSpot talks to the developers of Return to Castle Wolfenstein's multiplayer component.

GameSpot recently spoke to Brandon James, president of Nerve Software, about the developer's recently released multiplayer test for Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Nerve is developing the multiplayer component of the upcoming World War II first-person shooter, while the single-player portion of the game is in development at Gray Matter. James shared his thoughts about a number of topics, including the goals of the multiplayer test, how the developer plans to use the feedback it receives, and how the final version of the game will differ from what is included in the test.

GameSpot: Brandon, what were you specifically trying to achieve with the release of this test?

Brandon James: For the test, we really wanted to take a look at compatibility issues with video cards and network performance. The number of reports sent back from the people who have downloaded the test has been tremendous, so I'd like to say, "Thanks!" to everyone who took the time to respond.

GS: How has the general reception been by people who've downloaded the compatibility test?

BJ: Fantastic. Unbelievable, actually. It's really great to see how fast people started working as teams online...all the strategy guides that have been put up, and so on. I don't think we could have asked for a better response over the last few days. Checking out the player-to-server ratio is astounding--one can only imagine what the community would be like if we had more servers or if the public had more content to play with. I know that Gray Matter has also been incredibly happy with the response. Gray Matter provided most of the assets that we've used to build the multiplayer portion of the game, so it has been very rewarding for them to see people reacting so positively to the material that they have been working so hard on.

GS: Will you make any changes to Wolfenstein's multiplayer component that are based on user feedback to the test?

BJ: All the feedback is being sorted at this moment into the proper categories. There are issues that people brought up that we've known about, but haven't been a huge priority over the last three months. There are other issues that we didn't know about, which we're looking into. It's safe to say that yes, there will be changes to the game because of what we've seen and what we've been able to test with a larger number of players.

GS: Some people reported problems using the in-game browser. Have you guys managed to track down that problem?

BJ: There are two known issues with the in-game browser that are actually smaller issues of one larger issue...did that make sense? We've been digging over the last two days to track down these problems, and while we have a fairly good grasp on the situation, it will still take some time to iron out. We'll do our best to let players know about workarounds and modified game settings that might help.

GS: Are all the player classes that were available in last week's test representative of the final number that will be in the retail version of Wolfenstein?

BJ: Yes. All the classes in the multiplayer component of Wolfenstein appeared in the test. However, I wouldn't say they were final. Very representative, yes, but they will not be classified as final until the entire game is complete.

GS: Will all the levels or gameplay modes require the use of engineers? Will engineers have capabilities other than setting charges, defusing bombs, and repairing MG42s?

BJ: I can't fully answer that at this time. There may be other uses for the engineers.

GS: Will you include some of the weapons that are only available in the single-player campaign of Wolfenstein into its multiplayer component?

BJ: We like the balance of the weapons the way they are at this time. There are weapons unique to the single-player campaign and weapons that are unique to the multiplayer component. However, what the community does with them after release is anyone's guess.

GS: Have you guys decided on a final number of gameplay modes for Wolfenstein?

BJ: We haven't. We are working to push the Wolfenstein multiplayer experience beyond a "sport-oriented" type of action into more of a cooperative experience where teamwork is essential, so it takes a lot of testing and tweaking. We have multiple modes that we've been playing with, but what modes ship with the final product is up to all the companies involved.

GS: In addition to Beach Invasion, you showed an airport level at QuakeCon. Why didn't you include that one in last week's download?

BJ: The Beach Invasion level is one of the easiest to just "grasp" when you first look at it or enter it. People are familiar with that type of level. When they jump in, on either side, the majority will know what to do right from the start. Some of the other levels have a different learning curve, so we decided to leave them out.

We've also played mp_beach to death over the past few weeks, so we knew that what was contained in that particular level was pretty representative of the product as a whole (minus other features here and there).

GS: Do you have any plans to release another test between now and the time the final game releases?

BJ: We're going over all the issues right now and haven't made a decision yet on releasing another test.

GS: Thanks for your time, Brandon.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein is scheduled for release in November. For more information, take a look at our previous coverage of the game.

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