We talk to developer Day 1 Studios about their upcoming Xbox mech game.
Microsoft's upcoming MechAssault has quickly become one of the upcoming Xbox titles to watch out for. Due out later this year, this game based on Microsoft's popular MechWarrior and MechCommander franchises for the PC is being developed by Day 1 Studios. We had a chance to grill executive producer Denny Thorley--a 16-year vet of the industry who most recently worked on MechCommander--on the game in the wake of MechAssault's first public showing at E3.
GameSpot: How did the team feel about the state of the game going into E3?
Denny Thorley: Anytime you do a demo of a product in development, there are features that you wish you could include, but are unable to for timing or stability reasons. For the most part, the Day 1 team was very pleased with MechAssault's state at the E3 introduction. Of course, two days after lockdown on the E3 demo, the game's performance improved measurably, as did the physics on some of the enemies. That's just the way development goes.
GS: What did you feel was the most important facet of the game for the E3 demo to convey?
DT: We focused on several key areas for the E3 demo. First, we wanted the "fun" to be accessible to everyone quickly. MechAssault's controls and interface allowed the E3 attendees to be successful in the game immediately. Second, we wanted to drive home the power and scale of the mechs. Mechs are huge, fast, and devastatingly powerful. The players got to experience combat in a dense urban environment, with buildings taking shockingly realistic damage from intended or stray weapons fire. And finally, we wanted to blow people away with the detail of the world. The closer you look, the more you see. It really is a lot of fun working on a console platform with this much power.
GS: Are you happy with the demo you had on the show floor?
DT: Truthfully, we will never be happy. Our staff is continuing to push as hard as we can, and we have lofty expectations for MechAssault. The demo did accomplish its goals, so in that respect we are happy.
GS: What do you wish you could have included but couldn't?
DT: Multiplayer. This aspect of the game is going to totally rock! We are going to use and abuse the Xbox Live infrastructure to make this experience incredible, and we are going to keep it fresh. We would have loved to have shown it off.
GS: How did you feel the game was received at the show?
DT: We are very pleased with the response. There are a number of robot games coming for the Xbox, but the feedback we received is that MechAssault was the most fun and entertaining.
GS: Were you expecting that kind of feedback?
DT: We did expect a positive response, but it was more positive than we expected. We had celebrities from other publishers' booths coming over to play MechAssault and asking for prerelease versions. One additional surprise was the number of women who really enjoyed the game. How cool is that?
GS: What did you think of Steel Battalion?
DT: I was impressed with the game, but personally I would rather play a simulation on the PC. I'm looking forward to the next MechWarrior title. I've seen some preproduction work, and it looks impressive.
GS: Now that the game has been shown off in public, is there anything you might tweak based on people's reactions?
DT: Sure. We are keeping track of people's comments and are always reevaluating our design. The most controversial thing we have in the game is the point of view. The MechWarrior fans are pushing for an in-the-cockpit view. It is really fun working on a title that so many people are passionate about. I won't promise a POV change, but you never know what one of the programmers might add as an Easter egg.
GS: Thanks, Denny.
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