Q&A: Quake Wars touches Nerve on 360

Brian Matt talks about taking Quake Wars onto a console, autoaiming, and why Live Anywhere functionality isn't being supported.

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The PC version of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is just weeks away from launching, but those waiting for the multiplayer mayhem to reach their Xbox 360s and PlayStation 3's will have to wait a while longer. GameSpot AU caught up with Nerve Software programmer Brian Matt recently and quizzed him about how work was going on the Xbox 360 port of Quake Wars.

GameSpot AU: How is development progressing on the console versions?

Brian Matt: It's going great. We lag a bit behind the PC because we have to merge their code and all their assets in. But now that they're finishing off the game we're really going to ramp up and really hit it hard over the next couple of months.

GS AU: Do you have a ship date yet?

BM: No, as with most iD titles, when it's done, it's done.

GS AU: What are the major differences between the console and PC versions of the game?

BM: We actually tried really hard to keep the game similar; all the assets we use are the same. One of the major differences is in the way we do matchmaking. The PC version of the game is largely supported by dedicated servers--constant, reliable, always-there servers, people get to know their servers and that their friends are going to be there. We don't have that on the 360. On the 360, the consoles are our servers, and the servers then tend to be a lot more transient as people come and go--they play significantly differently. So we've tried to make it easier for the player. They say they want to play a game--they tell us what game map and what type of game, and we find the most appropriate server for them. Not only that, but we also evaluate them as candidates for servers as well. So if they would make a good server for a particular match, then we make them the server. The second difference is the party system. We have a party system which allows friends to get together outside of any specific match and play together. They will transition from map to map and match to match, regardless of server.

GS AU: What can you tell us about the single-player campaign on the 360 version?

BM: ET is a multiplayer game, but single-player allows you to play with bots. You can play the game with up to 15 bots, you can play through all 12 maps and there are four campaigns you can play through.

GS AU: Why have a single-player component in the first place?

BM: People tend to expect that there will be a single-player component in console games, and we thought it was important to revive that option. There are a lot of people who don't have Xbox Live and who don't play online, or are intimidated by people online. So we wanted to provide a single-player mode to allow people to train--to see how the game is, learn the maps before they jump into online and have to compete. There are four campaigns, and each campaign will have three maps. And this is the same in multiplayer as well, where you also have campaigns. There will be two teams that play across three maps, and your experience and your proficiencies that you gain through each single level will carry onto the next level. At the end of the three maps the campaign is over. Once those three maps are over, your proficiencies reset, because we didn't want players that are new coming in and finding all these others that are leveled up.

GS AU: Tell us more about these proficiency rewards.

BM: The way ET rewards good team behaviour is through experience points and proficiencies. You're rewarded with experience points for doing actions that benefit the team, such as constructing defence turrets, or completing an objective, or setting out land mines. Once you've got enough experience points you're given a proficiency, which is a game-affecting upgrade to your character. For example, the soldier will get faster rocket launcher lock-ons. And there are a number of different proficiencies for each class. What that does is encourages people to do things that will help the team.

GS AU: How intelligent will the bots be?

BM: iD software hired a guy named John Dean to do the botwork. He was the originator of the Fritz bot for Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. He did a great job with the bots--they can do everything that human players can do. They can fly, they can drive vehicles, they can complete objectives, they know strategies. But you can also set bots to complete or not complete objectives--if they're not completing them, they will run support for you and back you up whenever you're running through. A lot of work went into making the bots feel as human as possible.

GS AU: Obviously this was a PC game first. What were the challenges in translating control scheme from keyboard/mouse to a controller?

BM: There are certain things that we need to do on the controller to make it work better for consoles. Luckily when id and Splash Damage started working on this, they really thought about consoles and how it could be accessible for consoles. So things like their on-button action key, their missions system--it was really for us to take these things and move them into a console, so we didn't have to do much. What we had to do was add a very subtle aim assist that helps. We also do things like an acceleration on the controller so you have really close sensitivity when you're fighting, but when you want to turn around it will accelerate. We're still tweaking those things now, but the actual number of buttons we'll need were thought of well ahead of time. It's a very subtle aim assist--when you hit somebody, it will pull your reticule towards the player.

GS AU: Will the game support cross PC-vs.-360 functionality?

BM: No. At the time when we started Enemy Territory it wasn't a feature that was supported, and that's just recently come up. We're still evaluating whether that's something we want to do in the future--not for Enemy Territory, but for future games. But we're not doing it for Enemy Territory.

GS AU: Brian Matt, thanks for your time.

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