Developer DICE is well aware of PC gamers’ fears Battlefield 3 will be “consolized”: designer Alan “Demize99” Kertz acknowledged the concern in a forum thread on EA’s BF3 messageboard this week.
The good news – Kertz is promising not to ignore that concern, which flared up in full force after he mentioned on his Twitter account it wouldn’t be cost effective to develop multiple – PC and console – versions of the one game.
Stating it was too early to discuss BF3 specifics, Kertz gave some background on the design philosophy DICE has adopted when developing titles for console and PC:
Early on BFBC2 our PC playtest feedback showed that weapon feeling was lacking. It just wasn’t as much fun to shoot the guns on PC as on console. With controls being the big gameplay difference (mouse vs pad) it quickly became clear that simply put the original weapon tweaks, which were done on the PS3, weren’t working on PC. The guns all had a bit of base inaccuracy, that with a gamepad wasn’t really noteworthy, but on PC it really prevented players from taking advantage of the mouse input. On 2142 one of the key things about the guns is that they were all deadly accurate, they lost damage over range sure, but if you could put the crosshairs on the target you could hit it. Sure, some people feel like an AR should be more accurate than an SMG or carbine. I feel like the issue is “ARs should be better at range” and thus, they do better damage over range than the SMGs.
In response to the feedback on PC, I completely retweaked the accuracy. The next playtest it was immediately obvious that it was a change for the better, and surprisingly it also made gamepads feel much better as well.
Fundamentally I think it is an error to have different core gameplay on console vs PCs. PC gives a player more input control and if a gun feels good on PC it feels good on console. I won’t “dumb it down” by lowering the recoil or changing the damage model or other such silliness.
PC and Console Battlefield players want similar gameplay: Epic sprawling Battlefields, and also tight infantry fights. Balanced weapons and land/sea/air vehicles with a rock-paper-scissors emphasis. Squad and teamplay, where no one player can be a do-it-all super soldier, and communications systems to support teamplay. And a deep and rewarding system of progression with deep and varied gameplay that keeps you wanting to go 1 more round. Everyone also wants it to be easy to play with their friends.
Consoles generally are less tolerant of overly complex interfaces. They have less buttons, you need more elegant interfaces. Deep systems work well though if they have a straight forward interface. The fun is not in figuring out how to use the system, it’s in figuring out how to best use the system.
PC players have their own set of requirements. They tend to play only on PC, and they know their PCs have capabilities beyond that of a console. The gap is narrowing, but PCs still have a clear advantage in memory. PC players also demand a PC interface, a server browser, and anything that feels like it might have been “ported” from a console is going to get flamed hard. They are more forgiving of complex systems and will tear any design down into its parts to really figure out how it works. It’s a damn sight harder to please a PC player, they have higher expectations.
It’s too early to talk BF3 specifics. But it’s never too early for me to acknowledge that PC players have a fear that BF3 will be “consolized.” PC gaming is alive and well, BFBC2 has proven that and no one at DICE or EA can argue with the numbers. Battlefield 3 needs an extra bit of special attention on the PC. I intend to give it that attention, tradition and our community demand it.