Guerrilla’s war – Steven ter Heide on Killzone 3

Tuesday, 1 February 2011 14:03 GMT By Patrick Garratt

With Killzone 3′s open beta starting tomorrow in the US and on Thursday in Europe, Guerrilla senior producer Steven ter Heide filled VG247 in on what to expect from the test and plenty more.

Killzone 3

Multiplayer beta starts February 2 in the US and February 3 in Europe.

Single-player demo coming February 9.

Full game releasing in late February.

Q&A – PlayStation 3

Q&A – Killzone

Despite winding Killzone back from PlayStation’s hype frontline with the third home console title in the series, Guerrilla has maintained the IP’s clear status as a vital cog in Sony’s PS3 machine. It was announced last week that the shooter is to enter open beta in both the US and Europe in the next two days ahead of a late February launch, and that a single-player demo’s releasing on February 9.

Speaking on the phone last week, Guerrilla senior producer Steven ter Heide confirmed that the beta’s completely open: anyone with a PSN account will be able to download it, and Sony’s looking to get “as many people as possible” involved.

The beta will include one map and all game types, with ter Heide saying those that participate will find something that’s “indicative” of the final online experience.

For the record, ter Heide hasn’t played the Crysis 2 beta yet. It’s been too “hectic” to pay attention to the competition, but he “thinks” Killzone 3 will stand up in the ultra-competitive console FPS category.

“We still have a lot of things to give.”

And if you think you can argue with him based on what you’ve seen already, think again. Much of the game’s content is still under wraps, thanks, ter Heide said, to wariness over early exposure based on the management of Killzone 2′s reveal.

“Part of it is down to marketing, obviously,” he said when asked why relatively little had been seen so far of the game’s much-talked-about “diversity”.

Killzone 3 senior producer, Steven ter Heide

He added: “There’s a specific strategy. We didn’t want to reveal a lot early on. With Killzone 2 we showed a lot of the game ahead of time; preview code, I think, included half the game. This time round we wanted to go with a smaller sub-set, try to see if we could make people hungry for more, with the final blow-out closer to launch.

“We still have a lot of things to give.”

When Guerrilla first announced Killzone 3 to the press in Amsterdam last May, studio boss Hermen Hulst made sure to note the game contained a multitude of environments. A common complaint of Killzone 2 was a lack of diversity in the levels. Hulst mentioned jungles at the time: the first jungle trailer was only revealed last week.

Ter Heide said that the decision to keep so much secret for so long was also based on fans saying they’d seen much of Killzone 2 prior to launch.

“It’s making sure there are still plenty of surprises and plenty of things to talk about,” he said.

While the multiplayer test gets underway, though, forward thinking players will be asking questions about Killzone 3′s single-player campaign. And the obvious one: how long it is?

“From the playtests, I think it’s anywhere between 8-10 hours,” said ter Heide.

“The fastest guy did it in about eight hours, but on average it was about 10 hours.”

Killzone 3′s campaign lasts “between 8-10 hours”

Publicly, virtually nothing has been seen of the game’s campaign at this point. Killzone 3′s plot starts immediately after the ending of Killzone 2 and follows the previous games’ main protagonist, Sev, a Special Forces operative fighting for the Interplanetary Strategic Alliance against the Helghast Empire.

Without giving anything away, the Helghast are in a state of internal conflict. Plenty of information is about to be released on the campaign, so if you want to spoil yourself, you won’t have long to wait.

Two aspects of the shooter Guerrilla have been open on, however, are its 3D and Move support, the inclusion of which led many to question whether or not the developer had sidetracked quality away from multiplayer or, heaven forfend, single-player.

The first look at a Killzone 3′s jungle level.

Ter Heide wasn’t having any of it.

“A lot of people think it may distract us from doing other things, but in all honesty it’s not that big of an investment to get those things up and running,” he said.

“You have to spend some time to make it right, but it’s not like half of the team has been involved in doing the 3D stuff. It’s been, like, one or two guys.

“If you look at what the end result it and what it brings us, in terms of being able to give that immersion to those people that like their games in 3D, I think it’s a great bonus.

“It’s great to be able to expand the audience and build upon the strengths of the franchise. Killzone has always been about the immersion and putting you in the centre of this battle, and 3D is a big help with that.”

The addition of Move control, ter Heide said, allowed Guerrilla to go after the “hardcore” PC audience with Killzone 3.

As far as Move goes, we’ve always been on DualShock; that’s the controller of choice. But there a lot of hardcore players that prefer a PC with a mouse because of the accuracy, and Move allows us to tap into that accuracy. One of the considerations for us is whether or not we can broaden the audience by doing these sort of things.”

“It’s not like half of the team has been involved in doing the 3D stuff. It’s been, like, one or two guys.”

The producer said that the firm may have made a different decision on including Move and 3D support if the resource cost had been heavier, but that the features had been included is a “great benefit”.

One aspect of Killzone 3′s development that ter Heide was less specific on was Hulst’s previous assertion that the game was using “100 percent” of PS3′s max SPU load.

“That’s tricky,” he laughed. “I know we said that with Killzone 2 as well, that we were firing on all cylinders. As we progress through the hardware cycle, you see people get better and better at maxing it out. We’re using a lot of elaborate tricks.

“So yes, we keep the processors occupied, but there are probably smarter ways of making them do useful things. I think there’s still a lot more to be had. If you look at the difference between the PlayStation 2 launch titles and God of War II at the end of the cycle, it’s huge. I still think we’re going to see improvements in what we’re able to do on PlayStation 3.”

Guerrilla Games

Founded in 2000.

Wholly-owned by Sony.

Based in the Netherlands.

Official site.

Whether or not Killzone 3 taps PS3 out completely, it seems as though Guerrilla may be about to make a break from the IP entirely.

The developer confirmed in August last year that it’s now working on something completely new. Ter Heide’s comments on the property indicated it may become Guerrilla’s primary concern.

“We’ve been working on Killzone for a long while now,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to go away any time soon, but I think it’s also interesting to start exploring a new IP. It’s all very early days – we haven’t even had a break yet from developing Killzone 3 – but after the break I think we’re going to start putting our heads together and figuring out what we’re going to do next, and whether that’s making a lot of headway into the new IP or more in the Killzone universe, that’s something that we have to decide on then.”

The developer shrugged off a question about whether or not we’re going to see anything on the new game this year.

“Generally, these things take a long time,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll make the mistake again that we did with announcing Killzone 2 about two years before we actually had gameplay to show. That’s something that we need to carefully consider, because there was a lot of backlash from that. It brought us a lot of positive things as well, but we have to be careful in that respect.”

Killzone 3 releases on February 22 in the US, February 23 in mainland Europe and February 25 in the UK.

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