DICE built a whole new engine – Frostbite 2.0 – for Battlefield 3, because it was one of the few ways the developer could make it “unique” without putting players off.
“Everyone wants unique. But when they get it, they don’t like it, because it’s different,” the executive producer opined in a huge interview with Gamasutra.
“I’m a consumer, so I know what I want. I want the same, but different. It’s the classic ‘same, same but different’ mentality. It needs to be similar to what I had, but it needs to be unique at the same time. And the question is only, ‘what is the same?’ and ‘what is unique?’ How daring do you need to go?”
Bach said there’s little point doing market research, because players invariably respond with “I want it like it was, but better.”
“But if you do it like it was, and better, it would be the same, more or less. It’s not a new game,” he said.
“So our job is to create a new vision for something, that the consumer can say, ‘Oh, I get it! But it actually feels quite different. It’s brand new.'”
DICE is in a particularly difficult position because it focuses on modern day shooters, which understandably share many elements in common.
“So what do you do to make it feel different?” he asked, highlighting Battlefield 3’s “physicality” and “presence in the world” – things like improved animations and graphics, which require more extensive technology leaps than gamers might believe.
“You could see it as, ‘Oh, it’s just a couple of steps forward,’ but to do that, you have to go back to the foundation of what you’re building, and rebuild it from scratch,” he said.
“Because what we knew when we started the project was that you couldn’t just add another building block on top of it, because it wouldn’t feel new and fresh. So, to us, unique is being daring – and just take down the whole house, build a better foundation, and build a higher building.”
Battlefield 3 releases this week on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.