SCEE's European Product Manager Chris Weatherhead has posted up a MAG PS3 Q&A today on the PlayStation Blog, as follows:
Answers have been provided by the Game's Producer Alan Van Slyke, the Designer Jason Olander, Designer and the Senior Community Manager Jeremy Dunham.
1) How the whole MAG idea was created? It's the final product what you had in mind from the beginning or it has changed?
Alan Van Slyke, Producer: The initial idea for MAG was "battles on a scale never seen before." To have huge air insertions, mortar barrages, and platoons of players fighting for common goals. In this sense the core of the project never changed. Every feature in the game had to pass our filter of, "does this contribute to the sense of scale", and add to the core pillars of what MAG is.
The final product is very much what we had in mind from the beginning. We did strip away a little complexity to provide an experience that's approachable even to casual gamers, but were keenly aware that we needed to retain certain designs (command structure, squad cohesion, squad communication) in place to ensure that a game of this scale wouldn't devolve into complete chaos.
2) Which one was the biggest difficulty you had to face while developing a game like this?
Alan Van Slyke: Testing! We had to beg, borrow, and steal participation from other Sony studios to assist in testing the game throughout the development window... both to shakeout design ideas/ maps, as well as to ensure stability at scale. Later in the development cycle, our internal and public Beta phases were invaluable at ensuring that we had a smooth launch - thanks all who participated!
3) How did you come up with the 3 Factions' idea? Why those Factions?
Alan Van Slyke: The factions initially started as aggregations of existing international Special Forces and evolved into their current (completely fictional) manifestation over a long period of time. SVER/ Valor/ Raven faction identifications gave players the ability to differentiate (visual aesthetic, weapons, vehicles, skills...), resulting in more choice and replayability.
It also leaves the door wide open for us to add new weapons, skills, and gametypes in the future... there's nothing preventing us from adding the ability to load all 3 factions into the same battle, for instance.
4) There have been rumors that there will be a 4th fraction. Is that true? An African or Asian faction would be amazing.
Alan Van Slyke: While I won't comment directly, I will say that one of the things we're happiest with about MAG is that we've built a capable platform. Adding gametypes, factions, weapon types, vehicle types, expanding command structure... the opportunities are limitless, and we've only scratched the surface of what we can do with our engine and networking capabilities.
5) We recently hear a lot about 3D movies and games; can we expect MAG to be in 3D one day?
Alan Van Slyke: Not something we're currently exploring, but another great idea!
6) We know eventually that included DLC will be new maps but what else can we expect in terms of DLC? New game modes, new weapons, new gear, new attires?
Jason Olander, Designer: MAG was designed and built to be an ever-expanding platform, so without revealing specifics I think I can safely say that we are constantly evaluating making additions to almost all aspects of the game, which would of course include weapons, gear, uniforms and more.
7) When are you going to implement a solution for us to launch into games in multiple squads? The actual system is very limited for the Clans.
Jason Olander: As you know, MAG really shines when players are able to group up and play round after round together, creating a great team experience. Limiting how many squads could group up and enter games together was a decision made to ensure that players not in large groups would not be overwhelmed in combat by huge groups of coordinated enemy players.
We continue to evaluate whether allowing more than one squad to group together is in the best interests of good gameplay for everyone, so this may change in the future.
8) In addition to the question before, we expect a "Clans Battle" feature soon, but could you tell us more about it?
Jason Olander: I can't give details, but I can say that we feel MAG is the ultimate "war game", and so we will continue to push the bounds of large-scale organized combat with additions down the line.
9) Will we see any additions to leadership abilities? Such as the OIC having the ability to provide visual prompts which direct squad leaders on the direction of their assault, or even a battle planning screen pre-match which allows the OIC to draw out a 'plan of attack' for their team.
Jason Olander: Large-scale combat, an easy to use and understand command system, and rewarding players for working together are ideals we strive for in MAG. Expanding the current command abilities and systems is a key component of enhancing the game, so stay tuned J
10) Are there any plans of change regarding the vote to kick system? People are getting kicked for not fairy reasons (groups of people feel their friends should be squad leaders rather than them) which can be very annoying especially if it is near the end of the match and you lose all your XP.
Jason Olander: Vote-to-kick is a system designed to enhance the game experience of players by enabling them to remove players that are ruining that experience, and so of course we do not want that to be abused by players just kicking others to make room for their friends, or kicking leaders in order to just take their place. It can be tricky to get this balance right, and so we are always looking into ways to improve the system.
11) How do you think about the possibility of switching teamkilling off during the first 5 seconds after spawning to avoid instant deaths?
Jason Olander: If you are referring to the occasions in which a player spawns and is accidentally still shooting, knifing etc, and kills a teammate unintentionally, we are working on updates to fix that very problem.
12) Is there any chance of a leadership tutorial or at least a help guide within the game? A lot of leaders I've had recently don't seem to have a clue about Frago's or their abilities. The only place I've found this information is this forum, there is little mention of it in the manual.
Alan Van Slyke: Additional tutorials and training is definitely something we hope to assist players with. If you're a new player, ask your squadmates how the FRAGOs work... and if you're a veteran player, feel free to help your squad leader if he needs it... you're all in it together!
13) We are reading many comments in EU about people who can't find players of the same language inside the games. Are you aware of it? Are you thinking in something to help them such as "lobby" system to organize games per language?
Jeremy Dunham, Senior Community Manager: We've definitely discussed ways to make games easier to find on a regional level, but haven't anything to announce yet regarding any possible solutions. Where we ultimately go with this will be based on demand and the practicality of changing how we originally set up our matchmaking.
It's a tricky thing to iron out, obviously, since you want people to be able to play a game with their countrymen if they so choose, but you also don't want to break up the audience as a whole too much because then wait times for getting into a game could suffer.
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