When I started playing Battlefield 1942 eight years ago I would have never imagined to end up as an editor for the entire series, meeting developers and make interviews. Okay, there are game fairs and luckily I live in a country that is the home to one of the largest, but in the end I’m more or less the player that I was eight years ago. I play Battlefield, I love it, and besides those two facts I make news about it. No big deal. And there is another important thing: our news is written in German. If I take a look what Google and other online translators do to our news I must admit that I wouldn’t read my own site if I was to speak English.
In the end it were Gamma and Christian who made the visit possible and I would like thank both of them. The first one is the community manager for Germany and the other one works at EA Germany. Both guys are really cool and the coolest thing they ever did was to pick me up for the trip to the DICE office where I was able to meet all the people that I normally write about. Patrick Bach, Karl Magnus Troedsson, Baza, and all the other guys we know so well from all the trailers and interviews. A trip that the Digital Warriors already made, a trip that elxx already made, and a trip that every hardcore Battlefield fan probably will give the shirt of his back. Definitely a three ring circus but I kept some kind of distance.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a great trip that I really enjoyed and looked forward for weeks, but I work for a technology corporation myself and some parts of my business are similar to the ones by DICE and EA. Producing a game and producing internet technologies both depend on creativity, area thinking, and truckloads of people who transform the ideas to a product. That’s the reason I normally listen very carefully, if Patrick Bach or Karl Magnus Troedsson speak about the focus of the game and their decisions concerning the components. I do understand if some parts of the software – excuse me – the game is canceled because they will never be finished until the deadline and I do understand that there are always customers who’ll consider the canceled feature as personal offense.
That brings me to the most interesting part of the visit: a statement that Patrick Bach made when we stood at the floor and Abbay was asking if it is common at DICE to write down notices at the (glass) walls. And when Patrick answered that it is indeed common for the employees to keep important things in their own minds and also remember the other members of the team to it, I decided that DICE probably is a company I’d like to work for. My second thought drifted away to terms like “scrum”, “sprints”, “project owners”, and other things that you normally only have to handle with if you are a professional project manager or (in my case) part of huge projects teams. Not really Battlefield related but for all that I have to admit that I particularly remember this part of the trip.
For sure we had a studio tour, we met the guys who make Heroes and Lord of Ultima (looks addictive), we had to chance to interview some of the game designers, and many things more. We even had the opportunity to play against Stormonster, Baza and the other testers at the gaming room and if I look back at the trip it was simply amazing and great fun. We played a lot of the new levels in Conquest mode and besides some wiggly gameplay videos without sound I could tell you that the game is epic, the sound is pure awesomeness, and that I will play every free minute from now on. But you already know this and can experience this yourself within a week.
What I really want to say is that this trip – as short as it was – was a really good thing. Not all our questions were answered and I don’t know if Patrick Bach can remember my name, but I’d love to continue the discussion about the “concept” of the game sometimes. In one point he was perfectly right: hardcore fans always believe that their point of view is the only acceptable. And this are probably the best closing words I can find for my travelogue. We talked to a lot of the developers. We made them clear that we DO want a LAN mode, that we DO need spectator mode and demo recording. We also talked to them about Singleplayer, stats, and a proper set of graphics for fansites. If I look back at this day there is hardly a thing we did not talk about. And even if there are business plans, guidelines, and deadlines that might prevent the release of any of this features: we were there and talked about this guys that truly love the games they develop as much as we do. It was a great time and that’s the reason I have written down this entry in English: the people at DICE can read it without an online translator.