Blacklight: Tango Down – Zombie Studios interview [English]
We talked to Jared Gerritzen from Zombie Studios, the project lead and lead game designer on Blacklight: Tango Down, an interesting FPS game focused on intense multiplayer action.
Downloadable Distribution and Downloadable Content (DLC) will soon become the standard for purchasing games. I see better opportunities with it than those that come with a standard release. DLC gives players instant gratification; I’ve wasted tons of hours hunting for games too many times over the years because I forgot to pre-order a game. I also HATE standing in a huge line outside in some parking lot in Washington to get a game the night it comes out; it is too cold and is often raining. I would rather sit on my couch and click “download”. But, other than my own issues with getting games at a store, DLC is easy. I don’t have to hunt for a disc that one of my kids put in the wrong box… I’m just talking about my personal issues. Sorry.
But seriously, DLC as a media distribution makes sense for small studios that don’t have hundreds of millions to put in to marketing and buying shelf space at a retailer. It’s a great way to get a new IP out without needing to sell 7 million copies to get signed to make the second game. I think DLC will allow more small studios to grow and get more ideas out to the gamesSo, the game will have interesting and futuristic technology, for example HRV (Hyper Reality Visior), which is used to compile the location of enemies and friendly soldiers and give you the ability to see things that would otherwise be impossible. Upcoming Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is bragging a lot about its technology, which will be all new and futuristic, but based on models that are actually currently used or models in development. Is that how you imagined it as well?
HRV (Hyper Reality Visor) allows all players to jump into a type of virtual reality mode; seeing through the real world around them to get info on enemy locations. The HRV not only gives Blacklight: Tango Down a faster pace but also helps to promote a unique form of teamwork. This and the weapon systems are just two things that come to mind that help set us apart from the competition.
The technologoy of Blacklight is something that we have focused a lot of time and effort on it. The idea of Blacklight is to be “sci-fact”. Not all the items are real, but they are believable in some way. Were not making laser death rays or anything that is crazy like that. We really want the player to feel the world could be real. We based most of our world off of real locations and added a twist to it to make it more fantastic. Our weapons are mostly based off of fact as well as our HRV. The idea behind it is its pinging all the electrical data around you and putting it in you visor.
Can you share a thing or two about the weapons in the game? Weapon customization will be one of the key factors, we’d be happy to hear few more details about it.
Blacklight: Tango Down will have seven different weapon classes with thousands of combinations to make. The customization of a weapon includes its muzzle, barrel, grip, magazine, scope, and stock. This provides you with weapon options that are more than just aesthetic. We have also added a Weapon tag system which, once added to the weapon, associates various perks and abilities to the player and/or the weapon.So, what about the story? I have to admit it was interesting to read how you guys imagined Blacklight as a whole new universe. Did you have any role models while creating it, some SF books or movies?
Well the idea for Blacklight: Tango Down has been in our heads for about 2 years, and the game is about a year out from its starting point. It’s a fast paced FPS in an exciting universe that has a feeling of new technology, that’s just plastered over buildings of old. With a mix of an interesting story, intense game play, hauntingly impactful environments and a huge wealth of content…
Bladerunner was a huge influence. We also looked closely at alleys in big cities for reference in the Blacklight world. A realistic world was our goal – taking real-world settings and buildings and transforming them into what we thought they’d look like 60 years into the future. It’s been an extremely fun and creative process and it has turned out better than I could have imagined.
We’ve heard you’re even planing to make Blacklight a multimedia franchise, which will include the video game, a feature film, and a trilogy of comic books. I mean, trilogy of comic books? Really? Sounds too awesome to be true :)
Yes, the comic and movie are both in production right now. I have worked quite closely with the movie writer and also personally co-wrote the comic to keep them both focused, consistent and technically sound. I’ve also set up future projects. More to come on those…Tango Down will have an experience system like, for example, Modern Warfare. How will the multiplayer differ from other modern first person shooters? We’ve read something about adding mini games to make the game more interesting and challenging.
EVERYONE tries to make new game modes, and most never get played. We did make some game modes that we didn’t feel cut it in the “fun factor” of the game. We’ve taken the time to change up the standard modes by adding other systems to the game. For example, you can stand in the radius of the control point, or you can “hack the node” of the control point by playing a quick mini game. It’s really cool and very fun how tactics have evolved out of the mini games in the game modes.What about the factions? Are the guys from The Blacklight and The Order going to have the same weapons and equipment?
There are 2 factions in the game but they are purely cosmetic, it’s up to the player to change their character to their game style that they want to play. The player will have loadouts that the he or she can customize and configure with their various customized weapons. In these loadouts players will not only be able to define their customized weapons, but also what armor they want to equip to their player as well as their camouflage for the weapon and character.
The customization system really lets players develop their character how they want to, rather than forcing the player into predefined setups.We have one usual question – is the quality of all versions of the game going to be the same? We have a lot of PC gamers visiting our website, and we surely hope that they won’t get a messy PC port.
Each version of the game is balanced for the platform its being shipped on. The PC of course will have different setting and will be shipped with higher-res graphics because PC can scale textures. We have taken time to tune the experience and controls to PC gamers for the PC sku. Also the game has developed on all three platforms simultaneously so its not like the PC was neglected and then we just ported it at the end. We have a lot of PC gamers in the studio so we have made sure that the PC player is not neglected at all.
The price of the game will be really low, around 15 American Dollars, which came as a suprise, because that’s almost the price of DLC of some games. To be honest, do you think that low price and some innovative ideas will be enough to ensure a good sale of the game, considering the hard competition on the market?
If I didn’t think it was, we wouldn’t be doing it. I think the value provided in the title and the fun factor of the game is something that people won’t be able to pass up. Blacklight: Tango Down feels comfortably familiar but is unique enough to be its own game. No one can read, hear, watch, or play the same thing over and over again. Those big names know this and that is why they are constantly releasing map packs and so forth.
We do not necessarily expect players to forgo the next Call of Duty in favor of our game, though that would be great. What we do expect them to do is to go looking for something new and unique to compliment their existing game library, and Blacklight: Tango Down does just that.In the end, we’ve read on your website that Zombie is hiring. Could an artist or an engineer from Croatia get a job in your studio? What knowledge or skills would he or she have to possess?
A love of games. Both playing them and making them. We really make a point to hire people who like games, who play games, who can appreciate what gamers want and what they don’t want. Also we don’t speak Croatian, so English would be a good skill to have.
Thank you for your time, we hope that Blacklight: Tango Down will be a real gem.
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