This week, The Escapist was invited to Epic's office to play an early version of the upcoming Gears of War 3 multiplayer beta. Before we sat down to play through the new modes and maps, we took time to speak with the series' lead level designer, Jim Brown. Once you've finished this, be sure to read our hands on impressions so you'll know what to expect when the beta is released later this April.
Jim Brown, Gears of War 3: We set up this beta for the people, and it really is a good thing for us. We want to do a beta that is robust enough and has enough features in it that people will get a really good taste of what Gears multiplayer is going ot be like and also wide enough in scope and time that we can get good feedback from it. So this isn't just a "hey, look at the game" and two days later the game is shipping. We're actually collecting a bunch of data and we'll take it back and analyze it and maybe make some actual changes to the game based on community feedback.
We definitely want to get the community involved. From the get go, we have two maps that we want to show for sure. We have a bunch more. In a couple days the Facebook poll will go up, and we'll have map descriptions, video fly-throughs and everything so people can see them and get a feel for what they are. We're going to let them vote and the top two will be included in the beta as well.
Steve Butts, The Escapist: In terms of balance, is it mostly just tweaking the values or are you looking for feedback on the larger concepts behind the game? What's possible to change at this point?
JB:Everything's open at this point. The game is in very good shape. The main thing we're looking for is not as much "Hey, this is broken," as much as "We tweaked the damage values on this. You guys are the hardcore who have played with us for years. What do you think?"
We have a couple of new game modes, or refinements of previous games modes and we want to gather some feedback and stats on things that happen. We're recording everything that goes on now. In the past it was a lot of us playing with the guys and trolling forums and gathering feedback that way. Now we track everything that happens. Every single move that every person makes, everywhere they go and everything they do all gets track in our stat server and we can analyze it.
SB: Tell us about the new modes.
JB:We're offering Team Deathmatch, which is a new mode for us and a little bit different than the traditional team deathmatch, and Capture the Leader, which is kind of like Capture the Flag but imagine the flag is a living person.
SB: An actual player this time?
JB:Yeah, an actual player, which is a change from our previous game where it was two teams fighting over one AI. That was a game mode called Submission. We also had one called Guardian, where two teams each had a leader and you won by killing them and then killing the rest of the team. We combined those two into one mode that we thought was a little more cohesive and easier to understand. Each team has a leader and your goal is to capture the leader and hold him for 30 seconds.
We're also including King of the Hill. We had Annex and King of the Hill in Gears 2 and they were kind of variants on the same game type with very similar rules sets and people didn't quite grok the difference between the two all the time. Again, we simplified it, combined them into one that's easy to understand. Stand in the ring until it's yours and you get points for that.
One of the things we're definitely focusing on is accessibility.