Activision is going back to the drawing board with their Transformers games this year. With no movie to tie a game to, Activision is creating a new game based on the first generation of Transformers. Curious to see how the game was going to work we asked Activision for an interview and here are the results.
Please introduce yourself and talk about your role on the project. What kinds of things do you do on a daily basis? How did you get into the game industry?
My name is Matt Tieger and I am the Game Director here at Highmoon Studios. I am responsible for the vision of Transformers; War for Cybertron.
The last Transformers movie didn't exactly set the world on fire critically; do you think that hurts your game at all?
We definitely have some convincing to do, however I am extremely proud of this game and I believe critics and gamers will really enjoy it.
How much pressure do you have knowing anything you do in the game will be cannon for the Transformers universe?
It is an awesome responsibility. Hasbro has been fantastic to work with and we developed a strong relationship from the very beginning – that is what made such a great story.
Can you talk about the voice talent for the game? How many of the old voices were you able to incorporate and who else did you bring in?
Of course we have Peter Cullen; there is a law against making a game without him I think. Other than him we picked a brand new cast of voices. This in particular was something that we worked very closely with Hasbro on.
How has the reception been for the designs of the Transformers that seem to have a mix of old and new design elements? Is there going to be a toy line that will be based on the designs from the game?
The TF fans have responded very positively to our take on Transformers. When we started this project it was beyond our expectations that Hasbro would decide to make toys, but when they did, it blew us away.
What's the final count of Transformers in the game going to be? How did you pick which robots made the cut and which ones didn't? Were you allowed to create any new robots for the game or not?
We did not need to make any new Transformers; there are 100s of cool ones already. We picked the cast based on the most popular core Transformers and then supplemented those with characters that were needed for game balance. As an example we include Warpath as a playable character not because he is the most popular Transformer, but because he is an Autobot tank and there are not many Autobot tanks.
How did you go about designing Cybertron? You've got a lot of source material to start with. but certainly not enough to design an entire game with.
Research, research, research. This was the beginning and then we just attempted to find our own way, selecting elements from other media and our TF research that felt right. Materials and the scale of the world were big issues for us and we focused our efforts on that.Are the single player and co-op campaign the same or are they two different separate beasts? Why do you think co-op gaming has become so popular now a days?
The story can be played solo with 2 AI buddies or in online Co-op with up to 2 other friends. The game is fun solo, but when you are yelling at your friends for heals, and distracting AI so your team can flank – it reaches a whole new level of fun.
For the single player campaign are we playing the robots we know and love or is it the tale of a new robot who will be interacting with those characters?
The campaign is centered on the named iconic Transformers and that is who you will get to play.
Robots that can change form into different vehicles presents some design issues, can you talk about how having robots in disguise changes level design? How more complex was this than designing other games?
We embraced the fact that you could be a vehicle at anytime; as such we designed around that concept. However, it was a significant challenge because we had to think about how players would approach the same challenges with different vehicles.
Can you talk about the multi-player modes a bit and what War for Cybertron is doing different than all the other third person shooters out there? What games did you identify as the ones to beat in the market and how are you trying to build on or raise the bar on them?
We have not yet announced all the modes but I can talk about a few. There are of course the skill-based modes like deathmatch and team deathmatch. But there are also a bunch of more tactical modes. My favorite is Conquest. There are 3 nodes that both factions fight over for control. When you control it your team earns points to ultimate victory. However the tactics that player use to gain or defend points varies greatly based on their abilities and vehicles, making it a competitive and challenging game.
Given that there are only so many hours in a day and so many shooters on the market, without resorting to "It's the TRANSFORMERS!" tell us why people should play your game over other games on the market?
Hard-core shooter fans are going to be surprised by how solid the controls are and how natural the shooting feels; this is not something they have come to expect from licensed games. On top of that, transformation and the abilities add a whole new dimension of tactical choices to the combat which results is a very unique experience – there isn’t anything like this out there.
Do you have any multi-player tips for when the game comes out?
Teamwork will always win over solo play in MP; learn what each class can do, strategize the synergies between classes and communicate with your team.
Will there be a demo or beta released before the game hits shelves? Are you planning on releasing any DLC for the game or not?
Unfortunately I have to remain silent on this one and not confirm anything. Stay tuned.
We'd like to thank Matt for taking the time to our questions as well as Wiebke who helped coordinate the interview.