9.20.12 at 12:55 PM
Questions for David Sears get answered. This final batch contains questions from Rill Kill, streetmarinee, sukmyturban, blackwater, Mr_Q_Blaze, Big Daddy Davee, Mr. Burnt and David Rayfield.
If you still have questions for David or anyone else on the SOF Studios team, feel free to ask right here on the forums and we will do our best to answer them.
Q: In past creative projects, is there any feature or implementation (such as (but not limited to) voting, room creation, host permissions, ping etc) that you would modify or remove based upon community interaction?
A: It’s a fair question but it’s been so long since I worked on those features for SOCOM I’d have to go back and reread the forums. I will let you know once I do.
Q: Of those features which you may like to implement or change in function (if any), why were they not implemented in previous titles?
A: It always seems to come down to not enough time or not enough money. Or both.
Q: and finally... do you read the forums for the games that you are or were part of, and if so, what subject matter affects you the most when you design present or future games?
A: I do read forums when it’s appropriate, as in when trying to get a read on what people like and don’t like. I look for comments that are well reasoned and compelling—there’s usually a great mind behind those and someone who should be listened to. The comment can be on any topic. All knowledge is useful eventually.
Q: Do you think there will be another Socom or do you think Socom is done?
A: Right now I have the feeling that there won’t be another SOCOM game. That’s just a feeling but my feelings are usually right about these kinds of things. If there is another SOCOM I will be happily surprised.
Q: Could SOF Studios make a Socom?
A: Sony owns the rights to the SOCOM franchise so we can’t make SOCOM without their permission.
Q: Why did you leave us? We've been dating nothing but ugly chicks since you left...haha They can't cook, they can't dance, they can't clean... Seriously though, my question is this... Why did you leave Sony?
A: Well, I’ve covered why I left Zipper in a couple of earlier questions but I was at SCEA in Foster City for a year after I left Zipper. That studio closed without warning so I didn’t have a choice but to leave.
Q: What are two of your best skills you can bring to SOF studios?
A: The ability to inspire people with a powerful vision of an innovative game that has greater meaning than pure entertainment. 2) The ability to recognize ideas better than my own and seamlessly incorporate them into the design.
Q: Former AAA game designer Christian Allen said In recent years, shooters have become homogenized. There used to be a wide range of different games to choose, from run-and-gun action titles to slow-paced tactical shooters focusing on strategy and tactics, but now most shooters follow the same model of big set pieces, regenerating health, linear levels, and “cinematic experiences.” The realistic tactical shooters with in-depth planning have almost entirely disappeared in recent years.
Do you have the same mindset as Christian Allen Will you bring back the slow-paced tactical shooters focusing on strategy and tactics?
A: I’m not sure I have exactly the same mindset as Christian but I agree with what appears in quotations above. He’s absolutely correct. To what he said I would add that even with less homogeneity in shooters we can’t be afraid to innovate within our sub-genres. Many people in the industry don’t even see the problem. You would be mortified if not chilled to know how many students I have taught and how many designers I have worked with who cite “other games” as their chief if not only source of ideas for their work. The lack of original thought in shooters today is appalling.
As I’ve said elsewhere in response to these questions, yes to tactics, and yes to varied pacing. I think that stealth and slow pace can build good tension very effectively but once the player is discovered, the experience can become a real firefight. This is exactly how it happens in the real world and I think it’s appropriate in an authentic game about special forces.
Big Daddy Davee
A: Since it’s definitely a tactical game, sure.
Those early SOCOM games were earnest in their approach to the content and the experience and honest in the sense that we always put gameplay first. I can’t speak to whether later SOCOM games adhered to that approach or not. You will probably recognize some aspects of H-Hour as resonant with SOCOM which is natural. Design decisions on those early games were balanced to be honest about what aspects of being a SEAL could be fun for a gamer and earnest in the sense that we wanted to do justice to the SEAL philosophy and community. We are doing the same thing here only now I have access, through the President, tremendous reach to the SOF community.
SOCOM was the franchise on which I cut my teeth as a shooter designer/director, and it taught me a lot of lessons that I don’t intend to forget. And of course, like most designers, I have something of my own style. It’s akin to recognizing the author of a book by his writing style. You’ll recognize my work in the SOF Studios game.
Q: What is your main goal as Creative Director for H-Hour and the incoming console game?
A: Deliver a tactical military shooter on mobile platforms that surprises people with its engaging gameplay.
A: Multiplayer with maps designed for specific gamemodes and a lot of community support features built in. Core mechanics that allow you to feel like you are genuinely well trained military men (and women!). Precise control over your teammates but AI that appears to anticipate your intentions. AI that communicate to you their intentions and status consistently. Touch controls that feel as intuitive as analog controllers (a very, very tall order and one of the biggest design challenges). That’s just to name a few. I am in the process of assigning relative value to all the features in the MindMap of the game, and the process is making the most important features are rising to the top.
Q: Though we know that authenticity gives SOFs a very new dynamic in comparison to others in the gaming industry, what do you intend to provide that will make gameplay unique?
A: Good question. Big Daddy Davee asked a very similar one and I answered it first. Sorry! So instead I’ll say this here: SOCOM had a way of keeping you on the edge of your comfort zone and could be fairly relentless. I love that and I want us to be inspired by that. But that’s just the way battle is and we’re going to be revisiting that reality again for H-Hour.
Q: Do you prefer to provide Gameplay Graphics or Gameplay Mechanics?
A: Mechanics. An ugly game that plays well is a better game than a pretty one with no depth or challenge. But we don’t want to ship an ugly game, either. Generally speaking, if it comes down to a choice between a gameplay feature versus a rendering or other art feature, we’ll put the money on the gameplay side. It is rarely such a clear cut decision though. It’s more of a philosophy that you keep close to heart when you begin a game design.
Q: What exactly can you talk about regarding the development process and the change in the development team on that game?
A: Not much. I assume you are talking about SOCOM here. I didn’t keep track of developments at Zipper after I left so their process and day to day operations are a mystery to me.
A: Not to my knowledge. We knew about the game as the press reported on it.
12.6.12 at 10:48 PM
David, can you tell us if classic video game shooter features will be brought back, such as leaning with the D-Pad, jump to climb and the grenade arch have a possibility of returning in H Hour?
Can you comment on the aesthetic of the game? Will the graphics and mechanics of the game be similar to that of SOCOM 1, 2 and 3, or more modern? I only ask, because personally, I don't know if it's just nostalgia, but I prefer the older aesthetic.
Some of the best years of my life were spent playing SOCOM 1 and 2, 8 hours a day (pathetic, I know, I had no friends except for my clan). Do you think the game by you and SOF Studios will bring that similar style of enveloping a player in the game, and creating a sense of community so great that you never want to set down the controller? I worry about that nowadays, because I was in high school in those years, but It may cost me my job in the current year :)
12.7.12 at 12:25 PM
Many of your questions have been answered prior here in the community forums mike, so I'll try to answer to the best of my knowledge and point you in the right direction.
D-Pad: Yes there will be leaning, exactly how cannot be commented on right now.
The graphics will be improved in comparison solely on the fact of the significant improvements in technology, but it's worth noting that the attention of detail that went into the early SOCOM games will still similarly be true for H-Hour.
And finally yes, one of the major aspects of H-Hour is supporting the community:
QuoteClans take a starring role in H-Hour. Supported by mobile integration, H-Hour will provide players with optimized tools for creating, maintaining, and communicating with their clan and each other. H-Hour's unique clan systems will give new meaning to clan leadership and foster a native sense of duty throughout the H-Hour community.
2.28.13 at 4:14 PM
I just came on myself sorry I have to go wipe up now! I'm SSSSSSOOOOOOOOOO Ready for my Socrack I mean H Hour Crack feeling to come back and it sounds like it is!!!
3.10.13 at 4:15 AM
"I think that stealth and slow pace can build good tension very effectively but once the player is discovered, the experience can become a real firefight."
Indeed that was SOCOM, the perfect balance to what a Tier 1 Operator from either the Army or Navy was capable of.
Ubitsoft MontreaL, Naughty Dog and Respawn Entertainment (formerly Infinity Ward)3 of 4 studios on the continent that have the talent with their animation teams in the art department to pull of a proper game play mechanic that resembles the legendary pace, fluidity, and personal individualized expression (ironically) through in-game character articulation/movement found in SOCOM 2. That's the most important part, wether it be FPS or TPS. Though as a TPS, keeping you "in belief" that you and the "avatar/character" you're controlling are as human, seamless, fluid and believable as possible was something that Naughty dog did very well, but SOCOM 2 and Zipper accidentally coded just right.
After seeing what Ubisoft is doing with Watch Dogs, and Graphically what MGS Ground Zeroes looks like, I've always known it was possible.
A quote verbally exploding!
3.12.13 at 6:51 AM
I would like to ask on information if possible about h-hours menu and lobby style. What do you envision on the screen for us when we hit that online button? This is in the sense of armory, clan rosters, and us east, west , europe, etc. I hate bringing up former titles because they were masterpieces but I daresay that you previous Socom design was flawless in a sense of user friendliness and effectiveness.
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