Unlike all the others, this Eurogamer Expo Session interview was not conducted before the corresponding developer session at Eurogamer Expo 2010. This is because Killzone 3 producer Steven Ter Heide is a busy man (he's probably on a plane somewhere fancy right now, being busy).
We did talk to him eventually though, fresh from playing Killzone 3 live with Sony's fancy Move controller to a packed Earls Court auditorium. Here Ter Heide goes in-depth on how Guerrilla Games has improved the PlayStation-exclusive series in almost every way.
Eurogamer: During your developer session you identified three complaints about Killzone 2: variety, controller lag and story. How will Killzone 3 be more varied?
Steven Ter Heide: Steven Ter Heide: Variety is difficult to explain. What people commented on most in terms of variety was the environments themselves. They said for the first half of the game you're stuck in these urban environments. It felt like a corridor shooter. It didn't feel open or varied.
The end of the game had more variety, where you're also in a desert and a spaceship. But the majority of people didn't get that far. They only got the initial bit.
Eurogamer: They stopped playing the game?
Steven Ter Heide: Yeah. Funnily enough, not a lot of people complete the game. That's something you see for a lot of games. We track a lot of that data. With the Trophies and the telemetry we gather from the servers, we can see where people are dying a lot, where they're tailing off and which points don't work as well.
We use that to counterbalance what people write on the forums. If they say, yeah, that's the best thing ever, or it took me a long time to complete that, we can look at the average completion times. We can balance that out. There is a lot of vocal fanbase out there, who shout about a lot of things. But you have to objectively look at it as much as possible and see what is true.
So, for us, variety was about introducing more variety in the environments. We'll take you across the planet this time, from alien jungles to the icy plains you've just seen, into space, to nuclear wastelands, to the nuclear aftermath of the city.
But at the same time the variety in the stuff you do from minute to minute was important. First and foremost it's a game where your only interaction with the world is through a gun. So we want to make sure that there are different things you get to do and there are different ways you get to play it as well.
Eurogamer: Can you give us any examples?
Steven Ter Heide: A jetpack, for instance, something that allows you to explore the environment better. Rather than your run and gun times, where you take a shotgun and always go into a room and clear it out that way, with the bigger environments we have this time around, dropping a jetpack in there means all of a sudden you can go past encounters. You don't have to engage every enemy you see. You can sneak up on them because you can get to a higher vantage point.
We break up the gameplay and we offer a more varied experience throughout. We just keep bombarding you with new stuff. The E3 code is out here - we start off flying on an Intruder with a big mini-gun, and you get to shoot a lot of stuff and blow up oil rigs. Then you get to do a bit of on-foot combat. You get to use the new Brutal Melee system, where you get to encounter jetpack troopers. Then you can put on a jetpack yourself. Then at the very end we give you a massive rocket launcher that fires multiple rockets at once. So we change the gameplay just over the span of one level with five distinct experiences.
Eurogamer: We saw the Brutal Melee animation where you use your thumbs to squeeze the guy's eyeballs in.
Steven Ter Heide: There is a variety of them. Especially when we show in 3D, some people go, oooh!
Eurogamer: It literally is eye-popping 3D. You also mentioned you've eradicated controller lag. With Killzone 2, did people make more of it than was necessary, or was it a fair criticism?
Steven Ter Heide: The controller lag was an issue. It should not have been there. We'd been developing that game for a long time. We spent about three and a half years on it. At some point you get blind to certain things because you get used to it. You get used to the button configuration being a certain way. You get used to how things respond.
We didn't get enough objective data to get those kind of bugs out. They are bugs and they should not have been there. If you press a button stuff should happen on screen. It's as simple as that.