A% Super Moderating Hero: Hello everybody! Reid Schneider is hear, tied to his chair. Let's begin!
Army of Two: The 40th Day producer Reid Schneider has been answering your questions live on Eurogamer this afternoon.
He's talked about all sorts, from arse-slapping to love interests and from movie ideas to Panther AI.
Thank you not only to Reid Schneider and EA for taking part, but also to all of you that asked questions. And apologies to those whose questions we didn't have time for.
Read - or indeed Reid - on for our full interview with Schneider, producer of Army of Two: The 40th Day.
Demo's out today on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, incidentally, and the full game's due out on 15th January.
Our live coverage of this event has finished.
A% Super Moderating Hero: Please can you tell us a bit about yourself and why you are so famous?
A% Reid Schneider: Sure, first off - I'm definitely not famous. I feel pretty lucky to be part of this group, and I've had the chance to build the AO2 franchise from the start. I've been producing games since '98. I started at Ubisoft when we were still a children's entertainment company. I worked on Splinter Cell, Batman, Battlefield, and now AO2.
A% Super Moderating Hero: Before we plunge in, can you give us a brief overview of what sets Army of Two apart? And where the sequel has improved - what the top-notch features are. And is there much we don't know about the sequel yet?
A% Reid Schneider: No problem. I think what sets AO2 apart is that its completely focused on co-op from the ground up. In our game co-op does not just mean more firepower it means really thinking tactically abouthow you play. In terms of how it has improved, we really took the feedback to heart from the first game. We listened to what fans, journalists, critics really did not like and that shaped what we buit for the sequel.
I think the biggest improvement is the organic approach to co-op meaning giving the players tactics that can be used anywhere and then let them decide what they want to do, and what kind of a player they want to be in the warzone.
In terms of top notch features we think Mock Surrender is very cool as the GPS/Tagging system. In terms of what people don't know, we have a huge user-generated content intiative. Meaning that people can go on armyoftwo.com and design their own mask or armor for Versus and push them in the game. Finally the biggest surprise for people may be the stat-tracking on the website. We had a dedicated team on that, and the amount of information tracked for players in both co-op and Versus is huge. We took inspiration from best in class sites like Killzone 2 and Battlefield to determine what information players wanted to see reflected in stat tracking.
A% Super Moderating Hero: Tell us a bit about those features - stat-tracking and customisation. How much freedom is there and what stats are tracked? Also, will we get nifty community features as part of them?
A% Reid Schneider: Well stat tracking is global for all players, but what is cool in terms of community building on the site is that you can then rank your performance against those that are top in leaderboards and those that are your "friends" based on EA sign-in. Seeing yourself in the middle, or in my case bottom of a leaderboard is not so much fun, but way cooler when you know how you are doing against your friends. Also, that site tracks your preferred weaponry, types of kills, etc. So there is alot in there to encourae community building. We view that as a huge priority for us going forward.
Q%Vertical Stand%2319% Recently you spoke about the response to the previous Army of Two game in Europe about how the irreverant tone was seen as tasteless, and indicated a cultural gap between Americans and Europeans. I was hoping you could talk a bit about examples of how the gamer is able to change the nature of the game through their actions in the sequel.
A% Reid Schneider: Absolutely. I believe our first game made a mistake tonally, as we we created a project where people felt alienated by the actions/speech of the main characters. The biggest problem with this is that they were so turned off it prevented them from enjoying the rest of the game, which was unfortunate.
In the new game we wanted to appeal to a much wider audience so we dramatically changed the tone. We didn't want it to be "frat-guy" but more "Die Hard" in that whenever you watch a Die Hard movie (especially the original) the Jon Mclane lines are universally funny, dry, sarcastic. We still felt that a certain amount of irreverant humor is core to the franchise but it needs to appeal to more than just people on this side of the atlantic (America).
A% Super Moderating Hero: So who has got the best sense of humour - Europeans or Americans? I can't see why that would be a difficult question to answer on the internet.
A% Reid Schneider: Actually it's interesting as the humor is really different. That's one of the challenges with injecting sarcasm into a game. But we're fortunate to have a number of Brits on the team so we can field-test things we write.
A% Super Moderating Hero: Ooh give us an example!
A% Reid Schneider: Well our lead gameplay/AI programmer is from England, and he's pretty good friends with the creative director, writer and myself. Very often at lunch they would start talking about lines they are writing in the game and then gauge the general reaction. If it got universal laughs we're good. Sometimes it was too "inside" and would need to be re-written. Writing for games is very much an iterative process. We also like to work in "local" humor related to Montreal. There are a few lines in the game that reflect that.
Q%EarlBassett%299221% Dear Mr Schnieder, have you ever blown up a shark, then realised you have that additional 'N' in your surname, thus forcing you to buy the ocean a new shark to compensate?
A% Reid Schneider: No, never done that...
Q%GeeMacca%25723% I want to know one important thing, are the 'congratulatory' moves (hi-fives, etc.) still there? If so, can you please add an arse-slap into the game? If so, I'm in.
A% Reid Schneider: So this is actually kind of interesting. On the first game there was this whole controversy about whether there should be an arse-slap in the game, like American Football players do. We had it in, then took it out [so to speak -SMH]. In this game, it did make it in. So there you go. Have fun!
A% Super Moderating Hero: A confirmed arse-slap! What other congratulatory moves are there?
A% Reid Schneider: The basic idea is that they scale as they go. There's a bear hug as well and some other amusing ones.
Q%Vertical_Stand%2319% Has the Army of Two: The 40th Day team have been taking cues from the witty banter between Jean Claude Van Damme and Rob Schneider in Knock Off? [Are you nuts? -SMH]
A% Reid Schneider: No, fortunately no inspriation from Rob Schneider or JCVD.
Q%CaLeDee%144534% Did you ever consider making the two main characters romantically involved and have a love story sub plot? [I think this reader probably means did you ever consider having a female character like in Resident Evil 5 or Prince or Persia or so on and so forth. He might not, though. -SMH]
A% Reid Schneider: Yeah, actually we have a bunch of ideas about where we could take that in terms of female love interests. It's also something we have been thinking about with AO2 in other media, comics/movies.
The core problem with putting that in the game is that it's a shooter at its core, and too much love interest side-plot could distract. On a related note, the scene in Gears 2 with Dom and his wife was cool.
A% Super Moderating Hero: Who, in an ideal world, would play the heroes in an Army of Two movie? Me?
A% Reid Schneider: Absolutely! We'll make sure there is a spot written for UK journalists [I don't think he's taking me seriously, sigh -SMH].
All joking aside [! -SMH] I think alot of it will come down to who ultimately gets chosen as a director. They need to work with actors they are comfortable with. The last thing we want to do is hamper their creative process, we just want an awesome movie to get made. With the movie project we have approvals over key milestones like writer, script, director choice, etc. We really want Universal to be successful with the project and for us to help but not hinder. Scott Burns, who has been writing the script, is really kicking ass and gets the franchise, along with our partners at Universal and Stuber Productions.
A% Super Moderating Hero: Have you got a director in mind at the moment?
A% Reid Schneider: I have some people who I think are just badass, but until we lock down the script that's far off. Things in the film world just take a lot of time.
Q%Murton%382116% The first game has a very linear weapons upgrade system where bigger was always better, what is the weapon upgrade/modification like in the sequel? Will we be thinking about potential downsides of applying a particular weapon mod before we buy it?
A% Reid Schneider: Yeah, definitely! That's another thing we learned from the first game. Linear weapon upgrades mean the guns don't feel powerful enough from the start. In the new game we have this concept that any part of one gun in a particular class is change-able with any part of any other gun in the same class. The net result is that you have plus/minus to building the gun that suits you as a player.
Also, you can now pick-up enemy guns you find on the battefield and try them out. When you empty the clip you toss them away.
Q%koqazion%295771% Would yo be able to elaborate on how the game will play online? Will there be any new features compared to the last game as far as online is concerned?
A% Reid Schneider: No problem! We've completely revamped the mulitplayer versus mode. In the first game it was really done at the last minute, and it showed. In this game we began development of versus at the same time as we started the main co-op game. Versus now supports 10 player client/server architecture, with host-migration, join in progress, and four-player co-op modes spread across six maps.
It's really a complete reinvention of the versus experience, but designed with a co-op focus in mind. If you look at Battlefield, people that play in teams always have an advantage versus people who play alone. we really want to reward co-op play in the versus experience.
A% Super Moderating Hero: Talking of co-op and the advantages of playing together... Let's pretend I have no friends but want to play Army of Two 2. Am I going to have an inferiour single-player experience? Will it be dramatically different?
A% Reid Schneider: It will be a good experience, we worked alot on Partner AI (PAI) to give him the same abilities that the players have. For example, the PAI now can interact with anything the player can interact with, so maybe you see a door that you want him to open and you can line up a shot on the enemies on the other side. Well, by putting the crosshair on the door and pressing the right button he will do the action! Thus he's now a more active part of the experience.
I firmly believe that it will still always be more fun to play AO2 with a live partner, but the PAI has come a long way. Think about Left 4 Dead - when you play by yourself it's nowhere near as much fun as it is with friends.
A% Super Moderating Hero: Would you ever consider Panther AI? It sounds similar.
A% Reid Schneider: No, don't think we're going to do Panther AI.
Q%Machetazo%14758% Army of Two's structure would work perfectly with the zeitgeisty extra mission DLC we see so often these days. How early have you had to think about DLC and how siginifcant a part will it play?
A% Reid Schneider: We definitely plan to support the game with DLC, I don't think we have announced the exact content yet. Le's just say we want to continue to bring the co-op experience home. Also, the cool thing about DLC is that you can try out some potentially new gameplays that you could not do in the main game, or were too time-consuming or risky.
Q%BillyBrush%57731% With the original game, you couldn't play with people outside of Europe, has this been changed?
A% Reid Schneider: YES!
We made sure there is no region-lock of any kind on this game. Have fun tearing up the people in North America!
Q%headrush%395202% Are You afraid that the recent release of Modern Warfare 2 will overshadow the AOT2 multiplayer? And does a busier Q1 2009 period mean you've hedged your bets a bit for the games success?
A% Reid Schneider: MW2 is awesome! We play it all the time. That being said, the focus is really different. Our goal has been to enhance co-op and give people a campaign they experience 100 per cent together. Also, versus mode is again focused around co-op so it feels really different then other shooters. We hope poeple like it!
In terms of release date, we had always been coming in early 2010. It's unforunate that so many games moved into this window but we're pretty excited to release the game. We hope you guys like it. I can't stress enough how fan/journalist/player feedback has affected the game for the better.
A% Super Moderating Hero: Oh and before you go. Would you rather be able to turn invisible or have lasers for eyes? And why.
A% Reid Schneider: In terms of lasers vs. invisible, I'm going with invisible.
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