Ex-Battlefield 3 dev on quitting DICE and his role in that Easter egg
"I had become the hostile Goldfarb."
Imagine waking up to find that someone had turned your name into a video game Easter egg and hidden it inside one of the world's biggest shooters. Then imagine all this had happened nearly two years ago, and the internet had only just found it out after someone hacked into said game's innards.
"This was unexpected," Ex-Battlefield 3 level designer David Goldfarb admitted to Eurogamer yesterday, at a preview showing of his new project Payday 2.
As Easter eggs go, the secret itself is fairly straightforward. The hidden message is a simple, altered voice-over that refers to a "hostile Goldfarb". It will only play in Battlefield 3 under ridiculously-specific conditions and is nigh-on impossible to replicate. Hence the fact it was found by hacking the game's files.
"I worked with [voice-over producer] Tomas Danko, the guy who's responsible for this, on four games - Bad Company 1, 2, Mirror's Edge and Battlefield 3," Goldfarb explained. "He must have done it sometime when we were in crunch, which is when I don't really remember much of what was happening.
"I kind of remember Stefan [Strandberg, audio director on BF3] saying 'we put something in, you're going to find it funny!' And then I forgot about it. And then I saw this thing come out, and all these people started messaging me... It's funny because I've been known to be hostile.
"All of my DICE friends were like, 'Dave! Have you seen this!?' They totally did it without my knowledge. I feel almost guilty it's come out... It's kind of weird it's come out now, just as I'm working on this other game."
That game is Payday 2, a much smaller project in terms of scope and team size. It's being developed by Overkill, a subsidiary of Starbreeze whose only other game thus far is the original Payday: The Heist. Goldfarb explained that his choice to move studios came as a result of his experiences on Battlefield 3.
"At the end...?" he trails off. "It [DICE] was a great place to be and I have the greatest respect for them. But it was definitely time to move on. I was burned out. I'd gotten to the point where I had become the hostile Goldfarb... hence my departure.
"The most exciting thing about Payday 2 is we get to make what we want, which is something I couldn't have said was true at EA. There's much more latitude to take risks. If I was in another company with this co-operative stealth RPG simulation? They would just have said no."
Payday 2 is being made by just 35 people, and Overkill is still headed up by a pair of brothers, Ulf and Bo Andersson.
The sequel evolves a lot of what that the first title got right - for one, its worryingly-realistic simulations of bank robbing. It's also a bigger release in terms of scope - the game is both a digital and physical release and will arrive for three platforms simultaneously at launch next month - PC, PlayStation and Xbox 360.