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Wes Eckhart of Novalogic, producer of Black Hawk Down

Interview - Tom catches up with Wes Eckhart, producer of Delta Force - Black Hawk Down, ahead of the game's November release

This week, Eurogamer tracked down Wes Eckhart, producer on Delta Force - Black Hawk Down, and levelled some questions at him ahead of the game's November 29th release date. Wes and his development team are based in NovaLogic's development studio and corporate offices in Calabasas, California. The team working on DF-BHD has a rich development history at NovaLogic, having dealt with previous Delta Force games, the Commanche series, F-22 Lightning 3, Armoured Fist 3 and Tachyon: The Fringe.

BHD marks a significant departure from previous Delta Force titles, but Wes promises us that fans will still lap it up
Eurogamer First off, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. It's always nice to catch up with those directly involved with the games!
No problem Tom, it's always a pleasure to speak to Eurogamer!
Eurogamer Delta Force - Black Hawk Down is based on the conflict which took place in Somalia back in the early 1990s, when a UN aid operation became a full-scale occupation of the country in an attempt to oust local warlords. Of course, Ridley Scott delivered a stunning realisation of the conflict in last year's movie of the same name, but is DF-BHD based on the film, or your interpretation of events?
DF-BHD is not an adaptation of Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down or Ridley Scott's movie adaptation; it is in fact our own interpretation of the events surrounding the conflict. Both the book and movie cover only the most high profile incident in the campaign, where US Army Rangers and Special Forces were sent into Mogadishu to capture a number of Habr Gedir clan officials and the subsequent events where the Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by RPGs. The game focuses on events leading up to October 3rd, specifically the 10th Mountain's defence of UN relief efforts, and Task Force Ranger's mission to hunt down and capture Aidid and his forces.
Eurogamer We've heard that the game is split into five campaigns - one directly based on the harrowing events seen in Scott's war epic. Why did you opt for this approach instead of just concentrating on the familiar aspects of the conflict?
Actually, the game is set up as one continuous campaign, with two major elements. The player starts out as a member of the US 10th Mountain Division. In this capacity, the player is tasked with safeguarding UN relief efforts. As the game evolves, the player becomes a member of Task Force Ranger, and as part of the Task Force, the player is sent on missions to capture Aidid's top people and eliminate the threat of the Habr Gedir militia.
NovaLogic has gone to impressives lengths to simulate the rundown environment
EurogamerPresumably you didn't actually wander around Mogadishu (or flyby in a chopper!) in the process of making the game - where did your designers draw their inspiration for the carefully constructed environments from?

Since Delta Force - Black Hawk Down is based on real events, we pulled research material from a variety of sources. Aside from books, articles, and news footage, we've also been working closely with a number of Subject Matter Experts [with whom we'll have a few words in the near future -Ed]. We've been fortunate to work with two former members of Task Force Ranger, as well as a former Special Forces weapons and tactics expert.

The SMEs have spent several days at a time with the team, advising us on a variety of issues including room clearing techniques for the AI, motion capture moves, mission planning, and proper weapons etiquette.

Eurogamer You've stated that you're aiming for a cinematic feel, name-checking EA's Medal of Honor Allied Assault as a recent game which managed this - the differing nature of the two conflicts aside, how do you think the two games compare?
I think both games offer compelling single player gameplay based on real world events. Both games are very story driven, and immerse the player in the environment. The biggest difference between the two games is multiplayer. This being our fifth title in the PC Delta Force series, we have a lot of experience with large-scale multiplayer. We will continue to offer our 32 player multiplayer games via Novaworld.
EurogamerDF-BHD has been described as more action-oriented than previous Delta Force games, and having seen Scott's movie that's not too hard to imagine, but does this mean that you've said goodbye to the more considered approach it's necessary to adopt in Delta Force 1-3?
NovaLogic on one of their less successful recon missions
Certainly not, although the environments players fight in are a dramatic departure from previous Delta Force games. Because of the range of missions, there will be plenty of long-range outdoor engagements, whereby gamers will fail missions if they go in guns blazing. When it comes to close quarters fighting, players will still have to be cautious. Players will need to systematically clear rooms in a building to make sure they're safe. The best way to do this is for the player or his team-mate to throw a flashbang grenade into the room. Once the grenade goes off, the team swarms in to deal with the now dazed enemy.
Eurogamer The game is based on a modified version of the (excellent) Commanche 4 engine, rather than the Delta Force engine used for Land Warrior and most recently Task Force Dagger. How well does the C4 engine cope with Mogadishu and the game's other environments?
The type of city fighting in DF-BHD is new to the series. In using the Comanche 4 engine we're able to achieve an enormous city that the player can run through or fly over. The size of the city should avoid giving players the fenced-in feeling of corridor shooters. There will be plenty of rooftops to snipe from, and plenty of long streets for the player to navigate. At the same time, we've added some cramped alleys and basement areas for players who pine for close quarter combat and want to explore.
EurogamerSomali rebels don't really try to stand out from the average Somali civilian - will their human camouflage be reflected in BHD, or will everybody on screen outside of your unit act as cannon fodder?
It will be tricky to distinguish the civilians from the bad guys… That's one of the challenges of the game. Since the militia members really didn't wear uniforms, the only way to tell the bad guys from the civilians is that the bad guys will be the ones holding weapons. The player will have to constantly exercise caution as he's moving through the city.
Eurogamer Ridley Scott gave the Somalis rocket propelled grenades, machine guns, pistols and anti-aircraft guns - what sort of tools will the enemies in Black Hawk Down use, and how well equipped will the player be?
Presumably not the best place to be in a game called Black Hawk Down
AK-47s, RPGs, and .50 cals mounted on the backs of trucks (Technicals) are all staples of the opposition in Delta Force - Black Hawk Down. To counter these forces, players will have access to the CAR-15 and M-16 assault rifles, several different sniper rifles, light machine guns like the SAW and M-60, and a variety of explosives and vehicle mounted weapons.
Eurogamer Finally, you're working on a co-operative mode with BHD, as well as deathmatch options for the more belligerent. How will the various players communicate orders in-game, will there perhaps be a command hierarchy, and will the co-operative support work over the Internet?

There is no inherent command structure in multiplayer. It's up to players to work together and sort out who's doing what in multiplayer. The usual team text chat is available for teams to work out their strategies.

Player's will be able to play coop over the Internet. We will most likely limit it to four players per mission in coop only. For other multiplayer game types, we can have up to 32 players.

Wes Eckhart, thanks for your time. Look out for Delta Force - Black Hawk Down appearing on store shelves on November 29th.

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Tom Bramwell

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Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.

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