Co-Optimus.com: What about the co-op playbook from the campaign; are players still able to use it in multiplayer?
Eric: The co-op playbook is a really useful tool for the single player because we deal with AI… In multiplayer what we did was to use the GPS in a totally different way. In the multiplayer, what we do, is the GPS will let you see every enemy that your partner is seeing and you’ll see them as silhouettes through walls or whatever. So basically, if the two work together, you can map the environment and locate the enemies before they even know you’re there and flank them and kill them. All of the objectives are highlighted in the GPS also – so if you want to know where the next control point is you can highlight it with the GPS and you get a distance marker telling you it’s 50 meters to the south. We cannot call it the co-op playbook, but in a way, it serves the information purpose the co-op playbook was providing. The co-op playbook is one way to let the player know that here, in this setting, did you know that you can do this? Did you know you can capture this officer and then make the other one surrender? In multiplayer it works differently because you’re playing with live people, so the GPS is a way for players to talk and say “ok, I know this situation, I’ve assessed the situation, and here is what we should do.” The co-op playbook in our mind is a way for players to talk and discuss [strategy]… It’s not the same mechanics, but it’s the same purpose dressed for a totally differently playing environment.
Co-Optimus.com: Aside from the ability to take enemies hostage or feign death, which are very situational against an enemy AI, what about the other co-op moves, like back-to-back or step jumping, that are present in the campaign? Was there ever a point in production when they were part of multiplayer?
Eric: We tried [implementing the back-to-back] but it detracted from the experience – it kind of looked weird. We cannot have a deterministic system that knows exactly who is where at the same time, so having two players who are back-to-back made it very difficult. Seeing you on my back on my machine would be different than how you see us. So basically, we might be two meters apart on your machine but we’re stuck together on mine. That being said, we will try, we will push, to have it in the next game. Every game you try to [achieve] some thing, but then you have to step back at some point and say, “we’re not going to be able to do it this time.” That’s when we decide, “ok, let’s focus on other stuff.” Again, the goal of this game is to make people talk on their couch and to discuss strategy, and I think we focused on that and I think we managed to have that in this one. Now can the next one have more co-op moments? Yes, definitely, and I guarantee we will have some.
Co-Optimus.com: How did you all decide upon four as the right number for Extraction and the other team-based multiplayer modes?
Eric: I think this is a progression in a way. We could have put it at eight players, but the thing is that you want to have a manageable experience. The bigger it is, if you put eight players, you need to have bigger maps, more enemies coming in… and it becomes quickly difficult to tune and to manage. But this doesn’t mean that the next game we won’t try to go for more, but you need to settle for something. Again, this is a bonus mode; this is something that developed on the side, it was not planned. We didn’t start at the beginning saying “let’s make a mode like this,” we just stumbled on it. Once we decided to put it in there as a bonus, an extra bonus for people who pre-order, then we need to keep it manageable and four player is good… I have ideas, I think they’re cool, but I’m not going to talk about them just yet (laughs).
We wanted to thank Eric again for taking the time to sit down with us and discuss the Army of Two: The 40th Day’s Extraction and multiplayer modes. Our conversation with Eric continued beyond just The 40th Day’s multiplayer to touch upon the idea of rewarding players for the amount of time they spend playing the multiplayer modes, as games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 or Uncharted 2: Amongst Thieves do. That part of the interview, as well as a few more interesting bits such as Eric’s favorite multiplayer mode and why Eric loves co-op, will be posted in a second part early next week. So be sure to check back next week for the rest of this interview!