criterion-sm dice-lg ea-starwars-lg instagram lucasfilm-lg motive-lg twitch you-tube

An Interview with Star Wars™ Battlefront™ II's Design Director, Part I

Prev1
T0TALfps
1191 posts EA Community Manager
You might have been introduced to him on stage at EA PLAY this June, but Dennis Brännvall has been a core member of the EA DICE Star Wars™ Battlefront™ team for years. Today, Dennis is responsible for how all aspects of Star Wars™ Battlefront™ II are designed – from gameplay to user interface and player interactions – as the franchise’s Design Director.

To give you a peek behind the curtain at EA DICE, we’ve picked Dennis’ brain on his own journey, his thoughts on game design, and the ongoing work with Star Wars Battlefront II.

x2p61sq8649p.png

“I started with the franchise with our first Battlefront released in 2015. I came in early on that project to design levels and game modes, primarily Walker Assault. From there, I was trusted with taking care of the game as we launched and with leading the development of the four post-launch DLCs,” Dennis begins.

“When that came to its conclusion, I took a little break as my kid arrived.”

Coming back from parental leave, Dennis jumped right into the development of the sequel to provide additional design direction, and took on a role leading a much larger team toward the launch of Star Wars Battlefront II.

“Now, I work together with a couple of super-talented designers who are big fans of Star Wars™. We’re thinking of cool stuff we could do in our game, while also improving on features and gameplay either based on community feedback, or what we ourselves feel should be added and improved upon.”

sm5c308dpkp0.png

Community feedback is essential to the ongoing development of the game, but there are a few other factors considered around what’s being added.

“Sometimes, the content we’re adding is just a nice fit with whatever theme we’re going for at the moment. For example, early talks with Lucasfilm revealed that Solo™: A Star Wars Story™ would feature a sequence where a coaxium payload was pushed out of the mines of Kessel.”

With this insight, plus knowing how much players enjoyed Extraction mode in Battlefront (2015), the team felt that revamping and adding the Extraction mode to the Han Solo Season of Battlefront II made a lot of sense.

“As for Ewok Hunt, I’ve always wanted to do more of the nostalgic modes from the earlier Battlefront games. Even though the ruleset wasn’t super advanced back then, a hunt mode always stood out as something uniquely Star Wars to me. It also felt like the development team and the community both were ready for something a bit more light-hearted,” Dennis says.

“Obviously, Heroes vs. Villains is a very popular mode. But, some feedback from the community revealed a sense that it could get so chaotic and fast-paced, that some of the strategy and tactics were removed from it.”

To scratch that itch, the more intimate and slower-paced Hero Showdown was released.

“It has proven really successful, and we’ve managed to keep a healthy player base around both modes, which is great!”

Sometimes, there’s a void that just needs to be filled. Making it easier to level up hero starfighters was such a need, one which July’s addition of Hero Starfighters answered. “Now, you have a better chance to level up Yoda’s Jedi Interceptor, or whichever hero ship you fancy,” Dennis says.

And, as Dennis revealed at EA PLAY, a new large-scale, multiplayer sandbox experience focused on capturing command posts and taking out capital ships is in the works, opening up for more non-linear and grand Star Wars battles.

He concludes: “So, there’s always a bit of everything that we need to consider when adding content to the game.”

15tmxiq5jp56.png

When Dennis first started at EA DICE, he was put to work on Battlefield™ 4 and its expansions. Going back even further in time, Dennis has a solid background within the world of tabletop miniature wargames and competitive gaming.

“Growing up, I was really into competitive gaming. I played a lot of early first-person shooters quite extensively and competitively. The word ‘esport’ did not exist, but we were still climbing ladders and competing in tournaments,” Dennis says.

The prize money that we see in competitive gaming today was certainly not around. “We got some spare computer parts. You know, it was really in its infancy.”

Dennis points out how fairness is hugely important in game design, especially if you’re doing a shooter game. This is an example of his early days of “esporting” coming to good use in his daily work.

“Having played at quite a highly competitive level, you kind of get a sense for balance and how we can compete without the feeling that it’s unfair.”

wmanye08w5fa.png

“On the other side of the spectrum, I’ve been a long-time table top gamer and role-player, ever since my super-early teens. That’s something that I do very actively up until this day. Sometimes, it’s nice to do something that’s more analogue as I’m working in the digital space, sitting in front of the computer screen,” Dennis says.

“Shaping me as a game designer, it’s been really useful to do both of those things. Table top games and role-playing are focused on non-visual mechanics and rulesets. It’s useful to get that solid understanding of why things are fun, even though the graphics are awful . . . because there are none!”

When you think about a professional designer, a person creating something visually appealing might come to mind first. But, as opposed to a web designer making a web page pretty-looking, a game designer is more concerned about what actually makes the game fun to play.

“I’m a non-visual designer when it comes to what I do well. The roles within game development teams have obviously evolved over the years. From originally consisting of programmers and artists, to needing someone to ensure that the game has solid mechanics, is fun to play, and that the teams are collaborating,” Dennis explains.

“A pronounced Game Designer plays a really important role in making games.”

This marks the end of the first part of our interview with Dennis. The second part will be published here on Monday August 13. Come back to read more about Dennis’ favorite moments from the development of Star Wars Battlefront II, plus his advice for aspiring game designers.

The content of this thread was originally curated by Daniel Steinholtz, Source.


Share the Blog Post:
q38zo385p0ed.png u2tnl2r5vq6w.png
beq77m6aitvn.png
EA Community Coordinator, Anthem, Battlefield & Battlefront
Twitter - Board Guidelines
// Some of my posts may not represent the opinions of EA or DICE.

Replies

  • t3hBar0n
    5000 posts Member
    edited August 2018
    Mmmhmm... I didn't read anything which changes my thoughts on the game.
    Post edited by t3hBar0n on
  • Nice interview. Thanks for posting it. Gives a little insight into the thinking. Some I don't agree with but it gives context to some of the current issues in the game.
  • Thanks @T0TALfps Good read. I met Dennis at the EA play before the SWBF 15 Bespin DLC release, nice guy who loves SW. Any chance we could have a live Q&A with Dennis or do something where we submit questions to him? If not a live Q&A then maybe consider starting a thread and let it run for a few weeks then Dennis, at his convenience, can select the questions he answered and post his answers here on the forums?
    #StarWars-y
  • stevenomes wrote: »
    looking forward to part 2. I hope the go more in depth about some of thr trials and tribulations with this game.

    Yes, to this.
    It is cool to see how he got to where he is today. @TOTALfps, could you get him to say who his favorite character in the game is?
    itt96uodu82s.gif
    Give me an Old Luke skin, and we will be best friends. He is the only one I plan on buying with real $. :-)
    Poe/Hux Concept Ideas: https://battlefront-forums.ea.com/discussion/117608/poe-dameron-armitage-hux-concept-ideas/p1?new=1
  • stevenomes wrote: »
    looking forward to part 2. I hope the go more in depth about some of thr trials and tribulations with this game.

    Yes, to this.
    It is cool to see how he got to where he is today. @TOTALfps, could you get him to say who his favorite character in the game is?

    That would be nice to know!
  • AzorAhai
    1131 posts Member
    Short, but sweet. I'm curious what table top games he plays/played.
  • AzorAhai wrote: »
    Short, but sweet. I'm curious what table top games he plays/played.

    Me too. Some of them are very visual, depending on how the players like detailing their miniatures and the battlefield.
  • Less talking, more action please
  • He must be so ppppppzzzd off with how the second game has developed
  • @T0TALfps

    I would quickly move this to the “Off Topic” category. I fear this thread will be inundated by complaints pretty soon.

    With all of the bug/nerf/complaint threads infesting this General Discussion forum, you are opening the gates to the irate masses by posting a “Here’s how we make a great game” fluff piece.
  • Nice! I liked learning more about DICE grandmaster Dennis. Will always be a fan of that dude. May the force be with us all, happy Friday everyone.
  • stevenomes
    4640 posts Member
    edited August 2018
    some questions for part 2:

    1. after seeing how poorly launch was received by the community, what lessons has DICE learned that could he applied to future launches, not just star wars?

    2. give us some background about design strategy of this game considering what you learned from bf2015? for example, more single player emphasis, did you want to seperate this game from the first or build on its concepts? what were the themes you wanted to accomplish

    3. There is a perception in the community that the progression update delayed all other DLC content for several months. when you decided to update progression, was this something that required all your development resources or you had teams working on other things as well?

    4. What would your reaction be to people who say there has been a reduction in post launch support for this game? would you like to comment on your goals for post launch DLC? for example are there more seasons planned after 3?

    5. many players were let down but the amount of content spread out over the time period presented in the roadmap. what is your target for content release cadence? by this I mean do you still want monthly drops and perhaps hotfixes in between or has that been adapted?

    6. What can you say to those players who crave new large scale maps? some players are upset the only large map has been Crait (a very good map by the way). You mentioned there would be more coming in season 3. do you have plans to release more than one large map?

    7. who is your favorite star wars character? and why do you like them?

    8. Favorite movie of the 8 theatrical releases?
    Post edited by stevenomes on
  • Smart guy. There's genius in SWBF2.
  • WhiteMaceWindu69
    507 posts Member
    edited August 2018
    Interested to hear part 2, hope they are answered honestly.
    PSN- CnastyOneTime
  • Please port Starfightee assualt maps like bespin airspace and Death Star. Also only map that needs to be made from scratch and added to this game is battle over coruscant because of how iconic it is.
  • Interested to hear part 2, hope they are answered honestly.

    Plus 1
  • Talk about Star Wars battlefront 2 please
  • the key will be the part where they say "....and the ongoing work with Star Wars Battlefront II." this ongoing work would be very intriguing to know about.
  • “A couple of super-talented designers.”

    That explains why it took a month to do the hotfix. Can we please have A COUPLE MORE “super-talented designers?”

    Designers dont do that.
    keeboxdf4h4g.gif

  • “A couple of super-talented designers.”

    That explains why it took a month to do the hotfix. Can we please have A COUPLE MORE “super-talented designers?”

    Don’t get me wrong, I know the devs work hard and want to improve the game. I think a couple more would be nice and improve bug fixing and new content releases.
    Add more Extraction and Hunt maps please!

    What the ROADMAP should look like for 2019/2020:
    “Season” 4: Rogue One
    “Season” 5: Clone Wars Revival
    “Season” 6: Episode IX
  • IG88VSBossk
    935 posts Member
    edited August 2018
    stevenomes wrote: »
    i do feel like part one either the posted answers were cherry picked from the interview or most of the questions were softballs. the most promising topic was "considerations behind what's being added and improved upon", but then it goes into the sense like they are providing everything the community wants. the feedback revealed HvV can get too chaotic so we came in with hero showdown to save the day, extraction was derived because of the scene on Solo story with the cart. but what about just players really wanting a familiar mode that they could grind from BF2015?

    I want to hear how they are overcoming some of the current challenge presented by the game.

    1. how to balance user-feedback with data from the game?
    2. What is the methodology for testing patches before release?
    3. when bugs are encountered how do they prioritize which ones to fix first?
    4. How has communication with the community evolved since Launch? are the placing higher priority on communication about their progress with the game?
    5. what goes into play testing for balancing? is there a way to communicate the designers intent with their changes? (like how destiny does when they buff/nerf guns).
    6. will galactic assault and striike get any love with new content?

    These are a lot more interesting than what was posted.
  • Will Arcade get updated with a Galactic Conquest / Conquest offline co-op mode, no map boundaries please.

    Will all bf2015 maps be ported to offline arcade?

    What about hero ai, hero ship ai, hunt mode, playable creatures, playable vehicles, rideable tauntauns, ai reinforcements, ai enforcers eg?

    Many players want more transparency. :(
  • Will Arcade get updated with a Galactic Conquest / Conquest offline co-op mode, no map boundaries please.

    Will all bf2015 maps be ported to offline arcade?

    What about hero ai, hero ship ai, hunt mode, playable creatures, playable vehicles, rideable tauntauns, ai reinforcements, ai enforcers eg?

    Many players want more transparency. :(

    We're currently getting more transparency, have you not seen Ben around the forums lately?

    As to your other questions, arcade might end up with Conquest if it doesn't have any objectives like GA does, but I suspect it isn't a priority. In the same theme, I doubt all the 2015 maps will be ported quickly either - it's already been mentioned by others, and Ben, that porting a map from the old game to this one requires a lot more work than just a quick copy/paste, which takes developers away from content creation and instead goes into fixing old maps to work here.

    We also already know the answer to most of your other questions. We won't be getting hero AI in this game, because that's just extraordinarily complex and would never function properly. All of the heroes have vastly different playstyles, and programming something to use them effectively would be a nightmare. Hero ship AI, same problem as with hero AI - how would the AI know when to use Darth Maul's cloak, for instance, or Han and Chewie's damage boost?

    Hunt modes, very popular, quite likely we'll end up getting more in the future. I freely admit I've never used the Arcade's free-form custom matches, do you not get to use vehicles or Tauntauns? They're both in the game already. Highly unlikely you'll get reinforcement/enforcer AI either, it doesn't currently exist, and the playstyles are also fairly different. AI for an Officer or Assault is one-size-fits-all, but enforcers and reinforcements all play differently for their factions.

    Also, don't hold your breath for GA to come to Arcade. IIRC Dennis mentioned this a long time ago that there's no AI pathing or programming for GA, or even most of the multiplayer modes, they're designed specifically for player input. They'd need to implement programming for AI to understand how to capture points, for instance in occupying them or clearing enemies from them, or looking at using Ion launchers to attack objectives. You essentially need to create the AI for all these roles from the ground up because there's never been an anticipation of needing them, so it'd take a lot of work for minimal reward in DICE's mind.
  • Maytheforcebewithyou
    1020 posts Member
    edited August 2018
    I get what your saying but for me for offline arcade to succeed it needs a lot of content. @F8RGE
  • doubt they get much more for arcade. this is multiplayer game and thats where the meat is. maybe they'll add a few more maps or mission or two here and there but they will likely be in the vein of what we already have.

    im afraid that arcade mode will be abandoned like strike, when your friends arrive.
  • We are getting starfighter assault. I kindly disagree.
  • We are getting starfighter assault. I kindly disagree.

    I've not heard that starfighter assault in its entirety was being ported to Arcade, it suffers the same issues as GA does with AI programming, but it'd be less work since there's already some AI coding to work with. I thought you just got starfighter team battles etc?

    But yeah, Arcade in this game already has more options and a similar amount of content as Battlefront 2015 did. Nomes is right, the meat is the game is online, that's why there was so little focus on any offline, skirmish-mode type content in the previous game, and why I don't expect there'll be much more Arcade content here.
  • Devlin21
    8302 posts Member
    We are getting starfighter assault. I kindly disagree.

    Ben said the plan is to turn Starfighter arcade into Starfighter assault overtime.

    Also re: conquest to arcade. Dennis said a large mode is coming to arcade.

    But Dennis says a lot.
    keeboxdf4h4g.gif

  • Nothing from that interview interests me. I still don't know why someone decided to out that on the news page (it doesn't give you actual news about the game).
  • How about anything on Arcade? Nobody ever says anything about arcade! If they give us arcade stuff I would drop $100 on skins.
  • SVEJ
    1151 posts Member
    Waste of time for both parties, well not DICE since they dont do anything anyway.
  • T0TALfps wrote: »
    Dennis points out how fairness is hugely important in game design, especially if you’re doing a shooter game. This is an example of his early days of “esporting” coming to good use in his daily work.

    “Having played at quite a highly competitive level, you kind of get a sense for balance and how we can compete without the feeling that it’s unfair.”

    This part gets me. Most facets of this game are very unbalanced in ways which were originally by design. If this were true Dennis is really confused about "balance". Lightning through walls, which was intentional, would never make it into a game from anybody who has a true sense of balance. Matchmaking would have games starting with an equal number of players on both teams, and would also shuffle between matches.The game is fun, but also has an awful lot of frustrating elements to it that don't seem to fall into the "fair" and "balanced" arena...
  • I love learning about stuff like this. Great post.
  • We are getting starfighter assault. I kindly disagree.

    Ben said the plan is to turn Starfighter arcade into Starfighter assault overtime.

    Also re: conquest to arcade. Dennis said a large mode is coming to arcade.

    But Dennis says a lot.

    Thanks @Devestator21823 for that point. :)
  • Awesome interview. Loved it. Looking forward to part two on Monday! :smiley:
    "All wings report in."
  • Zyder
    312 posts Member
    This should be a Youtube Interview: the more videos of BFII you release, the more the community will trust you and because of that more people will join BFII. This game looks dead because it has no "support" in all ways. Do you remember when in BF4 people showed highlights in the battleground? A bit stupid some times, but kept BF4 alive while it was released time ago.
  • OcDoc
    733 posts Member
    I love this game! Thank you Dennis!
  • “A couple of super-talented designers.”

    That explains why it took a month to do the hotfix. Can we please have A COUPLE MORE “super-talented designers?”

    This is what stood out to me too. This is how the game feels. Like there are way too few people working on it for there to be any significant improvements going forward. How can a few developers manage this messy monster?

    The rest of the "interview" really didn't take us deeper into anything - it feels empty of anything meaningful.
  • Yeah that's great, fix the bugs.
  • Draxin
    156 posts Member
    Okay...?





    k6a1mgy1qf4b.gif
    Hi.
  • Part 2?? I'd like to hear some more about old Dennis.
  • Volunteer EA Forums Senior Moderator, EA Star Wars Battlefront Forums Senior Moderator and EA Answers HQ Hero.

    Check out the forum rules & guidelines
  • Glad the second part isn’t posted as it’s own thread. As expected, it’s just more fluff.

    Sorry to all of you users who posted questions you would have like addressed. Maybe next time.
Sign In or Register to comment.

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!