Interview: "Starhawk" Studio Founder Talks Starting Fresh In A "Crapper" Economy, Crafting A Black Protagonist And More

Interview: "Starhawk" Studio Founder Talks Starting Fresh In A "Crapper" Economy, Crafting A Black Protagonist And More

Do you feel with everything you've added, the focus is shifting away from the awesome Hawks?

Well, I think to some degree, yes…there are some Warhawk fans that felt like, "Oh man, you've changed too much stuff," or, "The Hawk—the aircraft—is not the single most important thing anymore." And as painful as it is to say this, that was partially intentional. We found from Warhawk that, if you look at all the data, the best players in the game were pilots, hands down. Because the Warhawk was so overpowered, and the Warhawk learning curve was so steep. So those players who had the intestinal fortitude to stick with the game and get through that very, very steep learning curve really got to mine the emotional, or the fun pay dirt, out of it, and be great pilots. But unfortunately, because Warhawk was so unforgiving to new players, and because the Warhawk was so overpowered, I think we lost a lot of our player base, and our audience was not as big as it probably could have been.

And so what we tried to do in Starhawk is take an approach much like how a studio might approach a real time strategy game, where all of the units are balanced. Some units are more useful at certain periods of the game, you know, this unit might be more useful in an early game, this unit might be more useful at a late game, but we want the game to be fully accessible to all players, not just the hardcore Hawks. And so we have kind of downplayed it. We've added—especially with the turrets—we've added ways for players who may not have the same hand dexterity to be competitive. We've added ways to have them enjoy the game and still compete in the grand kind of war game itself without having the dexterity. But yet at the same time that still provides some fun stuff for the pilots to do, because they have to dodge flak and missiles and beam cannons and all of that stuff. So yeah, we have tried to shift the focus a little bit away from the Hawk, just to try to normalize and balance all the units, really in an attempt to achieve more balance across the game. Because we think that was something that we didn't do as good of a job as we could have on Warhawk.

Spawn camping was another big problem in Warhawk. Have drop pod spawns, new to Starhawk, alleviated that?

No. I think it helps, but I think early on—and this is one of the learnings that we saw in the beta—we were hopeful, very, very hopeful, that in the wild, players would find that spawn pods were a great way to protect against base-camping. And while that was true initially, players were able to find interesting "build-and-battle" strategies that were still able to do base-camping. And so spawn-podding alone, while that certainly mitigated the problem, did not eliminate it wholesale.

…Because in Starhawk, you don't just pick a guy to spawn in on or spawn in on a predefined location, you can look at your map and see the enemy blips and you can control where you spawn in at, you can react to the spawn camping that's happening. And so I think what you're going to see, in the final version of Starhawk, when we finish all of our multiplayer tuning, is that you'll see the initial base and the initial region for spawning will actually get a little bit bigger than what it is right now to help balance out that ratio of base-campers relative to the surface area that you have access for respawns.

Too many multiplayer games are leaving split screen out these days. Can you describe what Starhawk offers in that area?

Yes. Absolutely. And in fact, it supports split screen for the normal competitive modes, like capture-the-flag, and zones, and deathmatch and all that stuff, but it also supports split screen in co-op mode also. So if you want to play our prospector mode, where you and three of your friends basically defend a rift against waves of Outcasts, and using "build and battle," you can do split screen that way too. When you're playing split screen online, you get your XP, you can level up, you can do all that kind of stuff. You don't have to feel like "Ah, I'm online, but I'm not getting any of my XP," which is a problem we had in Warhawk. You could play split screen online, but you could never log in with a separate PSN account, and that's fixed in Starhawk. You can log in with a second PSN account. That way you get your XP, and all of your stats.

Big thanks to Dylan for taking the time to speak with us! And don't feel too bad if you missed out on the beta, because the full game is launching on May 8. Let us know your impressions in the comments or on Twitter.

Tags: starhawk, lightbox, warhawk, sony, ps3-exclusive
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