Stephanie Prentice speaks to Titanfall lead artist Joel Emslie about the first-person shooter that gives a whole new spin on the genre. Titanfall is developed by Respawn Entertainment, founded by Vince Zampella and Jason West, former co-founders of Infinity Ward and creators of the multi-billion dollar Call of Duty franchise.
Titanfall lets you play in a world that fuses a single player experience with a multiplayer realm, where pilots fight inside and around Titans, that move with the speed and grace of general infantry. Pilots can double jump over roofs, wall run and even jump on the back of Titans to rip off their panels and shoot their brains. The game delivers cat and mouse gameplay unlike any other FPS.
The studio began trying to create a second skin around the pilots and these grew into 20 foot tall Titans! The design team went back to old school techniques, one of them being practical model making, such as in Star Wars and Bladerunner. They wanted the Titans to feel like evolved versions of Abrams battle tanks. We could even see Titanfall action figures on the shelves when the game comes out!
There are many layers to the Titanfall multiplayer campaign world. The Titans and the Pilots are two more layers so getting all three layers to work together is a huge undertaking. Joel also alludes to previous high-profile games he has worked on and shares tips for playing the game including 'Riding The Wave'. Take down other Pilots, call down a Titan as fast as possible, use it as much as you can, punch out, order another one and get in that flow! Respawn are taking full advantage of the Xbox One.
The Cloud offers enhanced power, also calculated AI with a single player world within multiplayer, dedicated servers and improved physics has really opened a lot of doors for Respawn Entertainment.
Stephanie Prentice: Hi Joel, so first of all, big reveal yesterday, how did you feel about the reaction to it?
Joel Emslie: We've been working really hard on Titanfall for three years, We started out from scratch as a brand new company. To finally unveil this yesterday and be standing here right now is completely surreal. We're unbelievably happy with the response we've gotten so far.
SP: You've created this amazing world with huge robots, what are your inspirations and how did you get there?
JE: We started with Titanfall trying to create a second skin around the player. Out of that idea Titans eveolved and got up to twenty feet tall which has been a game changer.
SP: What was perhaps your biggest challenge when you were putting this together? Because it's obviously a huge project...
JE: There are many layers in Titanfall that we're showing as a multiplayer campaign world. So a living, breathing, AI world, singleplayer driven world and then you've got the Titans which is one more layer and then the pilots another layer. So, getting all three of those things to work together very well has been extremely challenging and has taken tonnes and tonnes of balancing.
SP: Of course we're all familiar with your other giant project you moved on from, you're ex-wife we'll call it. Is Titanfall like your new hot girlfriend?
JE: I would say Respawn Entertainment is a brand new company and Titanfall is a completely new game and the skies the limit.
SP: Do you have any tips for beginners to this game? How can they get really good really quickly?
JE: For new players, when they hop into Titanfall, we like to call it riding the wave, and that means taking advantage of the environment, hit the grunts, hit the other pilots, work up towards pulling a Titan as fast as possible, get in a Titan, use it as much as possible, punch out, order another one in and get into that flow. So, ride the wave!
SP: Just to be clear, there isn't a single player campaign that we just haven't heard about yet?
JE: Titanfall is a new style of game we're making. What I mean by that is we took multiplayer and singleplayer and we combined them into almost a hybrid style of gameplay. So when you step into the world of Titanfall, you're stepping into a single player alive, AI driven environment games space inhabited by other real players, your friends or however is out there.
SP: How did you get the robot to be so awesome semantically, where did you start?
JE: We started out very humble, when we first got to Respawn we didn't have all the computers we needed, so some of the artists - myself included, went back to some old skool techniques. One of them including kit bashing and practical model making thrown back to the seventies and eighties of Blade Runner and Star wars. We want the Titans to feel analogue and groundede genuine like a real next generation or furter generation eveolved version of an Abrams battle tank. If you look at some of the designs we have, you can see some of those details that we've been inspred by from Abrams just to make the designs and the art feel a little bit more legit and a little bit more genuine and authentic.
SP: Will we see action figures out with this?
JE: I hope so, I've got a couple sitting on my shelf right now. I don't know what the future holds for that but it would be so awesome to have. I mean we've a giant action figure out there which took four weeks to build.
SP: Could you have achieved all this without the Xbox One?
JE: We're definately taking advantage of the Xbox One, more power is better, but especially I think that the cloud has really inspired the team at Respawn to come up with Titanfall in the first place. We wanted to do something new and having the cloud and the power it gives us like calculated AI single player world within multiplayer, the physics it can handle, dedicated servers is really important to a lot of our fanbase, having all that available to us is really important and opened a lot of doors for Respawn.