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This is the second part of our interview with Dennis Brännvall, Design Director for Star Wars™ Battlefront™ II. If you missed it, read the first part, where Dennis speaks to his journey on the franchise, what’s being considered when adding content and improving the game, and his background as a competitive and table top gamer. Below, we get more into his history, developing and expanding Star Wars Battlefront II, advice for aspiring Game Designers, and more.
How it All Began
“I was born in the 80s, so I’m not old enough to have seen the original Star Wars™ movies when they came out in cinemas. My first memory of Star Wars was seeing the Jawas on a TV screen at home with really bad reception. I don’t think I fully grasped the story back then, but I did enjoy the Jawas!” Dennis remembers.
“My love for Star Wars has grown out from the TV shows and the comics. The best part about Star Wars is learning more about it. I enjoyed watching Clone Wars growing up, and similarly, watching Star Wars: Rebels with my kids has been really cool.”
“The standalone films are actually my favorites, as they expand upon a certain part. I already knew the ending of these before going into the theatre, but I love the cameos and learning more about how everything connects,” Dennis says.
On the Prospects of Creating a Star Wars Game
Already being a BioWare fan, the Star Wars games set in the Old Republic naturally appealed to Dennis. “I love the story-telling, role-playing, and character creating aspects of those games,” he says.
However, the possibility of Dennis designing Star Wars games was not on his radar during his university years.
“Back then, the opportunity of making a Star Wars game was not that pronounced. It just happened by a lot of accidents, I feel. I sort of stumbled into it, and once I arrived I was like ‘oh, cool, I’m actually getting to tell stories and design rulesets around what I grew up watching and playing.’”
“I don’t think you realize how extensive the franchise is until your work is published and your fellow Star Wars fans get to enjoy it.”
Overhauling the Heroes for Star Wars Battlefront II
One thing that stood out to Dennis during the development of Star Wars Battlefront II was getting Darth Maul up and running in the game.
“The moment we got him in a really solid state in the game is probably one of my favorite moments. Darth Maul was obviously one of our key focuses for the EA Play 2017 demonstration, and it was really interesting to see how that gradually came about.”
Dennis elaborates: “One point from our first Battlefront game that we felt like we needed to improve upon was the physicality of the heroes. That’s something we started prototyping with Darth Maul.”
As such, Darth Maul represented the overhaul of all heroes. “He was more nimble, physical, reactive, and using abilities that could really send other heroes flying instead of just causing damage.”
The Clone Wars Reveal
Another memorable moment for Dennis is from this year’s EA Play when he took the stage to announce that more Clone Wars era content is coming to Battlefront II – and the fans went wild.
“It was a fantastic feeling. It’s just something that I’ve been pining to talk about for a long time. But we wanted to make sure that we announced it at the right opportunity and place where the world was listening.”
“As soon as I got off stage, I whipped out my phone to check out reddit and read the reactions. It has given us a lot of added energy within the team to get the content out there.”
Some Advice for Aspiring Game Designers
For a lot of gamers and aspiring developers, designing a game of their own would be a dream come true. Dennis shares some advice on how to achieve that dream: “Make sure that you learn the basics by playing. I recommend playing analogue games – table top games, board games, card games – all of that. By doing so, you’ll start to figure out what makes interactions fun and how you could make your own, similar experiences.”
“Once you’ve learned that, make sure to get into a game engine as soon as you can,” Dennis continues.
“Start messing around and watch YouTube for tutorials. Figure out things like: what would it be like if I made my own map? What would it be like to create my own weapon if I’m interested in making a conflict-based game? How could I possibly make my character in this game engine walk around? Learn the technical basics on how you build games.”
“And in this day and age, there are so many different and great educational opportunities out there that focus on interactive entertainment. So, go to school! It helps.”
–Daniel Steinholtz (Follow Daniel on Twitter @dsteinholtz)
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