J’y joue, mes amis y jouent, qu’attendez-vous pour l’essayer ?

Dirty Bomb passera en bêta ouverte le mois prochain ce qui, pour un free to play, peut être considéré comme une sortie officielle. Vous êtes déjà nombreux à y jouer et à avoir accroché à son gameplay rapide et pointu. Pour vous, et pour assouvir notre propre curiosité, nous avons interviewé Neil Alphonso, le lead game designer de Dirty Bomb : [–SUITE–]

Grace à une bêta de plus de deux ans, les développeurs ont eu tout le temps d’équilibrer le gameplay basé sur un mode de jeu avec des objectifs, des personnages uniques et des combats rapides et techniques. “Actuellement, nous sortons une mise à jour toutes les deux semaines. Nous essayons de répondre aux attentes de la communauté le plus vite possible au fur et à mesure que nous rajoutons du contenu”, souligne Neil.

Jusqu’ici, le contenu en question concerne essentiellement les personnages jouables, les Mercs. Il y en avait une vingtaine avant que le jeu arrive sur Steam. La bêta en compte actuellement dix, et les développeurs ont déjà commencé à travailler sur de tous nouveaux Mercs en plus des vingt déjà en cours d’intégration. “Le taux de sortie des Mercs va ralentir dans le futur”, explique Neil. “Nous voulions offrir une bonne base pour que les joueurs puissent choisir des Mercs correspondant aux rôles et aux styles de jeu qu’ils affectionnent. Mais pour la suite, nous devrons rester vigilant afin de ne pas déséquilibrer complètement le jeu”.

Même philosophie pour les cartes. Seules cinq d’entre elles sont intégrées à la bêta. Les développeurs préfèrent conserver les autres à l’état de prototype non texturé tant qu’elles ne sont pas parfaitement équilibrées. “Notre priorité, c’est la qualité avant la quantité”, précise Neil.

Concernant de nouveaux modes de jeu, Neil estime qu’il serait peu avisé de rajouter des modes simplistes comme du TDM ou du FFA. Les Mercs auraient du mal à s’y intégrer, alors qu’ils constituent ce qui distingue Dirty Bomb des autres FPS et le rend unique. Il faut effectivement reconnaître que Dirty Bomb est le seul FPS proposant plus de vingt personnages différents. Team Fortress 2 et Tribes en proposaient neuf. Overwatch s’aventure aussi sur ce terrain, avec quatorze personnages déjà annoncés.

Lorsque nous lui avons demandé si Splash Damage comptait vendre des éléments cosmétiques ou des boosters d’XP, Neil a immédiatement confirmé. Ils attendaient de savoir si cela intéressait la communauté, il s’avère que c’est le cas. Même philosophie pour l’Esport : les développeurs n’ont pas la volonté de pousser le jeu dans cette direction. Si les joueurs commencent à organiser des compétitions, ils travailleront dans ce sens en rajoutant des fonctionnalités liées au domaine compétitif. La possibilité d’enregistrer des démos ou de louer un serveur dédié fera suite à la montée en puissance de l’Esport, non l’inverse.

Enfin, nous avons cherché à savoir ce qu’ils comptaient faire pour limiter les temps d’attente entre chaque match. Malheureusement, Neil considère le passage par le lobby comme une étape obligatoire afin de permettre aux joueurs de sélectionner leurs Mercs. Quant aux nombreux comptes à rebours qui précédent le début du round, ils permettent aux personnes qui jouent sur des Cyrix III-400Mhz de charger la cartes…

Splash Damage travaille à présent sur la possibilité de rejoindre à plusieurs une partie pour jouer entre amis, et sur l’intégration d’un système permettant de signaler facilement un tricheur. Ils ont d’ailleurs commencé à bannir massivement les cheaters, et ils vont avoir du pain sur la planche avec le passage en bêta ouverte le mois prochain.

Ci-dessous l’intégralité des questions réponses de notre interview :

1. Dirty Bomb has been in development for a long time. The first video was released in November 2012. Could you tell us how the development went? How many people are working on the game currently?
It’s been a great process to design Dirty Bomb from the ground up with the community in mind – For the first time in Splash Damage’s history, fans have been playing our game from a true alpha state to where we are now in Closed Beta. Over that time, they’ve helped to guide us in tweaking the formula, getting it to a really satisfying mix of fast paced old-school gunplay and character-based gameplay. Right now we’re releasing new updates around every two weeks, to respond to the community as quickly as possible as we add new features.

2. According to Steam, Dirty Bomb will be released in June. What does it mean exactly? Will it be an open beta? A version 1.0? Will we be able to play without buying the Merc Starter Pack?
The next big release will be Open Beta, so yes, anybody will be able to get into the game without needing a key or the Merc Starter Pack.

3. There was twenty characters before the game arrived on Steam. I guess they will all be back in one or two months. Do you plan to add more characters in the future?
We already have more Mercs in the works, but the current pace of release will probably be slowing down in the future. We’ve wanted to get a good base out there so people have a variety of gameplay roles and styles to choose from, but going forward we have to be just as vigilant about negatively impacting the overall balance of the game.

4. Currently, we can buy Mercs and loadouts. Will you add new items to the shop, like cosmetic stuff, XP boosters, etc.?
Pretty much exactly that! We’re adding more cosmetic options and boosters to accelerate earning, but we wanted to see if there was an appetite for these things with players before we introduced them. Turns out, there is! This is a pattern we’ll be following in the future; we have a lot of ideas, but ultimately our course of action will be dictated by what’s best for our community of players.

5. What are your plans regarding esport. Will it be possible to rent a server and customize it?
We want Dirty Bomb to be competitively sound as it’s a multiplayer game, but it’s really the players that make that happen! As with what we’re adding to the store, we plan on supporting the direction that the community wants to take with the game, so if that means everybody wants high level competitive features and it’s feasible from a business standpoint, that’s what we do!

6. Will you add an option to allow friends to play in the same team on a FFA server?
We’re working hard on our friend and party systems at the moment, so joining up with friends in game and getting into parties and then matches will be trivial. Currently we don’t have plans for anything like a Free-For-All gamemode, though we have some new modes we’re playing around with… the complementary set-up of the different Mercs is very deliberate, and we need to make sure that whatever modes we develop work well with that.

7. There are a lot of people complaining about the waiting times in the game. They join a lobby, wait 1 min, the game load, another 30 sec, then there’s the warmup 15 sec, the map tutorial, 15 sec, and finally they are able to play during ~10 min… Before going back to the lobby. What’s your stand regarding all these waiting times? There was no lobby in your previous games, so why did you choose to add one?
We’re doing what we can to streamline the process, but the tricky thing to manage is achieving the balance between the possible PC specs that people have… the loading times for one player can be radically different from the next! For Dirty Bomb, lobbies allow players to set up teams and choose which of their Mercs and loadouts to bring in to whichever map gets selected, which is pretty key as each player can bring in 3.

8. Wolfenstein had the Nazis and the revolutionary objective game mode. Quake Wars had the stroggs and the vehicules. Brink had the parkour and its weird graphic style. What’s your answer to the people who say that Dirty Bomb looks bland and lacks innovations?
Everything about Dirty Bomb revolves around our Mercs, who are a colourful cast of characters all with different abilities and play-styles. The sheer speed of the game intentionally calls back to some of the earliest 3D first-person-shooters, and when these aspects come together we think it’s unlike anything else out there.

9. There are currently 5 maps in the game. 6 if we add Dome. How many maps will be available at the end of the year?
We have some blockout maps that we use to test our prototype modes, but it’s difficult to say how many maps overall there will be by the end of the year. We only want to do final art polish on maps that we think are playing excellently in blockout form, and this means that our focus isn’t really on the quantity but on their quality.

10. We had the chance to test the Execution game mode during a weekend. How do you plan to make it evolve? Are you already working on another map for this game mode?
We can’t say more about the maps just yet, but we’ve got some tricks up our sleeves to improve the mode based on the weekend test. Like the maps, the point of leaving things a bit rough around the edges is that it allows us to evolve the mode much more quickly, according to feedback and how we see it plays.

11. Are you considering other game modes, like TDM, or Capture and Hold (Conquest in Battlefield)?
We’re looking at some other possibilities, but as mentioned previously, we don’t want to do anything that’s too “cookie-cutter”; we only want to make modes that work well with our Mercs, which are the thing that’s the most unique about Dirty Bomb.

12. I saw 2-3 cheaters during the last week and there’s no easy way to report them. Did you already started to ban cheaters, or are you waiting to collect more data before using the ban hammer?
This is a huge priority for us right now, bans are happening regularly and we’re implementing a reporting process. We definitely do rely on a degree of data as we want to avoid false accusations, but this is an evolving process as providing your game is good, cheaters will always try to find ways through… it’s an eternal struggle!