SDCC10 Extra: ‘Transformers: War for Cybertron’ Developer Interview

At Comic-Con, we got the chance to sit down with Matt Tieger , one of the developers for Transformers: War for Cybertron and discuss his work on the game. Also, check out some screens and the trailer for the Transformers: War for Cybertron Map and Character Pack which was released this week for the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 which features five new multiplayer character models and four new multiplayer maps.

The Flickcast: Activision just announced that we are going to be getting five new DLC characters and a map pack with four new maps for the game so obviously this is going to be a multiplayer focused DLC pack. Can you talk to us a little bit about why you wanted to do some DLC for this game?

Matt Tieger: What we do is we try and listen. We read the forums. We talk to Transformers fans. We talk to gamers. And we listen to all the things they were really excited about within the game and wanted more of, were hungry for more of and that’s what we put in this pack.

So, five new characters right, several new of those you know were pre-order characters and people were just rabid to get them so we listened and we put those in the pack. Shockwave, Jazz and Demolisher, all available in this DLC pack.

There’s two other guys in there, never seen before: Scattershot, who’s an Autobot tank, and Onslaught, who’s a Decepticon truck. Those guys are also cool character designs, really proud of those but we also wanted to give you more customization options when you went in to make your characters and so those two character choice give you another Decepticon truck and another Autobot tank give you options of things to choose from when you make your multiplayer characters.

FC: The original game came with its set of maps. How would you describe the new maps which have been added to the game? Can you compare them to anything that’s currently there or are they all their own original concepts behind them?

MT: They’re all original concepts. They are all set within certain environment sets but they’re not cut out of single player. They’re brand new maps. There’s four of them. Two of them are all about the competitive multiplayer. They work with all the game modes that you’ve used and they are what I believe as kind of an evolution of our understanding of how to use transformation and vehicles.

They better, even than the previous ones, express vehicles. Areas where you’re confined. Areas where you have jumps. Areas where its open. It’s great to use a jet here. So that kind of stuff, we’re really evolving our understanding of vehicles and our maps . They work with all the game modes.

The other two maps that are in there, all about Escalation. You know when I listen to what fans want, through forums and stuff, people are crazy excited about Escalation mode. If any of your (readers) haven’t heard, Escalation mode is a cooperative experience. You can play online with up to three other friends where you’re desperately trying to survive after wave after wave of enemy comes attack and you get this resource called energon to spend. You gotta buy health. You gotta buy ammo. But you can also buy a better shot gun. You can buy a repair ray.

You can pool your resources to unlock doors and move to safer locations or locations where there’s better gear to get which is really fun. People are having a great time with it. These two maps, they push two aspects of that. One of them pushes a little more story. You feel like you evolve as a player. There’s this river of energon in this underground cavern, it really restricts where you can get to. As a player, you’re moving around and pulling the pumps to drain the level of stuff. Within that map, you craft the map. Like it physically changes based on what you did.

And the other one pushes a new mechanic which I think is pretty cool. Remember you’re spending those resources to get stuff? We gave you something new which is this automated turret system so it’s kind of in this fixed location, you can spend your energon and get an automated turret. Really useful to have shooting rockets for you.

FC: Especially in a game that’s based on wave after wave after wave of enemies coming at you.

MT: The turret that’s really exciting is the repair ray turret. You get yourself your repair ray turret. You go back to back. You’re desperately trying to defend these waves as an automated system is healing you. It’s a lot of fun. We gave you new characters that allowed you to do lots more customization stuff. We’re giving you two new competitive maps. Trying to feed that hunger for more and more competition and two maps all about that Escalation mode that people are having a great time with.

FC: Was there a particular reason why you focused on doing a multiplayer DLC pack as opposing to adding like Assassin’s Creed 2 or other games, a single player expansion?

MT: You know, we focused on the multiplayer stuff I think because as I said we were listening to the fans, that’s the loudest, most vocal, most rabid ones are those multiplayer gamers. Obviously everyone has a voice and we try to listen and deliver everything we can the majority are screaming for more multiplayer content so that’s where we put our focus.

FC: Since the game has come out, the reviews have been pretty positive, mostly focusing on the fact that you did hold true to the G1 storyline. What made you guys come up with the idea of doing a prequel to the Transformers television show and the movie that so many of the games now in their 20’s grew up with? What was the inspiration behind that?

MT: You know, I’m very selfish, right? There was an opportunity to make a Transformers game that was not based on the movies that was an original thing. The opportunity there to revisit my childhood because I know there’s a lot of people like me who watched those cartoons in the 80’s and just have great memories of it. Cybertron in that first episode is about thirty seconds and they never go back to it. I’ve had twenty-five, thirty years to imagine what that could be. I had to absolutely jump at the chance to take a story there.

FC: From our own perspective, one of the things we talked about on our site and our review of the game was how it felt like the game held true to the original story. Did you get any input from the original creators or did you just take that source material and try on your own to stick to it?

MT: We did our own thing. Obviously we touched base with Hasbro all the time. We’ve got some huge, huge, huge Transformers fans at the studio and what I work on is kind of your nostalgic memories of those cartoons. It’s a little different from the reality. My focus was bringing you your nostalgic memories of the cartoon.

I still love them. I watch them with my kids. But we needed to deliver your memories of those cartoons, not the reality of those cartoons. That was my role and Cinemax director’s a huge fan. He and I wrote a lot of the dialogue, almost all of the dialogue which kind of happens in the game. It was just a great process of a lot of people who just care a lot about doing a great job.

FC: And did that carry over for you guys, and this is not to spoil anything because I won’t say what happens at the end of the game, but the end credits sequence with choosing the game. Is that just sticking to the nostalgia that you loved about the franchise?

MT: That’s exactly right. Dave can take all the credit for that because he came to my office like, “Here’s what we want to do.” It looked fantastic. It’s all about, I know I said it three times, it’s listening to what fans want and giving it to them. People love what that music reminds them of what they had going on in the 80’s and from the movie and that kind of stuff. Just give it to them. Why deny them that?

So we kind of just grabbed all those elements and just found homes for them in everything that we did. There are one liners from the movie. There are one liners from the cartoon. There are visual little elements that we have influenced by comics. There’s all that stuff because it’s all about the fans, right?

FC: If given the chance to work on another Transformers—

MT: You bet. In a second I would do it.

FC: (laughs) I had actually already figured that, but where would you like to place it in the Transformers timeline?

MT: That’s a great question. There’s a lot of stuff going on on Cybertron. There’s things we had to write for back-story or whatever that I could happily spend another five games on Cybertron.

FC: So almost a prequel to your prequel game?

MT: Maybe before, during, after. I think there’s a lot of cool stuff that’s happening on that world that I’m not ready to leave it yet. Timeline-wise, I’d have to really think about where that’d fit, but I know as a location I’d happily hang out on Cybertron again.

FC: The boss Decepticon, the one you fight at the end, how much of him was inspired by the dynobots?

MT: Not as much as you might think to be honest. You know, we’ve shown him in trailers so we’re not gonna spoil anything. But Trypticon, I love dinosaurs. As a character, as a toy he’s one that I coveted but never had. You know a couple guys in the office him and you look him and he’s like a big T-Rex. It’s a base. It’s so innately awesome it had to be in the game.

FC: Alright, well thank you very much for your time. I have one last question for you before we go. Of all the Transformers that you got to work on, who is your personal favorite?

MT: Starscream. Big fan of Starscream. Visually I think he turned out nice but mostly from the story point of view I’m really with what we did with that character. I’ve always had all these burning questions about him and Megatron and why Megatron keeps him around. I felt like we got a chance to explore that territory so I’d have to push him to the top of my list because we got to do things with him that we’d never seen anywhere. Like, how did he meet Megatron? It’s brand new, never in the Transformers universe.

FC: And you guys were actually able to create canon story on how that happened.

MT: Yup, it was pretty awesome.

Make sure to check out the Transformers: War for Cybertron DLC this weekend for a special Double XP weekend from 9:oo PM Pacific Time Friday until 12 AM Pacific Monday!

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