by Mike Bendel on March 23, 2012 @ 5:58 pm
We recently had the chance to catch up with Jared Gerritzen, designer on Blacklight: Retribution and head of Zombie Studios. For the uninitiated, Blacklight: Retribution is a multiplayer-focused, sci-fi FPS effort published by the free-to-play gurus at Perfect World. What’s exciting about Blacklight is that it blurs the line between F2P and a product you’d fork over $50-60 for. From our time with it we walked away quite impressed – and the high production values are only amplified by the fact that it is using modern tech like DX11.
In our Q&A session, we asked Gerritzen for his thoughts on the decision to go free-to-play, details on DX11, post-launch support, the potential for a Steam release, and more. Read on for the full Q&A!
Can you give us a overview of the game?
Blacklight: Retribution is a futuristic first person shooter using a free –to- play publishing method. It’s the game all the devs here at Zombie Studios have wanted to make for years. We wanted to make a game that was inspired by all our favorite Sci-Fi and anime movies.
What drove the decision to make Blacklight free-to-play? Judging from our time with the beta the quality bar is exceptionally high, this is easily a title you could charge money for, so we’re curious.
Free- to- play games have been around for years but some, very low in the quality department. Don’t get me wrong, most are pretty fun and I’ve really enjoyed playing them, but most of them are using older game engines and don’t hold up to retail games. With Blacklight: Retribution we wanted to bring the quality you get on a disc game but give it to players for free. Last year we put out Blacklight: Tango Down as a downloadable game but we didn’t feel it was all we could do. With free- to- play, we can put out new content monthly and keep on making it better! It’s really amazing and a great way to put out games.
As for the quality bar, most of my developers have put out top quality games and hold Blacklight: Retribution to the same standards. We really want to put out the best free- to- play game out there.
Blacklight will leverage some of the latest technologies on PC — including DirectX 11. Can you elaborate as to what extent the DX11 API is being used? For example, will we see tessellation and depth of field effects?
DX11 has given our artists free reign on how they want the game to look and were using all the bells and whistles on UE3 to its fullest extent. Tessellation and depth of field are two features that really stand out too. The game looks absolutely beautiful when played on the highest setting. With the rapidly changing evolution and upgrades in terms of graphics, we still take performance seriously. We’ve been working really hard to make sure the game runs on lower-end machines so you won’t have to buy a new PC to play the game. We’re making it very flexible.
Blacklight is powered by Unreal Engine 3, which as we’ve seen in the past is quite scalable. Any plans to incorporate mod support, such as allowing custom user made maps?
We have plans to allow the community to help drive directions of the game. However mod support doesn’t have a likely future. It’s not that we don’t want to let players make content it’s that we don’t own the engine and don’t have the support team to keep a community of Modder supported. I definitely would love to see it; I cut my teeth in video games making Unreal Tournament mods.
The closed beta has been up and running for at least a few months now. What’s been the reaction so far? Has the feedback influenced development at all?
YES, we love our community! They have provided us with a tremendous amount of feedback and most important they have helped us find bugs and hack which in the end have made the game even better. Without the support of our community the open beta wouldn’t nearly be as good as it is right now. Having a beta is needed in all games unless you have a giant team ready to fix everything within a few days. Bugs can kill a game, so we are thrilled with the continued support from our fans.
Your main priority right now is obviously getting the game finished, but is there any plan for post-launch support at this stage? Will we see content updates in the future, a la TF2?
We already have three months of content planned out for Blacklight: Retribution. We will be doing monthly content drops which will include new weapons, attachments, maps, and player models. It’s really cool getting an idea and not having to wait a years to see it in game, we can put it out in months.
We imagine restrictions imposed by platform holders make this difficult, but would you like to bring the title to consoles if it was possible?
It would be great to get Blacklight: Retribution on a console in the future, but right now our focus is to make the best PC experience out there and continue to update it and make it better.
Judging from the system requirements, Blacklight will scale to a wide range of hardware. Is there any plan for a Mac version in the future?
That is something we would love to explore in the future, but right now we are totally focused on the PC version and making sure fans can play Blacklight: Retribution on all types of machines and hardware specs.
Last but not least, any plans to bring the title to Steam? We’ve seen several other Perfect World-published titles such as Rusty Hearts and Forsaken World show up on the service, so we’re wondering if it is a possibility.
Never say never. As hardcore PC gamers we fully understand how great Steam is and would love to get some steam achievements on Blacklight: Retribution.
Thanks to Jared for taking the time to answer our questions and Perfect World for setting this up. As an aside, if you’d like to check out Blacklight Retribution, it entered the open beta phase last month. Hit up this link to download and install the game client.
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