Killzone 3 - Developer Interview with Chris Haluke, Lead Game Designer at Guerrilla Games
By James Farrington (02.21.11)

This past week I was at the Killzone 3 launch event in Toronto. The event, which was held at Sgt. Splatter’s Paintball, was filled with journalists trying their best to headshot each other with paint while also offering the chance to play the game with Move controls and to see the game in 3D.  Both the 3D visuals and the Move controls, using the new Playstation Move Sharp Shooter gun peripheral, impressed (though the Move does require some getting used to).  As well, I was able to sit down with Chris Haluke, lead game designer at Guerrilla Games, to ask him a few questions about Killzone 3, the Killzone franchise, and gaming in general.

XG: Vareity seems a major part of most games these days, especially FPS’s where they used to be just about shooting but are now trying to create varied experiences for players. What kind of variety have you tried to implement into Killzone 3 to bring it up to speed with modern shooters and to offer the player different kinds of experiences?

CH: It’s funny, that is one the things we used as a mission: to get as much variety as we could into this product. Killzone 3 is full; it’s got a massive multiplayer component, its got split-screen co-op, we’ve got a single player campaign, we’ve got Move support, we’ve got 3D support. So we’ve really tried to push it from that aspect. As well, when you actually get into the game itself the environments are extremely varied from snow, to jungle, to space, to urban. So we’ve really tried to push it to get outside just that urban that I think Killzone is known for. In terms of gameplay we’ve added a lot to support the pacing we wanted to get this time around in Killzone 3. We wanted to improve upon what was in Killzone 2 but let the players explore a little bit, let them see this beautiful world we created rather than just rush them through. We’ve got some vehicle work, we’ve got jet packs, we’ve got the Hammer, the Ice Saw, flying in space. So as far as that goes I think you can tell that there’s quite a lot of variety in there.

XG: What do you think set’s Killzone 3 apart from other games in the series? Was there any attempt to create brand new gaming experiences or was it more about building upon what the previous games established?

CH: I think we wanted to build. We wanted to push the boundaries of what we’ve created and always improve on what we’ve created. And for us, honestly, the key word was variety and pacing. I think we wanted to craft an experience that was absolutely ‘fasten your seat belt’ from start to finish. So, that’s something I think, I believe, that separates it from the previous titles.

XG: I don’t know if you can say anything about this but… are there any plans to offer any kind of singeplayer DLC in the future?

CH: No talking about that yet.

XG: And, just wondering about the development and marketing of the game, do you feel that having Killzone as a Playstation exclusive helps the marketing and development? Are there any plans to have Killzone go multiplatform?

CH: Sony is who we’re working for, that’s what we’ll continue to do. What I believe is from a marketing standpoint it certainly helps us. From a development standpoint I think what you see is an incredibly polished product that we are pushing the boundaries that Guerrilla has been known for from a technology standpoint, from a creative standpoint, and an artistic standpoint. Solely focusing on one console is certainly the direction that we’re going.

XG: Following up on the Sony focus, when Killzone 2 came out it was promoted as the visual benchmark for the PS3. Did you have a similar goal in mind for Killzone 3?

CH: Absolutely.

XG: So you really wanted to push the game even further, to sort of make the gamer’s jaw drop at each turn?

CH: We did. And I mean we’ve seen some other games out there that have been incredible like Uncharted 2 and God of War 3. These are games that push the boundaries and it’s friendly competition. We want to raise that bar again. So that’s something that we certainly focused on and was a conscience point that we wanted to push the boundaries and make it even better than Killzone 2 and try to define how the Playstation can be used to push out graphics like this.


XG: Now about the multiplayer, I know the leveling system in Killzone 3 has been re-worked from Killzone 2. Are there any specific reasons for that, was the goal to make it more accessible to players? Or was it more about creating a more enjoyable experience?

CH: I think accessibility was one of the key things that we tried to do. Not only from fan feedback but also from the feedback that we took from reviews from Killzone 2 was to look and see how we can make this more accessible to everybody. We feel that by starting out and allowing the players to choose how they want to level up their class that they’ve chosen and not hamper them by letting them only use certain weapons at certain points. We give you everything and its up to you to make decisions. So once again it’s about choice.

XG: You mentioned co-op earlier that it's only local split-screen correct, is there any particular reasons for why that is? or was that the focus from the start?

CH: The short and easy answer is just due to time. We never want to put anything out that doesn’t have the quality that we want to achieve. So at the end of the day the product is incredibly varied. There is so much depth to it that we feel the co-op ability that we’ve put in, being split-screen, is certainly going to enhance it.

XG: So if there are future Killzone games will you build upon that co-op and maybe take it online?

CH: It is always something that we want to do—we want to build upon and push upon. It’s definitely going to be something that we always look at.

XG: As for multiplayer DLC, there is a day one map pack coming out correct? and are there any other plans for possible multiplayer DLC?

CH: There is, and unfortunately I can’t talk about that either.

XG: Killzone 3 from the start was being developed for 3D support correct? Were there any specific difficulties in developing for 3D? Was the 3D done in house?

CH: Yes, that’s correct. It (3D production) was all done in house and it’s something that we certainly had to learn how to do. We had to get the technology up to speed and had to get everybody in the studio understanding it, and seeing it, and playing it. So it is something that we did do consciously and it did take a lot of time to develop.

XG: Also the game is Move capable. Was it difficult to bring Move controls into the game?

CH: I think again what the Move does, it allowed our game designers and engineers to take the Move, which in essence can be implemented fairly quickly—but then, like Guerrilla is known for, we want to push it, we want to really define what it means to have a Move in a game like Killzone 3. So to get it to that quality bar that’s where the time consuming tweaks and nuances come in. So we want to set it apart.

XG: So your goal was to set a benchmark for Move support in games?

CH: Absolutely. That is something we want to do I think with everything that we create. And anything that we put into our product we want it to be viewed that way.

XG: And just talking about gaming in general, especially since Killzone 3 was built for 3D, do you think that one day 3D may offer unique gameplay advantages or experiences versus being just a unique visual experience?

CH: Absolutely. I think that this is just the first step. I think like we’ve seen with motion control, it’s all evolving. I think we’ll always continue to evolve. It’s exciting, it’s an exciting future for gaming. I mean this is literally the kind of newborn child—it’s like we have to see what it’s going to produce. It’s by studios like Guerrilla where we try to push. We need more people to continue to push upon that.

Killzone 3 launches exclusively on the Playstation 3, February 22nd in North America and February 25th for Europe. For more information on Guerrilla Games and Killzone 3 visit www.killzone3.com