We recently caught up with Zombie studios director Jared Gerritzen to talk about their upcoming free to play game for the PlayStation 4, Blacklight Retribution. We got a chance to ask about their experience while developing the game for Sony’s next generation console, the DualShock 4 controller, the in-game monetization model, the possibility of new content and post launch support.
Rashid Sayed: The game was originally released back in April, 2012 for the PC. What prompted Zombie Studios to re-introduce it again on the PlayStation 4, instead of making, say a sequel or a new IP?
Jared Gerritzen: Our players love the game, and we love our players! We wanted to make sure it was available to as many people as possible, for our current fans and our new. Zombie Studios also gained the rights to publish and produce Blacklight: Retribution, and we were excited to bring it to a new player base and console.
Rashid Sayed: Content wise, how different will the PS4 version be when compared to the onePC? Extra maps, maybe?
Jared Gerritzen: We have a lot of love for our PC players, and we want to make sure they get the same content as our PlayStation 4 players. Part of what we did during development was optimize our maps, and we plan to bring these to the PC for even better performance. We want to make sure our content is equal to our PC and console players.
Rashid Sayed: One of the core features of Blacklight Retribution is the indepth customization option. Have you made any changes or added anything that makes its different from the PC version?
Jared Gerritzen: We remade the menu system to allow controller players to easily customize and easily interact with the game, and we utilized the touchscreen to bring some of our systems to the controller because the keyboard just has more keys. We also redid the pricing and monetization for the game.
Rashid Sayed: Are the pricingfor in game items similar to the PC version?
Jared Gerritzen: Since we are our own publisher for Blacklight on the PlayStation 4, we are in control of our own pricing, so we can offer our players benefits and deals unique to the PlayStation 4. We also changed the pricing drastically to allow true micro-transactions.
Rashid Sayed: Can you please let us know what resolution and fps does Blacklight Retribution run on the PlayStation 4?
Jared Gerritzen: We are currently at 1080p, and as the game evolves we are targeting the highest frame rates possible.
Rashid Sayed: As someone who has core experience with PC games development, what is it about the PlayStation 4 that excites you the most?
Jared Gerritzen: Any gamer knows that PC gamers and console gamers are different, but what brings them together is the mutual love for awesome games. It’s exciting to bring Blacklight to the PlayStation 4, where a new audience will get the see it and our existing fans can enjoy the game they already know they love.
Rashid Sayed: Furthermore, from a tech perspective what are your thoughts on Sony’s decision to include 8GB of fast memory in the PS4 and how is that helped you guys in the development process?
Jared Gerritzen: Zombie Studios has been wanting to bring Blacklight to the console for a long time, and it wasn’t until we had the opportunity to work on the PlayStation 4 that console hardware was up to the task of running the game without making serious cuts.
Rashid Sayed: Warframe developer, Digital Extremes, recently stated that it took them only a mere 3 months to port their game from the PC to the PS4. How long did you guys took to do the same with Blacklight Retribution?
Jared Gerritzen: Zombie Studios not only ported our game, but we ported the Unreal 3 Engine as well. We can’t really speak to timelines other developers have had, but every game is different.
Rashid Sayed: The PS4 version looks absolutely gorgeous. But does it hold up against a high end PC running Blacklight Retribution?
Jared Gerritzen: We have all the PC settings cranked up to their highest setting on the PlayStation 4, so it holds up great! We are really happy how the transition between high end PC and PlayStation 4 works for us.
Rashid Sayed: As you must be aware that several well known developers have claimed that the PS4’s GPU is 40-50% more powerful than the Xbox One. What are your thoughts on this and did this played any role in your decision of not bringing the game over to the Xbox One?
Jared Gerritzen: We spoke with both Xbox and PlayStation, and our decision is something we cannot talk about, but we are very happy to join with the PlayStation group with Blacklight. As for the Xbox one technology, we cannot speak about that, because we currently have no Xbox One projects underway.
Rashid Sayed: You guys must be excited by some of the community and streaming features that the PS4 provides. How will Blacklight Retribution take advanatge of those?
Jared Gerritzen: We really love watching the Blacklight streams that our fans are always making, and we look forward to seeing more once the PlayStation 4 launches! As Blacklight evolves out of Beta, we plan to use as many of the PlayStation 4 peripherals as possible, but we are very happy to hear that the PlayStation will not only be using on-board streaming functions but capture cards will be able to get game footage via the HDMI cables themselves.
Rashid Sayed: I know for a fact that you guys absolutely love the DualShock 4 controller. Besides being comfortable to play with, how do you think it will enhance the gameplay in Blacklight Retribution?
Jared Gerritzen: One of the challenges of porting a PC game to a console is that you lose out on having a keyboard that gives you a lot of options for input. The DualShock 4 controller really helps us rise to the challenge of mapping keyboard commands to the controller. We can get really creative with the touchpad and come up with great ways for the players to give input.
Rashid Sayed: What are you plans post launch?
Jared Gerritzen: A real drive to get everything we need to fix in our Beta to go full launch, as well as more content. And we are really excited to be playing all the great games that are coming out on new systems as well, Xbox and PlayStation 4.
Rashid Sayed: Okay, time for a tricky question. From a gamer’s perspective, what version of the game will you suggest and why?
Jared Gerritzen: Gaming and specifically ‘how you game’ is a personal preference for everyone, so we suggest playing where you have the most fun! We’ll be playing on the PS4 on day one though, so we hope to see you there!