Bodycount: Exclusive Interview With Andrew Parsons, Level Designer

Posted By | On 19th, Aug. 2011

We recently went hands on with Bodycount and after playing it for a couple of hours we had no doubts in our mind that this game is shaping in to a unique first person shooter experience. With a visual fidelity and destructive gameplay that is second to none, we got so intrigued that we decided to chat with Andrew Parsons, level Designer at Codemasters Guildford Studio about the game.

So sit back and enjoy the full interview below.

GB: Will Bodycount, being developed by the same team behind Black, have any link to the story in Black?

Andrew Parsons: Although we’ve often been termed the “spiritual successor” to Black, there are really no ties between that game and Bodycount- we’re a new team working under a different publisher. The only real links between us and Black is that there have been several members of the team who worked on Black too, including our weapons designer.

GB: What kind of multiplayer modes can players expect?

Andrew Parsons: We have Deathmatch and team Deathmatch modes for up to 12 players and online two player Co-Op, which takes the form of a custom-built “wave attack”-style game mode. All of them feature the same intense gun experience and destructive fidelity as the single player campaign.

GB: How will the destructible environments the game is based around fare in comparison to recent games like Red Faction Armageddon and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 that have had a similar focus?

Andrew Parsons: We’re huge fans of the games you mention- and they both implement their destruction mechanics in different ways. For us, it’s always been about an extremely high level of detail and fidelity when it comes to destruction. We term it “shredding”, because instead of “popping” an environment from intact to destroyed, the world gradually erodes around you, creating a very dynamic, visceral destruction experience.

GB: In a world where we have a million and one different online shooters to choose from, what will make Bodycount’s online modes special?

Andrew Parsons: Our Network team have worked incredibly hard to bring that same shredding and environmental erosion to the online game. What this means is that you’re constantly assessing and re-assessing your surroundings as you play, in arenas specifically designed to show off that tech. It can lead to some pretty intense firefights in deathmatch, but if you add AI in to the mix (as in Co-Op) then you’ll really start to see the shredding tech take on a life of its own.

GB: Will the game be supported by DLC post-release?

Andrew Parsons: We’ve not announced any plans for post-release DLC.

 GB: It’s interesting that there are no plans for a PC version of Bodycount. Was there a financial reason behind this, or was it a design choice?

Andrew Parsons: As a developer, part of the challenge of developing a next-gen title is choosing which aspects are going to be your main focus- “choosing your battles”, so to speak. For us, the “peek-and-lean” system in Bodycount was one of those things that would be very difficult to get right with a keyboard-and-mouse configuration- you need that lovely analogue control to really get the best out of the design. That’s a great example of a very difficult decision to make, but when it comes down to it, we wanted to create a best-in-class shooting experience on console first and foremost.

GB: Would you say that Bodycount is more gameplay or story driven?

Andrew Parsons: Our main focus has always been to provide a best-in-class shooting experience on consoles – to provide players with new and exciting ways to blow sh*t up. However, these days that can often not be enough. We wanted to give context to the carnage, and Bodycount’s story delivers that.

GB: Will the player only have a choice of the usual weapons, or will there be some more creative examples that are exclusive to the game?

Andrew Parsons: The weapons really are the star of Bodycount, and there are a couple of additions to the roster which have been specifically designed to fit the shady “Target” organisations. These guns are from a very present-to-near-future perspective, and provide a huge range of tactical options once you get hold of them. They’re amazing at cutting through enemies as well!

GB: Was the game designed with a lead platform in mind?

Andrew Parsons: We’ve always aimed for complete parity between both Xbox360 and PS3, so no; there isn’t a lead platform for the game.

GB: Black was noted for its breathtaking visuals on aging PS2 and Xbox. Do you think Bodycount will be the most visually appealing first person shooter this generation, just like what Black was in the previous one?

Andrew Parsons: One of the most obvious and distinctive differences between Bodycount and its competitors is its use of colour- when you see it in motion it really is a completely different experience from many of today’s shooters. We’re hoping that between the amazing colour pallet, the high-fidelity shredding tech and best-in-class gunplay, we can find our own place in a very crowded market.

GB: What can players expect to take away from the story in Bodycount?

Andrew Parsons: Basically, “don’t trust anyone” and “if in doubt, blow it up”.

GB: Is there anything else you want to tell our readers about the game?

Andrew Parsons: We realise that our fans have more choice than ever these days- especially at this busy time of year. I think the one thing we want people to do is grab the demo (out now on Xbox LIVE and coming soon to PlayStation Network) and just *give it a try*. We’re offering something unique in the shooter space- a refreshing change from the serious, po-faced, simulation- based titles that gives a fun, explosive new take on the FPS. Really, Bodycount is about over-the-top, arcade-style fun with the biggest explosions and the best guns this side of an Arnie movie.

Special thanks to Andrew Parsons for taking out his valuable time for us and a big Kudos to Rangebar Merani from 47 Communications for setting this interview up.

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