Q&A: Online Shooting On A Budget With Blacklight: Tango Down

Posted by BradNicholson (812 posts) -

Like Breach or even The Punisher: No Mercy (God, how I try to forget about that game), Blacklight Tango Down hopes to capture the kind of audience who just wants a straight-up multiplayer-oriented FPS. Blacklight is based 25 years in the future--a future that sees the world gone to crap. But because it shirks a real narrative, there's no sense in grounding you with plot specifics. 

No, the real focus of Blacklight is its non-class-based multiplayer mechanics. As an uber-soldier, you'll have the ability to unlock weapon parts and customize your guns. In fact, there's over a million ways you can tweak your gun with various scopes, stocks, barrels, tags, and even magazines. And because the game's run-and-gun style of play doesn't cater to campers very well, you'll also have the ability to see through walls via a handy device dubbed the "HRV." 

As of this writing, I still haven't checked out the game, despite its arrival on Xbox Live Arcade this afternoon. But I did get the chance to talk to lead designer Jared Gerritzen before launch. You'll notice that Gerritzen is a witty and candid dude, totally willing to reveal all about Zombie Studios' latest product. He also answered my totally ridiculous question about a future Robocop game. What a guy.

  

  

== TEASER ==Before we get into Blacklight: Tango Down, I have to ask, where did the name of your studio come from?

Jared Gerritzen: Better yet, why our studio is called Zombie and we have a Devil girl as the logo. I know it’s strange and I really don’t know the answer to it. My mom was kind of stressed out about the whole devil thing when I first got my business cards. I had to explain it was just a logo and I’m not working for Satan.

Cover is always king. 
Can you list some of your favorite experiences that you've had while playing other first-person shooters? What's been your favorite in Blacklight so far?


Jared Gerritzen: Hmm, I’ve had so many great experiences from shooter. The most memorable is easily Half-life 2. I got it and played until 4 AM the day it came out. I finally got to a spot that I could quit for the night. Then laid in bed thinking about it so much I got up and played for 5 more hours.

I like dark and gritty. Others complain about browns and blacks or broken buildings. Is Zombie doing anything to twist the setting of Blacklight to satisfy both parties?

Jared Gerritzen: It’s funny how much people complain about games being brown and grey. Yes, we did go for a cinematic feel with our post-process. However, we added overbuild to add color to the world that I feel really make it look different. Billboards and signs add lots of color and pop to the level. But until someone makes a game that is bright and shiny in looks people will still bitch, then when that game comes out they’ll complain saying it looks like Mario.

Check out that dude's gun! 
Blacklight focuses on weapon customization--scopes, stocks, and barrels--instead of bothering with tricky skill trees or less impactful clothing options. Is this true? And what does the unlock system say about Blacklight?


Jared Gerritzen: With a first person shooter what are you looking at the whole time? The GUN, we made the gun the focus of all things. I want players to make that gun their own. I want to pick up a gun and think “THIS IS RAD”. Fooling around with skill trees and clothing really wants want we wanted to focus on with this project.

As for the unlock system, I wanted it to be very simple for players to get gear and try new weapons. I notice lots of games making player specialize and put points toward one weapon class. WHY? Why not let the player get new items they wouldn’t normally try? I play with a SMG for speed half the time, then switch it up depending on my mood. Shotguns, sniper rifles, and even the heavy weapon are gear I like to jump on from time to time. I want players to get everything. All they have to do is play. Simple…

I've read that there are millions of options available for weapon customization. How ridiculous can your gun get? What's the craziest you've seen thus far?

Jared Gerritzen: Oh, the craziest is the last preset of the shotgun. It has a pistol grip, extended barrel, 4x holographic optic, with an extended magazine. It’s nasty.

 Wait, look at this one instead!
How effective can each weapon be? I ask because Gearbox's Borderlands offered millions of weapons, yet most were less than ideal for combat. I chocked it up to the chaotic gun caldron, the computer behind the game. In Blacklight's case, it's the player creating the weapons. But is there room still for duds?

Jared Gerritzen: In Borderlands you’re hunting for guns, it was a great idea. With Blacklight the weapons are made by the player. If you want speed you use the lighter attachment, but they may not be as accurate. Kick, spread, and speed are just a few of the attributes that are affected by the weapon. You can’t make a “dud” really. If its super accurate it will be heavier, if it’s light it may be less accurate. It’s up to the player to balance the weapon to their play style, OR you can just make a crazy looking gun and deal with its draw backs.

What about super weapon combos? I'm thinking Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's akimbo shotguns here.

Jared Gerritzen: JESUS, I hate that combo. I use it all the time just to get the guys using that combo.  We have a pretty big play test team off site and haven’t heard of any combo that makes anyone “INSANE WITH RAGE” like the marathon, akimbo, shotgun combo. I think I play less COD now that everyone seems to be playing with that. Oh well, Blacklight will be out soon, I’ll have that to play.

 I'm always down for some turret action.
Each user gets his own Hyper Reality Visor, a hip device that allows him to see all the enemies on the battlefield--even though walls. I'm under the impression that the HRV has a heck of a cooldown, which should lessen its impact, but not kill its battlefield usefulness. How often will players be able to use it?

Jared Gerritzen: The recharge time for HRV is only about 5- to 15-seconds depending on the uses. I use HRV about 4 times per life.

When did the idea for the HRV come along during development? How will it affect the pacing and strategy of Blacklight Tango Down?

Jared Gerritzen: We added HRV in to the game right at the beginning. HRV happened in a bar, one of our team members had a cell phone app that show restaurants (bar) in the area. We spent the night using it and talking about how crazy it would be to track other people with the app. We ended up putting it in game and testing it out, to our surprise it was really fun and made the combat even more fast and fun.

Everyone uses HRV differently, you can instantly use it to try frontal attacks, or use it to sneak around and take out the lone snipers. It’s really cool to see how the developers use it or don’t use it at all.

 An example of a billboard showing a bit of life.
Could you tell me a bit about the four-player co-op mode? What type of missions will it have? How will we work together?


Jared Gerritzen: Co-op missions are very intense--our lead level designer really set the combat to “eleven” with the amount of AI that are attacking. The idea of co-op with Tango Down is to give players that just want to play with friends a way to do so.
 
The missions are simple and straight-forward. We didn’t add a story for everyone to sit through every time they play the mission. We wanted them to be more re-playable rather than story driven. The mission has you hunting down objects and moving them to points in the map in one map, and just escaping in others.

The Black ops are focused on co-op, but a player can go in solo. However, its best to bring a friend. Working together and flanking the AI is the best way to get through the maps for the score bonus. We added some pretty big bonuses to the COOP missions. We also made sure everything you do in COOP will go toward you Multiplayer score. All weapons and loads outs are used in both game types.

What is the advantage of not creating a full-blown, packaged title like Zombie has in the past?

Jared Gerritzen: I’ve done huge games before. It’s not as much fun. Most “full-blown” games are based off a franchise, remakes, sequels, and prequels now days. I’m hoping we start a trend and show others small groups can still put out content that is as good as the big studios with 100 plus people.  Look at District 9. It was filmed of a fraction of what other movies are made with, they really change a part of Hollywood. We’ve done Blacklight with a fraction of the budget and time. I hope we change a part of the game industry.

 I wouldn't look concerned either if I was that armed.
How has Zombie's experiences with previous games impacted the development of Blacklight?


Jared Gerritzen: Most of the experience is from other studios, not only am I from a different studio but most of my entire team has come from other studios. I believe only three worked on any other Zombie game. We have developers that work all over the world. It’s a melting pot of talent.

Random question, but I need to ask: do you think there's room for a new-age Robocop action game?

Jared Gerritzen: Robocop! Hell yes, that’s a great idea for a new game. I want to do a remake of Daikatana, but the Wayans brothers have to do the writing.

How much support will Blacklight have post-release? Can we expect regular DLC and patches across all three platforms?

 I have no idea, but I want one.
Jared Gerritzen:
We’ll fix any bugs or nasty issues that pop up. We could do “map pack” and “weapon packs” and eventually make so the fans pay full price for the game after a few months. But with other games bleeding the fans for maps they already had, it really put me off of map packs. We have 12 maps in the game, we could have easily pulled a few back and made people pay for them later, but I want people to be fans of the game not think we’re trying to pull the same crap others are.
 
Last question: what do you hope players will get out of Blacklight Tango Down?

Jared Gerritzen: The only thing I hope people get out of Blacklight is a great game experience and a respect for download games. They don’t have to be arcade games from the '80s that you remember being way better than they are.

Many thanks to Mr. Gerritzen for his time!

#1 Edited by Katsumoto (17 posts) -

first

#2 Edited by HooliganTuesday (119 posts) -

First? 
 
Right needs to be for a video.... stupid quest.

#3 Posted by scarace360 (4828 posts) -

Do a quick look and then maybe.

#4 Posted by ViciousReiven (824 posts) -

Alright I'm back in. 
Hopefully the support with fix the mess that we currently have, this game could be the real deal with some fine tuning.

#5 Edited by Landmine (528 posts) -

Great interview, this also helped pass the time while I waited for the game to download. 

#6 Posted by The_Laughing_Man (13629 posts) -

How much is it? 

#7 Posted by ThePhantomnaut (6201 posts) -
@The_Laughing_Man said:
" How much is it?  "
1200 MS Points. There is a hour long trial. It feels odd playing it though personally.
#8 Posted by Ryax (4630 posts) -

looks good but also incredibly generic. ill have to wait and see how it turns out

#9 Posted by The_Laughing_Man (13629 posts) -
@ThePhantomnaut said:
" @The_Laughing_Man said:
" How much is it?  "
1200 MS Points. There is a hour long trial. It feels odd playing it though personally. "
So 15 bucks.
#10 Posted by FireSketch (827 posts) -
@Ryax: Yeah, I feel the same way. A QL will either sell it to me or put me off it.
#11 Edited by AlwaysAngry (2866 posts) -
 
 
"Jared Gerritzen
: It’s funny how much people complain about games being brown and grey. Yes, we did go for a cinematic feel with our post-process. However, we added overbuild to add color to the world that I feel really make it look different. Billboards and signs add lots of color and pop to the level. But until someone makes a game that is bright and shiny in looks people will still bitch, then when that game comes out they’ll complain saying it looks like Mario. " 
 
That's an amazing answer.
#12 Posted by Redbullet685 (6085 posts) -

I really like the game. Its fast paced and has a lot of content for $15. 12 maps, 7 modes, 16 player matches, and a lot of guns.

#13 Posted by TheCheese33 (353 posts) -

The game is definitely fun, and I like the art style they use for the player's HUD. Hopefully people keep playing it, because I'm having a blast. The one thing that annoys me is the crazy amount of advertising. I've seen billboards all over the place for Dr. Pepper, Alienware, Razer, and ATI. 

#14 Posted by dawgpound89 (15 posts) -
@TheCheese33: Chances are they had to put a lot in there to keep the game at a decent price. 
#15 Posted by dawgpound89 (15 posts) -

It looks like a fun game, but I'm going to try the trial first.  Not sure how long the fun will last if the maps are as small as what folks say.  I like run and gun, but I don't like feeling cramped.    

#16 Posted by Shisnopi (78 posts) -

I like the game, its  fast like Unreal Tournament but tatical like Rainbow Six.
 
I just wish the hud would give you some kind of warning that you're low on health or that your enemy is taking damage ( CoD does a good job of this).

#17 Posted by Landmine (528 posts) -

A word of warning to those of you that are looking into getting the game for the co-op. There doesn't seem to be any matchmaking in place for the co-op portion of the game (or I'm missing something). That being said, if you own the game and want to play some co-op, send me a friend request. 
 
XBL: Revbox Media 

#18 Posted by Kontrapunkt (413 posts) -

Hey, ill give it a shot. :)

#19 Posted by Murdouken (709 posts) -

Where is the PC release?

#20 Edited by StickyMicky (78 posts) -

  We could to “map pack” and “weapon packs” 
 
Any chance of getting some adults to proof read these news snippets, before posting these items ?

#21 Posted by DBagalot (158 posts) -

Great interview. I'll check this game out.

#22 Posted by Sanious (793 posts) -

Had fun with the trail, not sure if I want to buy it, though. They definitely need to fix spawns when it comes to 'Last Man Standing'. Too many times I've spawned right near somebody and either I got shot down immediately or they did. Then you have to sit there and wait for the round to end just because of a shitty spawn.

#23 Posted by Scooper (7881 posts) -

I'll check out the demo if there is one. It looks promising. I'm sick of campers in FPS games.

#24 Edited by Seppli (10250 posts) -
@Landmine said:

" A word of warning to those of you that are looking into getting the game for the co-op. There doesn't seem to be any matchmaking in place for the co-op portion of the game (or I'm missing something). That being said, if you own the game and want to play some co-op, send me a friend request.  XBL: Revbox Media  "

For real? No matchmaking for co-op would be quite a big bummer. That factors in heavily in my 'buy or not' decision making process.
 
Gonna wait for reviews and more comments about co-op and the lack of co-op matchmaking 'til I'll make a final decision.
#25 Posted by Iron_Past (172 posts) -
@Shisnopi said:
"I just wish the hud would give you some kind of warning that you're low on health or that your enemy is taking damage ( CoD does a good job of this). "
You mean like a large health bar in the lower left if the screen? = )
#26 Edited by Landmine (528 posts) -
@Seppli said:

" @Landmine said:

" A word of warning to those of you that are looking into getting the game for the co-op. There doesn't seem to be any matchmaking in place for the co-op portion of the game (or I'm missing something). That being said, if you own the game and want to play some co-op, send me a friend request.  XBL: Revbox Media  "

For real? No matchmaking for co-op would be quite a big bummer. That factors in heavily in my 'buy or not' decision making process.  Gonna wait for reviews and more comments about co-op and the lack of co-op matchmaking 'til I'll make a final decision. "  
  As far as I can tell, the only options are to send an invite or go solo in the co-op menu.  
#27 Posted by DizzyMedal (400 posts) -
@StickyMicky:
If you want to use proof-read as two words, you need a hyphen. Adding 'these items' is redundant as you have already stated 'these news snippets'. The comma is not really needed. You don't need a space before your question mark. 
 
He wrote an entire article whereas you wrote one sentence. Think about that. :)
#28 Posted by Shisnopi (78 posts) -
@Iron_Past:  I know that, but by the time I look it I am already dead. and if I survive a firefight I'm always low on health. CoD your screen shows when you're taking damage and when you hit another player there's a "pop" and your cross-hair is different for each hit.
#29 Posted by DarthB (261 posts) -

nice interview.  i like this guy.  gotta be honest though, don't think i'll be getting this game.  i'm still enjoying bad company 2 far too much.  the destruction in bc2 and even in rf:guerrilla has changed my view on shooters, now i want them all to have destructible shit.

#30 Posted by Interlink (20 posts) -

Played the demo and it's...okay. The Online FPS-er is such a competitive space, and personally, I see no reason to tear myself away from Modern Warfare or Battlefield.  
 
I think they should have changed the art style, or do something to give it more "umph" and stand out.
#31 Posted by bosshog70 (82 posts) -

looks a good game

#32 Posted by Aleryn (705 posts) -

It's a damn shame that the Iron Sights don't seem to be directly usable, at least on the pistol and SMG I used in the demo.  They hover just under the HUD Reticule.  I wish you had the option for either, because I know some people prefer the HUD, too.

#33 Posted by DukeT (119 posts) -

The demo was absolutely horrendous. They say that the HRV helps to keep people moving and void camping, but its just the obvious. Now that everyone knows where you are, they are just going to wait in a corner and pretend like you can't see them through the wall too. Even if you can kill all the campers, they get backed up into the spawn, and wait there for you to run by to get killed by the turrets. The maps are too small for the crap aiming system they are using, and the shotgun dominates almost every situation.

#34 Posted by TotalEklypse (1000 posts) -
@Murdouken said:
" Where is the PC release? "
this. and where is the fuckin ps3 one too lol... 
#35 Posted by Rotnac (821 posts) -

i personally really disliked this game. with all the retail FPS shooters out now too there's no real draw for me to want to fork out  $15 dollars on something that I can just pop in modern warfare for and not spend the $15, unless i want an overpriced map pack. 

#36 Posted by spilledmilkfactory (1899 posts) -

i wanna see a quicklook

#37 Posted by fedorajay (404 posts) -

It was okay. I loved UT3 and R6:V2 (which are what some say this is a cross between) and couldn't get into the game. I used up all my free trial time without regret but won't be purchasing the full copy. I love fast shooters like UT3, TimeSplitters, Quake Arena but found it hard to aim correctly in this one.

#38 Edited by bunnyboiler (398 posts) -
#39 Posted by MaddProdigy (1041 posts) -
@StickyMicky:  U can haz total dushebag status dude, you really take grammar that seriously?
#40 Posted by Sanious (793 posts) -
@DukeT: Hmm, well since you can also know where everyone is at it's really not a problem. I haven't really ran into many campers at all and I've been playing ti a good bit. "Last Man Standing' pretty much everyone does it because it's not infinite spawn. But otherwise you really don't run into it all that much, it's as much camping as you're going to get with any other fps.
#41 Posted by Wandrecanada (415 posts) -

If you're just playing the demo you're missing well over half the game.  You won't get the weapon mods or weapon tags and you'll be locked out of all the armor upgrades as well.
 
Half of this game seems to revolve around customizing weps and it's really good at it.  I recommend anyone who wants an FPS with excellent weapon options, weapon mechanics and no pesky aim assist.

#42 Posted by Branthog (5597 posts) -
 Fooling around with skill trees and clothing really wants want we wanted to focus on with this project.
 
What?!
#43 Posted by williaminhell (1 posts) -
  •  B.L.T.D. is awesome I play it like every day.               
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