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Q&A session with Executive Producer Marcus Nilsson from EA

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With the next generation of gaming arriving, it is important to get an idea on where things are heading and the goals in mind for developers. We were able to get a Q&A session with Marcus Nilsson, Executive Producer at EA. We focused on Need for Speed Rivals and asked for his opinion on other things next-gen and what to expect. Nilsson gave us some excellent feedback and we would like to share this information with you today.

Did current-gen limit players for next-gen?

From a technical standpoint, absolutely yes. From a gameplay perspective, for Rivals specifically, no. For us it came down to the size of the world and the way that we wanted AllDrive to play. It was really down to finding the right number of people and getting that balanced across. If we just made this game for the next-generation, then I would think we would go higher in player count, simply for the reason that we would have more specific time working with those systems. We could find ways of improving both the game and world, probably increasing the number of players. The power of new consoles absolutely supports playing with more. The layout of this world supports both current-gen and next-gen, but more players on next-gen would be too much chaos [in addition to developing for current-gen].

How does AllDrive progress from here?

I think it’s a little bit too early to say. We obviously have a big list of stuff that we think will improve it later on, and there are some clear things coming out right now from players that we can monitor. This is the first installment of AllDrive, and I think AllDrive will be part of Need for Speed for a very long time going forward. Quite frankly, I’ve never had the reception for a game like I’ve had on this one. I’ve never seen the amount of positive feedback around a game feature. I know how to bring it forward. I’m not going to bring that out now, but there are ways we can build on it going forward.

Was developing on Xbox One and PS4 easier?

Absolutely. This time around, it was easier for the simple fact that all consoles are alike and when you have an engine like Frostbite 3, by default it needs to be able to scale between high-end and low-end PC specs. Without a doubt it makes [developing] easier. The difficult part with next-generation, is all of the backend systems. The going online and seamlessness, matchmaking, plugging into second screens, first party systems with friends and parties, that is ridiculously complex now and I think that’s [why you see delays]. It’s just so complex nowadays to get everything to work, from being able to make it work within a studio to being able to make it work with millions of players.

How did you all decide music?

It comes down to several things. One, where we think the music industry is going. EA has really great people involved, I would say it’s a central function where they have all the different contacts. We can find artists that are on the verge of being big. The music for me is important for what I want Need for Speed to be. I want Need for Speed to be a product that reflects what’s cool right now. That’s why it’s important. Putting music into a game like Need for Speed, you’ll get some people that like it and some people that hate it. That’s really the way it is, music is very polarizing.

What benefits do peripherals like Kinect and Eye present?

With Xbox One, it’s very excited to be able to go into the living room and it recognizes me and I’m right into the game. From a game perspective, we’re always going to use the peripherals that we think can make for a greater game experience. They’ll be different services running on these machines. Some of them will make use of those peripherals and some will not have them. It can’t be gimmicky, using these things; they need to be able to bring real value to the gameplay experience.

How much longer will Xbox One and PS4 games also be on current-gen?

I think it’s a numbers game. It is really way too early to think about that. In my own mind, both 360 and PS3 are still very powerful platforms and we need to look closely at the adaption of next-gen consoles. We will see [current-generation consoles] for a few more years without a doubt.

Will games on Xbox One, PS4 and current-gen will be more split apart next year?

Now you will see games that are the same across current-gen and next-generation [consoles]. Already next year you’ll see games that are more split apart, people will understand the new systems more, how to develop on different systems. You already have games that come out on next-generation only. You have [games like] Forza, it’s a real advantage to develop on one platform for one game. I do think however, we have better games this time around than what we had when 360 and PS3 arrived. You will see an improvement. You’ll see graphics go forward with time because really intelligent people will push the bar forward.

As you can see, it looks to be that Marcus has a good idea where things are heading. Games will continue to separate themselves from the current generation, and will look to incorporate more things like AllDrive on Need For Speed Rivals.

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