Brendan Greene defends the redzone
We present you some portions of the massive interview by eurogamer where Brendan Greene has spoken about the future of the game, check out the full article on their official web.
I want to start off with the Roadmap - that seemed like it was a fairly big moment for you, and the team, and at a fairly crucial time… how much of a hand did you have in that personally?
Brendan Greene: I mean I'm kind of overseeing a lot this stage, and because I travel a lot I don't get to spend a lot of time with the team directly in Korea, but you know I trust [our team leads] with the game, they've really been doing such an amazing job at getting it to where it is without me having to have too much of a hands on, because of the fact I have to travel so much, which is what I get for putting my name on the game. But this is the vision now I outlined for them last year, they know what they want from PUBG, I didn't have to have that much of a hand because they brought their ideas for this year and it was like "Yep! Yep! Yep!" So while I wasn't very hands on, I was still overseeing a lot of the stuff.
I think that roadmap gives us a very good idea of granular stuff - I don't want to dive into that too much - but what it left me wondering was what the big picture was for PUBG. What's the long-term vision?
Brendan Greene: Well we've said this before you know we want to build this game as a service. We want to build this as a platform for game modes, for not only battle royale but for other game modes that we ever put in the Event servers or that the community come up with via Custom games. We want to bring our Custom games to even more people this year and really start to polish off that system. So for us it's about creating a platform, and creating a kind of stable base for a possible esport or just as a platform for many different types of game modes.
Where do you see PUBG in say six months or a year or three years then, how do you think it'll evolve and where'll it end up?
Brendan Greene: Right now this year we're really heavily investing into setting up an esports infrastructure, we're building an esports team globally now, between the US and Europe and Asia, and really trying to develop out the tools we need to support esport organisations and players in order to give a good foundation. So, that's where I want to see it in three years, I want to see it as a considered esport with events taking place in big stadiums and sort of year long leagues, that's what my dream for battle royale has been, that's where I want to see us go, and looking at what we're doing this year I really see that as a great chance.
Do you think that you could have done more to convey what that long-term vision is to the players?
Brendan Greene: Oh definitely. We went a little radio silent after full launch, because we really did have our heads down and tried to figure out what we wanted to do this year. Now since we've announced the Roadmap we're really trying to open up again, and you're starting to see that - we've got Savage into the hands of the payers much earlier this time, much like we did when Erangel - when the game was first announced and we had a pre-alpha with a prototype - so, it's the same with Savage, we really want to get an early version out so people can test it. We want to continue that sort of open development again and get back into it this year, as I said we were a little quiet but we were growing a company, you know, and creating a new culture and trying to expand worldwide so you know that drew our focus, to really try to get the right people - and growing a company's not easy. Some areas kind of fell off and this year we want to make up for that and really get back and talk to the community again.
How big has the company got, can you say?
We're about 300 now, a little more than that. That's between the main body of our workforce over in Korea, and we now have studios in Madison, in Santa Monica, in Amsterdam, and then small offices in China, Tokyo all over. It's amazing to see, it really is.
Do you think that growth spurt's settled down a bit now?
Brendan Greene: It's getting there. The new office in Amsterdam we opened because it's very hard to get very qualified developers to move lock stock and two smoking barrels to Korea, it's a big move for people. But Amsterdam is much more reasonable, everyone speaks English there, it's much more relatable. We're still expanding, it hasn't stopped yet. As I said this year we need to expand on esports so that's a global team we need to build up. Yeah! We're still growing.
You've been reacting quite a bit faster to player feedback and generally your changes are happening more often. What would you say to people who'd say that's a sign you're being too reactionary?
Brendan Greene: We've done this from day one, it was open development with the community. It's a multiplayer game that relies on players, and their feedback is crucial. Yes there are some really loud voices there, but we have a really good data analytics team and a community team - we don't rely just on the loud voices. We look at all the data from across all the forums, have wonderful internal, like PDFs just showing us what the sentiment is online about certain things and what the words have been used, so it's not reactionary, we're looking at the data, and sometimes it'll sync up with what the community want, and other times it's what we think is right for the game. We want to listen to the community - we understand that there's objective and subjective feedback and that it's finding that balance.
So if someone wanted something more extreme - for instance there's been a lot of chat about getting rid of the Red Zone - if that became like an overwhelming voice-
Brendan Greene: It is an overwhelming voice already! And people say there's no reason to it but it provides audio cover, it really looks cool when you're fighting in it. And really, you shouldn't be dying to the Red zone. If you're dying to the Red zone then, I'm sorry but you're not a very good player. It's like, you know there's a hundred metre safe zone around the edge of it, if you're in a building there's a very little chance of you getting hit, it's there for a specific reason, it looks really cool and it provides tension. If you're trapped in a fight in the Red Zone, it's exciting! People say that it has no reason, but it does. It's there for a very specific reason which is providing audio cover and even when it's a little bit in the distance it provides enough cover to run a little bit, so, there are reasons. But, that said, if there is an outpouring of hate towards it, we may consider it.
Nothing is off the table - we recently removed clothing spawns from the loot system and people were saying "oh what it would take for me to remove that?" Because they thought I would never remove it. People sometimes think that I won't remove anything because it's my baby, or my ego's so huge, it's like, we listen to the community. If we really think it plays better losing certain things, we will change it. We are about this open development and about getting community feedback and implementing it in the game.
Has the emergence of some other competition made it harder for you not to be reactionary? Does it make you think "oh we really need to play to what the community wants or we lose them"?
Brendan Greene: No. No, as I said we did go a little radio silent, but again, it was because we were trying to expand globally. We had to focus on getting the right people, that took a lot of our time. So, we try not to be reactionary. It was funny, when we released the Emotes people were saying "oh you're copying Fortnite" - well, no. We recorded these Emotes in Prague last year, before Fortnite [Battle Royale] was even announced. We had an intention to put a means of non-verbal communication into the game because we really believe you know that there are some people with mics, some people without mics, so having a way for them to communicate with their squad members is essential, and it's essential for a tactical gameplay. So we have these plans that have existed for the last year. Sometimes it'll be the same, as other games you're doing, sometimes they'll be different but it's not reactionary. It's not us trying to copy other things. We have our plan, and sometimes it'll sync up.
Do you have any goals for how you'd improve that communication? Do you have examples of other games that do it well that you want to emulate?
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Brendan Greene: We used to be very good at communication, back last year, and then we got overwhelmed with trying to build to company. We've now hired Billy Shibley as Social Manager, we have a new Communications Lead, so our marketing team and community team have really now got some really good figureheads to drive the community relationships a lot harder. You could see that we really are - our Twitter now is much more active with talking to people, same with our forums on our Reddit, we're really trying to get back to talking with the community. I think our new hires are really doing a good job of this.
Now battle royale has kind of shifted from a game, or a few games, to a genre itself, how do you make PUBG stand out? You mentioned esports is that it? Is PUBG's niche the fact that it can work as an esport?
Brendan Greene: I got this question a lot when we first started PUBG - it's not about standing out, it's about making a good game and a good, realistic battle royale and that's our intention. It's about really polishing off what we have even though we are releasing new content, we still have teams working on bug fixes. Some bugs take a long time to fix. You know the PhysX bugs, with the cars crashing together, that's a very tough problem to fix, you know. There's stuff that goes on that, you know it takes time. We did shadow caching last year, which was improving shadows across all levels of the machine. That took the rendering team three months to write. Some bugs just take an inordinate amount of time to track down and fix. We are focused on that but we're also focused on new content. But this year it's about polishing it off and it's about improving on what we have and making it stable and giving both content creators and esports organisations tools to create new content for the game.
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