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Building and Battling: Dylan Jobe Discusses Starhawk

James Gallagher's Avatar + Posted by James Gallagher on May 17, 2011 // Blog Manager, SCEE

My first job when I joined PlayStation in 2008 was a piece of copywriting for Warhawk – if you received an email newsletter about the Operation: Broken Mirror expansion pack, then that was me. So it was with some nostalgia that I watched Dylan Jobe announce Starhawk – the spiritual successor to what is still a very popular online game, more than three years on.

The key innovation is Build & Battle, which lets the player place towers, launchpads, turrets and more wherever they like on the battlefield and in real-time, without ever taking their finger off the trigger or leaving the fray. This applies to both the full single player campaign and the 32 strong online multiplayer, the tactical implications on which are huge.

After the announcement, I sat down with Dylan to flesh out some more detail on one of the most exciting PS3 exclusives of 2012.

Starhawk for PS3Starhawk for PS3

How has the online shooter landscape changed since Warhawk was released in 2007?

Warhawk was timed great because PlayStation Network was relatively new; it was online multiplayer only, which was rare; and our approach to games was fun and novel at that time. I’d describe it as the lovechild of Unreal Tournament and Battlefield.

Fast-forward to 2011 and the landscape is different, with a tonne of shooters out there. I wouldn’t say the genre is bloated because I love shooters, but it’s competitive and that was both a concern and a motivator for Starhawk. It certainly forced us to be original and come up with genre innovations. Ask any gamer out there and they’ll say that they want to see something new. Too often, the only difference between one shooter and the next is the visual style of the gun and the scene that it is pointing at.

What were the best things about Warhawk?

Two core elements spring to mind: multi-dimensional, fast-paced action, where you’re running and then driving and then you’re flying and it’s all seamless. A lot of other shooters relegate vehicle use to compartmental sections where you come down a tunnel, drive a tank from point A to point B, get out of the tank… that’s not what our game is. You can summon a Hawk on a launchpad wherever and whenever you want.

My second favourite element is the huge landscapes and a vehicle, in the Hawk, with which to get around very quickly. At one moment you could be creeping around a base on foot and seeing great detail close up, and at the next you can fly miles down the road at mach 2. We’re glad to have carried that scale over to Starhawk.

What other Warhawk qualities have you carried over to Starhawk?

Warhawk players like that addictive, fast-paced gameplay and Starhawk has it too – you can have a great experience in 20 minutes if you want or you can sink months into the multiplayer. You should never second-guess your fans but I hope that they see Starhawk as an improvement that serves them proud.

People were expecting us to announce something like Warhawk and the rumours about Starhawk have been doing the rounds for a while, but I think people will be surprised by how much of the game we have shown to media and, having spoken to many journalists, nobody predicted the Build & Battle gameplay.

Starhawk for PS3Starhawk for PS3

Warhawk was multiplayer only but Starhawk has a full solo campaign with a story. What is the LightBox storytelling philosophy?

There’s a whole bunch of ways to skin that cat: there are many great ways to go about game storytelling and there are a few ways that, in my opinion, are recipes for disaster. If you have a story that is too grand then you might not be able to execute it properly. Our approach is to give the player a series of exciting and flexible combat challenges that are strung together with a tale about Emmet Graves and his brother, with missions blending into really cool 2D animation sequences.

It seems like every connected game comes with a set of ‘community features’, but what exactly is a game community and how should it be supported?

I think that there are a lot of people out there who think that if you create a bunch of features then you have a community and that’s just not true. Publishers need to know that if you don’t have a vocal fan base and a game that people are passionate about, then you don’t have a community. Sony understands this.

Our take on community is to listen to those passionate players to discover the kinds of things that they want to do, and develop those features. We develop community features that the players want and need; we’re not just saying, ‘here’s a bunch of community features… go be a community!’ That’s not the way to do it at all.

Starhawk for PS3

The in-game tournaments sound exciting. How do they work?

The tournament system in Starhawk is rad. In Warhawk we had a lot of people co-ordinating their own tournaments with third-party websites and gaming leagues, and they were successful, but we want to make it way easier for anyone playing the game to create a tournament. It’s completely integrated and allows players to choose from a variety of options.

To give an example: you want to have a tournament this weekend with your buddies to see who is best at flying a Hawk. You go in and create a private tournament and set it so that sign-up is on Wednesday but it’s going to begin on Friday, and it’s going to be based on Hawk kills in one particular environment. That sets up the server for the players you’ve selected as eligible and that server will automatically track results during the time window that you have set and then post the results afterwards. We also have the ability to create central tournaments that pay out little rewards, so you can go to your trophy room and see all the stamps that you got for participating or finishing in the top ten, and so forth.

Starhawk for PS3

As a new development studio, what is the LightBox ethos?

We’re a fun crew! We were originally a part of Incognito out in Salt Lake City and we wanted to have our own studio in a new location, so we moved to Austin, Texas, which is a really hip, fun town. We’re all very liberal and open-minded; we love music and, crucially, we’re all big gamers. We care deeply about our craft. A journalist asked me earlier about the Starhawk sales projections and, as the president of the company, I do care deeply about all that stuff. But truthfully it is Sony’s job to make sure it sells a lot of copies. My job is to make Starhawk a great game – the kind of thing that my colleagues and friends want to play.

//Add Your Own

300 Comments   76 Replies

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1

+ Hokage_45678 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:05 am said:

WarHawk Was AWESOME! I cant wait for this one. Hopefully you guys will show it off at E3 this year!


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:04 am said:

    We *ARE* going to be at E3 this year and we’re looking forward to giving people a chance to get hands-on!!


2

+ genrira1213 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:07 am said:

AWESOMEEE GAMEEE!!!


3

+ arettger22 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:10 am said:

Looks fun! bEASTLY


4

+ juniorboss212 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:11 am said:

Not to be greedy but, can you guys make a post on Infamous 2?


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:05 am said:

    OMG yes!! I can’t wait for Infamous2!!! Sucker Punch does such great games.


5

+ jazzyrider on May 17th, 2011 at 9:12 am said:

good info about starhawk! good potential for a great game!


6

+ reson8er on May 17th, 2011 at 9:13 am said:

Loved War Hawk and felt the only thing missing was single player, THIS LOOKS AWESOME!


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:06 am said:

    Yeah, our solo-campaign in Starhawk is really fresh and fun and should be good for all you shooter fans that are looking for a breath of fresh air.


7

+ Kavewoman48 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:15 am said:

I can’t believe Sony has the audacity to post /update the welcome back package and post two new game blogs before answering or dealing with any of the serious questions posted on the FAQ blog. Is this how it’s going to continue to be? We were kept in the dark a.k.a. hardly any updates when Sony shut down the network. Now we’ve got questions that are far more significant then “what are you going to give me?” and “when are you going to start talking about games again?” but the only answers we get are “thanks it’s good to be back” and here take these free products??? Where you hoping that would stop the whiners? It’s been well over 48 hours since you brought the network back online. We’ve had to wait for emails with links that won’t allow us to reset our passwords no matter how many times you correctly enter the letters and numbers. C’mon my patience is already thin. This is no way to win back customers confidence Sony!


8

+ Cagalli on May 17th, 2011 at 9:19 am said:

@7 Just resubmit your password reset again. Worked for a friend.


9

+ Heisem on May 17th, 2011 at 9:19 am said:

i loved warhawk, definitely a must buy for me.


10

+ Prothean on May 17th, 2011 at 9:19 am said:

Warhawk was pure awesome, this looks like its going to take it to the next level… only gripe about Warhawk was no game lobbies for parties… as long as that’s implemented here, I’ll be good to go (:


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:08 am said:

    Starhawk’s party system allows you and your friends to hop from game to game together. You can even add people to your party as you go if you meet someone you want to roll with along the way. We didn’t have that in Warhawk and that was a bummer. But we have it now!!


11

+ Enforcer_X on May 17th, 2011 at 9:21 am said:

Can’t wait! Starhawk looks EPIC!


12

+ seph1r0th00 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:21 am said:

I can’t wait to play this at E3 this year! Dylan, hire me! I’ll move to Austin!


13

+ wowowowo1 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:21 am said:

Cant what till the uncharted 3 blog update


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:18 am said:

    I still haven’t gotten a chance to play UC3 and its killing me!!!

    You’ve heard that phrase, “we stand on the shoulders of giants” ??

    Well… Naughty Dog is a giant and their team inspires all of us here at LightBox Interactive!


14

+ bbonds_007 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:22 am said:

I want to know about weapon pick ups! That was a huge gameplay element that made warhawk shine! Im sick of all these shooters and their “custom” loadouts which eventually turns into everyone using the same 5 overpowered weapons after the first month.


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:12 am said:

    Starhawk still has weapon pick ups!!! We feel that pick ups are key to our gameplay to help draw players to different locations in the environment — they help seed movement and flow within the space.


15

+ wowowowo1 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:23 am said:

not to be stupid but what is E3?????????SOME ONE PLEASE ANSWER PLEASE.


16

+ Bigmouthkid on May 17th, 2011 at 9:24 am said:

I’m glad that were back to getting game updates again.:)


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:20 am said:

    I know! I tell you what, the team and I are really glad that we finally get a chance to talk about Starhawk. And it is good to see more game posts on the blog now.


17

+ kiratachibana on May 17th, 2011 at 9:24 am said:

Looks cool to me~


19

+ Pukadon on May 17th, 2011 at 9:26 am said:

This game looks fantastic – can’t wait to play it. The build and battle system looks really interesting.


20

+ LUGIEZ on May 17th, 2011 at 9:26 am said:

This game looks to be a great successor for Warhawk, can’t wait to hear more about it.


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:23 am said:

    We’re going to be posting more stuff here now that we have revealed Starhawk so keep your eyes peeled. We’re actually looking at doing another post this week or early next week with more info for everyone.


21

+ Guardian_Bob on May 17th, 2011 at 9:27 am said:

There will be a demo at E3 according to DJ’s tweets.

Follow on twitter, the devs are serious about connecting with the fans!

@dylanjobe

As for the game, looks like Firefly, Section 8 and Warhawk had big influences. Should be awesome.

Can’t wait for beta/demo/etc.


22

+ Smooth423 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:27 am said:

This game looks sick nasty. Keep the updates a coming. PlayStation Blog is back.

Add Smooth423 – chances are I got any game you do.


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:21 am said:

    “sick nasty”

    ;-)


23

+ lve_msg on May 17th, 2011 at 9:28 am said:

Warhawk ruled, took me two years to platinum it!! These trophies are going to be easier right? & is there going to be a ranking system for Starhawk like Recruit to General?


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:25 am said:

    Two years!! I thank you for your dedication!!!!

    Yes we still have trophies and some are tough to get for sure, but all in all, they are easier than the ones we had in Warhawk. Thankfully!!!

    Yes there is a ranking system and we’ll be talking more about in the coming days.


24

+ sammy5442 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:29 am said:

I will buy this game the day it comes out!


25

+ GTAPLATT on May 17th, 2011 at 9:29 am said:

your mom likes party chat


26

+ KidCommando on May 17th, 2011 at 9:29 am said:

@wowowowo1

E3 stands for Electronic Entertainment Expo.

Sony, Micro, and Nin will talk about business, show off new games, and make new announcements.

It is the Super Bowl for video game junkies.


27

+ SPOPS on May 17th, 2011 at 9:30 am said:

Can not freaking wait. Me and my brother have been talking about this game for probably 2 years now. It can not come out soon enough….


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:31 am said:

    Good! You and your brother play split-screen?


28

+ Kavewoman48 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:30 am said:

WHERE DID THE FAQ BLOG GO? WHY HAVE YOU TAKEN IT OFF THE BLOG HOME PAGE? WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS FROM PLAYERS ASKED IN THAT BLOG?


29

+ W_T_Y_D on May 17th, 2011 at 9:32 am said:

Yea! FInally!! been wating sooo long for starhawk!! loved warhawk alot and still play it! can’t wait for a multipalyer beta! :D


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:27 am said:

    Can’t talk about the BETA just yet but I assure you we are all excited to get people playing the game!


30

+ wowowowo1 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:34 am said:

@Kidcommando

thanks alot.

Do you have blackops???????????????????????????


31

+ KidCommando on May 17th, 2011 at 9:36 am said:

Warhawk is the BEST online multiplayer game I have played this gen.

I can only imagine what Starhawk will bring to the table. Transforming Hawks along with Build and Battle will add so much strategy to the gameplay and I can’t wait to see more about this game!!

Starhawk is going to be HUGE!


32

+ wowowowo1 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:38 am said:

this looks pretty cool


33

+ Butters360 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:38 am said:

Starhawk blew me away with its game footage. Loving the Hawks!


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:30 am said:

    Thanks! We spent a looooong time working on the new Hawk design and it’s just a crazy complex vehicle model and geometry that we could probably make a blog post just focusing on how we developed the Hawk!


34

+ Shark2Brasil_ on May 17th, 2011 at 9:39 am said:

I would be reporting that several people who die in Latin America are having problems making the change of password through the console and through the Computer Pages are giving problems and not being sent any email to persons who carried out the Registration Hotmail.com using the system from Microsoft.
I want a response from a representative of the Company on the solution of this problem believe that this is occurring because of new security policies of the Company. Oh also people complaining that the First Attempt Console is marking the error 80023156 and quickly as possible. Oh people waiting two days for the emails and the links work
The company forgot that Brazil is in the same region that connection referring to USA / CANADA


35

+ Tefrin on May 17th, 2011 at 9:40 am said:

Add Warhawk to the welcome back program then I would have more people to play with. Its a lot of fun but not many play it anymore.


36

+ Xinef on May 17th, 2011 at 9:42 am said:

@Kavewoman48

What are you talking about?? Scroll down a little on the homepage, its there. Relax, calm down. Sony has to deal with 77 Million+ users, they can’t possibly answer every question that fast.


37

+ Hellman on May 17th, 2011 at 9:43 am said:

The game looks awesome! I’m glad Sony/Dylan Jobe are trying something new and refreshing since most shooters are repetitive. I’ll be looking forward to hearing more about the game. From what I’ve heard the game should one of my favorite games since the game implements RTS features which is one of my favorite genres.


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:47 am said:

    I’m glad you like it!! I always want to make sure that our players know that Starhawk is still a shooter. The Build & Battle system just really makes the whole thing fresh and gives it a ton more depth — without being cumbersome or requiring management that is typical from RTS games.

    Build & Battle allows for awesome strategies and tactics for sure, but its very fast and easy!


38

+ mywhitenoise on May 17th, 2011 at 9:44 am said:

Can we get a Double XP week in Warhawk to celebrate?


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:49 am said:

    I wish we could!! Warhawk’s system for making those kinds of temporary changes, tweaks, etc was not all that great. But that has been completely re-engineered in Starhawk and it allows us a ton more flexibility so we can do all kinds of cool stuff for you guys!


39

+ SeanScythe on May 17th, 2011 at 9:45 am said:

Hope I can get the beta for this like I did for warhawk.


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:50 am said:

    I hope so too ;-)


40

+ Kavewoman48 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:46 am said:

Sony,
What are you doing about the email password reset problems? People are not receiving emails, the links aren’t working and the code box is defective. Resolving these issues should’ve come before the welcome back package announcement and these two new flashy blogs about upcoming games.


41

+ Verios44 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:46 am said:

WARHAWK=aswome

hope STARHAWK==MORE ASWOME


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:53 am said:

    Oh it does :-)

    We really tried to take all the great stuff from Warhawk and make it better. Plus there were, admittedly, some janky things in Warhawk that the team and I were not really happy with. Those got fixed.

    Plus our solo gameplay is just really fun and new.


42

+ KidCommando on May 17th, 2011 at 9:47 am said:

No sorry, don’t play CoD.

I just have a hard time supporting rehashes every year of the same thing.

CoD is good and bad for gaming. It brings a lot of new people into gaming, but it also makes a lot of other devs chase the formula of CoD.

anyway, Starhawk will be 1000 times more dynamic and tactical, taking skill and time to master.

Starhawk will be like Chess, while CoD is like connect four.


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 10:57 am said:

    I really loved CODBLOPS and while it and Starhawk *are* both shooters, they certainly are different flavors of the genre for sure.

    But both are fun, fast games and I think fans of the shooter genre that are looking to try something new should definitely check out Starhawk.


43

+ Arcadian_Rebel on May 17th, 2011 at 9:47 am said:

Looks like all the rumors about Starhawk were right! Can’t wait for this! Release date?


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 11:01 am said:

    Ahh what would the Internet be without rumors?!?

    Brace yourself, our answer for release date is somewhat vague: “In 2012″

    ;-)

    I know, I know. Not specific at all. But game development is a very organic process. Believe me I want the game out as soon as we can — But we have to be happy with it!! There’s no point in releasing it before we’re happy with it.

    You guys deserve a quality game that isn’t rushed.


44

+ ELiTE_UnBoUnD on May 17th, 2011 at 9:49 am said:

ok add me if u wana try out for my clan boom im 14th prestige im co-leader leader is 14th prestige to


45

+ FORMIK on May 17th, 2011 at 9:49 am said:

One of my favorite aspects of Warhawk has been the tank. I hope Starhawk continues this.

To those shocked the blog has moved onto games, keep in mind there’s supposed to be several PlayStation Store releases (probably this week) and I am sure additional outage info will be released along with them.


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 11:05 am said:

    Lots of our fans loved the tank gameplay in Warhawk. I can’t go into details right now our tank gameplay but YES, there is a “tank” and its crazy fun. The recent playtests here at LightBox Interactive have been using the “tank” a lot to refine it’s gameplay and we’re having a good time with it.


46

+ adolson on May 17th, 2011 at 9:50 am said:

I am glad there’s a single-player campaign.


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 11:06 am said:

    Me too!


47

+ Stryke-Buster on May 17th, 2011 at 9:55 am said:

cool beans definitely getting my hands on this one , but can’t wait when White Knight Chronicles 2 ships in August.


48

+ Shawntro on May 17th, 2011 at 9:56 am said:

sony its been pass a 48 hour period when am i going to get my email so i can change my password


49

+ K3ViNPwNz- on May 17th, 2011 at 9:58 am said:

i want some uncharted 3 news plz?


50

+ Kavewoman48 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:58 am said:

@ Xinef

Thanks for the information about the FAQ blog appearing further down, they have taken it off the list at the side of the top featured blog.

Second “that fast”? I, myself, have been trying to contact Sony since yesterday morning @ 10:37am pacific time trying to resolve this issue. Considering is been almost a full 24 hours without any response from Sony, I don’t believe I’m being unreasonable with my expectations. If you include the wait time to receive my password reset email 36 hours before that, you can clearly see why I am upset and agitated that I am unable to reset my password.

I am not some kiddie that has no patience and doesn’t comprehend how things work so please do not address me as such.

Sony took the time to answer 12 comments on the FAQ blog, most were to say “we’re glad to back”. There are now over 3,000 comments on that blog. 12 out of 3,000 you do the math.


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