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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

101

+ ace5434 on May 17th, 2011 at 12:13 pm said:

wait wait another game like warhawk? F yeah!


102

+ melvindew123 on May 17th, 2011 at 12:13 pm said:

I hope it really is good


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 12:34 pm said:

    Me too!!

    Ha, Ha — Starhawk is really fun so hopefully you’ll get a chance to play it before we release it and you can judge for yourself!


103

+ Jr-Jeff on May 17th, 2011 at 12:15 pm said:

is this a first person shooter? and please state a game name it is similar most to, from the pics it looks like it is identical to halo in multiplayer setup.


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 12:35 pm said:

    Its a third-person shooter and really, there aren’t many games that are like Starhawk.


104

+ re5freak777 on May 17th, 2011 at 12:18 pm said:

@Kavewoman48. I recieved my password reset e-mail, did it, the network’s is working fine for me.


105

+ EAGELEEYE123456 on May 17th, 2011 at 12:24 pm said:

the psn stores need to get back up


106

+ Buchi1324 on May 17th, 2011 at 12:24 pm said:

You know all this sounds great and fun and dandy but why oh why does every tps game feel that this crappy OTS view is the way to go its so bad i blocks everything it looks horrible its not evoloution its just different OTS should have came first TPS is by farrrrrrrr better then OTS….just horrible man hate it so much so many great games just become crap because of it…


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 12:39 pm said:

    Not sure if this will help you feel better, but in Starhawk, you don’t have to use OTS to shoot. We include it much like how you would zoom in with a Sniper rifle to be more accurate.

    In Starhawk, you still have a reticle as you run around. It’s not as accurate as being in OTS but there is a gameplay trade-off. When you are running and gunning, you are faster but a bit less accurate. When you are OTS, you are more accurate but slower.

    Using OTS in Starhawk really comes down to player preference and the style of play they prefer.


107

+ DiZB3LiLKilla on May 17th, 2011 at 12:36 pm said:

-.- wonder wen black ops new maps come out!!


108

+ Subtenko on May 17th, 2011 at 12:37 pm said:

Warhawwwwk, Starhawwwkkk!!! 4everHawwwwkkk!! LOL Lightbox, you guys are awesome!


109

+ texasgreazer on May 17th, 2011 at 12:40 pm said:

Sony Password resets:
So easy a Kavewoman can………………………..
wait, nevermind!!


110

+ eyesofreality03 on May 17th, 2011 at 12:40 pm said:

this is gonna be an amazing game, cannot wait for the eventual BETA :)


111

+ hamilton02 on May 17th, 2011 at 12:41 pm said:

i have seen starhawk but never paid attention to it


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 12:39 pm said:

    hopefully we can show you enough of the game to get you interested!


112

+ hamilton02 on May 17th, 2011 at 12:43 pm said:

K3ViNPwNz- is right talk more about UNCHARTED3


113

+ PhillyPhreak on May 17th, 2011 at 12:47 pm said:

Dylan is the man! Warhawk is still my favorite online multiplayer game of this generation and Starhawk looks like it will change that. Day one purchase for me.


114

+ SAntos225 on May 17th, 2011 at 12:55 pm said:

All i want is to redeem my kombat pass so i can play mortal kombat online.


115

+ Ryan5147 on May 17th, 2011 at 12:55 pm said:

@ Kavewoman48
Sure did sorry about that.


116

+ XMaRksDa1Sp0t on May 17th, 2011 at 12:56 pm said:

Its about time psn starts talking about games I think i couldn’t handle another week of psn being down. THANKS FOR EVERYTHING PATRICK AND THE REST YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!!!


117

+ TJCALi on May 17th, 2011 at 1:00 pm said:

STARHAWK LOOKS ASWOME


118

+ OCDog45 on May 17th, 2011 at 1:01 pm said:

This game looks like crack.


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 12:41 pm said:

    but a good kind of healthy crack, right?

    ;-)


119

+ XMaRksDa1Sp0t on May 17th, 2011 at 1:02 pm said:

At + TJCALit , Sure does lol


120

+ ItaChu on May 17th, 2011 at 1:04 pm said:

How much is it?!


121

+ Linkin_Park_xX on May 17th, 2011 at 1:09 pm said:

Awesome! To bad I can’t go to E3, but I love WarHawk, this looks like a lot of fun.


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 12:42 pm said:

    SONY has plans for other events where players will get some hands-on time so maybe you’ll still get a chance!


122

+ g-estrada13 on May 17th, 2011 at 1:09 pm said:

on the top i thought it was gonna say a piece of [DELETED] LOL


123

+ King_Shahid on May 17th, 2011 at 1:11 pm said:

Good game when mw3 out??


124

+ lablueeyez04 on May 17th, 2011 at 1:12 pm said:

Am I the only one who cant sign in to psn its givin me an error code :( plz help


125

+ GHOST_OF_W_A_R on May 17th, 2011 at 1:12 pm said:

nice game


126

+ krazyG7804 on May 17th, 2011 at 1:17 pm said:

the truth will probably be BATTLEFIELD 3. if u havnt seen the 10 min gameplay video, do so


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 12:44 pm said:

    Battlefield 3 does look fantastic. The DICE team always does amazing work!


127

+ Hradekal on May 17th, 2011 at 1:19 pm said:

I can’t wait for this game!


128

+ TKE_Killa_Haze on May 17th, 2011 at 1:30 pm said:

poop.


129

+ orangeguy17 on May 17th, 2011 at 1:34 pm said:

is this game awesome?


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 12:44 pm said:

    Yes!!


130

+ allentrill on May 17th, 2011 at 1:38 pm said:

TYVVVVVM I have been waiting for a game that incorporates rts(building etc) and FPS and is playable solo(campaign). I hate competitive so this makes me happy. Gonna get this game for sure.


131

+ Thrasher20 on May 17th, 2011 at 1:42 pm said:

I absolutely LOVE it. Grabbing this one for sure. Loved WarhawK


132

+ Kavewoman48 on May 17th, 2011 at 1:49 pm said:

@104 re5freak777

I’m glad you didn’t have any trouble with resetting yours thru email, not all of us were so lucky:)

@115 Ryan5147

Thanks:)

@123 lablueeyez04

Over on the PSN FAQ blog (May 16th) there’s a few hints and a couple answers about resetting your password. Good luck!


133

+ DeathGazer on May 17th, 2011 at 1:51 pm said:

StarHAWT

This game look so sick…


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 12:45 pm said:

    That’s pretty clever — never heard that one.


134

+ Zoryu_of_Setsuna on May 17th, 2011 at 1:52 pm said:

@7 Seriously? I had no Issues re-doing my password reset, I don’t see how you are having a hard time doing something so simple…


135

+ lablueeyez04 on May 17th, 2011 at 1:53 pm said:

I did all that…… I was playin a game in the middle of the game it kicked me off


136

+ Chase167 on May 17th, 2011 at 1:54 pm said:

are the any female characters playable in MP


137

+ WarHawk_ on May 17th, 2011 at 1:54 pm said:

Starhawk is going to be an awesome game… I hope I they do a beta (and I get in the beta)
My most anticipated game is Uncharted 3… But Starhawk is a close 2nd place
Both of these games are going to be wicked fun


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 12:48 pm said:

    There will be a BETA but we just can’t talk any specifics right now — stay tuned to the blog for more info!


138

+ TenchiFan88 on May 17th, 2011 at 1:57 pm said:

when is psn store comeing back to the U.S


139

+ Zoryu_of_Setsuna on May 17th, 2011 at 2:01 pm said:

131

+ Kavewoman48

What you should try to do is spam the reset password, It didn’t take too long for it to actually work, all you need is a bit of patience and right before you know it, you will be able to reset the password and every thing will be like new.


140

+ FireDragonGod on May 17th, 2011 at 2:09 pm said:

Warhawk Is Still My Fav Multiplayer Game, & I Just Want U Guys To No That Starhawk Exceeded All Of My Exspectations

Thanx Guys *Salutes*

I Just Hope There’s More Ways 2 Customize A Character’s Outfit/Color & MayB Even Adding Female Characters


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 12:50 pm said:

    Glad to hear it!

    And YES, there are more customization options in Starhawk but we are going to hold off on talking about the specifics for awhile. The SONY marketing team likes us to hold some of that stuff back so we can talk about it in the coming months.


141

+ Chase167 on May 17th, 2011 at 2:10 pm said:

will there be separate logins for split screen and trophies


142

+ BEASTXJASON on May 17th, 2011 at 2:10 pm said:

So this looks like a psn only right? Doesnt have that full blown retail look etc


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 12:51 pm said:

    Starhawk is a “full-retail” game on Blu-ray.


143

+ Kavewoman48 on May 17th, 2011 at 2:13 pm said:

@ Zoryu_of_Setsuna

I reset the passwords on 3 accounts without any trouble at all. This 4th account needed an email with a link sent. It’s an account that isn’t used often so it didn’t have any recent updates downloaded on it and Sony would not allow me to reset the password via PS3. I received said email, copy pasted the link and I got this message ““There is a problem resetting your password. Please click the link again or copy and paste the link into an Internet browser.” I copy pasted the link again and I got the same message quite a few times. The problem, sir, is not with my abilities to follow instructions. The problem is that I had to request another email that I’ve waited well over 24 hours for and the fact that I’ve received no response from Sony.


144

+ Headshots4life on May 17th, 2011 at 2:13 pm said:

My excitement levels are through the roof, I absolutely LOVE Warhawk. I am so looking forward to this game, like Warhawk it will be a day one purchase for sure. :)


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    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 12:53 pm said:

    I’m glad to hear you need to get your roof replaced now :-P


145

+ lablueeyez04 on May 17th, 2011 at 2:19 pm said:

@ kavewoman…… Are u able to get on psn right now?


146

+ Kavewoman48 on May 17th, 2011 at 2:20 pm said:

@ lablueeyez04

I’ve read about that happening to a few people but they were able to log back on and continue to play. I haven’t read anything officially from Sony addressing that problem though. Sorry:(


147

+ Kavewoman48 on May 17th, 2011 at 2:22 pm said:

@ lablueeyez04
I’m not able to log into PSN with the account I’m trying to reset the password on. I’m having no trouble with my other accounts.


148

+ lablueeyez04 on May 17th, 2011 at 2:23 pm said:

@kavewomen…… Its ok its just very irratating one min everythins fine next its like psn is off again


149

+ lablueeyez04 on May 17th, 2011 at 2:26 pm said:

@kavewoman…… Thank you so much for ur help :) goodluck wit the password reset


150

+ a7x_RoCk3r on May 17th, 2011 at 2:26 pm said:

Now all we need is treyarch to fix black ops and actually make it worth playing..until then, i’m on bad company 2.


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