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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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201

+ X5skeleton5X on May 17th, 2011 at 6:48 pm said:

its a little off topic but i love how as soon as the network was up people rushed on…..i went on not knowing it was on and it said that over a million people were already on black ops …….adiction is all i have to say though i was happy myself thanx sony


202

+ X5skeleton5X on May 17th, 2011 at 6:52 pm said:

Help NEEDED: how do u change the pic such as the smile face i have i want 2 change it thanx


203

+ Nawf_Side_HTX on May 17th, 2011 at 6:53 pm said:

LOOK!!!!! u people are ungreatfull, ok yeah the PSN store is not up,AND!!!!!! We got online back,[DELETED]!!! Stop whinning like Some [DELETED]!! [DELETED] it takes time,they got hacked remember? Anyway u can tell me to [DELETED] all u want, LOL really [DELETED] u go do about it? Not a damn Thing….. So reply if u want, u gonna b looking stupid and looking like a [DELETED] for crying brcause the psn store not on….


204

+ Bubaroo on May 17th, 2011 at 6:53 pm said:

Okay, so online gaming is back? Unless of course you just bought the game and have a redeem code you can’t use because the store still isn’t up. But thanks Sony for making sure you can still put up ads for other games. I’d ask for an eta on the store, but I can answer that right now. “We are unsure when the store will be back at this time. Thanks for you Support. And in the mean time, we’ll offer you abunch of stuff you can’t get until we decide to turn the store back on. We appreciate our fans.”


205

+ holyarmymember on May 17th, 2011 at 7:01 pm said:

looks awesome still a big fan of Warhawk when dose this come out? next year?


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 1:11 pm said:

    Starhawk drops in 2012. That’s as specific as I’m allowed to get at the moment ;-)


206

+ adevilsreject on May 17th, 2011 at 7:03 pm said:

Amen to kavewomen84 this is bull crap


207

+ XMaRksDa1Sp0t on May 17th, 2011 at 7:05 pm said:

#205 lolz gud to be back


208

+ XMaRksDa1Sp0t on May 17th, 2011 at 7:10 pm said:

Just change ur psn avatar on ps3 nd it will change go to account management @

X5skeleton5X


209

+ BLAZ3DAFUNK on May 17th, 2011 at 7:14 pm said:

this looks pretty cool nice twist with the title sounds more epic..hope it supports the sharpshooter, i want to fly with it that would be sweet!!


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 1:13 pm said:

    Starhawk does not support the PS Move, sorry man.


210

+ JK214JM on May 17th, 2011 at 7:16 pm said:

nice game


211

+ Pulseman on May 17th, 2011 at 7:20 pm said:

Lightbox interactive,

It really amazes me that there are millions of colors available and yet, the most dominant colors seem to be the brown and gray color variations in countless games this generation. Please try to add variety to the scenery and try to stay away from the overused and tired brownish/grayish colors as much as possible. I guess keep the same style and vibrant color palette from Warhawk then?! :) Some futuristic jungles/waterfalls would be much appreciated as always!

Other than that, the game seems to be an evolution in the gameplay department from what I could see from the video, so that’s a big plus in my book. But at the same time, I don’t like playing in environments that seem bland, monotonous and tiresome like the scenery I saw in the video.

I hope you are listening! :)


212

+ Hazelhurst on May 17th, 2011 at 7:31 pm said:

Looks great. I love the Transformer like transformation of the mech-to-aircraft on the fly.


213

+ megaFdeth on May 17th, 2011 at 7:34 pm said:

I’ve never played Warhawk but I hear is really good… and this looks pretty cool as well. I just hope there’s more to this game than the “build & battle” system; it seems kinda gimmicky.

BTW, That voice acting SUCKS!!!


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 1:23 pm said:

    We’ve made Build & Battle an integral part of gameplay — both in solo and online. It really makes the game feel like a new experience while still being a shooter at its core.

    But you shouldn’t take my word for it. Follow updates on the game and if you get a chance to play Starhawk, give it a shot. I think you’ll like it.


214

+ fuzzyclutter on May 17th, 2011 at 7:42 pm said:

@+ Bubaroo , you do realize that they could have left online play OFF untill the store was up right ? i mean after all , they dont make a dime from online play whilst their means of income (the store ) remains down . it’s not like the fact that the store being down is news either , since they announced it long before online play was even turned back on . ADS for games ??? this is a blog about games … who forces you here ? Stores not up yet , a situation that is just as (if not more ) inconvienient for them just as well as us considering it’s a funamentall part of their income stream . their working on a part of psn that ensures secure transactions , stop acting like an ENTITLED brat and DEAL WITH IT .


215

+ Andeeezzy602 on May 17th, 2011 at 7:50 pm said:

:)


216

+ timmy19888 on May 17th, 2011 at 8:26 pm said:

warhawk sucked. i want some new skateboarding games since there wont be any more guitar heros. those are the only types of games i mostly like. or a overlord 3. that game was awsome.


217

+ KingKakarot7 on May 17th, 2011 at 8:30 pm said:

cant wait this game looks epic


218

+ NDubbaYa on May 17th, 2011 at 8:33 pm said:

Warhawk is still pretty awesome and fresh in comparison to the other boring shooters of today *cough*MW2*cough*

Here’s hoping Starhawk can live up to what made Warhawk great.


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 1:18 pm said:

    Our Warhawk fans have high expectations and I really hope we can make them happy while at the same time, getting some new players to enjoy Starhawk.


219

+ daxter1100 on May 17th, 2011 at 8:35 pm said:

when is the playstation store going to be back up Sony just wondering if we can get a date on when its goin to be up and going


220

+ Wardork on May 17th, 2011 at 8:35 pm said:

Amazing!… i loved Warhawk and i can’t wait to play this one.


221

+ shadow_rose88 on May 17th, 2011 at 8:50 pm said:

this game looks cool and all but if its not coming out in the near near future like inFamous 2 then why not give us an update on the store? I think many of us would really appreciate a store update if that is not too much trouble? i know you all are working hard on getting it up and running again, but it would really settle a lot of people down if there was a store update on what is going on, and not having out attention diverted.


222

+ jonny2010 on May 17th, 2011 at 8:52 pm said:

@169
LMFAO!!!


223

+ Thane_of_Fife on May 17th, 2011 at 8:53 pm said:

@ Bubaroo Buddy this is supposed to be a blog about games first not about ur PSN problems, ADDS? Again this is supposed to be a place for games, have you ever come here before the PSN outage? I hate the guys whom don’t know this is a blog about games start talking crap when they have no clue this is a BLOG FOR GAMES!, Developers put up blogs on their own games, you guys need to know that. I’m a guy who comes here for games which are not adds, not more terrible news on PSN outage, the gud news is what i want.


224

+ jonny2010 on May 17th, 2011 at 8:55 pm said:

@ 173
U KILL ME HAHAHA


225

+ Telepopmusik- on May 17th, 2011 at 9:02 pm said:

Looks like i’ll be buying this one.
I’m guessing it won’t come out for PSP?


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 1:25 pm said:

    Starhawk is a PS3 game and we currently have no plans of developing a PSP version.


226

+ gghytgfdt on May 17th, 2011 at 9:05 pm said:

xbox 360 is better


227

+ shadow_rose88 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:11 pm said:

actually ps3 is better than the xbox or the 360 graphically and since xbox is a microsoft product you’ll eventually get the microsoft virus and your system will crash as well the 360 has a bad habit of over heating and dieing faster then the ps3 sooooo….yeah


228

+ Bilsebob on May 17th, 2011 at 9:12 pm said:

Please MR. Dylan Jobe, accept me in the Starhawk BETA. Please, Please, Please!!!!!


229

+ carlosjr21 on May 17th, 2011 at 9:33 pm said:

Simple question, update on PS store, when is it going to be up? I’m looking for a simple answer, no more BS!!!!!!


230

+ Decptuhkon on May 17th, 2011 at 9:47 pm said:

check out 4:29 for the video i think its a shotgun


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 1:25 pm said:

    Good eye! Yes, it is a shotgun.


231

+ Daplayer2k7 on May 17th, 2011 at 10:24 pm said:

I wasn’t a Huge fan of Warhawk, it didn’t apply to my tastes but I liked a lot of the elements it had which I have never seen in other 3rd and 1st Person shooters.
Good that they are not killing off long termed series like Warhawk and creating a new IP from it as well. Like to see what Starhawk will becomes once released.


232

+ saiyanknight87 on May 17th, 2011 at 10:31 pm said:

I just know you mofo’s better be working on x game chat for e3 or it’s failure you all had the chance to add skype to the ps3 but MS owns them now smh. get it right sony damn listen to your consumers


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 1:27 pm said:

    In Starhawk we support members of a clan to talking to each other across different Starhawk servers.


233

+ KGH on May 17th, 2011 at 10:34 pm said:

Its about time someone made a black lead character!


234

+ Kevin_Zombie85 on May 17th, 2011 at 10:37 pm said:

Please make a Red Dead Redemption 2!!


235

+ zvolcanoz on May 17th, 2011 at 10:58 pm said:

it looks kinda lame


236

+ xAToMiC–GaMeRx on May 17th, 2011 at 11:41 pm said:

Warhawk was my best game in 2008 — 2009 And StarHawk Looks More great and awesome It Will be my best game. I hope they make awesome story !! And thanks Sony and Stawhawk developers team :)


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 1:28 pm said:

    You are very welcome!


237

+ djspinshouse4u on May 17th, 2011 at 11:45 pm said:

All I’m tryin’ to do is make an MPEG!!!


238

+ djspinshouse4u on May 17th, 2011 at 11:48 pm said:

And, this game looks pretty cool too!!!


239

+ xAToMiC–GaMeRx on May 17th, 2011 at 11:59 pm said:

The Video is super awesome !! Thanks Sony


240

+ AUG209 on May 18th, 2011 at 12:03 am said:

ITS A WEIRD GAME, BUT I JUST WANT TO KNOW IF ITS GOING TO HAVE ALOT OF TROPHYS….


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 1:29 pm said:

    Starhawk supports Trophies.


241

+ kostman20 on May 18th, 2011 at 12:49 am said:

at the end when he said players will expect that all i could think of is battlefield bc2 i find any other fps boring after playing that game bf3 will be a beast


242

+ punguy on May 18th, 2011 at 1:13 am said:

day one purchase.i love warhawk


243

+ GY_NASTY on May 18th, 2011 at 1:14 am said:

PLAYSTATION STORE PLAYSTATION STORE PLAYSTATION STORE PLAYSTATION STORE HELLOOOOO!!!!!


244

+ games9games10 on May 18th, 2011 at 1:15 am said:

i am definitly going to buy the moment it comes out


245

+ GY_NASTY on May 18th, 2011 at 1:17 am said:

This is startin to suck. PS STORE Plzzzzzzzzzzz HELLOOOOOO Iam I Talking too myself here


246

+ coolwsup on May 18th, 2011 at 1:45 am said:

Can’t wait loved warhawk. The photos are spectacular.


247

+ djspinshouse4u on May 18th, 2011 at 1:48 am said:

Hello!!!

Is the new system set up for CASE SENSITIVE PassWord capability???


248

+ BJtheLegend on May 18th, 2011 at 1:58 am said:

looks awesome! definitely might pick up!


249

+ OMC-TRIPLE-X on May 18th, 2011 at 2:50 am said:

Warhawk was one of the worst launched most poorly managed games in the ps3′s history. 3 months to fix the tank glitch? nazi players policing and deleting stats of ‘boosters’ instead of them correcting the issue…? Weeks before stats would track properly for everyone… There isnt the advantage of a recently launched console with few competitive titles this go around. I suggest they pump out a REALLY good beta or demo and dont [DELETED] this launch up… players wont forgive 3 month critical gameplay issues this go around.


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 1:33 pm said:

    There were some big issues with the stats system initially in Warhawk and it did take way too long to fix.

    Starhawk’s network system has been completely overhauled since Warhawk and it allows us to respond much more quickly to issues and fixes. Starhawk has a hot-fix system that allows us to resolve many issues very quickly unlike Warhawk which did not.

    And you’re right, players expect much faster and better responses now — as they should!


250

+ TrApBoY_AnTMaN on May 18th, 2011 at 3:18 am said:

I agree with GY_NASTY we need the ps store.


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