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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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251

+ x-cult on May 18th, 2011 at 3:26 am said:

Isn’t it a bit premature to start plugging your next lineup of games without fulfilling your obligation to your customers?


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+ burningwind on May 18th, 2011 at 6:16 am said:

He tiptoed around saying a lot of recent shooters have gotten kind of stale but at least someone in the gaming industry has admitted that and is actually trying to do something different. And he is right. I have been craving something different in the shooter genre.


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 1:36 pm said:

    Yeah.

    I love shooters, but I *DO* feel that we should try to give players some freshness. The traditional shooter formula is pretty well covered and the team and I really wanted to try something new.


253

+ Xman420 on May 18th, 2011 at 9:51 am said:

Is the PSN down again? Did you get hacked again?


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+ David2Crazy on May 18th, 2011 at 2:01 pm said:

I love how passionate Dylan Jobe is about the characters and the story. Once again great job on the video PS Blog guys! Your team doesn’t get enough credit for the amount of work you put out.

And of course the game looks incredible.


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+ Jack_Ryman on May 19th, 2011 at 1:21 am said:

Starhawk is as good as mine. Hopefully there’s a more comprehensive system to the dogfighting this time around. I usually tended to stay away from aircrafts unless I needed them. Otherwise, fantastic job on upping the ante on an Online-only title…and a AAA one at that. You’ve more than outdone yourselves…..then again it’s Santa Monica Studios, so they CAN’T go wrong at all.


    James Gallagher's Avatar

     

    + Dylan Jobe on May 19th, 2011 at 1:40 pm said:

    Nice shout out to Santa Monica Studios — Much Deserved!!!

    We are very, very lucky to work with them. And it’s a great relationship because we don’t report to the standard external groups within SONY. We actually deal with the God of War team directly. They are so damn talented and we have learned a ton from them!


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+ theultimatenub on May 19th, 2011 at 7:02 am said:

This looks really cool ima have to add this to my list of games to get


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+ blkgnstatrida on May 19th, 2011 at 12:17 pm said:

This looks good!


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+ hustles420 on May 19th, 2011 at 7:47 pm said:

Its my birthday today and I would love to know one detail about starhawk. Has the backward lock on glitch in NF been eliminated or adressed. This causes a major inbalance in the air and is very annoying to those who play fair


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+ hustles420 on May 19th, 2011 at 9:05 pm said:

using ipad and couldnt put that question mark. my grammar bad. please let me know about this backward lock on glitch in NF. love warhawk and want starhawk to be top notch. backward lock on will prevent this


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+ thedarkperson on May 19th, 2011 at 11:10 pm said:

AMAZING GAME!!! Build and battle looks fantastic! How does that work though? Do you have to get killstreaks or points in order to build infrastructures or such? Oh and does anyone know how people were placing comments when PSN was down? Wouldn’t let me login therefore I couldn’t place any comments.


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+ Rix316 on May 20th, 2011 at 2:35 am said:

Really excited about this Dylan. We have a clan on Warhawk, (we’re not everyday players more like once or twice a week) but are dedicated to it and reckon it’s the best PS3 game ever.

Anyway, my first question is about clans and stats – we run a clan/community website (www.maddoggamers.org) and host competitions, events, score on it. I was wondering if future stats for Starhawk could be accessed so that we could have league tables, or custom competitions (or even just rank/points updates). Is this something you are looking into? Our community is not very big, but that feature alone would make Starhawk sooooo attractive!!

A feature request would be to be able to set up games (even if they are unranked) with filtered options for weapons. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of pick ups, it makes the game great (instead of spawning with limited weapons) and I don’t want that changed but it would be cool to have the option to have a “pistols-only” or “tanks-only” unranked matches so we could create custom competitions for clans and award them with “rifle champion” or whatever.


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+ Rix316 on May 20th, 2011 at 2:35 am said:

Oh and please don’t lose the split screen – it’s brilliant for quick local games when friends come over! I’ve converted so many people to Warhawk just by them coming over to hang out.


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+ mudkipcool234 on May 20th, 2011 at 4:26 am said:

This game looks awesome I’m gonna get it when it comes out I love Warhawk Thank you sony for bringing the psn back


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+ mgs1221 on May 20th, 2011 at 8:11 am said:

Most Wanted Games:

1. Uncharted 3
2. StarHawk
3. Twisted Metal
4. Street Fighter X Tekken
5. Modern Warfare 3
6. Resistance 3

NUFF SAID!


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+ mgs1221 on May 20th, 2011 at 8:12 am said:

BTW anyone else notice Emmit Graves looks a lot like Bishop from X-Men?

Scarf, and an IDENTICAL gun.


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+ Shadow-Man_4 on May 20th, 2011 at 8:27 am said:

I never played Warhawk, but this one looks pretty cool. I liked the idea of the Build & Battle system and I hope it works as intended. This looks like a must-buy! ;)

One question though. If I never played Warhawk, will I still be able to enjoy Starhawk to the max? Does it have anything to do with Warhawk’s plot or something?


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+ shagg_187 on May 20th, 2011 at 8:33 am said:

I really hope Hawks still have the co-pilot ability. LOVED it in split-screen with my brother being the gunner and me being the pliot.

Also, I hope you can finally get out of Hawks and open up a parachute… :P


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+ Rix316 on May 20th, 2011 at 8:51 am said:

@Shadow-Man_4: Nope you aren’t missing out. It has nothing to do with Warhawk in terms of continuity.


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+ TheSoldier09 on May 20th, 2011 at 9:27 am said:

Finnaly Warhawk sequel!!! Thanks for the great news your old game worthed all the time played!


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+ mule-tool on May 20th, 2011 at 11:00 am said:

Love me some Warhawk! After over 500 hours, I am halfway to General!

Is there going to be proflight and spinner modes? If so, make it so a missile will occasionally hit a spinner and so the spinners can’t shoot out their tailpipe! : )


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+ DarkEde on May 20th, 2011 at 12:14 pm said:

Been playing Warhawk for almost 3 years now although it was my cousin who got my first trophies. At that point I made him play on his account! Before the PSN went down I played pretty consistently. Although I was getting tired of all the targeting and alt accounts and kdr worship, I never tired of the game itself.

Initially I was shocked at Starhawk’s differences with Warhawk. Now after scouring the Net for info, I think Starhawk looks intriguing.

I have always seemed to “just get” Incognito games, and Singletrac’s before. I am so excited that I will get to play Eat Sleep Play’s Twisted Metal this year. And Lightbox’s (as well as Sony Santa Monica’s) Starhawk next year. It will be like Christmas for me on both dates.


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+ acYdbyne19 on May 20th, 2011 at 12:42 pm said:

Dylan I’m so glad to see you guys finally announce this. I feel like even though the build and battle was surprising that we did have clues such as your love of Starcraft and the warhawk home space. I can’t wait but I have one major concern.

I love using the sixaxis for flight and vehicle control and am sad to see it go. Can you guys please put it back in as an optional control scheme just like for Warhawk? I always felt so natural and immersive to use it for warhawk and want the same thing for starhawk.

Also, are mines and the binocs coming back? I loved them in the last game.

How do you guys at Lightbox feel about the guys at Eat, Sleep, and Play using the Warhawk engine for Twisted Metal?


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+ Pez55 on May 20th, 2011 at 1:22 pm said:

Hey Dylan, I loved Warhawk so much and I can’t wait till Starhawk comes out! I do have one question though, will the way you select a server you want to join be the same/similar to Warhawk’s or will it be random matchmaking based on what gametype you want like a lot of games are?


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+ mule-tool on May 20th, 2011 at 2:16 pm said:

Dylan, I like what you had to say about community. About 30 random guys from all across the country met playing Warhawk. We formed a clan, built a forum and communicate regularly via the interwebs (instead of working). We left the wives and kids at home and met up for a golfing vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC last Summer. Surprisingly, everyone was not as creepy as you would expect internet, video game friends would be ; ) It is cool how a video game can lead to new friends and experiences. We are all stoked about Starhawk! What we have seen so far looks fantastic. Congratulation to you and the team!


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+ mk3gsi on May 20th, 2011 at 2:26 pm said:

Please tell me we can choose our own in game music?? That was brilliant!!….P.S The 0.5% of Starhawk we seen looks absolutely amazing! Cant wait to get my hands on it!


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+ JOKER909 on May 20th, 2011 at 5:12 pm said:

Will there ever be a Warhawk 2? Waited three years to play a single player for Warhawk. Loved playing multiplayer online 2000 plus hours : )


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+ droog72 on May 20th, 2011 at 8:11 pm said:

Starcraft+Warhawk ~ Starhawk?
I’ve been psyched about Starhawk since I first heard the rumors. Since the reveal I’ve been even more psyched! Can’t wait!

I’d really like it if there were only one flight mode. I don’t think it’s really possible to balance them. How have you approached this topic in Starhawk? Will Starhawk hawks be able to lock on targets while they are simultaneously performing acrobatics defensively?

Build and Battle looks simply amazing. I really like the concept. Will the mp games start with any of the “buildables” already in place? Will some appear when you take a base, similar to the way Warhawks, etc. appear?
It’d be great if you wee able to jump into a hawk without having to earn a bunch of rift energy first.


278

+ platanasos on May 20th, 2011 at 8:34 pm said:

This game is a most! I havent stop playing warhawk yet,even though i`m ageneral already! I just loveit and this game is a most have for me! but they should give prices for warhawk when you preorder Starhawk!


279

+ mr_nitehawk on May 21st, 2011 at 5:00 am said:

I absolutely loved Warhawk it was my favorite MP game, however i don’t like RTS games at all. I hope B’N’B doesn’t ruin the warhawk formula as it was a perfect game.

Warhawk +’s
+ Intense fast-moving combat
+ Diverse movement/vehicle choice
+ Excellent game balance
+ Weapon choice
+ normal or Pro-flight
+ lobby system
+ Voice chat

Concerns with SH
- Giving people flexibility with the B’N’B system will be abused via “cheap” players, such as putting auto turrets near player spawns, smothering the enemies last home base.

Question: Will there be a game mode that omits B’N’B?


280

+ mr_nitehawk on May 21st, 2011 at 5:10 am said:

Some advice regarding DLC strategy to retain the community:
- To promote uptake of new content offer a discount of 25% if brought within the first two weeks of release. The discount price should not be more than ~$10AUD
- If there is multiple content packs out offer a discount of 30% if all content packs are purchased (To not put off late purchasers of the game)
- The total cost of “required DLC” not more than ~$30AUD
- Consider offering the DLC for free after 12months, if they haven’t purchased by that time there not going too (this should only be for accounts that have been active on starhawk for 12 months, not new users)
- If your strategy is to make more than $30 off each user offer “optional DLC”, skins, costumes, taunts, ability to choose own BG music, etc. Should not give an edge over others
- Some people are just cheap consider the choice of getting the DLC for “free” but supported by advertising on loading screens/menus
- Under no circumstance! have discount weeks for the DLC, people that have purchased the content full-price will hold off purchasing future expansions waiting for it to get cheaper

I look forward to this game, and the beta invite you’ll send me :P


281

+ cldfusion on May 21st, 2011 at 8:25 am said:

Please keep the server browser and favorite servers.
And more than 50 friends list this time ;) It’d be way cool if you could push it past 100, is that even possible? lol
Can’t wait to get my hands on this beast!


282

+ BlackIceJoe on May 21st, 2011 at 10:16 am said:

@ Dylan Jobe is there any chance you might make Warhawk for the NGP? I have always wanted to know why Eucadian & Chernovan have it out for each other. So it would be cool to be able to play a single player game with those teams. It would not even need the multi-player feature just the single player that was planed for the PS3 version of Warhawk but got scrapped. So it would be nice to see the Warhawk single player get a revival on the NGP. So I hope LightBox Interactive has plans to work on the NGP in the future.


283

+ SkyXhawk on May 21st, 2011 at 11:05 am said:

I hope Dylan has time to answer this.

The thing that attracted me to warhawk the most was the planes+aircombat. I experimented on both “Normal” and pro flight mode. I enjoyed normal the most, but it was too hard countering the other flight mode which led some of us to develop our own way to fight them. This is a way we express how we fly. Spin locking(flight style) is different from backwards locking<—(the real glitch). These two get grouped which is unfair to us normal fliers. This one of the best pilots (alexius92) http://youtu.be/0pCIHJDAzis as you can see he is spin lcoking. He's very good at it too! This is a proflier (kurby2008/kurby–) http://youtu.be/bzrjn-OWIyA There's also different ways to fly in these 2 flight modes. For example we got "powersliders" like jetrotor<– one of the best pilots (Normal flight) http://youtu.be/Y7m38pcNvZE also we got crazytrini(proflier) http://youtu.be/AIKqqSfOSfU Sorry if this is too much for you, but I thought it was neccesary. I also hope there's more than just 1 type of aircfraft for spacecombat. Good luck with starhawk it looks great! keep improving!


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+ SkyXhawk on May 21st, 2011 at 11:11 am said:

I’m also hoping there’s a properly made tutorial for both ground and air combat.


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+ HEMOTOXIC on May 21st, 2011 at 6:04 pm said:

Will there be a beta? How can I be a part of it? This game looks like it is going to be sweeeeeet!!!!!


286

+ Rude_5000 on May 21st, 2011 at 6:22 pm said:

Santa Monica Studios dose it again!! lost to ask but i dont want to take up your time so…

1.what happend to the apc and dropship will it be in the game also (it did change the game abit and made it a bit new )?
2.i saw that you are not going to make the starhawk / warhawk for psp BUT! NGP and a new gameing systeam and i would love to play it on the go.
3.i would love to play on the beta . (ill just leave it as that)


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+ Shadow1108 on May 22nd, 2011 at 12:39 am said:

Dylan, I have some questions and I am amazed that so many people that claimed to love the game had only 1 question. With the build and battle is it going to be on always or can the feature be turned off if you prefer a pre built terrain? Can every building really be destroyed? I would love to have a bunker of some sort that they could not obliterate from a distance. For those who were dedicated players to warhawk can we expect any kind of bonus? Even just something visual? With over 200 hours put in and the tournament blade it would be awesome to be rewarded for it. Beta access would be the best reward. I also noticed that I couldn’t find anything hidden in your post which seems unusual for you. Did I miss something or are you not doing that anymore? As someone who read pretty much everything you posted regarding warhawk I would have to say that your response of saying you cannot confirm a jetpack sounds a lot like confirmation. I seem to recall you claiming you could not confirm other things that turned out to be true. (comment was to long, had to break it up)


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+ Shadow1108 on May 22nd, 2011 at 12:39 am said:

Any new game modes? Are any of the game modes be dropped? I must say that CTF on warhawk is one of the best games ever. If this game is anywhere near as intense as CTF on warhawk I will be playing nonstop. With regards to the vehicles are they going to have predetermined spawn points like warhawk? Do you have to build something to make the vehicles spawn? Can placing buildings interfere with vehicle spawn points? When do we get to find out what vehicles will be in the game. Will we keep all of the vehicles from warhawk and the expansinons? I have been waiting for this game since the rumors started about the title starhawk being trademarked. Cant wait to buy it.


289

+ Rottweiler18 on May 22nd, 2011 at 5:36 am said:

Is this going to be 4 player split screen.


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+ MTshortstuff on May 22nd, 2011 at 1:36 pm said:

Dylan, will Starhawk have the option to play in-game music? I love the original WH soundtrack, but I also want the opportunity to jam out to my own tunes.


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+ Lord_Ka1n on May 22nd, 2011 at 2:05 pm said:

storeplz


292

+ wuq126 on May 22nd, 2011 at 4:46 pm said:

THIS GAME LOOKS BEAST HOW MUCH ?


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+ gameboy0895 on May 22nd, 2011 at 9:38 pm said:

I have one question: Did you maintain balance in Starhawk between the different weapons and machines? I would like to point out two issues in Warhawk that i hope will NOT be in Starhawk.

In Warhawk, according to many reviews the key to its success was balance. An RPG can take out a Warhawk but a Warhawk can use a range of weapons to take out ground targets. They said it was balanced but in reality, it wasn’t. The Warhawks were all too powerful. I’ll be honest here,.. being in one of them and vaporizing all the other players is fun and all.. but being on the other side… not so fun.

Second: I hated being robbed of a kill by my own teammate. Ranking up and earning points and badges were many Warhawk gamers’ drive. Either there is no assist point system or it’s broken. I feel desperate and frustrated especially in Dogfights when you have to stick to one target or you risk losing the point or eventually get vaporized.


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+ glposse on May 23rd, 2011 at 5:43 am said:

i really love/loved WARHAWK ,played it from the beginning!!!! ranked at place 283 (glposse) and my time is over 1531:04:33 hours!!!! So Dylan thx for WARHAWK now its time for STARHAWK. we will buy it right away and have more fun with my friends from HOLLAND.


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+ Shadow1108 on May 23rd, 2011 at 6:16 am said:

Dylan, another question for you that I forgot to post earlier. Can you give us any details on the way the build and battle works? Can you drop unlimited buildings? Is there a cool down period or recharge time in between buildings? Is there a max number of buildings that one player can have out? For example how in warhawk if you already have four mines out and throw another the first one will disappear. Will you be limited in the number of each kind of building you can make? Can you build structures outside of your home base area? I can imagine a lot of people will be upset is several people run in there base and build some turrets. However being the one building turrets in the opposing base would be fun. Can you build any building you want from the beginning or is there an order to it like how some games have a form of tech tree?


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+ JTTWIGG on May 23rd, 2011 at 3:35 pm said:

I have been waiting for too long! But, it does sound like the wait was well worth it. Thank you LightBox and Sony! I’m pumped


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+ dbriggs on May 25th, 2011 at 11:42 am said:

I’ve been waiting for Starhawk to be announced for a longgg time, and it looks outstanding! Build and Battle looks so brilliantly executed, the Hawks ability to transform is absolutely brilliant, and it still retains the Warhawk epicness, also one thing I was wanting to ask, is are the maps going to have the mirrored structure? One side identical to the other? It does obviously keep it fair, but it would be great for diversity, but, in all realisticness I’m sure you guys will make the right decision anyways, and the Acid Waters theme map looks brilliant, campaign sounds great, and if I heard correctly, I cant wait for Co-op! :D


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+ Dizzane on June 1st, 2011 at 11:28 pm said:

Will there be Character customizations like in Warhawk?

And where there be Tournaments for in game trophies like the GGL blade?


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+ Dizzane on June 1st, 2011 at 11:47 pm said:

Oh and another thing how is the ranking system if your allowed to say cause Warhawk took me Two years to rank, tell me that’s not overboard.

An like I said in one of my other comments I hope there are Tournaments cause Y’all held a tournament 3 times while I was deployed over seas and I missed all three sad to say, So I hope I can participate in another one


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+ Sarchabid on June 7th, 2011 at 4:10 pm said:

The only reason I bought a PS3 was for warhawk. I love that game to no end, and that’s probably the only game I was going to play till Starhawk was announced. I do hope that people who have Warhawk get something special for going on to Starhawk!

It’d be pretty awesome if more tournaments were held for Warhawk too :D


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