Blacklight: Tango Down Q&A

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Jared Gerritzen

We love shooting people, here at Critical Gamer. Er, in games that is. So when the intriguing Blacklight: Tango Down appeared on our radar, we tracked down Zombie Studios’ Lead Game Designer Jared Gerritzen so we could hit him with our question shotgun.

Unfortunately one shot missed, taking out the lights; it was so dark, Gerritzen dropped the orange fizzy drink he was holding.

CG: The press release mentions, “brightly lit advertisements,” does that mean the game is ad supported? If so, how far outside traditional revenue streams is this game going to go?

Gerritzen: The “brightly lit advertisements” are part of the game’s world. You can’t walk down a street to a major intersection without seeing ads selling you something. We really wanted to make the world feel real with all the ad noise you see. After deciding to go that direction we decided to partner with companies to fill the ads with real brands. The true reasoning behind this is less about the money. It’s about the immersion into the game. Imagine the fly-over in Bladerunner if it didn’t have that real Coke sign floating over the city and it was something goofy an artist did. It wouldn’t have felt as real, the person would have stopped looking at the amazing view of the city and instead at a non-real cola brand on the sign, instantly pulling them out of the experience.

CG: What influenced the moody environments?

Gerritzen: The streets of Bladerunner were our launching point for Blacklight: Tango Down. We really wanted to explore the idea of a culture rich with history that just stopped caring about the way things looked. We have giant hundred year old monuments that have been retrofitted to become communication tower – because the people wanted to get their internet rather than remember their history. Now I’m not trying to make a social statement by this, it just looks really cool.

PhotobucketCG: Downloadable games on consoles are often associated with poor graphics, but the trailer implies retail – quality graphics in – game. Is that the case? If so, how have you managed this without skimping on gameplay elements?

Gerritzen: Thanks for noticing our higher standards. Yes, our game has quality graphics and at the same standard of other high-price games. I will definitely say Unreal 3 is the first part of the formula, and the team is the second. We set out to make “our game” and really put our heart and souls into it. I can’t think of one person on the team that hasn’t contributed an idea to Blacklight: Tango Down. I really think that is why WE take so much pride in the game and put that extra effort into it.

CG: What weapons, abilities, and game modes can we expect? How many maps will there be?

Gerritzen: Our customizable weapon system is very cool. I’ve always wanted to make a game with fully customizable weapons systems. It’s been a system I’ve tried to put into every game I’ve worked on and finally succeeded in Blacklight: Tango Down. It’ll be great to see the different weapon combinations the players concoct. Additionally, we have a system that provides perks and abilities beyond basic weapon functionality called “Weapon Tags”. They have abilities built into them and are unlocked in various ways. The Weapon Tags affect all kinds of systems, from weapon-specific perks to player perks. All the game modes you expect to find in your favourite multiplayer will be in Blacklight: Tango Down. We’ve added a few tweaks to some game types to freshen them up. We think the players will be impressed.

CG: Can we expect microtransactions for weapons or new characters, etc?

Gerritzen: As of now we have no plans for this.

CG: The FPS is an overcrowded genre, and competition between online modes of these games is fierce. What will make Blacklight: Tango Down stand out and succeed?

Gerritzen: The price point of $15.00 is a pretty huge part of us breaking in to the FPS world. That being said anyone can make a game worth 15 dollars – we’ve made a game worth much more and still sold at this low price.

The price point aside, Blacklight: Tango Down has plenty of new systems to be a fresh entrance in the FPS market. We have been very diligent not to remake an existing game. We looked at the FPS’s we play and love for inspiration. I think with that mentality, Blacklight: Tango Down feels natural to players but different enough to break fans off other games. The universe is also very new and different than your standard real world battlefield or space dungeon.

CG: Are there any singleplayer elements?

Gerritzen: We have something for the single player fans. I’m not at liberty to talk about this at this time.

PhotobucketCG: Have you been able to indulge in any risks or experimentation during development, as a result of this being a digital rather than a retail release?

Gerritzen: Risk? You mean putting out a game like this as DLC only?

That is our experimentation. The type of game and in the way we are making it is the big experimentation.

CG: What have other FPS games done right – and wrong – that you have taken note of during development?

Gerritzen: How do I answer this without committing professional suicide? I think lots of games are done right, and in the same breath I can say what they’re doing is wrong. Making video games is not an exact science. However, making a game everyone has seen over and over again is wrong. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see modern combat come out, and Halo Reach will be amazing as well.

CG: There’s been much talk of BTD being developed into a long running franchise. What will make this such a strong IP?

Gerritzen: FANS. Video game fans are hugely important to the IP. I don’t really like the guys that will sit on a forum board and talk crap about any game other than their game. Fans playing a game day and night all year long really make the game into a franchise. The devotion and want for more information about the world really pushes us to give them more. With Blacklight: Tango Down we have plenty to give the fans. In addition to the game, there is a comic and movie in production.

CG: Do you have any long – term plans in place for this first Blacklight game?

Gerritzen: Yes, we have big plans for Blacklight: Tango Down. This won’t be the last you hear of us.

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Written by Patrick G

One comment

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