Interviews// Starhawk: Havard Bovin, Senior Producer

Posted 13 May 2011 17:14 by
SPOnG: There?s a fair bit of real time strategy and tower defence in this game as well, with the Build and Battle mechanic. It reminds me of games that have tried to cross that gap between strategy and third-person action, like Brutal Legend, that have not found so much success. Did you look to those games and see what they did right, what to avoid?

Havard Bovin: Sort of. I mean we pool our influences from so many places. The Build and Battle component is one aspect where we?ve looked at other products and tried to learn how to implement it properly. We find that anybody that?s done this type of thing before tends to over-design it to the point where it becomes unusable in a third person shooter.

So that was the first thing we had to get straight. This is a shooter, first and foremost. We?re just treating our buildings like guns. The radial menus we use, that?s something that?s become prominent in the last few years - we looked at Ratchet and Clank for that sort of thing. We looked at other games for the control mechanics.

I?m not particularly nervous about the games that you mentioned, simply because those were really strategy games, to me. And we?re not really that. We are a third person shooter that gives you many more options than you?re probably used to.

SPOnG: And what are you guys doing to supplement the community? You?re working on an Android app, right?

Havard Bovin: We do have an Android app in the works, because our community is expected to be so involved with the game. Of course, we have the official website that will have full stats and telemetry and everything like that, but we wanted to make sure that stuff was also available for people on the go.

We?re really trying to give the community the tools to connect with the game easier. If the enthusiasm we had with Warhawk is any indication, with the limited tools the community had, then this time around I think they?ll be so excited and happy with what we have.

It?s so important to be able to have stuff like this, to make sure there?s a place for the community to have tools to communicate. The more we can do to support that then the better off we are.

SPOnG: How do you see this progressing? You mention future games with Lightbox - those wouldn?t happen to have the word ?hawk? at the end of their names too would they?

Havard Bovin: (Laughs) We?ve got every possible name you can imagine! I don?t know. I mean, it really depends on the property for us. A lot of publishers tend to lump their developers and their properties for their franchises in together like they?re one thing, when they?re really not.

It?s important for us to recognise the enjoyment we have working with them and the hard work they do. As we work with them, I would like to continue working with them. Everybody at my company loves working with them. We?ve invested a lot, I think we?ll continue to see it grow as long as? I guess we?ll find out after today (laughs).

SPOnG: Would you consider expanding the Starhawk universe into something like comics and other media? It seems like you have a hell of a lot of backstory in there waiting to be discovered.

Havard Bovin: Maybe. There seems to be a good market for that sort of thing. We did a lot of studies internally on what it means to create a compelling universe. You look at Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, and one of the key elements of those is this hidden promise that there?s a lot more out there that you haven?t seen. There?s always a sense that there?s so much in Lord of the Rings that you wonder about there being all these adventures that could have taken place in this universe.

That?s the kind of approach we want to be taking with this. We?ve got all the ingredients here right now, and I think it?s really about us communicating it to players now and making sure they understand it. Maybe it?s not just about this story, or this character. Maybe there are other stories to be told centering around Rift energy. We have a lot of ideas but we?re not giving any of that away.

SPOnG: Finally, the design of the universe and the game?s premise makes me think of a space-age Wild West or something. Did you pull influences from any Western films at all?

Havard Bovin: Space Western, eh? Well, we don?t really call it that, because there are so many influences in there. But we did look at old Western films, yeah. On the other hand, I compare the other Rifters a lot to the guys in Armageddon - it?s much more like a story about a gold rush, but I wouldn?t necessarily call them all cowboys. You don?t see any hats (laughs).

We do have a character in a town that we haven?t shown yet, that thinks he?s one of those old Western characters. He reminds me of Marty McFly in the third Back to the Future film, where he gets that Clint Eastwood outfit and thinks he?s a real cowboy when he just looks silly. Not everything?s pulled from Westerns though - some of those family ties and conventions that we see in traditional films, we don?t see that in here. Everybody else is pretty much influences of our own design. I wouldn?t call Emmett a cowboy at all.

SPOnG: Thank you for your time.

Havard Bovin: Thank you!

Starhawk is headed for a 2012 release on the PlayStation3.
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