Harvard Bonin, Senior Producer
1) Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
Sure thing. My name is Harvard Bonin and I'm the Senior Producer for Starhawk here at Sony Computer Entertainment's Santa Monica. I help manage most all facets of the title - but my biggest responsibility is to make sure the game gets done to our high quality standards.
2) How long has Starhawk been in development?
We started on Starhawk around the time when we were creating the Booster Packs for Warhawk. I guess that would make it mid 2008. We experimented for about a year and only really got started on straight production about nine months ago.
3) Why did you decide to go for the 3rd person perspective?
We have always liked the tactile feel of seeing and playing our characters on screen. In the FPS view it can be difficult to fully show where parts of the character's body are. We also wanted our main character (Emmett Graves) to be recognizable. To deliver on that you really need to see him all the time. Personally, there are not many FPS characters I can recall, outside of Duke.
4) Can you tell us about the ability of changing the battlefield mid-combat?
The gameplay hook you're talking about is called "Build & Battle." You can basically call down structures and equipment from an orbital drop ship anytime you want...so long as you have the energy. These structures come crashing down to the ground and build up right in front of your eyes. Each one has a particular use. It really introduces new tactics and new experiences into the shooter genre.
5) How else does Starhawk stand out among other shooters?
Certainly our Build & Battle system is a huge part. However, at its core the run and gun arcade style gameplay is unique among shooters. It's fast, fast, fast and you'll have plenty of guns and vehicles in your arsenal.
6) What type of vehicles will players be seeing in the game?
So far we've introduced the Jet Bike, Jet Pack, and the Hawk. We've got more up our sleeve that we'll show in the coming months.
7) What new weapons are being created for the game and which is your favorite so far?
We are definitely giving players a ton of toys...guns or otherwise. I think my favorite gun so far is the Grinder. It's a sort of flame thrower but that's all I can tell you at this point.
8) I hear that you have plans of 32 player online battles.
That is true. They are big and they are epic! You can also go smaller with 16 player battles. We're careful to make sure the maps aren't too claustrophobic...but also not so big that you can't find enemies to shoot.
9) Could you tell us a little about your plans for online and offline Co-op modes?
We do have a co-op mode that is not unlike the Horde mode you'll find in Gears. In ours you can play it by yourself or invite up to three other friends. It's pretty chaotic and a lot of fun.
10) What has been one of the biggest challenges so far in development?
I think our biggest challenge has been wrapping our head around Build & Battle and then incorporating that into the solo campaign and multiplayer. It really changes the system. The missions are not just "go down tunnel, shoot here, do x." They are often open area challenges that require a bit of thinking to overcome. I can say, though, the solo campaign is really starting to look great and the multiplayer is...well, its a real blast.
11) Being a spiritual successor to Warhawk, what attributes did you want to bring from that into Starhawk?
The run and gun pacing was key. Warhawk has a real specific feel to it and it has been critical that we retain that while adding improvements. Of course, the vehicles are vital and we're looking to try and retain some of the multiplayer modes too. Ultimately there was a lot "right" with Warhawk and we've made a gigantic effort to identify and add the experience to Starhawk where possible.
12) How did you bring together the Wild West into outer space?
We wanted Starhawk to have a very "way out there" sort of feel. A theme that really emphasized how far out in the universe the player was. Therefore, it seemed only natural that our story and setting would have that type of western vibe.
13) I hear that Starhawk is not linear, how much control do you have over what you do?
It is not linear in that the player can choose how they want to complete a mission. We provide the tools, the narrative, and objectives. The player can choose which tools make the most sense in a given situation. Missions do go in order, but how the player completes a mission is largely under his/her control.
14) Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just that we really appreciate all the support from our Starhawk and Warhawk fans. They are really into the game so far and we hope we can keep giving them something to look forward to. We're very active in taking feedback and it really does get considered for the most part. We can't deliver on everything they want, but we do generally discuss the community "wants."
Other than that, look for public Beta news sooooooon....