We’ve gathered some Red Storm developer responses to a few of the hot topics on the forums. These responses mostly address the overall design intentions of Ghost Recon Future Soldier’s multiplayer, rather than specific technical issues.
One of the topic trends we’ve seen is people claiming “This isn’t Ghost Recon!” followed by passionate posts for and against Future Soldier. How does this latest entry in the series fit in the lineage of Ghost Recon games? What makes it a Ghost Recon game?
First and foremost, Ghost Recon is a military shooter that emphasizes team tactics with near-future weapons and equipment. The series has always provided that Special Forces fantasy, but each game has accomplished it in different ways. Future Soldier is a Ghost Recon game through and through. In fact, we think it emphasizes the teamwork aspect better now than ever before. We added features like the Coordination System, Confidence System, and spawning on teammates to encourage players to work together and reward them for doing so.
The intel game play is another key element for encouraging teamwork. Providing intel is certainly not the only way for players to work as a team, but it’s a great way for players with different play styles to enjoy the game and still feel like they are contributing to the fight.
Some veterans of Ghost Recon believe that voice communication is the best way to promote team work. How are any of the new intel features better than simply talking to your teammates?
Many of us on the development team like to set up a party, join matches together and communicate while we play. It’s a lot of fun and obviously great for team work. Not everyone has a full set of friends online to form a party. Some players prefer to play without headsets, or they don’t enjoy talking to strangers online. Many Ghost Recon fans are playing in regions where several languages are spoken making verbal communication very difficult. The Coordination System, intel game play and other systems offer new ways for players to communicate and support each other. We feel like these are major innovations for Ghost Recon that stay true to the spirit of the series.
What do you say to fans who are concerned about the intel equipment, like the UAV and sensor grenades?
The decision to include the new equipment wasn’t taken lightly. We knew equipment had to add game play value and be more than just x-ray vision. When we talk about intel game play, we’re talking about gathering intelligence to benefit your team. It’s a communication tool, but it’s also another resource to protect. It’s something to attack and defend. Controlling the availability of intel, controlling the flow of information brings another dimension to the game. It takes players beyond just shooting. Again, we feel like it’s really a significant advancement in the shooter genre.
Yes, it’s a drag to get data mugged and give up your whole team’s position. Players can work together to make sure that doesn’t happen! It’s worth repeating that the intel gathering devices have counter measures of some kind. Players can manage their intel creatively and intelligently to counter an intel attack.
What is your response to the critics who claim Ghost Recon is imitating other games?
The modern tactical shooter as we know it was basically invented at Red Storm with the original Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon games on PC. Online multiplayer on consoles was hardly a blip on most people’s radar until Ghost Recon exploded on the original Xbox Live service. Ubisoft also delivered innovative online multiplayer experiences for Rainbow Six and Splinter Cell. The Tom Clancy brand is synonymous with tactical shooter. We introduced authentic modern military weapons to gamers when most shooters were still all about fantasy ray guns and World War II carbines.
We blazed a trail that plenty of others eventually followed. Players who are new to Ghost Recon might look for similarities with other games and never realize how many genre-defining features began with Red Storm’s games, and with Ghost Recon in particular. Cooperative missions, defend modes, realistic weapons and customizable load outs, the list goes on. We’ve been inventing features like these for over a decade.
To many fans, Future Soldier does seem very different from previous games in the series. What was driving all of this change for Ghost Recon?
For Future Soldier, it was essential that we maintain focus on the core values for this game. Combat, Intel and Teamwork. All design ideas and feature proposals were measured by how well they supported these three pillars of the game. There were many things we discussed in development that could have been “fun” but were not a strong fit for the experience. With each new version of Ghost Recon, the series evolves and its audience grows. Whether it’s new technical features or bold design choices, Red Storm and Ubisoft have never shied away from change. For Future Soldier, we embraced new ideas and, in some cases, let go of old ideas to make the best game we could for today’s audience. The current video game market is very different from the market of ten years ago. Innovation is essential to making great games and keeping a franchise fresh and exciting. For Red Storm to keep making high quality tactical shooters, we must continue to innovate and embrace change. We hope players enjoy the innovations as much as we do. For any skeptics, we invite you to play Future Soldier and experience the game for what it is.
What are some features that were considered, but not included?
One example of an interesting idea that didn’t make it is vehicle insertions. There were some early discussions about having a helicopter, plane or boat sequence to begin each match and possibly for respawns. We had a passionate group that pitched the idea and was interested in prototyping it, but ultimately it didn’t fit the overall vision for the game. There were many other feature ideas too. Trust us when we say our features wish list was just as long as that of the fans, if not longer. There is a very real cost for everything that goes into a game. Time, one of the most precious resources in game development, must be spent to design, implement and test every feature. Sometimes a feature could be really, really cool, but it would take so much time away from other more important things that it just has to be left out.
You mentioned the Confidence feature earlier. That is one of the new features that did make it into the game. There seems to be some confusion about how that works. Can you give a little more detail about that?
When players are interacting with an objective, they will complete the interaction faster when their teammates are nearby providing protection. This happens automatically when a teammate is within range. You don’t have to be right beside each other for Confidence to work and you can see how many teammates are providing Confidence by the bars next to the progress meter for that objective. In addition, the objective icon will pin to the player’s HUD when they are within range and providing confidence. If you’re seeing other teams taking objectives REALLY fast then you know they are providing Confidence for each other.
Doesn’t the Confidence system, and objectives in general, cause players to sit in clusters for easy multi-kills?
That can happen if you’re not careful, but it’s a risk versus reward mechanic of the game. If you want to put four guys on the objective at once, then you’d better be sure you have control of that part of the map. It’s a tactical choice to either go in together or send one guy in while others hold the enemies back.
Confidence is exactly the kind of system that is essential to Ghost Recon game play. Players make meaningful choices about how to use their resources and plan their movements. You can gamble on a high risk maneuver or patiently stalk the enemy from the shadows. It’s up to you.
Ghost Recon Future Soldier has been in development for a while. Why are there still bugs and other issues in the beta version?
Every game has bugs during development. Our QA department is REALLY good at finding and documenting those bugs. In fact, some of the testers are scary good at finding exploits that developers never could have imagined. The problem is that with a complex online game, like Future Soldier, some bugs don’t reveal themselves until you have literally thousands of people playing at the same time. An issue might only appear once in 10,000 tries. You can imagine how difficult that is to reproduce in a testing environment. When you have thousands of players in the beta together, rare issues pop up more often and we get more information that will help us fix them. The entire purpose of the beta is to identify as many of these issues as possible.
We’re thrilled that so many people are playing every day because the data and feedback is incredibly valuable. We also appreciate the creativity of gamers. They try different approaches and experiment with the game in unexpected ways. Having said that, we don’t condone cheating or anything else that intentionally interferes with the intended game play. We encourage anyone who finds exploits to report them to the beta feedback forum.
With the release date approaching fast, how can you possibly fix the issues identified in the beta?
The beta build is quite a bit older than the final release build will be. We’ve already fixed a lot of the issues that people might see in the beta. By now, players have seen how we can respond with changes to things like equipment balance and server settings. There are many other things we can tune remotely to respond to issues that appear, and we plan to keep doing that. Red Storm and Ubisoft are committed to supporting the game after it launches.
We do want to be clear on a few points. We will make adjustments where they are needed to align the game play experience with the core design philosophies that we have already set for this game. Other big changes like map size, or the choice to have cover mode in the game, are not going to change. Sweeping changes like that are outside the scope of post-beta updates, not just because of the logistical or technical challenges. If you start picking apart these core systems and reversing major design decisions at the last minute, you break down the whole experience of the game. We know some people feel like the game would be better if you just did this one thing. Sometimes that one thing has a cascading effect through twenty other things that would all suddenly feel broken or incomplete. It’s a delicate balance.
We’ve had a few fans on the forum post some lengthy, and articulate, statements about map size and map design. Can you give some insight into the map design process?
Map designs at Red Storm are the result of an iterative process. We prototyped and tested many layouts before the maps went into production. Big, small, wide, narrow, sandbox, corridor – we tried a lot of different approaches. Again and again, we found the most satisfying blend of team tactics and straight up gun play happened in maps with strong directionality. We’re not talking about linearity. A strictly linear corridor fight gets old fast because the only viable tactic is to just do more damage than the enemy. Directionality means the PRIMARY fight happens along one axis in most areas of the maps, with alternate routes that allow players to exit the fight and flank or regroup. Intersections and some objective areas might become hubs of activity and result in more chaotic fights, but the core game play revolves around this directional fight.
Why is this directionality more satisfying? Cover is a major feature for Future Soldier. Cover had been part of the campaign game play since GRAW and GRAW 2. It was logical to bring it over to multiplayer for Future Soldier and unify the game experience. A lot of development effort went into making this the best cover system available. In a continuous 360 degree fight (like most sandbox style maps would offer) cover has very little value because everyone will be running and strafing in every direction. We didn’t want players to get gunned down from some random direction every time they were in cover. In that scenario, no one will use cover mode at all.
The heart of Ghost Recon tactics is and always has been OBSERVE, PLAN, EXECUTE. This sequence can happen in seconds when a player reacts to sudden changes in the battle, or it can happen over several minutes as players stealthily coordinate and move in on a target. What we found is that cover not only provided protection, it also provided those much needed moments for players to OBSERVE the action and PLAN their next move before they EXECUTE. Not all players need or want this, and the game certainly supports teams of players who run and gun to swarm objectives. However, the coordinated team will always have the advantage.
A great side effect of these directional battles is this feeling of teammates standing the line together and holding back the enemy. When we first got it all working in a map prototype, we knew we were on to something big. Of course, the directional fight is more apparent in some maps than others. We obviously didn’t want to clone the same layout ideas across all of the maps. Players will see how this directionality varies between the ten maps when they play the full game.
And about the size of the maps, what drove those decisions?
The size of the map really drives the pacing of the game play. We didn’t want all maps to have the same pace, so there is a range of sizes. Keep in mind there will be four game modes and each mode brings different dynamics that also change up that pace.
There is a misconception that Ghost Recon was always about big maps. It’s not true. Only some of the maps were big, and they were VERY big. Those huge maps were big because they were also used for campaign missions. Huge sandbox spaces offered a certain kind of multiplayer experience that wasn’t common then or now. The fact that people are so upset about any change in map style is sort of flattering. It tells us how much the fans love the games we made in the past. Still, that big map experience isn’t necessarily to everyone’s taste. Even within the studio, you’ll find people are divided on that issue.
The truth is that we’ve had many small maps in past games. We had some linear maps too. The very mention of Quarry from GR2 will send some players into a rage and others to start talking about the good old days. We have some stats from the first month of GRAW2’s release that show Headquarters as being the most played map by a wide margin. The second place map isn’t even close. Headquarters was our smallest map for that game. It was much smaller than Pipeline and its central choke point was brutal. We were as surprised as anyone that it was so popular.
We’re confident that we’ve created the right size maps for Future Soldier. We also have map voting so players can vote for a different map if they want. There are maps with more verticality. There are maps with more indoor spaces that make it challenging to pilot the UAV. We have a sand storm map where the visibility changes dynamically during the match, affecting sightlines for all players. We think fans will be very happy with the variety of experiences available in the full game.
Thanks to the devs for giving some insight on the design of the game and responding to a few of the hot topics. Keep posting your feedback to the forum. We do try to read them all and we are out there playing the beta with you. See you online!
I wish he wouldnt run around the question that is "Why is this not Ghost Recon?"
I been here since I was 12, I am now 21, I really think that the "Future" screwed this game up, nobody enjoys the intel at all, it takes away from the game, whats going to happen in a siege map, you are on defense and you're the last one alive against 5 others, all they gotta do is uav the map and bam ur basically screwed.
Ubisoft, DO NOT DO WHAT CALL OF DUTY IS DOING!!! This is not a FUTURE RACE!! you don't have to be in the future, all these uavs and things are great in REAL WORLD COMBAT, not in a 6v6 quarter mile sized map....
Stick to your guys roots, go back and play SUMMIT STRIKE for weeks and just feel how different and more real it feels........ you guys could have literally just made 100's of maps on graw2 and been set, or just made graw3
ps why did they get rid of the cross com in the future?
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I would like to know why 6 designers that worked on previous gr games were dropped for grfs
also what budget did redstorm have incomparision to other gr games .
Are these questions the reason the game is in No way anything like other gr games
Why is there no grid reference when you bring up the map like other gr games
Do redstorm know how better the old gr games were compared to this IMHO
Firstly, a big thanks to Brock and Red Storm for putting this Q&A together, it is a great read and as I huge fan of the Ghost Recon series I really appreciated it. There is lots of great discussion points here, but I'll just pick a couple to comment on.
Re: “This isn’t Ghost Recon!”
There is a key difference to what Red Storm's response is addressing and what fans are making noise about. Red Storm is talking theme while fans are talking game play. Both are very important to the overall experience, but lets not confuse that fact. Future Soldier is near unrecognizable when compared to the original Ghost Recon in terms of game play. This is fans are upset about, not theme.
Re: "Map size"
Its true past games had a variety of map sizes, both big and small, and that diversity is great. Like the devs on the Red Storm team, not all players liked large maps, at the same time not all players like small maps. That's why a diverse range of maps sizes worked so well. Future Soldier has only small map sizes, the diversity is gone, and with it a type of game play only found on larger maps, and only in Ghost Recon. Large outdoor spaces was one of Ghost Recons defining features, one of the things that set it apart from Rainbow Six and other shooter games, changing that changes the game experience, it changes Ghost Recon.
You know the mentality of people really have shown in these forums. Hats off to those who work for a living managing this thing and those who do it for free. It must be frustrating beyond words at times. I remember back in the day (I still feel this way now) when you heard about a BETA test and you did everything you could to be part of it, because it meant you helped shape a game, in one form or another even if you weren't directly responsible for a change.
But in today's society people feel entitled far too much. I remember seeing some forum users on here when the BETA first opened who complained about NOT GETTING CREDIT for giving away BETA keys? I was in dismay. Pat yourself on the back knowing you did something good to help someone out that for whatever reason didn't have a key. Do so without expecting a thank you. I'm still in disbelief at just how many people think that RedStorm and Ubisoft MUST listen to them and GIVE them a BETA key. So what they can come here and degrade a BETA test?
Armchair quarterbacks these people are. I would do anything to be part of a gaming company where my job was to make a game people could enjoy and compete and make money on their own and or for personal entertainment! So thank you employee's of RedStorm and Ubisoft.
I want the BETA to be over to start enjoying the full features of the game. The little tweaks are coming, and as I stated before on these forums and mentioned in this Q&A you need to get your product out of a clean testing environment and let it get beat up. That's is what we've done to it and they've listened and made changes that were reasonable and possible. So I'm going to keep running this BETA until it's dead and provide feedback in the process, by the means provided to us formally.
Don't like it? Don't buy it and don't play it. Those of us who DO enjoy what they've done and excited for what is to come will not miss you. Thank you Ubi_Brock (and other mods on here) for putting the effort into the forums and actually having conversations with the players instead of blanket responses, especially myself. I did appreciate that.
Thanks for keeping us up to date, don't listen to the static.
So flame away as this is all the BETA forums has turned into, a flaming grounds. See y'all on the field.
On the issue of larger maps, I played GRAW and GRAW 2 a lot and still do and no matter what the map size there was always flash points, only a 3rd to half of the maps where ever utilised for combat. I will miss some of the bigger maps but for the purposes of teamwork, tactics and modes I think GRFS has some pretty decent and satisfyingly sized maps included with more to come via DLC.
First of all kudos for answering some hard questions. It is appreciated.
On the content of the answers all I can say is the what the designers believe the core of Ghost Recon is and what I believe are completely different. I admit that their answers are intelligent and the design of the game is very well thought out and fits perfectly with the designers take on what is Ghost Recon. Other than that I will not go into further detail because it is abundantly clear there is no point in trying to change Future Soldier in any meaning full way.
On the issue of Headquarters, when GRAW 2 came out I worked for Ubisoft is a limited capacity and received my copy of GRAW 2 early. Before the masses played the game it was immediately clear that Headquarters would be the new Quarry and be immensely popular. Why did I think this? Well because it had the easiest layout so people would remember it quicker and thus feel more tactically comfortable with it. Also because of it's small size it would be played first for a mess around when people were trying to fill up a room. But with us it never made it into rotation whenever we stated playing siege with a full room. Maybe that wasn't the case with everyone but it certainly was the case in the rooms I played.
The question about player room searches and customisation was largely skipped over yet from my perspective is one of the major questions being asked by the community. All I can take from this and the response on limited changes is that we will not see this.
Wish the developers would've answered our questions relating to dedicated servers and the lag issue, had a serious case of it last night when my opponent turned into a bullet sponge while I turned into a pile of blood and guts from ONE burst of his gun. Also, wish they would've commented at least on the Alternate Spawn points/Spawn Camping, I'm not sure if they saw the feedback some posted but it does feel like when an entire team is spawn camping is the only time deployment switches and that's total bull. Other than that, thank you for tweaking my Engineer so he's not completely useless now and can hold his own in a firefight. Melee needs some serious tweaking as it works only 33% of the time if not less (unless you're a scout in which case that number jumps to over 70% success rate).