Exclusive interview with Jared Gerritzen the game designer of the upcoming MMOFPS Blacklight Retribution

Take a look to this exclusive interview about the upcoming MMOFPS Blacklight: Retribution, with Jared Gerritzen, Studio Head of Zombie Studios and Designer of the game.

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First of all, could you introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Jared Gerritzen. I’m the Studio Head of Zombie Studios and Designer of Blacklight: Retribution.

How does this new game relate to Blacklight: Tango Down?

It destroys BL:TD. It’s the game we wanted to make but didn’t have the budget or time. We’ve fixed and added so much to BL:R that it only really shares some weapons and the look and feel of the universe. We’re extremely proud of Retribution and can’t wait to keep evolving it after release.

What are some of the first person shooters that inspired Blacklight Retribution?

I built a PC for Counter Strike in the late 90’s and I can say the time spent playing it became my inspiration for the Blacklight games. Luckily my whole team are hardcore gamers and everyone has contributed to the feel of the game, so it not all me driving everything. It’s very much a team effort.

Could you give us some details about the Hyper Reality Visor and the Hardsuit?

HRV was in Tango down, people hearing about it for the first time freak out at the idea, until they have played with it. HRV is basically a legalized wall hack, with balance. If you use it you can’t fire and it takes time to warm up and cool down. The balance is EVERYONE has it. It makes the game so much faster and really makes the players move and not camp. If it didn’t work well you wouldn’t see a hand full of games using the same idea this year. I’m really happy we inspired the idea.
Hardsuits are our newest crazy idea. It’s a giant walking tank you can call in once you hit a certain amount of points in a round. People that see it for the first time freak out and call it over powered, however it also has balance. Every Hardsuit is spawned with random weak point you can see with HRV. The weak points allow players to take it out with small arms fire. This means the Hardsuit is not just a tank you run away from. In addition to the weak point, we made other weapons like the flamethrower that let you go head to head with the Hardsuit, cooking the pilot in the suit and leaving it open to jump in and pilot yourself.

What kind of customization options will the game offer for player characters and weapons?

We dropped the idea of set classes in BL:R and focused on letting the player create their own class with the level of customization built in to the game. Players can select head gear, armor, leg wear, tactical gear, grenades, and items carried just on the player. Then they can fully customize the primary weapon and the secondary. We want the player to define how they play.

What can you tell us about game modes in Blacklight Retribution?

Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch are popular standards and don’t need an introduction. We also have Domination, where teams fight over control of 3 capture points. An additional twist is that players can speed up the capture process by hacking the control point, at the cost of being able to defend themselves during the process.

Retrieval is our version of capture the flag, which gets a breath of fresh air due to HRV and the level of customization available for players to define their role in the game. You can stack up your armor and setup a turret on defense, or play a light quick sniper with a cloak to go and make capture runs.

Team King of the Hill was a much requested mode by our community of fans and it works really well in Retribution. Throughout the round, the capture point or “hill” randomly moves around map after a successful capture. We were able to place the capture points in locations that lend themselves to intense action while keeping things balanced due to the ability for the capturing team to see their enemies coming with HRV.

We’re also already hard at work on new content to bring to our players for free in future updates.

Can you reveal any details on the monetization system? Will it be necessary to buy items to be powerful in the game?

No, we do not want to lock any form of power away from non-paying players. We’ve spent a lot of time talking with Perfect World finding a balance I feel players will like. If you don’t want to spend time you can skip that and drop some cash. I really believe in this idea, I play plenty of games that I wish I could pay a bit to not have to grind as much. It seems like some people will always be wary of Free to Play games because of the stigma associated with pay to win. I did until I became more familiar with F2P. For me it’s a great way to keep games coming out with new, free content on a regular basis.

Blacklight Retribution uses very high technology standards. Would you say that the game’s quality is comparable to current pay-to-play shooters?

I really feel Retribution stands out in the Free to play shooter world. We’re using the newest version of UE3 which includes tons of new features including DX11. Blacklight Retribution is leading a new era of shooters coming out that all look and have the standards of retail games, but don’t carry a $60 price tag plus a DLC pack every few months.

From your point of view, what makes this game more fun than others?

The ability to play how you want stands out to me. I find myself being in different mood and changing my full load out to how I want to play at that time. If you want to play heavy and slow taking massive damage as a sniper you can. If you want to be an ultra-light quick engineer repairing gear all over the map you can. It’s all about the customization and that’s just one part of the game.

It is also quite a bit of fun going on a rampage with a team of buddies working together.

In what languages are you planning to launch Blacklight Retribution and do you already have an approximate date to communicate for the open beta or the official release?

Languages supported right now will be English, French, and German at this time. Blacklight will also be headed to other regions in the future. We just announced Australian/New Zealand servers are on the way. We have big plans for taking Blacklight to as many people as possible.

Would you like to add something?

Open Beta began 02/27 and our official release will be on April 4, 2012. We’re always making the game better so come check it out.