At GDC 2011, Arti Gupta talked to Codemasters’ principal game designer, Tim Browne, about Operation Flashpoint: Red River.
Arti Gupta: Tell us a little bit about your role at Codemasters and your new game.
Tim Browne: I am the principal games designer on Operation Flashpoint: Red River. I’m in charge of the core designers, and I am responsible for the game mechanics that you see and feel with weapons and things in Red River.
A.G.: Red River is one of your best-looking games -- and without increasing the minimum spec. Can you tell us about how you did that?
T.B.: We were able to do that with Codemasters’ own proprietary engine, which is called EGO. This has allowed us to keep our minimum specs low, but it also allows us to ramp it up for the newer, better gaming machines out there as well.
A.G.: This game is set in Tajikistan. What kind of research did you need to do for such a setting?
T.B.: A lot of research to begin with. We looked into sending some of our own team out, but the insurance was … it was basically considered far too dangerous. So we employed a freelance photographer who went out there and shot loads and loads of photos for us. Something like 3,000 photos. We used those as a basis for the area.
This allowed us to create what we call the “eco-narrative” throughout the game. So at the start you will see mud huts, as you’d expect, but Tajikistan has had a very varied history. One of the things is that the USSR invaded there. As you progress, you will see lush green areas and compounds, but you will see some old Russian architecture as well from the infrastructure when the USSR was there.
A.G.: You changed the environments in this game to be more detailed than past Operation Flashpoint games. What kind of challenge did that pose?
T.B.: Going back to the EGO engine, that is something that has been developed for not only the shooters we’re making, but also the racing games -- so it’s a very robust engine. We need it to do massive draw distances, but also close-quarters combat, which meant creating narrow environments as well.
A.G.: What would you tell your fans are the three main reasons why they should buy this game?
T.B.: Accessibility. The game is far more accessible now, but it’s also customizable. One of the key things was player choice, so if players don’t want to play with the HUD on, they can turn it all off. All the different difficulty levels are there, and we’ve listened to the fans and the community and made changes based on what they had to say. The game is co-op at the core. Lastly, it just looks great and feels great to play.
About the Author
Arti Gupta has worked on software-engineering projects as a developer, an architect and a project and product manager for more than 10 years. Now she does community management for game development on the Intel Software Network site. [Disclosure: Intel is the sponsor of this website.] Gupta likes reading, traveling and spending time with her family. Follow her on Twitter: @artigupta.