Greg Goodrich discusses Scalpels, Sledgehammers and Beards at GamesCom 2010. Oh, and he also mentions Medal of Honor.
During the time wandering aimlessly around GamesCom 2010, the opportunity arose to ask a few questions of Greg Goodrich, executive producer of upcoming EA FPS Medal of Honor.
Greg began by explaining about the two sides of the Medal of Honor story.
“In the last six to eight months, we have been talking a lot about the Tier One operator, the surgical precision instrument of the US arsenal, the Scalpel. We have also talked about the Sledgehammer, the US Army Ranger.”
At GamesCom a new aspect to the game was shown, the Apache Attack Helicopter Squadron. For this part of the story, the player takes on the role of Hawk, an Apache Gunner, tasked with supporting the guys on the ground. The Apache Attack Helicopter Squadron also represents the Sledgehammer side of the narrative.
“We have also spent time with the actual Apache Attack Squadron in California” Greg told us as he explained how they stayed authentic. “They let us come out and record the audio of their aircraft and they would hover on the tarmac. We took photos and really spent a lot of time with the pilots, getting into their mind and what they think about, and the type of training they go through. The mission that we showed here at Gamescom, the pilots actually wrote the dialogue. We strive for authenticity. Everything you see, hear and experience is as authentic as we can possibly make it”
When asked how the beta test went, Greg told us “We got a lot of really good feedback. We went through some rough patches, things that are broke happen quite a lot in betas and that’s what you want. You want that feedback, you want to expose the things that go wrong so you can improve upon the product and ship a well polished, finely oiled machine when it’s time to ship the actual game.”
Medal of Honor is a work of historical fiction. We asked Greg what that meant and he said “All of the characters and storylines are inspired by real people and actual events. But it is a fictional story in a sense that the narrative is told through the lens of fictional characters. But they are in a historical event, much like Saving Private Ryan. We tell it authentically, it’s always about telling the soldier’s story, honoring the soldier and really talking about that brotherhood, that camaraderie that soldiers face in conflict. That’s what we’re focusing on. The war is a backdrop to that.”
Some people have questioned the use of a current warzone in a video game. Greg had a lot to say on this subject.
“Recently there’s been a bit of talk about that. But I think that for the most part, once people see what we’re doing and understand what we’re doing and understand what Medal of Honor is about. It’s about the guys, it’s about the soldiers. It’s about the characters and who they are and what they’re going through. I think people will step back and say “oh”, y’know. They start to understand that this is not a game about war, this is not a game about politics, this is not a game about anything other than the guys on the ground and what they are going through. So, the war is a backdrop.”
“I think that once people understand that they sort of, ‘cos the initial reaction is like “why are you doing this?” or “are there any sensitivities?”. But, truthfully, Saving Private Ryan was not a story about WWII. It was about that group of characters and their mission to save that individual and everything else is a backdrop. So our story is very similar to that and initially when we begin the game, I don’t want to give too much away, there’s a certain goal, a certain objective and a certain reason why they are there. But then something happens and everything changes. Everyone who is involved in the storyline gets wrapped up in this common goal and it becomes the sole focus of everybody on the ground. It is very different from why they originally went there. Like I said, it’s about these guys supporting those guys, honoring the community of individuals and then bringing them home.”
The mission on display at GamesCom involved the Apache Gunship, but would there be an emphasis on vehicles in Medal of Honor? Greg told us that vehicles in the game are, for the most part, just a way to get between objectives. The Apache mission is, for example, a rail shooter in which the player does not control the helicopter itself and just mans the gun. The ATV, as seen in some of the trailers, is fully controllable on the other hand.Â “But this is a first person shooter, first and foremost”, Greg said, “and the majority of our game is you and your gun and your squadmates doing their thing. We’re focusing on the core shooter gameplay, y’know, skill with a gun.”
He then explained that they would be happy to keep expanding the new Medal of Honor franchise, as long as the gamers keep wanting them. “It’s been a really cool experience to be able to reboot the franchise and take it out of WWII and into modern times” he said.
Finally, we had to ask about the epic beard that was residing on Greg’s chin. Greg and some other members of the team had started growing beards in preparation for a trip to Afghanistan. The trip was subsequently cancelled, but the beard growing continued and turned into a beardathon. They were now being sponsored to keep growing the beards and, should the beards still be there at the games launch in North America, EA have offered to match the total. All money raised will be donated to the Navy Seal Warrior Fund, a charity that gives back to the families and dependants of US Navy Seals that have been injured in combat.
We would like to thank Greg Goodrich for answering all of our questions and growing an awesome beard. We would also like to thank the EA team at GamesCom for the opportunity.