We speak to Dylan Jobe on the 10th birthday of Warhawk.
Ten years ago on the 28th August 2007, a game was launched on the newly released PS3 which changed the way I would play games forever and introduced me to the wonderful world of online multiplayer gaming. That game was Warhawk.
Warhawk my not have had all the fanfare or the budget of games like Call of Duty or Battlefield, it may not have the legacy of Halo, but for me Warhawk is the greatest multiplayer game I have played to date and deserves a celebration on its 10th birthday.
In case you didn’t know, Warhawk is a remake of a PSOne aerial warfare game of the same name. Developers Incognito took the dog fighting from the original, added more vehicles, weapons and on-foot gameplay and turned it into a third person multiplayer shooter.
Originally there was a single player campaign pencilled in for the game but that was cut before release as there were fears it wouldn’t match up to the multiplayer aspect. A good decision, as it turns out. There was a lot of pressure on Warhawk as it was the first game to be sold on the fledgling PlayStation Network, and was to be a showcase for PlayStation’s rival to Xbox Live.
But what made Warhawk so great? Well, there are a few reasons. The most famous one that any Warhawk fan would appreciate is the fact you can go from fighting on foot to dog fighting high in the sky to landing, jumping in a tank or a jeep and carry on, all as smooth as silk with no interruptions, pauses or loading. It was oh so silky smooth. There was also a great sense of freedom – the maps were huge and had a draw distance that never ended. It was like playing army in the playground when you were a kid. It was all so perfectly balanced – Many have called it ‘Rock/Paper/Scissors balance’ because that was exactly what the various vehicles and weapons offered. You could play couch co-op with four friends on the same TV which made beer and pizza nights more fun than ever before, something that is a rarity these days which is a shame. You could play four player split screen all on the same TV and then take on the world, so your local clan could take on the rest of the world from the comfort of your sofa. That sense of team spirit is still unrivalled. There were lots of big updates including new maps, weapons and vehicles including a six man drop ship and jetpacks which changed the gameplay dramatically. You could play how you like – my favoured technique was the kamikaze run to get the flag, sacrificing myself so my buddies could get the flag. Or you could keep your distance and snipe or use the dreaded air strike. It had some of the most frustrating weapons known to man, *ahem, land mines*, but you didn’t care because respawning took seconds and you could get straight back into the action almost immediatly.
Ten years on and there are still people playing or at least wanting to play (when the servers are working) and I don’t think there are many games that can boast that fact. In fact, Warhawk was inspiration for my competition entry for Sony’s #Wayofplay promotion, where you had to pick a one of ten quotes supplied and design a poster around them. One quote stood out, ‘Couples who slay together, stay together’ and that for me pretty much sums up what Warhawk is all about.
I’m not alone in my love for Warhawk either, this is what IGN had to say;
“Warhawk is an exquisitely balanced, insanely fun game that works on multiple scales simultaneously. We have no shame in calling it one of the best multiplayer experience we’ve ever had, and it would seem we’re not alone. Warhawk is still packed with people that play at all hours of the day or night (thanks no doubt to the game being open worldwide)”
That pretty much says it all. If I was writing a blog at the time that’s pretty much what I would have said, and it’s exactly what I feel today, ten years later. I do love this game with a passion, and it’s sad that a direct sequel hasn’t been developed (yet). Incognito is no more and have reformed into Lightbox Entertainment. I hope beyond hope that Lightbox and Sony can team up and bring us something Warhawk related soon. In this age of remakes and remasters it is feasible that were could see a HD remake, which lets face it would be perfect for the PS4.
There was a small glimmer of hope with the so-so sequel Starhawk, which although having some fresh new ideas, like bringing real-time tower defense mechanics to the game, and introduced a single player mode. Sadly however, this made things too complicated. A lot of the charm was lost. The beauty of Warhawk is in its simplicity.
Enough gushing and reminiscing. It’s time to talk to the man himself who bought us Warhawk. Ten years on we managed to grab the games creator Dylan Jobe away from his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us and to see if we can prise some info about the much sought after sequel.
10 Questions to celebrate 10 years of Warhawk
1. Warhawk was an early test for the growing PS3 multiplayer stratosphere. How did that affect the creation of the game?
It was tough because “back then” there were all kinds of things that were brand new but we totally take for granted today. A big game you download, or a game that focuses on multiplayer, or a game with frequent DLC and live-service support. Today we see that kind of stuff all over the place in games… but “back then”, some of it came with a stigma it or was simply unheard of. Crazy how far we’ve come.
2. What was the most surprising outcome from the games life span?
Honestly, the clear-cut validation of core design principals. When the inner loop of a game is fun — when it’s fun to just mess around and do nothing — the game will naturally retain players. It’s very easy to NOT give the inner loop the attention it deserves, and that’s unfortunately an easy mistake for teams to make.
3. Did you think people would still be playing Warhawk 10 years after launch, and gain such a cult following?
I did not expect it at all. I actually think it’s important to give credit to the community. There were some really great pockets of players that grew to become tight-knit friends and they really fostered the social aspect of the game.
4. How essential was it to maintain a relatively simple core game experience?
It was absolutely essential. The team worked so hard to get the “feel” just right. The way the character controlled, the ground vehicles, and of course the Warhawk. Each was tuned to be fun by itself then balanced against each other.
5. If you were to release Warhawk today, what would you do differently?
I’d integrate a map editor so the community itself could constantly be building new and fun content.
6. What do you think was the key to the success of the game?
To be truthful… partnering with SONY. They supported the game so much, even when the project was going through very difficult times. The early exposure we got from being one of the showcase PS3 titles was priceless.
7. Did you ever have any special ideas for the game that never got implemented?
For awhile, we had motorcycles in the game but we cut them for scope and balance reasons. (Damn it -Paul)
8. What made you decide to go down the Starhawk route rather than make a direct sequel?
It was a decision between both SONY and us. At the time, they wanted a game other than a pure sequel. Something that had the same elements but was a new experience.
9. In a previous tweet to one of my desperate pleas for a sequel, you said that Kickstarter wouldn’t quite cut it for what you have in mind for Warhawk 2, Care to shed a little light on what you have in mind for Warhawk 2?
I’m not going to talk to much about that, but I can say that putting tools in the hands of the community to keep the content evolving would be a key item. A face-paced warfare toy-box.
10. Will we ever see a HD remake, or a proper sequel?
Who knows 🙂
Thanks again. We really appreciate your time 🙂
So there you have it, as always Dylan is being coy regarding the future of Warhawk, but to me as long as he’s thinking of new and exciting things, then there is always hope. Seeing as they have a good relationship with Sony, and the way remakes and surprises are being thrown around these days, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of Warhawk.
A big thank you to Dylan Jobe for taking the time to answer our questions. I’ll have 20 more ready for when it comes to the 20 year anniversary, no doubt.