Linux only needs one 'killer' game to explode, says Battlefield director

It would only take one "killer" game for the Linux platform to explode its way into mainstream gaming, DICE creative director Lars Gustavsson told Polygon, revealing that the development studio would "strongly" like to get into Linux.

"We strongly want to get into Linux for a reason," Gustavsson said. "It took Halo for the first Xbox to kick off and go crazy — usually, it takes one killer app or game and then people are more than willing [to adopt it] — it is not hard to get your hands on Linux, for example, it only takes one game that motivates you to go there."

"I think, even then, customers are getting more and more convenient, so you really need to convince them how can they marry it into their daily lives and make an integral part of their lives," he explained, sharing that the studio has used Linux servers because it was a "superior operating system to do so."

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Valve's recently announced Steam OS and Steam Machines are healthy for the console market, Gustavsson said when asked for his opinion on Valve's recent announcements. He believes the products will open up the market to explore new, and perhaps better, ways of consuming games.

"Basically for different ways of accessing customers and giving them possibilities of play, I think it is super exciting," he said. "The only thing I know is that from five or ten years from now gaming and especially how you consume it won't look like it does today. I do think with streaming services and new input devices and so on, it wouldn't surprise me if there is less need of hardware and more on demand gaming experience."

Well, will AAA titles survive? Are they mammoths that don't know that they are dead yet?

"I think, hopefully, competition usually means a better experience for the customer. Sometimes. You know, was the VHS tape better than BetaMax? VHS won," he continued. "So it does not always go in the right direction but overall I think it is healthy with competition. It is truly welcomed, so that we can have better games in the future."

The director believes that with its recent rise and success, indie game development is in a better position to cater for the Linux video game market despite its limited audience.

"With indie, for a long time, it seemed that it was only AAA title that will survive and then the explosion came with mobile and indie games," he said. "So I'm really happy to see that has swung back to where people say 'Well, will AAA titles survive? Are they mammoths that don't know that they are dead yet?'

"So, to me, I think that the possibilities are many and I think indies can build for Linux even though we don't have enormous audience," he said.

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With the impending launch of Battlefield 4, DICE has spoken a lot about how it intends to smooth out the difficult learning curve and high point of entry seen in Battlefield 3, Gustavsson said it hasn't forgotten about the hardcore gamers, rather the opposite: DICE has to continually rein itself in from going "too hardcore" when developing a Battlefield title.

"To be honest, our problem isn't to not think about the hardcore, rather, there are so many people like me doing Battlefield since '99 or at least 2000 that everyday we need to stop ourselves from going too hardcore, we really have to hold ourselves back," he explained when asked how DICE doesn't lose sight developing for experienced players when chiselling out the new features. "That is the natural gear that we have: the hardcore side. Then we need to remind ourselves that we need to make it for everyone."

While they have set out to make Battlefield 4 more accessible for newcomers, DICE also made it better for the veterans, hinting that perhaps some aspects the shooter is even too nuanced for the diehards. For example, Gustavsson mentioned the new battle test range that players of all skill levels can take advantage of.

Everyday we need to stop ourselves from going too hardcore, we really have to hold ourselves back.

"Even though people have been playing Battlefield from the start, they choose not to fly because they don't feel safe," he said. "So it is not about losing sight of the hardcore. If you look at hardcore forums, there are so many times that you see 'I don't how this weapon works or this gadget' and then everyone tells each other. It is beautiful. It is just beautiful. But sometimes you feel that a game should be self explaining, it doesn't have to be more stupid."

A comparison tool for weapons and attachments has been introduced to help with the above example. "As, even I, who has made the game, had a hard time knowing which attachment did what for what weapon," Gustavsson said.

To cater for experienced Battlefield fans the game features an overhauled control system, reworked network code to remove latency and upped the number of players, to name a few. Battlefield 4 also introduces the hardcore perma-death mode Diffuse and a Field Upgrade system to encourage players to play together, along with the long-time community-demanded Spectator mode.

"Which, to be honest, I have been ashamed to going to shows and admitting once again that we don't have spectator mode," he said. "That's why I'm a bit taller and prouder this time around now that we do have it. With the next-generation of consoles, like sharing and broadcasting features, I'm really looking forward to seeing what the community comes up with."

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