Geschrieben von Maik Styppa-Braun am 08.03.2021
Shortly before the release of Apex Legends for the Nintendo Switch, we had the opportunity to meet Game Director Chad Grenier from Respawn and Dan Hernberg and Andrew Boggs from Panic Button in a zoom call. They answered our questions and revealed some exciting details about their work. Here you can read the full english interview, if you prefer to read the german version, click here.
Thank you very much for this meeting it's a pleasure for me. First of all, it would be very nice for our readers, if you can introduce yourself a little bit.
Chad Grenier: Sure, I'm Chad Grenier, I'm the game director on Apex Legends.
Dan Hernberg: I'm Dan Hernberg, the head of production at Panic Button
Andrew Boggs: I'm Andrew Boggs, the technical director at Panic Button.
Chad I read your developer diary at the website of Apex Legends and you told us about how the game changed the past few years from its beginning as a survival-mode for Titanfall 2. I'm very interested in your point of view. Can you tell me how you felt this whole time as Game Director?
Chad Grenier: I mean, as a game director, I'm very, I would say, enabling of the team rather than a dictatorship, and so when I see anyone on the team getting excited about anything whatsoever, that I think that's a good thing. In the case of Apex, like I mentioned in the blog that I wrote, there was a couple of passionate people who prototyped this survival mode within Titanfall 2. And it was in that moment that I think we were having a lot of fun with the play tests and we were playing online, ordering pizza into the studio and things like that. And I think it makes you question, you know, should we keep making this thing that we're making or should we give this little prototype some more attention because it's what the team is passionate about. And so in that case, you know, enough people on the team became passionate enough about the side project, that it became the main project.
And so that's carried forward all throughout development and even two years after launch. Right. A lot of what we ship. And Apex is based of passion projects of the team. We did PvE at one point, which was a passion project of one of our designers. The comics that you see every season came from a passion from readers and some of the fan art that we saw and just people wanting to write and tell stories. So that ends up being in the game. A lot of our limited time modes are passion project of the designers, like pretty much the entire game is made up of of things that the team is passionate about to gain traction.
Some internal projects, you know, die out when they don't get a lot of excitement for them. And the things that get that excitement they carry on. So my job as a game director is really just to allow the team to explore their ideas and passions and I guess keep all of the creative sheep going in one direction, but letting them have their own visions make it into the game. So, yeah, it's been really fun two years. And it's good that we have people playing the game. But when we're doing these things, we never really know. We like how we're doing things that we love. And so they have such a big fan base.
And one of you had the idea to make a Nintendo Switch version?
Chad Grenier: I think when the game is growing in popularity, you just want as many people to be playing it as possible. And so we've added other platforms, steam recently and switch. It is a no brainer, right? There's a lot of gamers out there that have a switch that would love to play Apex. It's been fan-request for a long time. And a lot of people who aren't fans yet, but constantly were telling us, bring the game to the switch. So somewhere around season four, we had the conversation of bringing it to switch. And that's when development started.
So the development with Panic Button started at season 4?
Dan Hernberg: It's been about 15 months of development on the project and the project started around season 4.
Was it difficult to bring Apex Legends on the Nintendo Switch?
Andrew Boggs: I think there are always challenges with every project, but I think that one of the biggest challenges was kind of figuring out what aspects of the game are kind of essential to it, that we need to absolutely make sure that we bring these things and focus on them. And then what things can we kind of adapt and kind of change for the switch. So we spent a lot of time doing that and it's definitely a challenge.
I think many players wonder how well Apex Legends works on the Nintendo Switch, especially when you're playing in handheld mode. Can you tell me more about this?
Andrew Boggs: Sure. So we're talking about a solid 30fps, both handheld and docked mode. The resolution will change between the two. But other than that, I think we're really happy with the experience. It feels really good to put.
Chad Grenier: I was able to get some wins the other day against some pc-players, so I feel pretty good about that.
Will future updates launch on all consoles simultaneously?
Dan Hernberg: Yeah, everything will be day and date on all our platforms simultaneous like crossplay and new features.
In the last few days I played a lot of Apex Legends on my Xbox Series X. Can you say anything about crosssave in the future? Will it be possible to bring my progress from my Xbox to my Nintendo Switch?
Chad Grenier: Cross-progression is something that I would love to do. I think it would be really great to have it work. There are some challenges in doing that, more than we should probably go into in this interview, but there are technical challenges, there's legal challenges, there are contractual challenges with bringing over things. You've got another platforms. So it's a big thing. It's not just a check box we can check and turn it on. We're doing some work now to try to get to a point where we have crossplay add to the list of challenges because the game is live for two years and people have accounts on multiple platforms already. And so we have to find a way to allow users to choose or merge accounts. And so there are a lot of challenges in doing cross-progression. I would love to see it. And we do have some engineers doing some work to make that possible someday, we're way out. But I'm hoping that someday we'll have it.
Let's take a look into the future. I heard about the "Chaos Theory" event, season 9 will come and maybe season 10. Can you tell me something about your future plans for example about new legends, new content, new story content?
Chad Grenier: There will be new legends. There's a lot of really exciting content that's about to be released or planned for this year. Obviously can't announce it now, but I'll say that the team is really proud of everything we've created. There are some really big things that are in the works that we're really excited for.
And your next step are smart devices?
Chad Grenier: We're not talking too much about it, but EA has announced that we're working on a mobile version of Apex and I think that was mentioned on an earnings call. So that's kind of out there, but we're not really talking about that.
What's your favorite legend in the game? Do you have a favorite one that you really like to play, or do you love them all?
Chad Grenier: I'm always playing the latest legend, whatever the most recent one is, so I can get a sense of how that legend plays and we can balance and do things like that. But I find myself always going back to Lifeline.
Can you tell me more about the development of Panic Button with Respawn to bring Apex Legends to the Nintendo Switch?
Andrew Boggs: We started off, like we said, about 15 months ago, and a big part of the development time was just kind of figuring out how the switch is going to become kind of a first class citizen of the game and be just as supported as all the other consoles and figuring out how we would slot and how you would take new content and things like that. And then once we get the game up and running to spend a lot of time polishing it, to play, testing it and all that stuff. So now it's been really good to have the game get the time that it needs to get to a spot as it is. So we're all really proud of it.
Do you have any hopes for the launch of Apex Legends like millions of new players?
Dan Hernberg: Millions of new players! But from the technical side, we'd also like zero bucks.
Andrew Boggs: I think we're just hoping for a smooth launch. I mean, people really enjoy the game. I really hope that people who have maybe played the game before on PC or Xbox or whatever come and give it a try on the Switch. I do think there's a really magical experience of like playing the game on the Switch that you played on other platforms before.
Chad Grenier: I mean, it's really cool to take the game on the go, the first time I did it on a play test, it was like really cool to just play on a handheld device. But I want more people to play the game. We're creating some cool stories and some fun gameplay. And I play the game every night and I have a blast. And the more people that can do that, the better.
I read that you played Apex Legends at the beginnings of the development in your office. Do you still do this?
Chad Grenier: Yeah we do it. We don't have the chalkboard anymore because we're all at home, but we still do that. It's called the "Friday Night Fights". And so we're doing daily playtest. But on fridays we get a little bit more participation from the team. And there's some trash talking and partying up and and emails about who got the most wins and stuff like that. So we're still having a blast playtesting now. We're testing on all the platforms to make sure that crossplay works and everything. So we're very competitive with a bunch of gamers here at Respawn and Panic Button. So there are some intense gaming sessions going on still.
Is there anything you want to tell our readers?
Chad Grenier: I just hope they love the game. We were really passionate about what we're creating and we're trying to bring some inventive gameplay and to be innovative and take players on a journey. And we like changing the game up over time and introducing new features, new legends, new stories. We even take things away sometimes and switch it up. And so we hope players join the Apex train and go along for the ride with us. It's been a really fun two years and our best work is still ahead of us. And welcome aboard. If you haven't played ist yet, we're happy to have you.
Thank you very much. It was a pleasure to meet you. Have a good launch next week!