As anyone with an Xbox One knows and has probably told you by new, one of THE biggest games of the year –as well as a potential game-changer for the console – TitanFall was released at 12.01am here on Friday, but we were lucky enough to be in London for the European leg of the games launch. In a converted old distillery, Microsoft and games creators Respawn had changed the interior to look like an industrial level from their video game.
Mood lighting, electronica playing DJ, giant robots projected on the walls, a giant leaderboard in the middle of the room, guys doing rope assisted free-running all over the place, and an announcer in costume getting everyone ready for the night’s festivities. Then there were rows upon rows of massive TV screens, Xbox Ones, specially designed TitanFall headsets, and the game itself ready to be played.
But while those getting ready to play the game for the first time – including some of the cast members of TOWIE and “Love Me Again” hit singer John Newman in attendance – we snuck off to have a quick word with Abbie Heppe, the Respawn Community Manager (essentially the lady in charge of the companies social networks, and the public face and voice for the video game company), to discuss the game on the eve of its release.
Entertainment.ie: Upon the Xbox One’s release, it had massive game releases like Ryse and Forza 5, but practically speaking, TitanFall was the game that all the fans were holding out for. Was that added pressure for you, and were you pleased to be given that kind of attention?
Abbie Heppe: Well, it was both. You’re incredibly happy because people really want your game, and its thrilling because you’re working hard and the whole team is putting in their heart and soul to the game, and to have that extra encouragement is wonderful. At the same time, it’s a tremendous amount of pressure, and trying to live up the expectations that people have for you is a lot. So it’s both, and it’s kind of crazy to be here tonight and look back over it all and see what kind of a crazy journey its been.
E.ie: How long has it been?
AH: Well, the company started in Spring 2010, but they also had to build up the company, and hire people and get desks and chairs and things.
E.ie: All the important stuff.
AH: Yeah, and computers are important to games developers, it turns out. (laughs) And then the design team spent a lot of time prototyping, while the artists were working on the concepts, and when you have the whole world in front of you, because you’re not being told what kind of game to make [the founders of Respawn were involved in some of the Call Of Duty sequels], it opens up a lot of possibilities. There was this time for refining and asking “Where do we go?”, but nobody ever told us “This is TitanFall, go make it!”
E.ie: Since it is an original idea, did you find it liberating in that you can do anything, or challenging in that you were almost spoilt for choice? How long did it take the company to focus on what it is they wanted to do?
AH: Probably longer than it should’ve! I mean, I say that a little tongue in cheek, because I truly believe that everything that happened in that time lead us to what this has become, but its an incredible challenge. To get an entire team to agree on what a certain thing is, to what TitanFall is now, it was a huge undertaking. So I’m really glad that it did, but there were moments when it could have gone another way.
E.ie: Aside from all the behind the scenes stuff, you also voice one of the characters in the game, is this your first time doing voice acting?
AH: Yeah, it was really fun, although it’s always nerve-wracking acting in front of your co-workers. But it was very organic, I was just filling in for someone for fun, and then it turned into a real job, so I was thrilled, because it was my tangible contribution to Titanfall.
E.ie: And its an IMDb credit, which is awesome.
AH: I didn’t even know I had an IMDb credit! Thank you, best interview ever!
E.ie: So what is the primary thing you want players to take away from TitanFall?
AH: I want them to have fun! That’s what this game is to us, and games like this should be fun! We’re not trying to teach people any lessons, this isn’t an educational game, we just want you to play the game and enjoy it and be a part of the community. We’re a new company, we’re just building our foundations, and to see people out there enjoying this game is a big deal to us. This is us putting our baby out into the world.
E.ie: Last question – what is your favorite video game of all time?
AH: Oh, man… I have to say that I’m a huge fan of the original Team Fortress. That’s the game I’ve put the most hours into. I was a big PC 90’s gamer, so all the Star Wars like Dark Forces and Jedi Knight were my core gaming experiences. But I could probably go on for several hours about what my favorite video game is and it would change five or six times. (laughs) Or ten, or fifteen, I don’t know! I mean, that’s the great thing in that there’s been so many consistently great games over so many years, and I have my favorite games for every genre, like my Most Played games, and my Hidden Treasure games, so we could lose the whole night talking about my favorite games! (laughs)
Be sure to check back into entertainment.ie in the next few days for our full review of TitanFall.