PlayerUnknown Interview: Mods, Early Access, Balance, and Tractors


PlayerUnknown Interview

PlayerUnknown started out as a modder. Originally, DayZ was a mod for the military simulator Arma II. He was working on a mod for that mod, and later for DayZ itself. His work on those mods impressed Sony so much, they brought him on board as a consultant for H1Z1: King of the Hill. After wrapping up that project, he started working with Bluehole Studios on the ultimate battle royale game.

Because of his humble origins in the mod-making scene, he wants to open up PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS to modders as well. He and Bluehole hope to have mod support for the game in the future, but for now it’s tricky. Giving players free access to the game and server files opens them up to piracy. For a game that’s still in Early Access, that could kill it before they ever launch. But once they can find a way to allow mods while keeping the game secure, they will, because as PlayerUnknown says, “I want to find the next PlayerUnknown.” He hopes someone will mod PUBG into something so good that it launches their career as well.

That someone could be the creator of the popular Zombie mod for PUBG. Let’s ignore for a moment how weird it is that DayZ was a zombie mod for a non-zombie game, then PlayerUnknown made a non-zombie mod for a zombie game, and now someone has made a zombie mod for his non-zombie game. In the interview, PlayerUnknown confirms that they have big plans for the mode, including custom animations, attacks, and takedowns.

Playing His Own Game

PlayerUnknown Interview

Perhaps surprisingly, or perhaps not, PlayerUnknown doesn’t really play PUBG too much. He prefers to watch others play it on Twitch, partially because he considers that “the greatest gameplay debugger out there.” He knows how he wants the game to grow, and what he wants it to become, and he doesn’t feel the need to play it constantly to achieve that. He even goes so far as to say he doesn’t play many other games either, because he does not want to be influenced by them. When he does play PUBG, though? “I’m okay at it,” he says. He tends to do a lot of camping – a man after my own heart! – but tries not to play at the office, given how stressful a round can be.

Early Access/Launch

PlayerUnknown Interview

When asked about what kind of shape the game will launch in, PlayerUnknown is quick to point out that his perspective is different than that of his boss (presumably someone at Bluehole). Bluehole sees PUBG as a service, not a game. Similar to something like Team Fortress 2 or Counterstrike, that grows and changes and evolves for years. Their goal is for PUBG to last that long as well. They are not looking to release PUBG2 in three years, which is a relief to hear.

Still, even though a game-as-service is never truly “complete,” we’re starting to get a clearer picture of what will be in the game when it officially launches. For PlayerUnknown, all he really wants is for it to be balanced and bug-free. And he wants to make sure that vaulting gets added before the game goes gold (Chris’s note: YES PLEASE). All of the other elements – custom games, mods, replays, more eSports casting support, all of that stuff will likely be part of the ‘game as service’ model, folded in organically over time. He is quick to say, however, “Don’t take this as the word of God.” Everything is subject to delays; that’s just the nature of the business.

In terms of content, he’s not even sure yet if there will be more than one map in the game when it launches. We know that they’re working on two new maps – one a desert, the other a snowy, mountainous region – but whether or not either one will be ready for the game’s official launch is up in the air.

New Features/Content

PlayerUnknown Interview

They’re also working on a robust replay system, that will support both 2D and 3D replays. The 2D replays would likely be from the map perspective, watching the match sped up a few notches and following player icons. This would be very useful for generating heatmaps showing the most common drop zones and most common death spots. The 3D replay would be more like what we’re seeing in other games these days. You would be able to watch the full game from any player’s perspective, with a free camera, in-engine. And of course, the holy grail: killcams. Killcams are coming at some point. As someone who has been sniped by what I’m certain are invisible wizards, I would really appreciate killcams.

Another thing he talked about was how bullets function in the game. Currently, bullets do not penetrate materials like wood or stone. He hopes to change that later on, but acknowledges that destructible environments require a lot of time to implement properly. The goal will eventually be to let players shoot through light wooden cover, such as fences, but not stone walls. At least, not with any of the current weapons. They will also be taking a look at air resistance on bullets; currently, there is none, so you can snipe long distances with guns and ammo that aren’t meant for it. Eventually that will be addressed.

He also promised to talk to the team about letting players drive the abandoned tractors. That’s all I’ve ever wanted!

What Was Left Unsaid

There was no mention of the recent controversy over bans for people who teamkilled their teamkiller. Or for those who were banned because a popular streamer accused them of stream sniping. The PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS subreddit has been hammered with negative posts based on this, and while Bluehole did release a statement on the matter, PlayerUnknown has remained curiously quiet about it.