Louis Castle interview: How Amazon labored for 5 years to make team shooter Crucible

Louis Castle interview: How Amazon labored for 5 years to make team shooter Crucible

Amazon spent five years developing Crucible, the free team shooter that starts today on PC.

Competitive multiplayer allows players to choose from a diverse list of aliens, humans and robots to fight on the Crucible planet, where they can collect Essence resources while avoiding the death of other hunters and the environment .

Louis Castle, co-founder of Westwood Studios and co-creator of games like Command & Conquer, joined Amazon in 2017, and he runs Relentless Studios on Amazon in Seattle. Relentless made Crucible, which contains elements of multiplayer games such as Blizzard’s Overwatch, Riot’s Valorant and even Call of Duty.

The game begins with three models: Heart of the Hives (4 against 4), where players face big bosses and capture their hearts to win; Alpha Hunters, eight teams of two players each in a final permanent team match; and Harvester Command, where players capture and hold points on a map. I spoke to Castle about how Amazon created the game and the thinking behind its design. We will soon know if these decisions are of interest to players wishing to play new games during the lockout.

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The game was originally scheduled to be released in March, but Amazon has decided to postpone the launch to May 20 so the team can cope with the pandemic disruption as it finishes the title, Castle said. Castle said the game was designed from the start to be watchable, and all eyes are going to be on this first major release of Amazon’s PC game.

Here is a revised transcript of our interview.

GamesBeat: I was talking to a developer who said that this project started about four years ago?

Castle: It’s a bit difficult to pin down. The game started about five years ago, but has undergone big changes. This was announced before I joined the company at a TwitchCon in September 2016. When I got on board, we had a playable version, and we already had a community group already formed, about a hundred people. It was a pretty good figure. From the very beginning, when it was barely presented as a playable prototype, it was always guided by the community.

When I arrived on Amazon, it was the project that resonated with me customer obsessed, like Amazon likes to be. This is one of the things that attracted me to Crucible. All leaders are linked to the community. It was built hand in hand with a group of advisers.

Above: Louis Castle runs Relentless Studios on Amazon.

Image Credit: Amazon

GamesBeat: How big would you say the team was when you got there? Were you just going to run the game, or more to run a larger studio?

Castle: The quick answer is that we are not supposed to give the exact size of the teams. But it is smaller than the teams that would work on competitive titles in the same space. It is far from some of the biggest teams I have worked with in my career. It is a relatively small and broken team.

GamesBeat: Was it a prototyping team or a production team at the time?

Castle: When I got on board, there were two groups on Amazon. Amazon has a principle of single thread leaders, so there were two single thread leaders who had development teams under them. When I got on board, one of these groups was redistributed to start the Grand Tour and do things for Lumberyard. The other was Crucible. It was a reasonable size, adequate – it was larger than a prototype team. It was a full-fledged development team. They had a playable game. I had the chance to play in the laboratory, and it was quite fun. There were a number of concerns at the time, which of course have been addressed since then, but from the start, the game was always a lot of fun to play.

GamesBeat: How did it go?

Castle: I was called by my friend Rich Hilleman. I had known Rich since I was in high school, so it’s been a long time. Said, “Hey, you should talk to Mike Frazzini.” I happen to have contracts with companies like Kixeye and Kabam and many others. Everything ended at the same time and I was looking for a new job. I spoke to Mike and there was a lot of discussion about the types of roles I could play at Amazon.

He asked me bluntly, “What would you like to do? What would be your favorite activity? I said, “Well, I’ve been in the trenches for a few years now, I’m working on touching the code again. I like being closer to the products. It would be great to be a studio manager again. work directly with the teams. “He said,” We can fix this. ” I walked in and interviewed on Amazon, I love the teams that I work with, I love the work, I’m really happy to do it.

Mike Frazzini shares the original pitch internally with our group to the leaders of Amazon’s senior team, in the same way that Jeff Bezos shares this letter to shareholders. Just a reminder of the North Star. We have a real reason to be here. Amazon’s games, for ages – as a business, AWS, is used by about 80% of the world’s best game companies. All the features, all the services we offer. We also sell games as a retailer. It is not that difficult to say that we should not only offer the stack tools, but also the stack tools. This is how Lumberyard was built, and there are still a lot of cool things coming from gaming technology.

We are all about games in many ways. One of the things you should do if you are making products for customers is to know that you understand the position of the customer. As an internal customer, having play teams makes a lot of sense. It slowed us down a bit at first, because we were trying to do a lot of things at once. I am proud of the way they came out and people rallied around the excitement of building something that is really obsessed from the team level.

Crucible arrives May 20 on PC.

Above: Crucible arrives May 20 on PC.

Image Credit: Amazon

GamesBeat: How difficult was it to learn to use Lumberyard using a new game engine?

Castle: Lumberyard has a lot of cool features on it, because it was built with lots of ideas around customer feedback and things like that. We work closely with this group and with other customers on non-advertised products. It’s the same internally. It was nice to have a team dedicated to a technology base right next to you. It also caused some friction, because it’s a whole new thing.

The good thing about Amazon is that we can build all the tools we want. We relied on Lumberyard because it made a lot of sense at the time. We can do it or not. I’m sure it depends on the project. But Lumberyard is a great tool. It is good in many ways. Lots of companies, especially simulation companies that like the highly technical scale issues in Lumberyard – for game development it’s not as mature as some of the other game engines, but we’ve managed to create something as competitive as anything else.

GamesBeat: When you got there, did you restart the project in any way or redirect it?

Castle: I did something. I arrived on board in February. In July, we had a big test, around 250 players. It was quite interesting that in July 2017, we had 250 people playing this in the wild. I liked the comments from all the customers. It was clear that we were on something exciting, and they were eager to play it.

It was before PUBG got too big, and long before Fortnite. The game was a character-based shooter. Even then, there were aspects of the battle royale. There were all these other features you see that are unique when playing it, attention to detail in the map and placement of items, the MOBA aspect of the characters improving during the game. All those things you don’t see in other games in the genre. The reason Crucible predates all of these games – it was not developed in parallel with the fact that the industry finds all the fun in these competitive games.

I felt like we had to do a major technological upgrade on our network infrastructure. Some team members convinced me that we need to change some of the core technology around the entity component systems, so that we can have better scalability. For non-technicians, it is more a question of making this place a place of fair play. It performs well on many types of connections. We could update the graphics a bit with dynamic global lighting. Stuff that is in Unreal Engine 5 now, that is in Crucible. It’s not exactly what they do, but it does the same thing.

There has been a visual upgrade. Online gaming had to be better. It would also require us to rewrite the game. The previous version of the game was live year-round, more than it took to rewrite the game engine, just so we could keep playing with our alphas and making sure that we refine the game. We have a game that has been in testing for over three years, more or less in the same state as it is right now. It shows in the quality of the experience and the balance of all the characters.

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