This build also has backpacks as hidden collectibles. What do the collectibles unlock?
Yes, every level has got three of these collectibles in various different difficulties to find. Some of them are attached to trophies and achievements and some are attached to back story and things like that. Some of them are really hard to find.
Do you have any plans for downloadable content once the game is out?
We’re going to do DLC but I can’t really talk about the specifics of it right now.
Will it be like new shoes for Faith or new game modes?
(laughs) I don’t think we’ll be doing new shoes for Faith. I know what it is but I just can’t tell you. But it’s really cool and I’m excited about it
So how soon after the game releases can we expect the DLC? Six months?
No, it will be much sooner than that.
How long is the game at first playthrough?
It really depends. I’ve watched a lot of people play through the game. We’ve got groups of people to play the game just so we can take notes and see where people get stuck so we can fix it. I saw one guy who managed it in 8 hours, which I was pretty impressed with. That went all the way up to 13 hours.
So 8 hours is the fastest you can run through the game at first playthrough?
Within that group of people, generally it was 10 to 13 hours, and this one guy just seemed to “get it” better than anyone else. So he was pretty fast. But we’ve built the levels to be played a lot faster than that. So when you beat the game, you’ll unlock Speed Run, which is full levels clocked and you can upload those times to the leaderboards.
Will these speed runs include enemies?
Yes, that has the combat. It has everything. The times are insane for those. I couldn’t believe the times I saw when we had testers play the game and the routes they found to evade combat and get to an area as fast as possible. I saw one area, a rooftop stretch on level 3 that usually took 10-15 minutes for people to complete on a first playthrough because it was kind of puzzly. One of the testers got through that in just under a minute. Its super fun too because once you know it and you’ve found the routes, its almost like playing another game, because the first time you play it, you’re still figuring out how it works. Later it just becomes this perfectly fluid motion and you can just be unbroken; wall-running, jumping, sliding, rolling, back-flipping and just getting through it perfectly. Its kind of cool as well because that works if you die, it sets you back to a check point and you know the geometry a lot better so you can move through it much faster this time.
How would dying work in time trials? Would you need to start over if you die?
The time trials are generally short maps. We’ve cut out chunks that we thought were fun to play fast. They’re checkpointed and you need to hit each checkpoint to proceed. So if you die, you’ll just get reset to the last checkpoint. Of course, most people just go back to beginning after one mistake.
Are the environments mostly rooftops and outdoors or does the game play out equally indoors?
It’s kind of hard to say percentage-wise; 50-50 maybe. You’ve probably seen the storm drain level. That level starts out in canals that lead into the entrance of the storm drains before you move down. Then you come back up and the level actually finishes on the rooftops. The bit you’ve seen is just the middle of the level, not the full thing. That’s what we’ve done with each level. We’ve never wanted to work with just one environment. We move through different types of spaces and different heights for each place.
So of course, there will be a sequel to Mirror’s Edge, right?
I would love to. Just make sure everyone goes out and buys it and then we’ll make a sequel. There’s a lot of stuff that we wanted to do but ran out of time for. There’s also stuff that we did that we didn’t use. For instance, we did a lot of systems for Faith’s legs, but ended up not using them because we ran out of time. So we’ve disabled them, which is really frustrating. There were many ways we could get her legs to move and interact with the environment which is very, very cool, but we couldn’t use it so we had to just switch it off.
Are there any boss fights in the game?
We sort of did, but we mostly took them out and replaced them with events that occur throughout the game. We found out when we started testing that boss fights didn’t work so well. They work well if you have to shoot a glowing eye or something fantastic like that, but not when your character is human and so is the other character and you’re both really short (laughs). We’ve put in more like boss environments that make you think ‘How am I going to get all the way up there’.
Tell us a little about the city and the story.
The way the city is governed is changing. It’s not quite a dictatorship or a place where the government is very mean, it’s more like a nanny state that’s gone a step too far and it’s starting to get worse and Faith and her sister Kate are caught up in that. Her sister, who is a police officer, is framed for murder and there are certain reasons that have motivated that. So as Faith tries to help her sister, she starts to learn about the other things that are going on around that. The cops are after Faith too because she was at the crime scene just before Kate was arrested.
In this level you also come across another runner.
Okay yes, that’s Celeste.
So are there parts of the game where you will have other AI characters with you?
Occasionally you’re going to meet other runners and stuff like that, but there’s no focussed co-op stuff. There are a few chases but there’s no deep interplay between them.
Will the PC version be the same as the console versions?
(Long pause) I don’t know if I can talk about that yet. The obvious difference is the fact that if you run it on a massive gaming rig, its going to run faster and look better. And it does look incredible.
Will the downloadable demo include this same rooftop level?
Yes, it will include the tutorial level since that’s what we built it for – to teach the player different parts of the gameplay. We’re doing some stuff with preorders as well and those guys will be able to unlock time trials and stuff.
And will there be a limited edition?
I’m actually not sure. I’ve been seeing some of the ideas and the box art and stuff like that and it looks pretty cool, but I don’t remember what we’ve decided to do.
Do you have plans to bring the game to the Wii or handhelds?
Not right now. We’re currently just working on finishing it on the current platforms that we’re working on. If the game does do well and is popular, we may think about where else we want to take it. I think we could do some pretty interesting things with different platforms, but we’re not right now. They’re all different so we couldn’t port it; we’d have to do something else.
Especially on a platform like the DS.
It could be a completely different kind of game; maybe a puzzle game. It would be interesting to look at.
How big is the Mirror’s Edge team at DICE?
Well, we’re sort of ramping down now since we’re almost finished now. People are leaving the team and starting work on other projects. At our largest, we were about 70 or 80 people, not counting outsourcing and stuff like that.
Do you guys borrow from the Battlefield team or do you have the same guys working in both teams?
When we were just getting finished, some of the guys from Battlefield came over to help us out. Basically, everybody will come and help whoever is next out the door. Those guys were cool. I don’t know where we’re at right now because people were literally moving desks when I left to come here. We actually used some of the Battlefield guns in Mirror’s Edge, so we didn’t have to model those again.
Did you guys ever consider using the Frostbite engine in Mirror’s Edge?
We took the decision to use Unreal a long time ago. At that time, the Frostbite guys were working on Battlefield Bad Company and working on that engine. That’s a completely different kind of game from Mirror’s Edge with its big landscapes, destruction and heavily populated urban environments. We could’ve done it, but if the Frostbite team was to work on both games simultaneously, we would have to rework when we would be able to release the game. There would be a considerable delay, I think. We felt doing that would have an overall negative impact. It’s a very cool engine and it’s a shame we couldn’t use it.
So how does it feel now that the game is a little over a month from release?
It’s weird being close to the end. When you’ve been working on something for so long, it feels strange thinking its going to end soon. I just hope people like it.
Don’t forget to check out our hands-on impressions of Mirror’s Edge from Games Convention Asia.
Mirror’s Edge Hi-res images