Top Gun is an upcoming arcade flight combat game developed by doublesix and published by Paramount Digital Entertainment. The Top Gun IP has been on hiatus for a while now and with the growing popularity of arcade flight combat games such as Ace Combat and Tom Clancy's HAWX, it's about time the legendary cultural phenomenon we oldies know as Top Gun rekindles our love for high speed aerial combat.
We got in contact with Ollie Barder at doublesix and asked him a couple of questions about the game.
Hooked Gamers: Hi, and thanks for participating in our interview. Would you be so kind as to introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a little bit about what it is you do on the team?
Ollie Barder: My name is Ollie Barder and I’m a senior games designer at doublesix. This means that I do a lot of game scripting and balancing, basically I’m often in the guts of the game trying to make it play right. In terms of my work on Top Gun, I scripted the missions and did a lot of the flight model and weapons balancing.
Hooked Gamers: The film was a massive hit when it was released in 1986. Since then, a number of games have been released with the name attached to them. Can you tell us, why a new Top Gun game? And why now?
Ollie Barder: Paramount were keen to refresh Top Gun as a game IP. As for us, we felt that there was a place in the digital download space for a fun arcade flight game and so we jumped at the chance to make one.
Hooked Gamers: Jack Epps Jr., the screenwriter behind the legendary film, has written the dialogue for the game. How closely does the games plot follow that of the film? Maverick and Iceman are obviously there, but will we see more characters we may remember from the film?
Ollie Barder: The game’s plot follows the film pretty broadly – the locations are similar, we reference the same characters – but this is a game not a film and so we make requirements of the story that a film wouldn’t. For example, our game spends a lot more time in the Indian Ocean and the player has to contend with a Russian ace called Ivan. You also have to take out a fair amount of ground targets in the game too and that wasn’t in the film either.
In terms of the characters, they’re pretty much all covered from Goose to Merlin and even Hollywood. The main omission is Kelly McGillis’ character Charlotte Blackwood, simply because she never entered into combat in the film.
Hooked Gamers: Are you at all worried that the younger generation of gamers may dismiss this game, having never heard of the cultural phenomenon that was Top Gun?
Ollie Barder: Well, I think games like Ace Combat and HAWX tap into the same desire that the original Top Gun film instilled, to pilot a supersonic jet fighter, and that still appeals to gamers of any age.
Hooked Gamers: The F-14 Tomcat was the token aeroplane of the film and the games that followed it for many years. It has been stated that players will be able to take the F-16 Fighting Falcon for a spin. Why the F-16 and will we have the opportunity to pilot any other fighters?
Ollie Barder: We have six planes in the game; the F-14, F-16, F/A-18 comprise the American jets and the Su-27, MiG-29 and MiG-31 comprise the Russian forces. You start with the F-14 and unlock the remaining American fighters once you’ve completed flight school; the Russian fighters are unlocked once you complete the Campaign. We included the F-16 because it was used at the Flight School and so very appropriate to the world of Top Gun.
Hooked Gamers: The focus of this game has always been about the gameplay. This is an Action Arcade Flight Combat game. Can you tell us anything specific about the gameplay features implemented in this game?
Ollie Barder: Sure, one of the big things we wanted to do was remove as many of the “simulation” type restrictions you see in other flight games. For example, your plane now has infinite ammo, your guns won’t overheat, your health is replenished automatically and you’ll never stall. This means the player can focus on shooting down other planes and blowing stuff up without having to micromanage other elements of the craft.
One other big addition Top Gun has is the use of CFI (or Controlled Flight Instability). This feature massively increases the turn and pitch rate of the plane as well as act as target camera, meaning you can track an enemy a lot easier than you would otherwise. It also has the added bonus of making the player look like some kind of piloting ace, which is always good.
Hooked Gamers: The Air Combat genre has been on the decline in the last few years with only a few titles being released each year, most of which arcade style fighters. Can you tell us, why Arcade? Why not Simulation?
Ollie Barder: We’re a studio that focuses on addictive “one more go” kind of games, like Burn Zombie Burn, and simulation is a bit too heavy handed for us. Not to mention, as you say, that the flight combat genre has been a bit simulator heavy as of late and we wanted to break away from that a bit.
Hooked Gamers: It is our tradition to give the developers a chance to say something about the game that they desperately want to get out. Is there anything burning on your lips?
Ollie Barder: The game supports the Saitek Aviator (PS3) flight stick and we even did a special custom button mapping for it. Make sure to check it out!
Hooked Gamers: Thank you for your time.