Buffalo, Turtle Racing and the LAPD: The Making of the BF4 Guide

Long days and late nights. This is what I’m recovering from, having just returned from my third trip to LA DICE. I’m still trying to figure out what’s more exhausting: a two-week trip to Stockholm or three one-week trips to LA. But the guide is complete and off to print. So now I have a moment to reflect on the work we’ve done over the last three months. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Turn your headlights on at night. Otherwise the LAPD will think you’re drunk.
  • Never get buffaloed while drinking a smoothie.
  • Bagged soup is perfect for stomach-churning bathroom pranks.
  • Be careful with leftover scallops.
  • Walking distance is debatable.
  • The garlic rolls at C & O Trattoria live up to the hype. That’s Amore!
  • Battlefield beards are only shaved when the book goes to print.
  • If a fire alarm goes off during Monday Night Football, simply ignore the alarm.
  • Some paper towels just smell funny. Don’t use them.
  • Jamba Juice can handle any custom order, no matter how elaborate.
  • During a turtle race, don’t point at your turtle; there’s a $10 penalty.
  • Some people can eat Chipotle everyday.

Oh, and we also played a lot of Battlefield 4. We’ve taken a new approach with the guide this time, bringing in a few pro gamers to help develop content from a competitive gaming perspective. Our team of pros includes Michael “StrongSide” Cavanaugh, Dave “Walshy” Walsh, Michael “Flamesword” Chaves, and Marcus “Elumnite” Lovejoy. All four of these guys have extensive experience in the eSports circuit, complete with big-name sponsorships and impressive records to boot. So it’s been a pleasure to work with these guys and see what kind of tactics they can bring to Battlefield.

Battlefield 4 Group Photo

From left to right: David Knight (me), Dave “Walshy” Walsh, Michael “Flamesword” Chaves, Marcus “Elumnite” Lovejoy, Michael “StrongSide” Cavanaugh, and Jim Knight (no relation)

Joined by our product manager Paul Giacomotto and digital guru Jim Knight, we took our first trip to DICE LA in early August with the idea we could get most of the work completed in a week. Boy, were we wrong. With ten maps and eight game modes, Battlefield 4 is a massive game. As a result, this trip only allowed us to get our feet wet, experimenting with tweaks in the classes, weapons, and vehicles while working through seven out of the ten playable maps.

Battlefield 4 Lunch

Our days were spent logging locations of vehicles in Conquest and Rush, while evenings consisted of scouting out some of Marina Del Rey and Venice’s best eateries. During this time none other than our product manager, Paul, introduced the team to the Buffalo drinking game. Buffalo requires you to drink with only your non-dominant hand. If you get caught drinking with your dominant hand, a Buffalo is called and you must chug the remainder of your drink. Given the competitive nature of the team, Buffalo took on a whole life of its own, with increasingly complex and elaborate rules. Fortunately, I didn’t get involved in this game. Because once you’re a Buffalo, you’re in it for life. I already have enough commitments.

Following the first trip, work continued throughout the month of August, with a brief break while our team took part in the Halo 4 Global Championship at PAX. But following the tournament, the team was back at work on BF4. It soon became clear that we needed to make another trip out to DICE LA. So in mid September we headed back to the studio to tie-up some loose ends and see three new maps: Dawnbreaker, Golmud Railway, and Siege of Shanghai. I stayed with the team for a week in LA, but needed to get back to focus on writing-up the Battlefield Bootcamp, Classes, and Vehicles chapters. Meanwhile, most of the team stayed back in LA for another week, grinding away on content for the ten maps and eight game modes. Even after the second trip, work continued until the final minutes before the book went to print.

Battlefield 4 DICE

The guide went to print on a Friday, and on the following Monday most of us were back at DICE LA for our third trip. This time we needed to capture a ton of video content for promotional clips as well as some tactical videos for our digial guide. The mood was a bit more relaxed this time around. Still, we worked long days setting up shots and triggering Levolution events. On our last night, StrongSide and Flamesword headed over to Brennan’s Pub to check out the legendary turtle races, something they’d been meaning to do in previous trips. It wasn’t until the next morning until I heard all about it; StrongSide has some good tips if you’re ever in Marina Del Rey and interested in racing a turtle.

We’re all back home now. But our work on Battlefield 4 is far from over. We have big plans to support this title after launch with more updates, blogs and videos. So stay tuned to learn the latest tips and tactics from myself and our team of pro gamers. We’re all counting down the days until the game’s release and look forward to seeing you all on the Battlefield.

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