Titanfall 2‘s single player campaign is still fantastic, with the time-bending Effect and Cause mission the absolute highlight. We’ve gone into detail about how good it is before, and today’s there’s commentary from a senior Respawn designer on how the magic happened.
This story has been retimed following the resurgence of interest in Titanfall 2, with its recent re-release on Steam.
Jake Keating is a senior designer at Respawn, having worked on the scripting, writing, environments, AI, systems and mechanics for Titanfall and Titanfall 2. He recently sat down with the Australian YouTube channel Game Brain, explaining the team's outlook when they started on Titanfall 2 and how they approached the idea of a campaign.
One of the tools Respawn built early on was "action blocks", which was little prototypes that Respawn designers would use in the early stages. Keating also described the amount of time Respawn had to spend building Effect and Cause, primarily because it was largely two maps running concurrently.
"The lecture hall is a perfect example," Keating said. "You go in there, you don't even have any weapons, there's nothing to shoot at, and it's just exposition. It changes from a pristine state back to the present state where it's overgrown ... you've got every department working on that level, that one scene, and it's over in three seconds."
It's a fascinating reveal of the amount of detail that goes into things players often don't see - or don't see for very long, and therefore don't consider especially important. But it helps reveal some of the tricks and management needed for good development, like reusing geometry, or level planning that doesn't create more work than is necessary.
Effect and Cause broke all of those rules, and that was before any of the cool stuff actually happened. And that's the life of video games sometimes: creating something truly memorable often takes time and an exceptional amount of effort.