At Home On The Battlefront
February 12, 2014
“I think FIEA really taught me how important collaboration is. And how to compromise”
— Dennis Brännvall, EA Dice
Dennis Brännvall was a long way from home when he joined FIEA’s production track in Fall of 2011. He’s since returned triumphantly to his native country of Sweden and is now serving as lead level designer for “Star Wars Battlefront” at EA DICE in Stockholm.
“I build multiplayer games modes which include scripting game rules, UI, HUD, audio, etc, while also being in charge of the level layouts and balance,” says Dennis.
Dennis describes the relationship between the studio and Disney. Despite the highly protected status of the “Star Wars” IP, the DICE team is afforded a large amount creative freedom in what Dennis describes as “a healthy relationship.”
Letting Art Rule
Two things stand out with Dennis about DICE: the art, which he describes as “incredible” and the Frostbite Engine, which he considers one of the two best engines in the industry (the other being Unreal).
As a rule, Dennis tries to let the artists do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t impact gameplay.
“I think FIEA really taught me how important collaboration is. And how to compromise,” he says. “At FIEA, you’re not setting anyone’s salary. You don’t have a whip. People have to feel like they’re being respected.”
Becoming A Level Designer
While growing up, Dennis says he had two major passions: books and games. When he ended up writing his thesis about games and game design theory, he realized it might be time to change direction. That led him to FIEA.
Despite beginning in a production lead position on his FIEA capstone team project, Dennis soon found himself in a level design role when his project was cut.
Level design gave Dennis the opportunity to stand out to employers and repurpose his childhood experiences drawing maps for “Dungeons and Dragons” and playing “Quake” competitively. This helped him to create a strong level design portfolio that helped make him attractive to prospective employers upon graduation. Dennis says FIEA helped him become more technical and less afraid to dive into a development tool like the Unreal Engine.
“I like logic and I like creating technical things, I just don’t write code very well,” Dennis confesses. “You don’t have to, in fact lots of AAA engines are set up so that all non-programmers build their stuff using visual scripting. That’s what I do now.”