As one of the most entertaining gaming communities out there, the talented and shenanigans-filled Battlefield community is one of our favorites.
From custom dogtags and cinematic tools, to storytelling screenshots and mouth-watering videos, Battlefield’s community has grown its own unique identity through creativity and passion, so we thought we’d interview and highlight a few of the intriguing individuals who contribute to the virtual world of creation.
In Part 1, we interviewed the eccentric Berduu about how he does what he does best: screenshots. It was clear that HattiWatti’s cinematic tools are a huge part of his hobby and his gorgeous screenshots, so we decided to sit down with the man himself and dive into the world of a Finnish, soon-to-be physics developer.
But, first, a look at his work:
MP1st: Okay Matti, who are you? What are your passion and goals? Give me the gist of HattiWatti.
Matti: I am a 19-year-old guy from Finland. I spend a lot of my time on my computer and like most people I play games and browse the internet a lot. Computer-wise, the most interesting things for me have always been video editing, game modding and ingame recording, the techniques behind all this stuff etc… Outside of computers, things like physics and space are interesting stuff for me. I do astrophotography as a hobby. I wasn’t interested in physics before high school, but I like to think it’s one of my primary goals to go study it in a university and find a job from that area. Doing actual research for particle or astrophysics would be fun even if it seems completely unlikely. I still don’t really know what I’d like to do with my life exactly.
MP1st: If I remember correctly, you showed up with the Free Cam tool in Battlefield 3 for LevelBF, an esports organization, and it quickly blew up into this amazing piece of software to do more than just spectate comp matches. How did you come about making it?
Matti: I’ve always been interested in creating game machinimas, creating video effects and the techniques that could be used to film stuff in-game. I watched machinimas a lot and I was the kid in GMod who filmed a lot of stupid stuff and had a filming group determined to be the next Lit Fuse Films, never really finishing a project or making anything great. I had, and still have, these moments where I came up with a cool scene with different effects that I wanted to make. Problem is I never was that creative, so I couldn’t exactly reconstruct my image in the game. Also, I never could come up with the rest of the video. They ended up being half-finished effect test videos:
So years roll by, BF3 comes out and the idea for the tool came after Frankelstner released the BF3 Tweaker, which allowed you to change the contents of the game archives, including camera positions and visual stuff. The bad side, besides it being able to make any weapon OHK, was that you had to reload the map every time you made changes. I remember Ricky from Blue Entertainment contacted me and wanted to learn how to control the cameras. After that I wanted to create some kind of a tool to automatically move the camera. (Ricky is still an important part of the tools. He created the website and helped with some aspects of the tool’s design). The very first version was really simple, you had to find the camera position in the memory by yourself and then you would give it coordinates where it would go:
After that I started to learn programming in C#, something that I had always kinda wanted to learn but never had the motivation for. With time and actual motivation the tool got better and better, until it pretty much did everything automatically.
At the same time, I was a part of LevelBF’s 32vs32 Open Tier and I don’t really remember if it was me who contacted them or if they saw the tools, but I think they ended up using it a bit in their streams. It was still pretty clumsy to use, so later on they had their own tool made by one of their experienced programmers. I only helped a bit by telling how to actually override the camera coordinates. I believe my tool was also used for Flabslab streams (competitive dogfighting scene), though that might’ve been kiwidog’s VeniceFX where the camera controls weren’t as clumsy.
MP1st: Over the course of Battlefield 3’s life span, it became apparent that creative minds like Robert Stonemen would use your tool to make epic cinematics. Did you ever think it would come to that?
Matti: I realized from the start that the tools could actually be something that people would use. I still think the BF3 version was relatively small and unknown, they are much more inferior to the BF4 version. I don’t know if Stoneman ever used the tools for his videos. I remember loving Lit Fuse Films’ videos from GMod, so I contacted him via email about the BF3 Tweaker and wrote about the possibilities of camera manipulation etc. I don’t know if he ever read it. The way of doing it with the tweaker was time-consuming and complex, so maybe he just dismissed the idea back then.
A Battlefield 4 machinima by Berdu using HattiWatti’s Cinematic Tools
MP1st: While the community has shown its love for your creation, how have the developers responded to it?
Matti: I would say it’s been a gentle nod of approval. I don’t think they can really praise the tools since they’re unofficial and not safe to use with Punkbuster, but it’s always nice to be acknowledged by the official creators of the game.
MP1st: So with Battlefield 4 still raging in its prime, you have taken the free cam and made it into this cinematic heaven with tons of features and, most recently, custom animations. Are you proud of what you’ve made?
Matti: Absolutely, it’s one of the most important things to me right now and I’m glad it has the user base it has. Two and a half years ago, I wouldn’t have thought it would take me to Paris for a BF Video workshop event.
MP1st: Adding any new features you haven’t announced just yet?
Matti: Nothing definite. Maybe spawning models or effects? That’d be limited to the map’s props though.
MP1st: Do you plan to support other games with the cinematic tool, or are you keeping it in the Battlefield?
Matti: I’ve already done tools for Alien: Isolation and Dragon Age: Inquisition. The main focus is with Frostbite 3 games, but if there’s interesting looking games that I happen to buy, I might create at least a simple camera tool for them.
MP1st: Speaking of Battlefield, what’s the plan for Hardline? Will it receive the tool as well?
Matti: Yes, Hardline will receive the tools. It’s a bit more work than what must be done after BF4 updates, but shouldn’t take too long.
MP1st: Has your project put your foot in the door for places like DICE?
Matti: Only for DICE, probably. I visited the studios, though I didn’t get far, and I’ve met some of the people there (Mainly the video crew), it would certainly be an interesting place to work at. I have a hard time valuing the tools programming-wise. I learned C++ and C# by making the tools during my free time, but IMO they’re simple and thus I don’t think my programming skills are anything special. I’ve wondered about it and I just don’t know what I would do there. I don’t have any special skills so I don’t think I’d meet the high requirements… You never know, I guess.
MP1st: Okay, so before we end this, tell me, what’s your favorite Battlefield game and why?
Matti: I’ll go with nostalgia and pick 1942. I played the hell out of the Wake Island demo and it was one of my first shooters (I think the second after AvP2). Battle of Britain, Wake Island, Coral Sea, Battle of Midway, Iwo Jima, Kursk, Berlin, Operation Market Garden, El Alamein… All great maps with loads of memories. I loved flying and dogfighting. And let’s not forget about the mods; I played a lot of Desert Combat when I couldn’t even run BF2 on our computer, the menu and loading theme are stuck to my head forever. Another mod I played a lot was FinnWars. After 1942, I’d pick BF2 —> BC2 -> BF3 -> BF4. I own both Vietnam and 2142, but I only played them for a few hours.
We’d like to thank Matti for sitting down with us over the interwebs! Be sure to check his stuff out in the links below!
For more Inside The Battlefield Community, stay tuned for our interview with Julien Holland and his custom Dog Tags, coming to a MP1st near you.