Q&A: Time to get an insight into FarCry 3
Far Cry is back with a new setting, new characters and new ways to play. We recently had the chance to ask a few questions to Far Cry 3's lead designer, Jamie Keen.
XG24/7 (Sam Clay): So what are you showing off today?
Jamie Keen: We're showing the E3 demo again to you guys today, so we're showing you a little bit of an excerpt to the main gameplay that your going to be experiencing in the game as a whole. You're going to be getting a little bit of an understanding of the character you're going to be seeing in the game. We've got one character again here today this is Vaas, with him we really went for a really intense character, he's really going to be in your face, he's going to be really, really, mental. He's more of an example of how characters are going to work in the game, rather than the template for it. We want to make sure we've got a really big spread of characters in the game; he's an example but he's not all of them. Then the demo moves on to a more open gameplay section. Where it's much more "OK here you go, you've got to get to this point" and then you decide how you get there.
XG24/7: So I noticed that you saying there is a few ways to play the demo, so is that the whole idea of Far Cry 3? You can play it how you like?
JK: Definitely, its much more about how the player decides how he wants to play it. It's a sandbox game in the true sense of the word. We're going to give you all the tools, give you all the toys and then we let you decide how you want to approach the action. So if want to play more stealthy, that's fine, if you want to play a little bit more covertly all that stuff will be there. On the other hand if you want to have more of an action experience, if you just want to not worry about it and go in guns blazing, then we'll definitely cater to that as well.
XG24/7: So what's the next step from Far Cry 2 in Far Cry 3. What did you want to improve?
JK: I think like I touched on before, one of the big things is the character. Far Cry 2 is obviously a really good platform to go from. It's got a really genuine open world experience with lots of interesting stuff you can do in the world. So we wanted to move on from the successful points of Far Cry 2 and develop it a little bit further. One of the biggest things is going to be the characters and the narrative, we really want to concentrate on that as well, because that's something we really felt we could really push with Far Cry 3.
XG24/7: In Far Cry 2 you had team mates, other characters that would help you out. Is that the same?
JK: Yeah, we'll have something very similar to that. We'll have guys who are going to help you out through missions, you'll have people who's definitely on your side that'll be helping you through. We really wanted it to feel like you've been thrown in the mix without really any help around you. We didn't want you to think "Oh OK, I can make inroads here." The people you do make friends with, are not always necessarily going to pan out. So it may not go the way you expect it to.
XG24/7: So in that demo you played it quite quietly. Can you talk about how you can play it quietly and how you can play it loudly?
JK: Absolutely. It depends on the route you want to take. We want to signal, through level design, the plants that your going to see the routes you can take. We want the player to kind of take a look at the scenario that's in front of them, and then decide "Hmm, OK, so here's the different routes I can take." Like the zip-line that you're probably seen, that's going to provide you with a quick access route right into the middle of the action. So we're really going to reward the player for taking a bit of time for just for working out what his tactics are going to be. You'll have the main route in, but if you spend a bit of time exploring around and having a look, then you'll definitely find vantage points or routes where you're going to be a little bit more disguised as you make you’re approach. That's something hopefully you can see in the demo today that just if you spend a wee bit of time having a little bit of a look around, you'll find those routes and have a different experience playing the same scenario.
XG24/7: Do you have to find them or will there be something that will point them out for you?
JK: At the moment, we want the player to really explore and have a look around. There's lots of tools. Like the camera, that's all about giving more of a tactical overview of what's he's looking at before he gets engaged. So just spending a wee bit of time just working out how you're going to do it before hand will be really rewarded.
XG24/7: Far Cry 3 is looking like a great game. You must have some powerful kit to do that. How hard is it to optimise for the consoles?
JK: Right now we are showing on PC. We could be showing it on console, and we will be showing it on console moving forward. There isn't a lead skew here or anything like that. We want to push it on all of the different fronts. We really want to make sure we're really delivering the best experience we possibly can. We've got the base of the Dunia engine, Far Cry 2 for it's time looked really, really, good. There’s not that many open world games that have that level of visual integrity. We are lucky to have that as a platform which means we can push that on all fronts. So you know the PC is obviously going to be further ahead, but we really want to be doing the same with the consoles too. We want to push a graphically succulent experience on the consoles as well.
XG24/7: I remember Far Cry 2 having some problems on consoles. Can you remember what those problems were and why Far Cry 2 wasn't optimised very well for the consoles.
JK: Far Cry 2 reviewed extremely well but there are definitely problems that we had with the game, I think probably more from a gameplay perspective rather than a tech perspective. But rest assured that we've listened to what the problems are. We've pushed forward on all the different fronts to make sure we've addressed those issues that arose and move on from that point as well. We're lucky to have that platform and that we can pick out the bits that people are saying "Hey we need to fix this stuff". Check points being one thing, the driving experience, the fast travel. All those areas we're very aware they they were issues we need to deal with in the game. We're definitely looking to sew those things up, and make sure everybody has a much better experience this time around.
XG24/7: One thing I always remember about Far Cry is multiplayer - Tell me about it.
JK: I'm afraid I can't. We're still radio silent on that for the time being. We're still focused very much on the single player experience. But it's going to be a watch this space moment.
XG24/7: Are we going to expect the map editor to come back?
JK: Again, right now, we're just looking at single player.
XG24/7: The main difference: We're not in Africa. We are back in what we love from Far Cry. When was that decision made?
JK: It's not so much that we're kind to "back to what we love from Far Cry" It's kind of looking at all the things that have gone before. This is still part of the Far Cry universe. If Far Cry 1 happened and that was all good, then there was instinct, predator and Far Cry 2. We wanted to make sure we were still in the gritty world of Far Cry 2, that it's more resonant with that. We're sort of cherry picking the bits that really worked in he previous games and we've kind of put something new together. So here we're on an island which is kind of, way off the maps in the Indian ocean, South East Asia, that kind of area. Really, really, far away from civilisation. So it's kind of "anything goes" and that's really always been our focus. It's not something like "Africa didn’t work" or the "First island didn’t work", it was we wanted to bring something new this time round and give players an experience that's reminiscent of what's gone before, but also very new.
XG24/7: We saw in the demo that you got into a helicopter. Are we going to see a lot of vehicles in Far Cry 3?
JK: Vehicles are really important in Far Cry because it's a really big, key, part of the franchise as a whole, defiantly. So there's not that much in here just now. But moving forward, defiantly, vehicles are going to be super important part of the game and something we're really focusing on improving the experience for as well.
XG24/7: Can we be expecting to get into helicopters and Apaches?
JK: We'll see where we get to. It's something we're not going in too much detail at the moment. You're going to get lots of those answers, I'm afraid. But definitely vehicle experience is something we want to concentrate on and improve.
XG24/7: What’s the scale like in this game?
JK: In terms of actual square footage, we're a bit cagey about doing a comparison. One of the things we wanted to improve on is the density of content that we have. So its not necessarily about square meterage, or “this bit's this much bigger or this much smaller”. It's much more about as you drive through the world, that you’ll feel that it's much more of a live environment than it was in Far Cry 2. There's a lot more going on in the world, and you'll feel that life and things move on without you.
XG24/7: So how does this start? How do you get on the island in the first place?
JK: Without going too much into it, you're kind of on a ship to begin with. You're off travelling, something like that. We want this guy to be, Jason Brody, to be a little bit everyman, little bit kind of jaded, little bit “off trying to find his own way in the world”. Then basically he lands on this island, and then it all just kicks off. Suddenly you're way out of your depth, all this stuffs going on, and you have to go through this voyage of getting out of there - but also a bit of a voyage of discovery for yourself as well.
XG24/7: And this crazy man in the demo that we meet, Vaas, does he know you?
JK: Well this is the thing. As you come to this island, this is an island where people have their own agendas on this island -they've all got their own things that they are trying to do. There's a lot of - again I don’t want to go into too much of the central point - but basically there’s a lot of people to really get ahead if they want to there. So you've got a lot of people chasing the same goal. He's got his own agenda and you're kind of the thorn in his side, and that's the side it's going to play. You have all these characters that want to get their own thing, and you're going to get yourself into their plans, basically.
XG24/7: Pretty much Lost?
JK: We've taken some big cues from some things definitely.
XG24/7: When can we expect to see Far Cry 3?
JK: We're going to be launching in 2012 - that's as much information as I have right now. It's going to be at out some point during 2012 on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
A pleasure speaking to Jamie Keen and we're looking forward to hearing more about Far Cry 3 and the secrets of the island.