GR: Games have been presenting players with moral choices for years. Was this element baked into Spec Ops from the beginning?
WW: Yeah. We always knew that the choice aspect of it was going to be key. That part is ultimately in conflict. In real war, you come across these moments of choice. They are very different from the choices you usually see in a game; it's not "hit A for good, and B for bad." The choices, in a lot of ways, present themselves simply as moments in the game. They are even not necessarily set up as a choice. You don’t even know if you have an option unless you choose and try to mess around and see what you can do with it. That is ultimately really what we were looking to do, is to create more realistic choices in the game. The players will find themselves in situations that they can study it for a little bit and try and figure out what’s going on, and see if they want to intervene or think of different ways they can intervene, and maybe what the consequences of the choice would be. Sometimes it is presented more dramatically, more ominously to them, where the character can give the player a choice, and they act on it based off what that character has told them, or they can try and act on it based what they feel inside, and maybe what they can do.
In one instance, there's a spot where you have the two men hanging in front of you and you’re supposed to choose which to shoot. You, as the character, are told to do one or the other, but you as the player have the option of doing nothing, or to try and shoot the ropes and free them, or to attack the snipers. I mean, it’s kind of playing what the character knows and what the player would maybe try and do.
Other times, we have situations that come on to you in the middle of combat, and you don’t even realize it’s a choice until after. It’s meant to be a split-second reaction, and you simply have to live with the consequences, because these are the kind of choices you face on a daily basis. They are always different, and sometimes they have long-range effects, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it’s just something that happens in our lives, and we have to live with it and you have to keep going, which was ultimately what we were trying to create with these choices. We didn't want something like “Well, if I’m bad enough, I will get this particular gun, or this particular faction will like me,” because that really isn’t very realistic. And while, yes, our game takes place in Dubai and it’s buried under sand and that, in its own way, is not realistic, but it is hyper-realized in a sense. We were looking to use these choices to create more of a hyper-realistic moral situation that the consequences exist more within the player emotionally than necessarily within the gameplay mechanics that feed back into that choice.