Developer commentary: Crysis

The challenge of good AI
Sten: “Our environment is very changeable, you can throw things around, you can block AI paths, cut down trees. Making the AI work in an environment that isn’t fixed and steady is a major challenge, so this was far more than we had to deal with in Far Cry. For me, from a technology point of view what we did was a major achievement. It’s not actually that visible, but if it doesn’t work you see it clearly. The issue with creating AI, though, is that you can never fully account for what a player might be able to do; you can’t know ahead what all the possibilities are. You have to make sure you have a system that can adapt. In a few areas there are some glitches where I would have hoped we could have dealt with, like the machine gun behaviour. There were just two or three things that didn’t work out as we didn’t have any more time.”

Crystalline entities
Bernd: “Creating the alien environment wasn’t an easy process; it took us a long, long time to get right. We had to throw away a lot of things that didn’t work out; we were initially designing environments before we knew what the AI was going to do. I think we constructed five times more alien rooms than you actually see in the game. It had to look good, and the zero-G level had to be a showcase - something that people haven’t ever seen before, something where people are amazed by the graphics. It was important for us to hint to the player that this place was really big: that there was a lot more there than just what you see, that it’s really a menacing hive, that you’re completely alone in there and almost eager to get out it. Not because it’s boring, but because you feel out of your depth.”

Death squids
Sten: “We had thought about what the creatures in this environment could look like, and we put a lot of research into people who really like to think about this kind of thing scientifically. Several different designs popped up as to how they’d look, in the end falling onto octopus or squid-like creatures, with added claws. At one point we just had to take the cool concepts, put it all together and work out how they moved and how they attacked.”

From action bubble to action corridor
Bernd: “I think something that a lot of people noticed wasn’t that the gameplay changes, but that it changes so abruptly. From one moment to the other we change the gameplay dramatically - in retrospect it would have been better to ease the player into it a bit more. So you didn’t have that abrupt switch where you think ‘Oh my God, what?’ - most people at that point, they’d be pretty good with the nanosuit so they probably have their favourite way of taking out North Koreans - and something, in all honesty, that could have done with a bit more work is the switch between free-form North Korean combat and the level after the alien spaceship. I don’t think the sections after that have bad gameplay, they drive the story forward, they are a lot more focused and through that we deliver a lot more production value and visual impact with all these gigantic aliens walking around. But I think people got a bit confused about what they were supposed to do after they came out of the spaceship, they were just so used to picking stuff up and throwing it at Koreans.”

Feb 22, 2008