GR: The dynamic fire mechanic was unique when it was first unveiled last year, but since then we've seen demos of Alone In The Dark doing a similar thing. How impressed have you been with what that game is doing and how do you think it will compare to your own work?
DG: Yes, I have seen a video of that a few months back. While it is hard to comment on a game that has not shipped yet, I thought what they were trying to do was quite interesting.
The videos seem to indicate that they have a fire simulation system that has a link to gameplay. However, based on what I saw, the scale of their fire seems to be totally different then what we are proposing in FC2. We built the feature to permit the propagation to expend to very large exterior areas, up to the size of multiple football fields. This difference in scale probably makes the proposal totally different in practice.
GR: How are you making a mission-based FPS work in such a massively open world? It must be tricky to balance the necessary structure with the desired freedom over such a huge, freeform environment.
Clint Hocking: It’s very tricky. On the mission side we have focused on making all of the ‘core’ missions of the game simple and clear – essentially conduct a series of raids and destroy, steal, sabotage or kill your target as the case may be. This keeps things simple, direct, and fast paced for the more casual shooter player.
However, all of the ‘core’ missions also offer optional, character-based side objectives that can change dramatically the targets, rewards and challenges of the mission. The direct approach to a mission can never be failed except by dying, but the optional approaches can often be failed, forcing you to revert back to the direct approach if you miss an optional objective opportunity. In addition, the large number of side missions and the significant value in exploring the world fills out the spaces and ensures there are always more than enough opportunities for self-directed play.
GR: Fire isn't the only interesting new gameplay element in FC2. For a start, the player has a completely free choice of ten protagonists. Just how far will that choice affect the story and the player's experiences as the game progresses?
CH: In essence, the choice of avatar is a ‘subtractive’ choice. You are effectively removing possible permutations from the dynamic story of the game. Avatar selection is one component of the random seed that sets the dynamic narrative into motion and ensures that no two players will ever experience the same game story.
That said, there isn’t really any single choice that has a large deterministic effect on the unfolding of the story. All the choices that the player makes in terms of who they work with, whose lives they save and who they kill within the set of the game's major characters have cascading repercussions. The idea is to create a dynamic narrative with a set of characters that fill the important roles in the script, and then allow the player the freedom to choose which characters he works with, or which characters he works for.