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Clearing the Haze: Rob Yescombe On Writing For An FPS
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Clearing the Haze: Rob Yescombe On Writing For An FPS

October 22, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next

I see. Cool. Well, I was just thinking that it's a shame to have to dial stuff back, because as an interactive medium, it seems like we don't have an obligation necessarily, but we certainly have a unique opportunity to be able to inform people more.

RY: It doesn't mean that we're not doing that. It's the same with anything. If you want to entertain people, it's about balance. Look at a movie like An Inconvenient Truth. That is a very intelligent balance between making it entertaining but also informative. If he'd gone in all po-faced without the jokes, it wouldn't have done the business. It wouldn't have reached that many people. So you need to have the spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.

That's true.

RY: Originally we didn't have the sugar, and people wouldn't want to swallow it.

I see. So it was more like a serious game, almost.

RY: It's still very serious.

Well, I meant serious game as in serious games as a genre, like training games or military simulation types.

RY: It wasn't so much about the gameplay being very serious. It was just about that story and the things that were happening there. I mean, it's still some extremely fucked up shit that happens sometimes, and that you will feel responsible for. And that's the key thing. We want people to feel a little bit guilty about what they're doing.

That's good. As long as you turn the camera back on the player, I think that's...

RY: Exactly. And that's one of the reasons why we're keeping all the narrative in single-player. We want you to feel claustrophobic, trapped inside this body doing these things and thinking, "Well fuck, I'm responsible for it."

No, it's good. It's kind of hard, though. I understand it's difficult to get that kind of thing across and have it still be fun. It seems like a very difficult thing to do.

RY: It is a very difficult thing. But we're not out until November, and we're tweaking and balancing and have got plenty of time to get it right. It's going amazingly well, as you will see and play today.

Yes, good. But at the same time, there are still movies that we can watch that make us uncomfortable and are really a bit tragic and things, but they're still really compelling and we want to watch them again. I hope eventually we'll get to that stage in games as well.

RY: The complication with doing that in a game is that a player in a game is an actor who doesn't know his lines. So making him complicit in the events he wasn't complicit in, is all about taking away the interactivity, but they're paying money to interact. It's that balance -- giving them the gameplay but not taking too much away to get the story across.

Yeah, it seems like if you give people difficult choices, that's a good deal of the way there. But it would really be nice to see sometimes, a few more games take some kind of a stand on something. But I suppose that's more of the place for a smaller project than something of this scale.

RY: It's difficult. I mean, all it's going to take is one breakout game to do it and make the money, and then everyone else will follow. I think we are edging towards that.

Good, good. Now, in terms of the gameplay side, being able to bury things and steal weapons and this sort of stuff -- how much of what you do is on the player? How much player choice is there? Are you basically in a first-person sandbox game, or is it not quite that far?

RY: It's still a limited game, absolutely. But all those rebel skills I was talking about, you get those in the multiplayer maps and in the single-player. It's up to you when and how you use them.

But you can't just traverse the entire universe or something like that. You still have specific goals that you have to meet at certain times.

RY: Yeah. I mean, by playing through the game and traversing the universe, you'll eventually complete them anyway as a matter of course.


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