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Living On The Edge: DICE's Owen O'Brien Speaks
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Living On The Edge: DICE's Owen O'Brien Speaks

June 6, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next

Something that I'm interested in from a design perspective, that seemed forward-thinking to me, is how interactive objects become red. Could you talk about where you got that idea? Why do you want to keep blinking arrows out of the game?

OO: Well, it was built out of a desire, really. We want the player to be able to move quickly through the world, and read the world as quickly as a runner would be able to read it. You know, to use the analogy of Jason Bourne, he looked the world differently to everybody else, and I wanted to get that sort of a sense through it.

So that's really where the idea came from. Initially we had it sort of non-dynamic, so it was just red marker-posts through the world, and it was almost like there were red objects that the runners left for other runners, to show them --

You mean almost like checkpoints, right? Like in a race.

OO: Yeah, exactly. So we experimented with that initially, but that as well felt a little bit contrived. And it was also limited, because you can't do the stuff that we can do now with this dynamic system; so we can change pipes, or telegraph poles, or we can change anything.

So it's a very flexible system. And it's something we can dial up or down depending on skill level, or work with how quickly it fades in, or how far away it fades in; so those are variables that we can play with to really tweak and guide the player, without feeling like it's a trail of breadcrumbs through the world.

Zeitgeist and Inspiration

It's got that parkour, free-running vibe, and that's actually informed two very successful, and I think also quite good titles in this generation: Assassin's Creed, and Crackdown. Do you think that's a function of the zeitgeist -- it just feels right to draw from that?

OO: It was kind of coincidental, but basically again it was born of a desire to -- in a city, you want people to move in the vertical plane very quickly, so we needed a movement system that would allow you that real agility. So that's where the desire came from.

Because we've been working on this for couple of years now -- I think recently, parkour has kind of ended up everywhere. It's in Casino Royale, it's in the Bourne films, it's in Madonna videos, so it's started to permeate into more sort of a mainstream.

But at the same time, we don't want to say that we're a parkour game -- which is probably why I didn't say it. Because then it becomes too niche. I mean, we're parkour in the sense that Prince of Persia, or Assassin's Creed are parkour.

Ubisoft Montreal's Assassin's Creed

I'm not trying to imply anything about the way that things work at EA, but it's like, if you give that word out, it'll become a bullet point. Whereas, if you can draw from something cultural, it becomes an inspiration. And it doesn't really matter whether or not you tie into the culture that you're working with.

OO: No, I think that's fair. And I think as well, the other name for parkour is "free running," and that's very much -- that even more fits in the storyline of the game. This game is about freedom. About freedom of movement, but it's also about freedom of thought, and freedom of action. So "free running" really worked for us, in that respect.

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next

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