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Life In Vegas: Surreal's Alan Patmore On Open World Innovation
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Life In Vegas: Surreal's Alan Patmore On Open World Innovation

June 23, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next

It's interesting you said that the four pillars are the gambling, racing, fighting, and partying. It's like one of these things doesn't quite fit, right? And so it seems a bit risky.

AP: Definitely. You know, one of the things that we have actively worked on is how to make these disparate features work together. And, you know, how do you make a fight in a party work? So that's where we introduce the Cheesy Bachelors.

And the interesting thing is, you can get into a situation where you miss a punch and you punch somebody else, and he gets pissed off at you, punches, he misses, hits a Cheesy Bachelor, and all the sudden a bar-room brawl starts, and that still affects the party, and still achieves your goals because it's getting rid of the Cheesy Bachelors. So, I mean, there's different ways to poke the sim.

So it's figuring out unique ways to have these different pillars interact. And then it's also putting a very distinctly Vegas wrapper on them; so you can have carjacking missions that are not in the Grand Theft wrapper, you know, and you put a Vegas wrapper around those, where you have to commandeer a car to go rescue somebody. You know, that sort of thing. So a lot of it is that the tone, style, and writing helps us integrate those features.

One thing that I thought was interesting as you were giving your presentation -- and I can't remember exactly what you were referring to, but you said, "This is one of the grindable parts of the game." And I thought, "That's an MMO term," or an RPG term, anyway. How do these traditional design ideas filter down into this non-traditional wrapper?

AP: Right. Well, it's interesting, because RPGs really, in a lot of ways, were the first open world games. They had large open worlds, non-linear mission structure, ability for the player to cruise around, and yeah, as time went on, they really became about the stats and all that sort of stuff, but some of the core fundamentals -- you know, being able to reward the player for exploring.

That was something that, with Drakan, we have a really large open world, and we reward the player with side-missions and things like that, and ultimately that was a light RPG.

Psygnosis/Surreal Software's Drakan: Order of the Flame

So we're taking some of those things that we've learned from that large, non-linear mission structure, and applying them to this open world -- you know, and also just looking at other open world games. You're building this huge, beautiful world for the player to play in, and we want to reward them for exploring, and for doing cool things in the environment.

So that's where the gigs come in. And, again, they're repeatable, grindable, they allow you to earn reputation within the various communities, you unlock rewards, new locations, new missions, that sort of stuff; and then also they're just fun.

I mean, we have -- just to give you an example of one of the gigs we have -- it starts out as a vigilante game. So you have to go, and there's a series of muggings along the strip, so you have to find them, and take out muggers, and you get paid two hundred bucks, and you get five reputation points within this certain suit.

The next level of that mission is to become a bounty hunter, where you're actually chasing down hardened criminals. Eventually, through the series, you become Vegas Man, who is basically a crime-fighting superhero who's cruisin' around, like, "I'm Vegas Man!" He's got super powers, so to speak, and is taking out crimes. So we're doing lots of fun, cool stuff like that, and it's all to reward the player for playing in the open world.

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