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Getting from Modern War to the Future of Video Games
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Getting from Modern War to the Future of Video Games

August 14, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 7 Next

Our story moves forward and we iterate on it, we get excited by certain things, certain things we're less excited in, and I think as we move forward -- and to finally answer your question -- I think we had the history of Conviction with interrogations, and we knew the strengths of the interrogations of Conviction, and we knew the weaknesses, also. 

I think everybody loves our first interrogation in Conviction because it was fresh and new, but then after that, people kinda saw the formula. "Oh, okay, I get it: I'm never gonna get shot when I'm in one of those moments. It's only about bashing people left or right, and then guy is gonna end up talking." So I think it kinda lost its magic real fast. 

So when we started on Blacklist, because now Sam was trying to figure out and stop what was going on with Blacklist, we still had a reason to have interrogations in the game. I wanted to have all these interrogations in the game be unique. I didn't want the player to see the formula. I wanted all of them to be different. And then we started working on that and we treated a lot of those. 

I think in the last couple of months, we got a version where everything became a little bit more polished, a little bit more structured, and we were able to accept what we were going at, and I think a feeling that we had when we look at them as a team, with Alex [Parizeau] and Pat [Redding] and Andy [Wilson], we just looked at it and we were like, "Are we pressing a button with these that we want to press? Are we gonna touch people? Is this serving the meaning of the game enough?" 

It's interrogation, right? Some people call it torture. I think the line is fine, and depending on how you're asking your questions, or what type of pressure you're putting on your person, the line or how you call it changes. But basically we looked at it as a team together and we're like, "Okay, how do we feel about this? Do we really want people to see this and want people to be interacting with this?" 

For me, again, the strength of our medium is that people are in control and that it's -- to quote Spider-Man -- "With great power comes great responsibility." It's a lot different from seeing an interrogation scene in Zero Dark Thirty than it is when you're actually doing it yourself. So we looked at them and we make the modifications, because I think as a team we felt that we weren't doing something that was meaningful enough to justify the emotions that we were creating. 

It does make sense, and it does open up a couple questions, again. One of the things that really grates on me, and I'm not specifically referring to your game, necessarily, about this, but I see this again and again: When people make games based on contemporary political situations around the globe, they always sort of cop out and say, "Yeah, it's just a game, though." 

You alluded to Zero Dark Thirty, and that film may have its own weaknesses, but the point is you would never expect a film about that kind of situation to not be a comment on that situation, whereas I find that a lot of game developers want to have their cake and eat it too. Do you feel that tension? Do you think you can get away with saying, "Well, we're not commenting on this." 

MB: I think it could be an angle. You could have teams or publishers that just want to shock, right? I'm sure it's an option. I'm sure people might put scenes in their games, or in their movies, or in their books, because they know it's gonna have some shock value and people are gonna be talking about them, and sometimes any publicity is better than no publicity. 

I think for us on Blacklist -- you know, we're a Tom Clancy team. I don't want to [use] shock value just to shock. And I guarantee you that we have scenes that we've toned down because they were that.  And I guarantee you that when you're in control, the emotions are a lot higher. 

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