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How to control the pacing of an open world game

How to control the pacing of an open world game Exclusive

June 29, 2012 | By Staff

June 29, 2012 | By Staff
More: Console/PC, Design, Production, Exclusive

In a new interview about upcoming free-roaming crime game Sleeping Dogs, United Front Games tells Gamasutra that while "it's not easy" delivering a story, there are tricks that can be used to keep things working.

"Controlling the pacing is probably one of the most difficult things to do," admits executive producer Stephen van der Mescht.

"I think the fact that we've stuck with a linear story, which picks up from where you've left off when you tackle the next piece, is sufficient in terms of bringing you back in where you left off so there is some continuation there; you understand where you're at from an emotional standpoint."

"One of the biggest things that we did was, right from the get-go, to really design out core game flow, the world, and our narrative together and have each of those elements feed off each other," says Jeff O’Connell, the game's senior producer.

"While we do have a linear narrative, we've really taken a lot of our core start and end points of our scripted missions and analyzed those areas and the routes that we think that players will take and finely crafted a lot of our secondary and ambient encounters around those. We've actually even made our own version of Google Maps where we look at all of the content in the game, and by using this program we can actually go in and really scrutinize the different routes and play-styles that players will use."

Then, says design director Mike Skupa, who worked on Bully at Rockstar Vancouver, it comes down to finesse. As the game is late in development, not all changes can be accomodated. However, he says, "while we may not have the resources available in one department, we often find that, because we've developed the game this way, we can use another medium to convey a message."

The full feature, which goes into how the team used different types of crime fiction to inspire the core of Sleeping Dogs' combat and story structure, among other topics, is live now on Gamasutra.

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