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: Ladies and gents, welcome back to AusGamers. You are here once again with Stephen Farrelly, coming to you from the GamesCom show floor, out at EA’s booth.
I’ve got two very special guests here with me today, Cevat, and Rasmus --you guys know them from the Crytek team; you know that they’re working on this fantastic game --this fantastic series-- Crysis 3.
I want to start with what have you guys learnt, coming off Crysis 2? You took the series to console, you’re pushing CryEngine 3. What’s been the process moving forward with Crysis 3?
: One of the first learnings was that the sandbox component that we had depicted in Crysis 2, wasn’t really as free as it could be or should be. So gamers wanted more freedom, and more open spaces -- that’s one thing. The second was that the story was a bit too complicated, in a sense. It was too implicative, it was too much like you have to assume things and guess things; it should have been more direct and in your face a little bit.
Also, the characters were a little too flat and they could be richer. So we took a lot of this feedback to heart, and also had our own idea on what to do with Crysis 3, and try and meld the gamer feedback, as well as our vision, and make Crysis 3 with that.
: In terms of the tech side of things, what has changed with the engine for you guys? More optimised? You’re getting more power out of it obviously, because it looks fantastic.
: Yeah, so CryEngine 3 has been really pushed forward now as being next-gen technology. We launched CryEngine 3 two years ago as a next-gen technology for upcoming generations of gaming, and we wanted to pick Crysis 3 as the first game of current and next-gen PC gaming.
So as current-gen consoles and next-gen PC specifications, you’re going to get a glimpse of what the future will entail already, now with CryEngine 3’s future in Crysis 3.
: Is there any reason you guys are sticking with New York for the foundation for the game?
: It’s kind of interesting, because on one hand you could say that it makes things easier for us: people immediately go “oh, that’s because it’s a lot easier”, but it’s actually the exact opposite of easier. Because first of all, obviously we don’t want to cut corners, and second, the thing that we’re doing is we’re creating this urban rainforest, which is this artificially-grown rainforest on top of New York. It actually creates a lot of drama, to take a very well-known environment, and then completely screw it up, literally.
You feel like you’re in a rainforest, but you always get these reminders at certain points, where “holy, this is...!”, and then you realise that you’re actually in New York, which is emotionally powerful, even if you don’t live there. And if you are an American especially, American’s take New York... and especially people living in New York, take it very close to their hearts.
It’s going to be a very, very rich experience, and also it creates some consistency in the storytelling. You experience New York and saw the transformation it had [in Crysis 2], and that’s already a crazy transformation, and now we just take that and amp it up incredibly, in a completely different way than the kind of alien takeover it had in Crysis 2.
: We’re finishing the story too.
: Yeah, it wraps up the trilogy also. So it’s actually very empowering from a storytelling point of view, and it’s emotionally very rich too like that. On top of that, we have this seven wonders concept, which is seven very diverse mood and layout takes on New York City, which also creates a richness and a diversity that we haven’t had in any previous Crysis games, which is really cool as well.
Not only from a mood and art-direction point of view, but also from a gameplay point of view, because we can create everything from a very, very condensed thing if we want that, to very, very open things if that’s what the experience asks for at that point.
: In the second game, it seemed like you had this very bright intro to the game, then all of a sudden, half way through it gets very dark. When you’re going from dealing with Cell, to actually dealing with the alien threat. What’s the pacing been like for Crysis 3? Are we going to have that immediate switch, or has it kind of converged a little more now?
: I think Crysis 3 is a little more consistent in that regard, but there is a big revelation right at the beginning, and you are put in this scenario of “what’s going on here?”, so there’s more question marks being imposed on you, implicitly through the world and how the world is depicted. And you find the answers as you go through the journey, and you are more explorative to the world.
So the world this time is much more a part of the storytelling than it was in Crysis 2. I would say that... you have this kind of revelation at the beginning, this change, and the game is taking the pacing forward for sure, it doesn’t actually stop there, but it’s not as black and white. It’s more on a ramp, as opposed to a sharp contrast.
: I would also say that we probably made a... obviously we haven’t talked about what that is yet, but we have a very strong hook in the game, and it’s probably a little more instantly in the campaign and the whole setup as Crysis 2 is, which ramps up much more gradually until the alien invasion, where there is this big spike in the story and action intensity all of a sudden, which paces out the storytelling and the whole thing a bit differently.
I’m not saying that one is necessarily better than the other, it’s just very different to Crysis 2 in that regard.
: You guys also have pretty unique level design in the second game, with a lot more verticality than most other shooters. A lot of shooters, even ones that profess to being open-world, tend to have this flat surface for players to play through, with a lot of corridors.
You actually have a really rich vertical world. Has that been ramped up again? Or are you just going through that level-design process that was similar to Crysis 2?
: Yeah. In Crysis 3, we’re going to have a much more Crysis 1-like open-world approach, which gives you a more non-linear experience, but a wider range. So the world feels more open. But there will also be a verticality aspect to it as well.
Verticality wasn’t absent in Crysis 1, and verticality was our key element of Crysis 2, and with Crysis 3, you’re going to get to get some of the best of both worlds. The sandbox that we’ll see in Crysis 3 is going to take verticality wider and hence be a whole new kind of sandbox.
: As mentioned before, the fact that you have this overgrown city now, adds some building blocks that you didn’t have before. Before you had to rely on collapsed buildings and stuff, and now you could, in theory, you can connect a skyscraper with a skyscraper with a huge tree and vines growing over it -- something you couldn’t do before.
So it actually supports verticality on a whole different level in Crysis 3, because we don’t have to stick to the natural confines of the city, and how a city would collapse in a war scenario.
: On the PC -- because that’s where your heritage actually comes from, and you’ve got this great tool in CryEngine 3 -- what are you guys doing to support the PC community with Crysis 3? Is there anything specific, or are you going for platform parity (which is a bit of an ugly term these days)?
: You know the joke right? The “Can it run Crysis?” question. So we will definitely make sure that Crysis 3 will resurrect the question again “Can it run Crysis 3?” and we will melt the PCs down [laughs].
Honestly, we will push the PCs to its limit... to its boundaries. The idea is that PCs will be next-gen gaming, consoles will be current-gen maximising it. We can’t deliver next-gen perse on current-gen; we already did that with Crysis 2, you know. So it’s going to be maximising the current generation on consoles, and giving you a glimpse of next-gen -- or what it means in a visual, and a simulation, and a richness of a world -- on a PC.
Also on a PC, if you have a PC upgrade in the next two years, after you’ve played Crysis 3, Crysis 3 will adapt and be looking better and better as we go as well. So it will be like a future-looking-forward kind of game, as opposed to being a game that is shipped now and will outdate itself in six months. It will not be like that, it will be an ever-evolving, and upgrading, and adapting game.
With multiplayer, you’ve got 16 players for PC. Are you guys going to support dedicated servers globally? It’s a big question for us in Australia; latency is a huge issue. 16 doesn’t sound like a huge amount of players; it’s a nice intimate game number. But it would still be nice for us to have some Oceanic servers.
: We haven’t really decided about how we’re going to present and talk about this yet. But we do have... again, our ambitions for multiplayer are huge -- we do have big plans for it -- but the details about dedicated server programs and what not, and what that entails: we’re not ready to talk about that yet. But rest assured, the team has been doing a lot of work on making sure that Crysis 3 multiplayer is the biggest offering that we have done so far in the Crysis franchise.
: Ok. Well, I played it in there before. The hunter mode is fantastic; it’s really intense, and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it a little bit more, so thanks for your time today guys. Enjoy the rest of the show.
: Thank you.