AusGamers Crysis 3 Developer Interview with Mike Read
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 02:40pm 11/01/13 | Comments
AusGamers caught up with Crytek's Mike Read to get a read on where the team are at with the end of the Crysis trilogy, due for release this February. Read on (or watch) for what he had to say...
Watch the full video interview embedded above, or click here for a direct link.
That lull in the early part of the year, these days doesn’t exist anymore. It’s all about that post-Christmas kind of thing. For you guys, was it important to sort of strike while the iron is still hot. Like, the holiday period is really good... and I know maybe internally, the marketing thing doesn’t necessarily affect you guys, but February seems to be a bit of a hot month this time.
Mike Read: Yeah, February’s pretty hot right now. We’ve talked about February being the target for quite some time, and we’ve actually stuck to that, and recently announced a date of February 19th in the US, and February 21st in Australia.
There’s definitely a lot in there, between... Dead Space is coming, and BioShock [Infinite], and all of these other games that are coming in that period, but it’s interesting. That’s always where we’ve kind of been sitting at, and the targets that we’ve stuck to, and we’re going to deliver on that.
AusGamers: Are you guys comfortable where you’re at heading into the home stretch?
Mike: Absolutely. Yeah, we’re in great shape right now. We’re just coming up on the home stretch, and getting into the final days in that point. But from everything I’ve seen so far, the game is looking really good, we’re stable, the art looks great it plays really well, and we’re sitting in a really great position right now.
AusGamers: You mentioned in the presentation earlier, that you had some alpha multiplayer stuff going on, and the feedback really helped you guys. Could you elaborate a bit more on what that feedback was?
Mike: I actually just got it last week, and I’ve been travelling quite a bit, so I’ve only reviewed it in a very base form. But in terms of things: just basic gameplay things that we’ve come back with. Things that people thought were maybe more difficult or didn’t understand, and taking a look at those.
We really want to support the multiplayer moving forward into this, and I think people were kind of surprised at what we were doing. The first day after the alpha was out, we went and patched, almost every single day throughout that. Eventually releasing... we decided at the last minute to throw the bow in as a last minute thing, and people really responded to that too.
That was more of a technical test more than anything, but it was interesting to see some of the feedback we got from that. And we’re going to continue to heavily support that as well, well into the beta, and then of course, into and after release as well
AusGamers: Did you have feedback that you can really... relating to modes that people thought could have worked a bit better based on the stuff that you guys actually have in the game?
Mike: A big focus of course, was on Hunter, and Crash Site as well -- which we showcased publically at GamesCom, so there was a lot of stuff done in that. I can’t really speak too much to the other game modes, but there’s going to be some of the standard ones in there too, like deathmatch and team deathmatch, which we pretty much know enough about at this point.
It’s when you start bringing in these new game modes that we really have to take a good look at them, and go “Are these fine? Are they easy to get into, and are people going to really enjoy them”.
AusGamers: Now you mentioned dedicated servers, it’s a really amazingly fantastic thing for us here in Australia; PC only. Obviously the consoles aren’t necessarily up to scratch with that anyway, and peer to peer seems to be the way forward -- even though the guys at Epic did do a testbed for dedicated servers with Gears 3, which they said worked out really well; so hopefully, moving forward in the next-gen, we might start seeing a bit more of that.
For you guys, what’s the importance of something like that? Supporting the PC community in a way like that?
Mike: For dedicated servers specifically? Yeah, it’s huge. I’m a PC gamer myself, and I understand the importance of dedicated servers, and I understand where the frustrations have come from on console. We’ve seen a number of good games come over where... I mean, even 10 years ago, I remember Unreal Tournament on the Xbox, there was some frustrating things that would happen with that -- especially with the peer to peer stuff -- and you see later with things like Battlefield, having a greater number of players in these games, and that’s not a great peer to peer situation.
But moving forward it’s... especially on the console side, it’s a little more tricky to add on to that front, and it can also be very costly and time-consuming. Whereas the scalability on the PC side is definitely much easier for us.
AusGamers: Now when you say dedicated servers, will we actually have servers here in Australia? What’s the model?
Mike: I don’t know what the region stuff is specifically, so I don’t want to comment on that, but I mean with us coming down here, and whatever the marketing and technical support ends up being, it’s definitely something that we should have in there. But our infrastructure has completely changed over what we did in Crysis 2, so I’d hope that we’d see something down here as well.
AusGamers: Moving forward, let’s jump into the single-player. You brought Prophet back. You’ve got some pretty cool... I don’t want to use the word transmedia, but you’ve got [film director] Albert Hughes in to do some stuff with that.
Obviously there’s a lot of support and passion within Crytek, for this Universe that you guys have created. Things usually end in threes, and trilogies. What’s going on here?
Mike: If we look back at 2007, Cevat basically came out and said “Crysis is going to be a trilogy”, and here we are with Crysis 3; we managed to make it to the end of the trilogy. But if you look back over the last five years, and what Crytek has done with the Crysis franchise, we’ve really developed the IP in some really great ways, and not doing some crazy stuff and going off in a bunch of different directions.
So, in terms of what we’re doing in Crysis 3, this is the closure to this sort of story bubble. But if you look at the past five years, and what we’ve done with the franchise, you could probably come up and say that we have basically built a Crysis Universe. And we could go in so many different ways in this franchise at this point, and weave in alternate storylines from different tech, to different realities and things like that.
So moving past Crysis 3, we have a lot of opportunities moving forward outside of this.
AusGamers: Could you foresee yourselves handing it over to another developer in the same way that Epic did with Gears, giving it over to People Can Fly?
Mike: I don’t think so. Crysis is something that has really helped build Crytek to what it is today. From the CryEngine 2 with the original Crysis, to what we’ve done with the CryEngine 3, and the number of licensees, and how we’re continuing to grow out that, in terms of film, and games, and architecture, and all of these different facets. We’re moving in quite a number of different directions.
AusGamers: Talking about a trilogy: across one and two, and even Far Cry before that, with the studio cadence, what was the lesson learnt across all of that development? I mean, it’s years and years of development. You’re coming across a new engine, and all of this type of stuff. I guess, from a philosophical point of view, what’s the number one thing you guys have brought to the table with this?
Mike: Wow, that’s really not an easy thing to do. They were vastly different games in a lot of different ways. I think the biggest lesson out of all of those games, when we come to it, was really Crysis 2. I think a lot of people were very skeptical in our ability to be able to deliver for consoles, and actually make the engine work for consoles, and have a successful title. That was really one of the biggest things that we’ve done.
Coming back in Crysis 3, there’s a lot of different elements that we have from Crysis 1, and Crysis 2 that we sort of rolled back on. And it’s that rollback, mixed with the hunter theme/the jungle themes, and the introduction of the bow, sort of just fit in with all of these different things that we had to offer on that front.
So that’s really where we’re at with it. We wanted to come and find a middle ground between the two, but not focus on one thing, as solely graphics, or solely gameplay quality, or cinematics. All of these things have been brought up to an equal level to create a great overall game experience.
AusGamers: Now obviously the game looks fantastic. Even on console, you guys have managed to get a lot of power out of these ageing beasts. The 360 has been around for seven years now, it’s pretty amazing.
Cevat, at GamesCom, actually said to me, if you want to, this can melt your PC. He actually said that, and we got an awesome flood of...
Mike: Oh, you were the guys that did that. Ok, I remember this. So if you look at that, you guys had taken that and ran with it. And Cevat wasn’t lying at the time, and he’s still not lying now...
AusGamers: We didn’t take it out of context.
Mike: No, absolutely not, and I don’t think it was taken out of context, because I know he would say something like that.
When we did the closed alpha, in October or November for the multiplayer, a lot of the tech sites had picked up on it, and gone “Hey, let’s put this to the test, and see if it really is”, and all of the feedback that was coming back, they were like “Yeah, this is really pushing PCs really, really hard”. That’s something that... we want to push technology forward, and the PC is really our way to do that at this point.
We’re definitely feeling the strain of consoles, not only on the hardware side, but in the way that their certification programs work, and really having to deliver stuff way ahead of time. And there’s a lot of variables on consoles, and things that they want you to deliver beforehand.
Whereas, we’re very freeform on what we can do on PC, unlocking the abilities of some of this high-end hardware, and we wanted to be able to push that. But we still want to provide a great gameplay experience across the board for both consoles and PCs.
AusGamers: Well actually, that was going to be my next question, was: you guys must be excited that... you sort of see a trend in the industry where PCs kind of leap ahead, consoles come to die, and because PCs are so far ahead, the next generations of consoles are actually at that level, or a little bit further as well, and then you get that cycle again.
You probably can’t talk at all about the next gen, but you guys must be excited that you can sort of see the PC visuals...
Mike: Well you know... I think everybody’s excited about the next gen. I think across all of the companies in the last year or so that have made comments in regards to next generation, and how we really, really want to get our hands on it. But there’s a lot of other interesting things that are starting to come into play. Sony’s purchase of Gaikai for cloud technology. Nvidia’s Grid technology as well, for server-side streaming and stuff like that.
And where things could potentially go in the next five to 10 years is... it always ends up like the old days of Beta and VHS, and it’s all up to the consumer at the end of the day. We really want to keep ahead of that, and keep on top of the technology, and keep pushing that technology, and I think our engine’s helping us do that quite a lot.
AusGamers: Can you foresee this existing, CryEngine 3 in it’s current form, right through for the next four years, five years?
Mike: That’s really more up to the R&D teams. People have asked “Where’s CryEngine 4? Where’s CryEngine 4?”. That’s really up to the R&D guys as to how they’re doing it. When you look at CryEngine 3, and what we had at the release of CryEngine 2, to all of the work that we’ve done on it up until now, there’s an enormous amount of changes. You can see it in the visuals and stuff that we’ve done over that timeframe, to really beef up Crysis 3.
AusGamers: Alright. We’ll wrap it up there, but before I go: your favourite thing... the favourite weapon, the favourite moment, the favourite component of this game that just resonates with you?
Mike: It’s really the fast pace of it. I love playing this in a fast-paced kind of twitch scenario, and it’s really... especially with the bow too, trying to figure out how to jump over things, and pulling the bow at the same time and getting those awesome shots. Or sliding down things, and turning corners with your shotgun, and just opening fire on guys.
It’s really just pace, and also just going in and trying different ways to play through these action sequences, and seeing how the AI reacts in all these different ways. And that’s what I’ve been experimenting in a lot with some of the latest builds, and I think that part of it’s really coming together quite nicely.
AusGamers: Alright. Well, I’ll agree with you so far Mike, until I actually get the game fully. But yeah, it’s looking really good. Thanks very much for your time today. Cheers.