We've had lots of Far Cry 2-related news lately and we've no intention to stop, since this shooter is going to kick some serious ass this year (hopefully...). Recently we've stumbled upon an interview with Alexandre Anacio, from Ubisoft's Montreal Studios.
9Lives.be has an exclusive interview with Anacio about the history of Far Cry 2 and about the stage where the team is at now. Since the interview is in Dutch, we've searched for a translation and this is what we've come up with from Jay, a registered member of infarcry.com:
9lives: How long has the game been in development and how big is the team at the moment?
AA: We started about two and a half years ago. Originally the team consisted of 50 to 60 people, but now it's already over 150. That's a lot, but it's also because of the fact that the engine was developed completely in-house.
9lives: How far are along are you with the game?
AA: We have just entered the betastage. Which means all features are implemented in the code and we are now focusing on polishing and debugging the code. But content-wise the game is complete.
9lives: In Far Cry 2 you can choose between ten characters to play the singleplayer. How do they differ from each other?
AA: The difference is purely visual and background story: they all have a completely different history. In terms of action there's no difference between the characters. We don't work with RPG-elements of something, so you decide the playstyle yourself, regardless of the character.
9lives: Why have you decided not to allow the players to create their own character?
AA: We decided it was better to have ten characters with deeply developed backgrounds and personality. It allows us to deepen the relations between the player and the NPC's. On top of that we researched the effectiveness of our characters: according to 'tests' every player found a character that suited him in terms of history and appearance.
9lives: How far did you go with the character development?
AA: Even though there's no huge differences depending on the character you choose, your choice will influence the other characters you encounter in the game. They all have their own movement style, clothing type etc. Our story designer put a lot of work into the details. For instance he asked me if he could give a certain character a small scar on his face because he wanted to do something with this in that characters backgroundstory. We put so much effort in this because we think the credibility of the game will benefit from this. We even hired a consultant who, among other things, judged the credibility of our characters.
9lives: How does the development of relations with other characters work?
AA: Mostly through dialog, but adjusted to the style of the player. If the player hates long talks, the AI will notice this and they'll only tell you the important things. What characters say also depends on your reputation with them. If they don't like you, they will say less than they would if you, for example, just saved their life.
9lives: What kind of missions will the player get?
AA: We made sure there's a lot of variation and, more importantly, dynamic missions. For instance in a certain mission you have to intercept a convoy of a hostile faction. You then have different options: you can just carry out the mission (in different ways, naturally), but you can also double-cross the person that gave you the assignment, let the other faction in on his plan to make things difficult for the person that gave the assignment. A third option is to question outsiders to find out if the convoy is transporting valuable diamonds. Then you could steal them for yourself.
9lives: How do your actions influence one faction and your relationship with the other?
AA: if you double-cross one faction, then that doesn't necessarily mean your reputation goes down with another group. If the first faction doesn't find out that you betrayed them, there will be no problems. If you act careless, the other faction will find out about what you did to the first faction and will react differently to you. For example they won't let you carry out certain missions until you have won back their trust.
9lives: Will the factions always start shooting at you?
AA: Yes, but only in zones that don't have a ceasefire. For instance in towns neither of the factions will attack you, unless you ask for it or start shooting yourself.
9lives: Environments and buildings are destructible in Far Cry 2. Does the gameworld have a memory?
AA: Yes, but limited. That you destroyed buildings or torched a part of the savanna will be remembered as long as you stay within a certain radius. If you go outside that radius, the environment will be rebuilt. We made this decision because each situation is happens dynamically and we want the player to have the opportunity to try out different things. (and you have to keep the consoles in mind XD, sorry, couldn't resist ,-jay)
9lives: Like, for example, try to attack the same location both during daytime and nighttime?
AA: That's right. The night not only gives you better cover. The characters have entirely different habits during the night. Many will go to sleep, others will sit by the fire or keep watch. Every character has his own needs he must fulfill and you can use that to your advantage.
9lives: During the presentation we saw the picture turning grey on several occasions, for instance when you shot someone. What's that all about?
AA: That happens when you do 'unethical' things like shooting an opponent, cause forest fires. You gradually lose your mind and that's what we're trying to visualize with this. So it's like people that end up in horrible situations and suddenly see everything in black and white. If you continue doing these things, despite the warnings, you will lose it. Then you don't really have control over the character anymore. He will start smashing weapons, run around shooting wildly. A friend will have to calm you down before you can continue on.
9lives: What was the most difficult part in the development of Far Cry 2 up until now?
AA: For me personally it was creating an open gameworld while still delivering a technically advanced game. These two are often exact opposites but we had to combine them in Far Cry 2. For instance we have made super dynamical textures that not only allow extreme detail, but also quick adjustments. We fully support DirectX 10 cards and Quad Core processors, but you can be sure that the game will also look very nice on older systems. High-end systems will have just that little extra, but ordinary, common systems will enjoy a high level of detail.
9lives: Is that also the reason why you didn't choose an existing engine like the Unreal Engine 3?
AA: Yes. We have considered The Unreal Engine 3 at the beginning of the development. But it wasn't enough for what we needed. The Unreal Engine 3 is not fit for processing the amounts of data required for the graphical aspect of Far Cry 2. That and the open missions with the wide-open leveldesign didn't work with that engine.
9lives: Can you tell us something about the multiplayer?
AA: At this point we can't say anything yet because we are still tweaking this component. It's certain that there will be multiplayer in Far Cry 2. There will also be a level editor to allow the community to make contributions of their own.
9lives: When can we expect this game?
AA: If all goes well, somewhere in march