Ubisoft Montreal saved the best interview until last in our trip to Montreal earlier this year to have some hands-off time with Far Cry 3 and chat to the main players behind the game. Producer Dan Hay may have done a great job of shutting down our questions about PC specifics and anything multiplayer related (it was, after all, a single-player event; but you can’t blame us for trying it on, right?), but he was willing to go into a lot of background information about finding the right level of insanity, pushing the mo-cap actors to breaking point and drawing on the dev team’s breadth of real-world experience to ground Far Cry 3’s insanity. As the fourth interview in the series, you’d be mad to not check out our previous interviews with Andrea Zanini, Jamie Keen and Mark Thompson.
Atomic: How easy or difficult is it keeping single-player fresh in a first-person shooter world, where everything seems to be pushing towards multiplayer and single-player is almost an afterthought?
Dan: For us, our focus on single-player—good question by the way—the focus for us, I think you saw it in the demo, right, is that we want to offer a breadth of experience. We want to offer something that’s unique. It starts with Jason, okay. It can be difficult to keep it fresh. So with every single question that we ask, every single thing that we looked at, we said, ‘Okay, how would there be a unique experience in this?’ Okay, so before, Jason is a totally regular guy, right? He’s not a super soldier, he’s got no skills. And when we realised that, you actually see a guy who the very first time he gets a kill, he’s going to fumble a little bit. He’s not going to get it perfect. The first time he picks up a weapon to take guys out, it’s not going to be perfect, and you’re going to see him run. For us, we feel like the island and the characters, there’s a freshness to… maybe freshness isn’t the… there’s a rawness, it’s raw. For us, we said, Far Cry, talk to me about Far Cry. What is it? If you get the feeling that one of our characters could sit on the beach and have a drink and there would be a little umbrella, that’s not Far Cry. These guys have to be raw, they have to be rough; it’s rough tools, it’s black market. And when you think about things that are going to bring in players to something new and something interesting, you think about Vaas or the doctor. We create an experience where you actually watch somebody go nuts in front of you. You see what looks to be normal and then you watch as they open up and they show the fact that they are brutal inside. And at E3—and we knew we had something at E3 and were totally eager to share—when you actually watch Vaas turn from Dr Jekyll into Mr Hyde in front of you, that to us is the freshness, that’s the raw thing we want. So it’s difficult. The good thing is that Ubi’s got a deep bench: they’ve got a lot of people who can help us. But we want that in every area: the jungle is lush, the world is expansive, there’s a lot of stuff to do, there’s a lot of stuff to see, and you’re going to meet a cast of characters that are nuts, and they’re going to challenge you. We felt like that style, that feeling, the emotions you’re going to go through, that’s what makes it fresh for us.
Atomic: You mentioned that Jason’s going to struggle the first time that he kills someone, the first time that he picks up a gun. Is that going to tie in narratively later when, assuming you play it like me, the only right way to play a first-person shooter, of course ,and you’re stacking up bodies, is that going to come into it at the end? Is it going to start eating at his soul?
Dan: I think, we were super careful with this, because you don’t want it to be punitive. The first little bit of time in the game, if you’re a shooter player and you want to go through and just unleash, you’re going to be able to do that. But the very first couple of times that you actually kill somebody, you’re going to feel like, the controls work, everything is fine, I got it. I can have exactly the experience I want. But the realisation of it is that is Jason’s not… he’s a little raw at it. So, as you go further through the game, and he starts to get pretty good pretty quick, but as you get further through the game and he starts to have, I don’t know if it’s a flair or a style, but he’s learning his abilities. But I think that, for us, Jason, we want to make it so, as you go through the game, you’re starting to see that experience. And the thing that I talked about before is what we’re looking for from this, at the beginning of the game, if Jason was to call his mum and say, ‘Hey mum, I’m going through the islands and it’s really cool and I’ve got my buddies with me.’ She’d be like, ‘Okay, be safe.’ The voice that makes that phone call at the end of the game, if he survives, mum doesn’t recognise. And we want to be able to tell that story all the way through with the characters.
Atomic: How big a role will user content play?
Dan: Can’t tell you.
Atomic: Is mod support in?
Dan: Can’t tell you.
Atomic: Can you talk to me about any multiplayer stuff?
Dan: Can’t talk about that.
Atomic: Can you confirm any co-op stuff?
Dan: This is a single-player focused event.
Atomic: Can you talk to me about any PC specifics?
Dan: Specifics? I think, what we’re saying right now, and it might sound a little trite and I apologise, but the truth is that we’re pushing to maximise every single thing we’ve got. So if you’re playing it on the Xbox, you’re going to have a great time. PC, you’re going to have a great time. And the PS3, no question. So we’re trying to maximise everything.
Atomic: So you can’t confirm any DX11 or-
Dan: -I won’t go into any specifics.
Atomic: Do you have a lead platform?
Dan: Honestly? Parity. We’re looking for every single one to feel the same.