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Skip Navigation LinksPlayHard > In English > The Saboteur. Interview with Tom French, Pandemic Studios


Название: The Saboteur
Разработчик: Pandemic Studios
Зарубежный издатель: Electronic Arts
Издатель в России: Electronic Arts
Официальный сайт игры: перейти
Официальный русский сайт игры: перейти
Системные требования:
Core 2 Duo 2.4, 2 GB RAM, 256 MB 3D Card
Рекомендовано:
Core 2 Duo 2.8, 4 GB RAM, 768 MB 3D Card
MultiPlayer: нет
Жанр: Action, Stealth
Игра вышла: 30.11.2009
Рейтинг: 8.5

One of the most anticipated games for us this year is entitled The Saboteur. Made by the talented team at Pandemic Studios who brought us such games as Full Spectrum Warrior (2004) and Star Wars: Battlefront II (2005). The Saboteur will be released in early December on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. The game has been in development for almost 5 years and will soon tell you the story of Sean Devlin who has personal reasons for fighting the Nazis with the assistance of the French Resistance forces. You’ll be able to tour around Paris along with some countryside choosing any way you like to accomplish exciting missions.

We really like the "Quiet In / Loud Out" concept of The Saboteur. This means that you better be stealthy and sly until you reach your goals and then you can blow everything up on your way out like a Hollywood action hero. The game will feature a lot of cool weapons and vehicles to drive. It will be up to you to restore the Will to Fight amongst the local population what will in turn add more colors to the big and open in-game world. Some days ago in Moscow we met Tom French, the Lead Designer of The Saboteur, who shared a lot of intriguing details about the upcoming game with us during his World Tour which also included visiting San Francisco and London.

- Greetings! Please, introduce yourself. What is your role in the project entitled The Saboteur (2009)?

- My name is Tom French and I'm the Lead Designer of the game at Pandemic Studios.

- It is really great to meet you in Russia! What impressions have you got of this country?

- So it is my first time here and I have not really had the chance to go out yet, because I arrived late last night. Therefore, I could not take my time to see very much in the city, but I would be glad to do it later.

- What places would you like to visit in Moscow?

- I am interested in wandering around the Red Square and, actually, I’d just like to see some things that normally tourists wouldn't see. Hopefully, I'll be able to visit such cool places.

- Give us some background about your career.

- Before The Saboteur I worked at Pandemic on the original Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction (2005) game and even earlier than that I worked at Black Isle Studios (1996-2003). I made a lot of Role-Playing games there like Fallout (1997) and Fallout 2 and the Icewind Dale series (2000-2002).

- What news about Pandemic Studios can you share with us?

- Recently, we have just been really focused on getting The Saboteur done. We are really proud of this game and can't wait till it is released and people are able to play it.

- How many people are working in your studio?

- I believe, the studio employs about 250 people. At one point, around 120 people were working on The Saboteur. Later on, the team’s size was reduced and the designers were moved to other projects after finishing their tasks.

- Has the last economic crisis affected the game industry anyhow?

- You know, it’s been a big hit. It did affect to a certain degree the number of companies that had to go out of business and the amount of projects that were cancelled. Though the industry is still strong, because the good games are of great value and you can take them home and play as much as you want. It is really worth the money you are ready to pay for them.

- What were the most challenging aspects when creating The Saboteur?

- Well, making the game this big with its huge Sandbox and gameplay variety filled with intriguing content is not an easy task. So there were a lot of tactical, art and design challenges we had to face and deal with.

- What inspired you to create The Saboteur?

- There was actually a real person who inspired the game. His name is William Grover-Williams. He was racing in a Bugatti team back in the 1930's until he became a saboteur. He was half-English and half-French. When the Nazis occupied France, he fled the country and managed to escape into England where he was recruited into the Special Operations Executive to support the French Resistance. He was chosen to be an inserted saboteur in Paris because of his daring double nature and the knowledge of France. Ultimately, he died what makes him a difficult character to portray in a game.

- We’ll try to avoid that sad ending! What else can you say about the main hero of your story?

- Sean Devlin is an Irishman and he does not have any political motives to fight against the Nazis. He borrows just some Bugatti racing background from his historical prototype and all the rest events that happen in his life are based on pure fantasy in our game world. He is an Action hero we all want to be. He is a little bit of Indiana Jones, a little bit of Bruce Willis from the Die Hard (1988-2007) movie series. We wanted him to be cool and to be the kind of person who you want to hang out with and to cover your back when you drink something in a bar when suddenly a fight breaks out. His favorite activities include being with women, racing, drinking, smoking and the mixes of all of that.

Because of his racing background, he has a lot of physical strength and we used that fact when designing the gameplay. Race driving was kind of an extreme sport at that time. Therefore, Sean can climb up buildings what will take some time or use his fists to punch enemies in the melee combat. You will also have to interact with drain pipes, ladders, zip lines and so on.

- What are Sean's biggest fears?

- Sean is a bit afraid of fire and he isn’t used to flying. Eventually, he will have to overcome all his fears to succeed.

- Sean is driven by revenge. Who has made him angry?

- Early in the game Sean goes to Germany for a race before the Second World War started. Race driver is his occupation during the peaceful times. After the race his best friend gets killed by the guy named Director who is a driver for another team and is also a Nazi. So that is what pushes Sean up for revenge. He does not care about any political motivation; he just wants to kill the Director and all the Nazis he meets on the way to his archenemy.

- What talents does Sean have?

- Well, in the past, he was a car mechanic, but races were going to be his big chance to do something new, though he could not guess how the story would develop after that. Basically, Sean is good at driving and melee fighting since he likes to drink and to spend a lot of time in the bars. He starts the game being somewhat unskilled and he doesn't know how to plant bombs, but as the player progresses in the game Sean will get better in certain things through perks system. He will have to improve his skills in some areas like sniping.

- How does this character’s development work?

- Actually, you upgrade your skills and just the more often you do something the better Sean becomes in it. If you like sniping enemies and you shoot enough of them in the heads, with your newly earned sniping perk your scope drift will stop. If you keep on doing that, your kick will stop. You somewhat just keep on improving in everything as you play. There are three layers of our perks. They start being pretty easy to get and you'll get them simply while playing the game. Levels Two and Three will require some additional work, like setting micro-goals for yourself and that will be on top of our whole story.

- Can you name a few NPC surrounding the main hero?

- Sean is our main character. Then we have Veronique who is his best friend's sister and is also a love interest of Sean in the game. Another girl is Skylar who is also Sean's love interest and was an important part of his racing days in the past. Vittore is the guy that runs the racing team, where Sean is a driver and serves as a kind of father's figure. One more key member is Luke who is the head of the Resistance and inspires a lot of events that happen in the story.

- How long is your game?

- For an average gamer sticking to the main story it will take about 20-25 hours. However, you can get a little distracted on your way. There are also side-missions. Probably, you will need around five additional hours to complete them. In addition, a full layer of almost 1300 occupation tools is at present in the game world. You will find Sniper Towers, parked tanks, Propaganda speakers and so on. I have no idea how much time you will need to take care of all the such things.

- How can you describe the gameplay?

- The Saboteur is very much a Sandbox game. We tried to pull a player to do exciting things and wanted our missions to be big, like the level-based missions rather than your typical Sandbox assignments. There are many cool opportunities in the game, where you could break your enemy’s neck, go to the skies or make a bomb go off. You can use any way you like to reach your goals: to climb up a wall, kill everyone inside a building or even plant explosives under a car. We just provide you with the tools and you decide how you want to play with them.

- How do we get new assignments?

- You get new missions from different people representing the Resistance and after talking to various characters. You just have to visit places, which resemble Resistance Headquarters in our game world, and with that information, you will be able to get to the backbone of our Sean’s vengeance story. Optional tasks are combined in the missions' threads, you can complete them, unlock new weapons shops, and activate the Resistance forces in certain areas. You also get contraband as a reward, which is our in-game currency. Contraband includes vodka, whiskey, caviar and things like that which people wanted to get at that time. Then you can take your assets to the black market where you will be able to get new weapons and gear for Sean or improve the Resistance strength as well.

- Is there a time limit for completing certain tasks?

- Only some missions do have their time limits, but you can influence that. For example, we have a mission, where there is a big artillery gun going to fire and you have just 10 minutes to stop it. If you shoot an engineer who runs it, you will stop the time counter and release this pressure from yourself.

- Why did you pick Paris as your main place of action?

- The idea of Paris really came from a person that inspired our game – William Grover-Williams. Just start looking at Paris: it is a beautiful city with set-piece buildings everywhere and a great universe to work with. On top of that, you have the whole world of roofs out there allowing us toinclude some Parkour elements what adds a lot of fun to the gameplay experience.

- Has the team visited Paris?

- Actually, I have been there twice and we did a lot of research in this area. Our map is a scaled down version of Paris, but the most important buildings and the monuments are all accurately scaled. Now it feels like Paris and definitely, we have really learnt a lot when visiting it. I think we took like 1300 or even more pictures there. We have photographed things like drain pipes and textures what could look as a bunch of crap photos for ordinary tourists.

- And what about portraying famous sights of Paris in the game?

- You will see all the major monuments including The Eiffel Tower, of course, and also the Moulin Rouge, Palais Royale, the Sacre Coeur Basilica. That was a really important goal for us to include these sights and we have achieved it.

- Describe the game world for us.

- So we've got a big map: 5,5 by 5,5 km, open world. It goes from Paris up to Le Havre at the coast of France and we have covered a small part of Germany as well. In between there is a huge countryside including magnificent and Nazi-occupied chateaux. Players will explore a lot of space filled with detailed interiors as well, but I cannot count all such objects now exactly.

- How can we destroy enemies?

- Well, you can use all the different types of weapons. One of my favorite ways of killing enemy soldiers requires planting a bomb inside a car and then jump out of it at the right time, so it could blow up hitting the target what provides a lot of fun. You can also sneak behind your opponents and break their necks in several ways. Do not forget about the melee system, which allows punching and throwing your targets.

- How do enemies differ from each other?

- We were very careful while introducing enemies' classes to the game. The gray characters are ordinary Wehrmacht representatives, which are the weakest of all having the worst rifles and machine guns. Then you will meet SS soldiers, which are bulkier ones, you will see some of them carrying shotguns what allows to track down the visual differences between your opponents. The Terror Squad members are bigger and heavier; they have stronger armor, scare you with their glowing red eyes and shoot a lot. They are significantly harder to kill what requires hitting them with at least 3-5 machine gun bursts.

- How smart is the AI?

- The AI is based on the characters' classes that we made. If you encounter a heavy soldier with a shotgun for example, he is going to charge you and will try to shoot you. Enemies will take cover, when they feel it is a good idea and they can even outflank you. The Nazis will bring in reinforcements with vehicles that spill out a lot more units and soldiers. We have also added things like Zeppelins that will chase you around or airplanes that will strafe you and some tanks will show up as well, so it gets really big. Our battle system is pretty entertaining, at first you can sit back sniping people from afar and when you get to close combat you will have to use pistols and fists. Of course, there are certain tweaks here influencing the behavior of different enemies' classes.

- What weapons and gear are available?

- There are many weapon types at present. We have added a lot of machine guns, rifles, pistols, sniper rifles, shotguns, flamethrowers, grenades, dynamite, remote detonators and many other things. The Terror Squad troopers that are armored Nazi soldiers carry some precious variations of cool weapons.

- Where can we buy new gear?

- There are two different types of shops available. First, we have vehicles' shops and you can trade cars here or leave your car and get it back later when you need it. In the weapon shops, you will find guns and equipment, which will be better than the things you can take over from some killed Nazi soldiers. However, there are certain weapon types like the ones the people from the Terror Squads are carrying and you will have to defeat these enemies if you want to possess the trophies.

- What are the ways to travel around the city?

- We wanted to let a player explore the game world. There is a lot of content and every block has content in it. So you can use race cars, jump from roof to roof, slide down zip lines and these are just some of the really fun ways to navigate around the town and with all these opportunities you can choose the best path to approaching and picking out your targets.

- How much time will it require to travel from one corner of the city to another?

- When you are using a race car, probably it won't take long, maybe 10-15 minutes driving at high speeds, but there are a lot of twisting streets you can find as well. We definitely wanted to make getting around the town faster for a player.

- What vehicles will we be able to drive?

- There will be many different civilian vehicles, some race cars (we have added some models into the game which are kind of ahead of their historical lifetime). You will also find many military vehicles like the Kubelvagon, jeeps, trucks, armored troop carriers, tanks and even vehicles armed with flamethrowers. There is also an upgrade system for in-game vehicles enabled.

- How can a player interact with the environment?

- Our game is an open Sandbox map, so you can go wherever you want. Paris is divided into three districts and you need to have the correct papers for the certain areas to be able to show your identification to patrolling soldiers & officers if you want to avoid fighting with them when they check your documents. Inside the districts, you will find all the major monuments, new missions and even the Resistance Headquarters. You will be able to visit vehicles' garages where your cars are stored, weapon shops and interact with the key story points as well.

- How did you teach Sean to take cover automatically?

- We wanted to make Sean look cool. Therefore, he uses any cover he can find nearby. If it is a corner, he will sneak around it. Surely, it was a difficult thing to achieve and required a lot of tweaking and tuning. Sean is able to show a very fluid and natural movements as well as interaction with the environment during a battle.

- What about manning stationary defensive positions?

- You can use MG-42 machine guns and also AA guns. The latter ones are intended for air units, but they help you to take out some ground targets as well like defensive towers.

- What can detect a hero while he is wearing enemy’s uniform?

- A ring indicator around Sean shows how suspicious he is to others. Sometimes you will have to get out of the area to stay undetected unless the Feeder meter filles up. If you get too close to an enemy soldier, he can start shooting at you. If enemies are attacking you, then find a great spot for hiding, kill someone silently, take his uniform and you will be able to sneak out the place avoiding any other guards searching for you.

- What about battles with bosses?

- I would not say that we have such things. Sometimes it will feel like that, for example, when you meet your first Terror Squad, but much more often you will have to interact with the environment. We didn't want to break the game's mechanic here. You will participate in encounters that could look like boss battles, but it will really feel differently and you have to try playing yourself to understand what I mean.

- What about multiplayer?

- We did not do any multiplayer for this game. We talked about it early, but we decided it would distract a player from the Sean Devlin's main story and the biggest action taking place in our Sandbox world. The Saboteur is strictly a single-player game. Everyone is so anxious for multiplayer these days, but I would rather have a great single-player game than simply a watered-down one that has a lot of watered-down multiplayer.

- What is the name of your graphics engine?

- Our engine is called "ODIN". It was designed around the idea that we wanted to have a game world filled with a lot of details, high fidelity graphics, but then it is also highly interactive. You can climb up almost any building, we have implemented a great occlusion system, so when there is a building in front of you, the engine will render what is viewable and when you reach the roof, you can see the completely magnificent city around you.

- What can you say about the in-game animations?

- Actually, it took a lot of hard work to be done. There is a little bit of blending and stuff like that, including the mocap-animations and hands animations. Such things had to be connected altogether. For example, Sean smokes a lot when he stands up.

- Could you describe the unique use of color in your game world?

- Paris inspired this idea, because it is a beautiful and very colorful city. To let you feel how the occupation made people suffer we sucked out the color from the picture and in the beginning, it is presented in black & white. You might think of the harsh "Sin City" (2005) movie. However, it is not just a visual thing. If you help the Resistance in certain areas of the town, the landscape will become colorful and you will get more support from the citizens here. At first, you will not see much Resistance activity, but that can change, you will be able to upgrade your supporters and they will last longer. The members of the Resistance will come to help you and fight the Nazis what will really be useful for Sean. They start with a terrible set of weapons, junky rifles and so on, but in time, you will get them access to the same types of gear that you currently have, for example, carbine rifles, MP.40 machine guns. The armor they wear will change as well from the leather jackets to something more valuable and protective what will let them fight much better.

- The interface looks really stylish.

- We have put a lot of efforts to develop this style. We wanted to make the UI feel very consistent. In addition, there is a map in the game. You can buy maps to see the zones of occupation and pick some new targets there, find available missions and interesting spots to visit. The game will track your stats and everything you do in the game world. Therefore, there are many cool things integrated into our UI.

- How is everything going in your sound department?

- There are two composers who were writing the score for the game and it was really important to ensure the pieces of the score could sound dramatic. We do have buildings where you can hear additional music and some tracks will accompany Sean when he is driving a car and so on. You will hear some modern songs in the soundtrack that will sound like they are older and we have some older compositions, which sound more modern after being remixed. We even left some place for Techno music and it does not break the atmosphere at all, it fits the game perfectly.

- Are the orchestrated arrangements at present as well?

- Definitely, and they come up when the most important events are taking place. We used a lot of professional musical instruments to get the music we needed.

- How did you select voice actors?

- Sean is voiced by an actor named Robin Atkin Downes, who is actually English, but he has been staying in the U.S. for a long time. Finding the right person to speak for Sean was one of the hardest things to do for us. We wanted to get the suitable voice, which would help avoid subtitling. I cannot remember all the names, but many other good actors voiced over our in-game characters, and a couple of them are surely well-known in the industry. I think, we have picked a great cast for our game world.

- What innovations does your game bring in to the genre?

- I think it is the way we get the occupation in the city to work. It isn't about delivering packages and staying passive, it is all about blowing some things up and a lot of fighting what makes gameplay look great. You'll want to take out the snipers at the towers, because it'll give you access to new hiding spots or they will be shooting at you when the alarm sounds. You are free to choose what to do in this big open Sandbox world which is filled with color and black & white palettes depending on the mood and the "Will to Fight" in the certain areas.

- How do you interact with your publisher and the community?

- Working with Electronic Arts, our publisher, is pretty natural. It is like a hand-in-hand interaction and goes really well. Our community manager helps to connect us with the fans, we run developers' blogs, answer all the questions about the game coming from the community. It is important to let them know what our game is about.

- What picture do you have on your desktop?

- In the background there is a Star Wars picture. It is Photoshopped with another image and it looks like Nazi heads are walking through the world.

- What are your favorite video games?

- Oh, man! This year I’m really excited about The Saboteur, but there are some other good games that have appeared this year: Brutal Legend (2009), Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009), Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009) and so on.

- Name 3 things you associate with Russia.

- Wow! Vodka, the Russian accent and beautiful women!

- When can we expect the game to be released?

- December 4 in the U.S. and December 8 in Europe, on the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

- Are there any differences between the versions of the game coming for these 3 platforms?

- We didn’t want to cripple anyone’s experience. Definitely, we wanted to make them all feel like they are on par with each other.

- Thank you very much for your time!

- You’re welcome!

17.11.2009 13:20, Unicorn

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Ролики: The Saboteur ["Live Action" #2, 1:09, mov, HD 1080p]
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Патчи: The Saboteur [v1.03, beta]
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