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Interview – Red Faction: Armageddon’s David Abzug

Tuesday, 20 July 2010 06:54 GMT By Nathan Grayson

redfactionarmageddon

Some videogames pontificate on the deeper themes of love, loss, and control – ultimately causing players to see the world in a new light once they’ve dabbed the tears from their eyes. Other videogames grab a giant hammer – that, in some cases, is an ostrich that somehow migrated to Mars – and gleefully lay waste to everything in sight.

Red Faction: Guerrilla was most certainly the latter.

A surprise hit, Guerrilla sneaked under gamers’ radars and smacked them with all the subtlety of the animal it’s not named after. Thanks to Volition’s Geo-Mod destruction engine, sending buildings tumbling down had never been more satisfying. Sure, the game didn’t reinvent any wheels, but it definitely made them explode real nice.

This, however, raises a question: if your game isn’t broken (well, minus the billions of space dollars in property damages), how do you fix it? Our magic videogame eight ball tells us “Make it bigger! Duh.” But that’s not quite the approach Volition’s taking. Instead, Armageddon’s ditching its colossal open-world for a more constrained underground setting. So long, freedom. Hello, linearity. How are the kids?

Frightened? Curious? We sure were. So we quizzed lead designer David Abzug on everything from the whys and hows of Armageddon’s switch to a more linear format, to new additions to the Geo-Mod engine, to potential Kinect/Move support in a Red Faction game.

Read all about it after the break.

Interview by Nathan Grayson.

VG247: First, a burning question – for me, anyway: How open is RFA going to be? Mines imply sort of a constrained, linear environment, whereas Guerrilla was this huge, expansive experience. Am I wrong to assume that?

David Abzug: Guerrilla was very much a huge, expansive experience, and I thought they did a great job with it. We got to build off a lot of the stuff the RFG team did, and we’re very excited to do that – especially with the destruction engine.

But there were two specific things we set out to change to some extent. The first one of those was the fact that, because of the destruction engine – and this was a conscious choice – Guerrilla was a huge world and there was a lot of driving in it. There was a lot of space between each area. And that was partially because of the destruction engine and how it cost so many resources. There’s a reason why nobody does destruction, and that’s because it’s expensive to do.

And the other thing was that a lot of the reviews were mentioning the story for RFG as being a little light. So we set out to both reduce the distance between the gameplay and to be able to tell a tighter, more integrated story. And in both of those cases, going to the underground environment where we got to have the walls and the caverns to block views and stuff – having the more linear environment – helped with that.

And so, the gameplay from Red Faction: Guerrilla is still there. What we’ve mostly managed to get rid of is the driving back-and-forth between worlds.

Does it still have any sort of open-world component?

No. It is a more linear experience than RFG. There’s no doubt about that.

How much of a role will wanton destruction of buildings play in RFA? Honestly, I could take or leave RFG’s missions, but I spent hours just knocking stuff down and waging mini-wars against the Earth Defense Force.

There’s still plenty of stuff for you to knock down, and with the Repair Tool, you can rebuild it and knock it back down again if you feel like it. In fact, the Repair Tool – with some of the things it can do – if you knock down an eight-story building, you can rebuild the whole friggin’ thing. All eight stories of it.

But I can’t go on those GTA-style rampages? Is there any downtime between missions to just mess around with the destruction engine?

No. It is more of a linear experience.

The RFA trailer I saw had no hammer! Will the RFA’s hero ever take up his grandfather’s big honking hammer? What about his big, literally honking Ostrich hammer?

We’ve got the hammer. The hammer is there!

As for the Ostrich hammer, it’s part of RFG. I’d like to think that we will come up with something to equal it.

Emu hammer?

Now if I told you what it was going to be, would it be that much fun when you found it?

No, probably not.

[Laughs].

You mentioned that one of the things people complained most about in RFG was the amount of driving you had to do. So how much of a role do vehicles play this time around?

Vehicles are more there as part of the gameplay than as getting to the gameplay. We’ve moved forward a couple generations in [in-game] time from the events of RFG, and technology’s had a chance to develop. So rather than you having a pick-up truck or some standard vehicle to drive, we’ve got some more exotic things for you – like the Red Faction Leo [mech]. That’s one of our vehicles.

And so you’re going to be doing more along the lines of stuff that you couldn’t drive in today’s world.

How much has the destruction engine evolved since Guerrilla? Are things even more destructible this time around? Also, will we ever encounter any improbable situations where one tiny support beam – The Little Support Beam That Could — is holding up an entire building?

We have done some modification to the Geo-Mod engine – partly in order to minimize stuff like that, and partly to make the destruction more large-scale and realistic. Another one of the things people noticed about RFG was how you’d collapse, like, a four-story building and it’d all sort of dissolve when it hit the ground. We’ve done some work on that kind of stuff as well.

Most of what we’ve done, like I said, is stand on the shoulders of giants. The RFG team did an enormous job – they hauled a huge load. The difficulty of getting real physics-based destruction into a game world – I cannot say how big it is. It’s insane. We had a lot of people with really big heads working on that for a long time. And that limited – on some level – what they could do with the design of the game. They were building the destruction system at the same time they were building the game.

Then they handed it to us and we got to say, “What can we do that’s fun with this?” So we got to start with the destruction system and figure out where to go from there. That’s one of the reasons why we went underground. Destruction is more fun when you’ve got 100-ft. high walls that you can hang things off of. When you’ve got ceilings with giant lighting fixtures that you can actually destroy and send flying. And then we asked ourselves what weapons and tools we could come up with to let the player play with that would be cool by themselves, but are even better because of the existence of destruction.

The perfect example is the magnet gun, which you got to see. It takes whatever you launch the first projectile at, and it sends that flying wherever you launch the second projectile. In any other game, that would be a fun tool. You could grab a barrel and throw it at someone or grab a bad guy and throw him at a wall. We get to rip the side off a building and send it flying. My standard line is that we don’t have Seven Elevens in our game, but if we did, you could throw the Seven Eleven. Launch it across a football field and into the front rank of the enemies that are attacking.

If the Geo-Mod engine has such potential to be a game-changer, why not license it out to other developers?

That is a question for my corporate overlords, and not for a humble game designer such as I.

One of my favorite aspects of Guerrilla was actually how light its story was. In a sense, it was almost a pure game. I found it to be very Crackdown-esque in that respect. Why did you decide not to take that ball and run with it? Why did you instead decide to go the story-centric route?

Right now, I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. There’s nothing in our story that keeps you from ripping down every building that you come across. There’s nothing in our story that keeps you from wreaking havoc wherever you go. That’s not the point of it.

What it does is, we intentionally moved the story in time specifically to bring in new weapons and new technologies. If it took place three years after RFG and you had the Nanoforge strapped to your left arm and the ability to repair anything and a gun that flings physical objects all over the place, [that wouldn’t make much sense]. Not to mention that those aren’t the most exotic things we’ve got; they’re just the most exotic things we’ve shown.

We said, “we want to go more sci-fi with it.” And so we moved the game forward in time to do that. So that moved the game forward a couple generations. We wanted to keep ties with RFG. We wanted to be the same world – just the difference between 1950’s United States and 2000 United States. And, you know, the differences are huge. So we said, “Well, let’s make him the grandson of [RFG main character] Alec.” Now, Alec was a fish-out-of-water when he first showed up, so he was perfect for a more disjointed, lighter story. Because he was new to the world.

Well, Darius grew up in this world. He’s got compatriots that he comes across. He’s got friends that he knows. He’s been part of the world, so it’s natural for his story to be a more involved one than in the previous game. On top of that, we wanted to tell a more involved story. We like the idea of using games to tell story. I’m not gonna say we were dragged into it. We jumped into it willingly.

One of Armageddon’s trailers had a bit where an alien snuck up on a guy and sliced him to ribbons, and the whole scene was done up in horror trappings. Is Armageddon still going to be all about the chaotic battles of Guerrilla, or will certain moments slow the pace and instill a bit of a horror element?

We are not a horror game. We are an action game set in a horrific world. There’s a mystery to be solved, but you watched the game; when you got into combat, it was pure action. It was the chaos and the creatures jumping and being all over the place – actually being up on walls shooting at you. It was you blasting them and getting into the [mech] and pounding five of them in one shot with a big shoulder bash, and then using rockets to clear out the rest.

We’re a pure, adrenaline-fueled action game. It’s the tone of the world. You know, it’s like the difference between Doom and Duke Nukem. Doom is a shooter. Duke Nukem’s a shooter. The feel of the worlds is very different, but they’re still shooters.

Knocking shit down with Kinect or Move would be amazing. It very strongly appeals to the side of me that I suspect was Godzilla in a previous life. Would you ever consider adding support for those peripherals to a Red Faction game?

Would I consider it? Oh yeah. Right now, we’re finishing the game we’ve got. And then we’re gonna figure out where to go from there.

What about Armageddon’s multiplayer? Guerrilla’s was actually pretty awesome. Are you looking to improve on that? How much of a priority is it this time around?

Multiplayer is a major priority. We have some very interesting plans for it that are showing up very well in testing. But we will be unveiling them at a later time.

Has the partnership with Syfy affected RFA’s development at all? Has Syfy had any input during the game’s development process?

I am not allowed to comment on our partnership with Syfy.

I will say that no, I’ve felt no worries from that on the game development end. But I’m not allowed to talk about any partnership with Syfy.

Are you planning any sort of demo or beta for Armageddon?

We’re still discussing it. I, personally, would really like to. I was the first proponent for the multiplayer beta of Red Faction: Guerrilla. I was in charge of Red Faction Guerrilla’s multiplayer, and I was the first one pushing for that beta.

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2 Comments

  1. mojo

    i feel i need to let u guys know that “Abzug” is the german word for trigger.
    David Trigger.. nice.

    #1 5 years ago
  2. SlayerGT

    Firstly, great interview! Secondly, I am sadened. This sounds as though it’s a completely different game that just uses the GeoMod. I was disappointed when I saw the first trailer and it had aliens in it. But wasn’t sure until I read this artical. “No. It is more of a linear experience” When I read that I knew I would not be playing this. First Crackdown 2 now Red Faction. My nightmare will have come true when they finally put out Ace Combat 7 on PS3 and it be little more than an anti-aircraft gun sim. I don’t get the industry these days. The high cost of making games is holding it back i think.

    #2 5 years ago

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    Hands-on impressions of four new classes and their special abilities shaking up Call of Duty multiplayer. What’s exciting about this year’s Call of Duty is that we were able to get hands on with three different multiplayer maps and four of the new classes this early in development. Although the number of maps is still […]

  • Here’s the PC specs for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

    The PC specs for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 have been confirmed well ahead of the game’s November 6 release. Releasing the specs over six months before the game is due highlights how far along the game is in development. The specs are designed with low end and high end builds in mind. Get […]

  • Open beta for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 ahead of Nov 6 release date

    Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will offer an open beta to every player who pre-orders the game. The open beta is for the three supported formats – PC, Xbox One and PS4 – there is no version of Black Ops 3 for PS3 or Xbox 360. Solid details for the beta are yet to […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 brings back 4-player co-op campaign

    This year’s Call of Duty campaign is designed specifically for four players to experience together. Let’s get boots on the ground, soldier. Don’t call it an Exo skeleton. Call it the Direct Neural Interface. Okay, it’s a little less catchy, but the DNI biotechnology in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will feel familiar to […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 – watch the first official trailer here

    Here’s the first full trailer for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, due for release on November 6. Anyone who pre-orders the game will get access to the open beta. The game will be released on PS4, Xbox One and PC. You can read hands-on impressions of the multiplayer here, check out early info on […]

  • Dota 2 International Compendium out next week, three annual championships added

    Valve has announced its adding three, yearly Dota 2 championships to its eSports roster along with the new that a new International Compendium will launch next week alongside a balance update for MOBA. The firm said it was adding three extra championships to the schedule as it recognized there was “room for improvement” on a […]

  • Dungeons 2 is now available on PC, Mac, Linux – watch the launch trailer

    Dungeons 2, the dungeon-crawling strategy sequel to Realmforge Studios’ Dungeons, has been released on Steam by publisher Kalypso. It can be yours for $39.99 on Steam and is available for Windows, Linux, Mac and SteamOS. The first game was released in 2011 and heavily influenced by Dungeon Keeper. A boxed version will arrive in North […]

  • This Mortal Kombat X “hidden character intros” video is rather humorous

    YouTuber Maximilian Dood mad has created a Mortal Kombat X video featuring “hidden” character intros centering around Scorpion and Sub-Zero. Some of the dialogue is rather funny, and we particularly liked the affectionate line uttered by Sub-Zero at one point. Just something fun for your Saturday. Enjoy.

  • Art of the Catch creator sheds more light on why he pulled the Skyrim mod off Steam

    The creator of Skyrim mod Art of the Catch has taken to Reddit to explain why he pulled the paid mod off Steam Workshop. Yesterday, it was revealed Chesko had pulled the fishing mod off Steam Workshop, after mod creator Fore stated he didn’t endorse Chesko charging for the mod because it used his his […]

  • Tripwire adds clause to Killing Floor 2 EULA banning paid mods

    Tripwire Interactive has updated its EULA for Killing Floor 2 stating that any mods players create for the game must be distributed free-of-charge. The end user agreement update, via PCgamesN, went live a couple of days after Valve announced it would allow mod creators to start charging for their creations. Bethesda is the first company […]

  • Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 recreated in LittleBigPlanet 3 is rather eerie

    LittleBigPlanet 3 players have created some really interesting content with the game’s level builder, but sometimes, the creations go beyond cute and bright and venture into the realm of creepy, as is the case with this Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 build. Created by TheLittleBigPlanetShow, the rather ominous level can be played with up to […]

  • Final Fantasy 14: Heavensward benchmark trailer shows off flying mounts, more

    Square Enix has released a rather nice benchmark video for Final Fantasy 14: Heavensward showing a battle, flying mounts and some of the new environments. Heavensward is the first expansion for Final Fantasy 14 and is slated for release on June 23 for PC, PlayStation 3 and PS4. The mac version is being handled by […]

  • Have a look at some Xenoblade Chronicles X gameplay

    During yesterday’s Xenoblade Chronicles X Nintendo Direct showcase, many details pertaining to the Monolith Soft title were announced, and quite a bit of gameplay was shown. The Wii U-exclusive contains real-time menu-based combat and four-player online questing along with diverse environments and the ability to use Skells, which are transforming mechs. These mechs are called […]

  • Here’s a look at The Elder Scrolls Online running on Xbox One

    The Elder Scrolls Online has a limited public beta test running this weekend on PS4 and Xbox One, and Eurogamer has been playing around in it. Have a look at the Khajiit sorcerer below in the Xbox One version. There isn’t an NDA in place for the beta, so expect to see more videos as […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 leaks reveal Zombie progression system, four-player co-op, more

    More Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 details surfaced overnight thanks to a leaked pamphlet with information pertaining to Zombies XP progression, four-player co-op and more. Posted on NeoGAF, the pamphlet the shooter will contain a new movement system, a Specialist character system for multiplayer, tailored maps, “cinematic arena-style play,” and complete character customization. The […]

  • Gears of War Remaster in the works for Xbox One, according to testers – report

    Overnight, a rumor surfaced claiming a remastered version of the original Gears of War was coming to Xbox One. According to playtesters, it isn’t a rumor at all. Polygon first broke the story, citing a source who showed the site sreencaps of the Locust invasion with updated visuals. Screenshots of the multiplayer showing improved lighting […]

  • GameStop promo outs Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 for November, pre-order for access to beta

    Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will be released in November, according to what appears to be a leaked GameStop store promo posted on Kotaku. The exact date is November 6, which isn’t a surprise to anyone. On the promo, it notes that those who pre-order will be granted beta access for PC, PlayStation 4 […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Double XP and Elite Bonus weekend has kicked off

    Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare players can earn Double XP along with Elite Bonus on all platforms. There is even Double XP and Double Weapon XP on offer for Black Ops 2. The dry run is over. Prep for the Sunday reveal of #BlackOps3 begins now. 2XP/2XweapXP is live. pic.twitter.com/rn6SVtVJbY — Treyarch Studios (@Treyarch) April […]

  • Atlus makes “minor edits” to Dungeon Travelers 2 in order to avoid AO rating

    Atlus has announced it has made “minor edits” to four in-game images contained in Dungeon Travelers 2 to avoid an AO rating by the ESRB. According to a press release from the company, localization sometimes require changes to content in order for it to be “understood en masse,” which is why it worked closely with […]

  • Battlefield Hardline is 40% off through Origin this weekend

    The standard edition of Battlefield Hardline on PC is 40% off this weekend through EA’s Origin service. The Digital Deluxe Edition is also 40% off and includes various Battlepacks unavailable in the standard version. You can also pick up the Battlefield Hardline Ultimate edition for 23% off, which comes with all four planned expansions through […]

  • Submerged is an exploration-adventure game coming to multiple platforms

    Submerged is the latest title in development from Uppercut Games, and the exploration-adventure game is coming to PlayStation 4 and other platforms this year. The game takes place in a flooded city which Miku and her wounded brother Taku have reached by boat. Miku needs to find a safe place for her brother to rest […]

  • These screenshots for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt show superb attention to detail

    Some gorgeous new screenshots for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt have surfaced, and a couple are wallpaper worthy. Especially the one with the horse, but as you’re well aware, I’m horse crazed. The images below in the gallery have been scaled to fit properly, but if you head over to NeoGAF you can bask in […]

  • Namco kicks off Humble Store partnership with Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin

    Namco Bandai has started offering its PC titles on Humble Store, and this includes the recently released Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin. Other titles include Dragon Ball Xenoverse, and Project Cars. “In Japan, the Bandai Namco Group companies are known for supporting different charity programs and we are very happy to be […]

  • World of Tanks: 2,000 Bonus codes to give away

    Already have a World of Tanks account? We’ve got 2,000 codes for players to top up their Gold and Premium days. This weekend sees the World of Tanks Grand Finals take place in Poland, and we’ve got a bunch of game codes to give away to celebrate. Each Bonus PC code offers 150 Gold and […]

  • Mad Max contains Top Dog camps with boss fights

    Mad Max will have bases which vary in difficulty, some of which are considered a “finale” for a particular region and feature a boss fight. Speaking in the latest issue of GamesMaster via GamesRadar, the game’s producer John Fuller said this allows players to tailor their experience by deciding how much of a challenge they […]

  • Just Cause 3 gameplay trailer reveal coming next week

    Mark your calendars for Tuesday, April 28, because you won’t want to miss the gameplay reveal of Just Cause 3. Avalanche tweeted the date along with a teaser, as seen below. The box art has also made an appearance. Keep an eye on the game’s YouTube page, and we’ll be sure to post the video […]

  • First paid Skyrim Steam Workshop mod has been pulled

    Valve’s new incentive which allows modders to charge for their creations hasn’t been live for 24 hours yet, and already, one mod has been pulled. The mod in question was Chesko’s Fishing Mod for Skyrim, which the creator pulled after a community member questioned whether Chesko had permission from the creator of the character-idle animations […]

  • Resident Evil HD Remaster has sold over one million copies worldwide

    The HD remaster of Resident Evil has sold over one million copies worldwide since its January 20 release, Capcom has announced. The company attributed the sales milestone to producing a “great product” along with excellent word of mouth and praise from fans. In February, Capcom said Resident Evil HD Remaster was its fastest-selling digital title […]

  • The Crew: the Raid Car Pack and Raid Live Update now available for download

    The Crew players can now download the Raid Car Pack which is the last of four themes car packs. The Raid Live Update is also available, and it contains six new tuning specs. The car pack contains three new cars: the 2012 Cadillac Escalade, the off-road 2011 Volkswagen Touareg NF and the McLaren F1 supercar. […]

  • Geralt is very professional in the latest Witcher 3: Wild Hunt TV spot

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a new TV spot that’s short and to the point. The latest Witcher 3 trailer comes in the form of TV spot. It’s all CGI, and it looks good. If you’re more into gameplay trailers, the latest one will serve you well. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is out […]

  • Steam roguelike sale is live, offers deep discounts on a stellar collection of titles

    If you’re into challenging, procedurally-generated, and infinitely-replayable games, Steam’s current sale will hook you up. Steam is hosting a sale on roguelike games. Plenty of titles in the genre are on sale for upwards of 75% off. Highlights include Risk of Rain at 75% off, Don’t Starve at 66% off, Spelunky at 75% off, FTL: […]

  • Resident Evil: Revelations 2 finally gets online co-op in Raid Mode on Xbox One

    Resident Evil: Revelations 2 has been patched to support online play in Raid Mode on Xbox One. The Xbox One version of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 lacked online support in Raid Mode for a long time. Until today. A new patch has been released to bring that version in line with the rest of them. […]

  • A section in Killing Floor 2′s EULA about cyberbullying is riling up some fans

    Killing Floor 2 has recently got into a bit of trouble with some fans due to a clause in its EULA that gives the developer the right to revoke a user’s license without prior notice. The Killing Floor 2 EULA – just like many others found in modern games, has a section dedicated to cheating […]

  • World of Tanks: 2,000 free tanks and in-game cash to giveaway

    To celebrate the World of Tanks grand finals this weekend we’ve got some great freebies to give away to new players. We have 2,000 PC invite codes to giveaway, with each one offering new accounts a T2 Light Tank, 100 Gold and 1 Days Premium worth around €8.00. All you need to do is enter […]

  • Marvel announces partnership with Telltale, first game due in 2017

    Marvel and Telltale have entered into a partnership that will allow the developer to work on a new game series, due in 2017. Telltale has announced that it has partnered with Marvel Games, Marvel Entertainment’s video games division, for the development of a new game series. No indication was given as to what the new […]

  • Destiny: Bungie is not saying no to a player trading system

    Bungie has not completely ruled out the idea of bringing a trading system to Destiny. Destiny does not offer any way for players to trade items amongst themselves. But ever since the game’s release, players have never stopped asking Bungie to add one in. While the developer does not have a satisfying answer, it’s still […]

  • Destiny: Xur location and inventory for April 24, 25 – MIDA Multi-Tool edition

    The weekend Exotics market run by Xur: Agent of the Nine is now open for business. Destiny’s bizarre vendor, Xur, has arrived at the Tower. Xur is your man if you’re looking for Exotic armour or weapons. Not only that, but he will also let you exchange your old Exotic gear for new, upgraded versions. […]

  • Warcraft movie delayed yet again

    The Warcraft movie will no longer hit theatres in March 2016. The release date of the Warcraft movie has been pushed back by three months. The movie was expected in March 2016, but Legendary Pictures announced yesterday that it is now due on June 10, 2016. No reason was given for the delay. This is […]