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The Far Cry 3 approach: damned to die, born to kill

Friday, 3 August 2012 10:53 GMT By Dave Cook

Far Cry 3 is able to survive 2012′s FPS crowd with a unique take on action and a brutally simple ideal of the concept of killing. Lead designer Mark Thompson speaks to VG247′s Dave Cook.

“We wanted an FPS story that was more personal, something that people could relate to, make a connection with. It isn’t about a global conflict, it isn’t set against the backdrop of military special ops or high stakes espionage. It’s the story of a regular guy, Jason Brody, who is thrown into an insane situation and has to survive, adapt, and learn to fight back so he can save his friends.”

VG247: Far Cry 3 has been pushed back to November. What are you looking to achieve with the extra time?

Mark Thompson: Far Cry 3 is a labour of love and we didn’t spend the last three years pouring our hearts into the game to fall short at the finish line. The game is huge. With single-player, the open world, and multiplayer, there’s a lot to polish and a lot of finishing touches. The extra time was taken to guarantee we ship a stellar experience.

Some people say there are still too many shooters out there today. What do you feel are the essential ingredients to standing out from the pack and innovating in the genre? How does Far Cry 3 deliver on these ideals?

Far Cry games have always stood out from the pack in the FPS genre. Far Cry 1 was a choice-laden tropical escape from its contemporary linear grey corridors. Far Cry 2 gave players a huge open world with immersive features like fire propagation and unscripted combat. Far Cry 3 champions the foundations laid by previous instalments, embracing player choice, giving a rich open world to explore, supporting the same systemic immersive features fans expect from the franchise. This alone sets us aside from other FPS games, but we also focused a lot on the narrative for Far Cry 3.

We wanted an FPS story that was more personal, something that people could relate to, make a connection with. It isn’t about a global conflict, it isn’t set against the backdrop of military special ops or high stakes espionage. It’s the story of a regular guy, Jason Brody, who is thrown into an insane situation and has to survive, adapt, and learn to fight back so he can save his friends.

There has been a lot of talk around Far Cry 3 as a mature take on the FPS genre. How tricky has it been to make a game based around shooting people with literary and artistic value?

Violence and artistic value aren’t mutually exclusive: it’s more about how honest you are with people regarding the game’s core mechanics and the story’s characters. One mistake that games can make is to simply not acknowledge the violence and pretend like it isn’t important, that their protagonist is nonchalantly killing a ton of people. If you ignore what your core mechanics are asking players to do, if you pretend like players aren’t being rewarded for killing, then it will undermine the narrative. If the characters in the game don’t react to the violence performed by the player, then you create a plot hole, one specific to the interactive nature of games.

Far Cry 3′s co-op is being put together by
Ubisoft Massive.

We addressed this head-on and wrote a story that was about the core mechanic, about killing. It doesn’t judge whether this is right or wrong, it isn’t about creating a morality play. We simply take someone who hasn’t killed before and force them to kill, in order to save their own life and then the lives of their closest friends. Along the way, this killing, the core mechanic, becomes a key theme in the narrative. If it wasn’t, then any literary or artistic value would be undermined by the moment-to-moment gameplay, the story told through the player’s actions.

Can you see Far Cry 3 setting a precedent in terms of narrative weight? Are you expecting outcry or a backlash from the press based on the mature themes in the
story? Are there any particular moments that you feel nervous about ahead of launch?

It has never been a goal to set a precedent in narrative and we aren’t making any claims about advancing the medium or breaking new ground. What we are doing is telling a story the way we want to. And when someone in the room winces at this idea, that probably means it’s stronger than a carefully sanitized and focus-tested concept that will never offend anyone, ever, anywhere.

I think the reaction to what we have shown so far has been based on the fact that Far Cry is a popular shooter brand, and that most other shooters have been treading similar narrative ground for the last few years. In that respect we are absolutely doing something different to the crowd.

The villain Vaas is a rather animated chap. How far is Ubisoft testing itself in terms of acting and direction in Far Cry 3? To what extent has this been a learning
process for you as a developer?

Our ambition for Far Cry 3 was to create realistic characters that give believable performances and create empathy, fear, desire; real emotions. The endeavour has been
driven by technology and creativity.

The reason that characters in Far Cry 3 like Vaas come alive in the game is that we capture the real performance of the actors. Our motion capture technology simultaneously records full body motion, voice, and detailed facial motions. This means our directors and actors work in a much more traditional way, allowing for more chemistry on set and some great improvisation. This wouldn’t be possible with the different elements all being recorded separately and being patched together.

“We take someone who hasn’t killed before and force them to kill, in order to save their own life and then the lives of their closest friends. Along the way, this killing, the core mechanic, becomes a key theme in the narrative. If it wasn’t, then any literary or artistic value would be undermined by the moment-to-moment gameplay, the story told through the player’s actions.”

The technology was developed for Far Cry 3 and it has been a learning experience, in fact the tech has informed our creative process. When we saw what was possible with the performances we changed our approach to casting; we made the process more actor-centric, we bring the actor into the process of creating the character from a much less authored starting point than is traditional. We always want to capture a real performance so allowing an actor to be part of the process gets the kind of results you have seen with Vaas, and he is just one element in our cast of insane characters.

When making games more cinematic, developers would typically look to the film industry for inspiration. But are we now reaching a point where this dependency is waning as the games industry grows?

I think it’s natural for any emerging medium to use the conventions established by its predecessors. As we’re embracing the strengths of games as a different kind of experience, we are moving on from merely imitating film, and instead drawing from it as a reference like anything else that inspires us.

Cinematic has become something of a dirty word in gaming, conjuring up ideas of heavily scripted, linear, restrictive experiences. This is something that Far Cry as a brand has always been opposed to, and we continue this philosophy for Far Cry 3. Player agency is as important as storytelling, and striking that balance is how we move away from imitating the linear, passive experience of film.

Ubisoft Massive is creating the multiplayer component of Far Cry 3. Can you give us an insight into how multiplayer will handle (load-outs, XP, maps, editor, etc)?

Multiplayer in Far Cry 3 is a huge amount of content, which is why we have Ubisoft Massive as a dedicated multiplayer studio. The multiplayer experience has three main components: PVP with multiple different game modes and a strong team-based component; a four-player co-op campaign independent of the single-player story; and the return of the map editor, allowing players to create and share their own maps.

On top of that we have other community enriching features with web-to-game content that allows players to build their load outs outside of the game through a browser or smart phone. You can also unlock and share in-game rewards through the web based content, and your online profile is consistent across PVP and co-op so gaining XP and rewards will help in all aspects of multiplayer.

There are also social aspects of the single-player campaign that we haven’t revealed yet that will bring out the competitive streak in players.

Far Cry 3 takes place on an island full of hallucinations. The TV show lost did the same. Can I take a guess at a plot twist? They’re all dead right?

In the end, it turns out the whole thing was a video game…

Far Cry 3 releases on November 28 in Europe, November 30 in the UK and December 4 in the US.

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8 Comments

  1. Patrick Garratt

    I can’t wait for this now. I’m over the Far Cry 2 thing. I reckon it’s going to be brilliant.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. pleasant_cabbage

    Hope this is great but man do my alarm bells being to gently tinkle when developers rave about artistic values, empathy and maturity in their games then have ‘insane’ characters and scores popping out of people’s exploding heads :)

    #2 3 years ago
  3. pleasant_cabbage

    I liked FC2, yeah the checkpoints and malaria thing grated for me but when it worked I thought it was quite lovely.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Patrick Garratt

    I loved FC2, yeah. One of my favourite games.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. absolutezero

    I adore FC2. Love it to bits. Completely broken and wonky but I would’nt have it any other way. I think some of its faults made me love it even more. I love how polarising it can be, totally not a negative thing at all. I just dislike how Hocking left Ubi and it appears they are trying to sweep everything FC2 under the carpet.

    I hope this does well and we get FC 4 going in a completely different direction again. The arctic or something.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. AHA-Lambda

    I am intrigued by this, really hope they can pull off what they are aiming for in terms of the story.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Maximum Payne

    ”n the end, it turns out the whole thing was a video game…”
    Hahaha ….BURN!

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Moonwalker1982

    Definitely waiting for this one. I just wish we would get to see Xbox 360 or PS3 footage. Cause so far i think it has all been PC footage. E3 was most definitely PC.

    #8 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    LittleBigPlanet Vita co-developers Tarsier Studios have released a teaser trailer for Hunger, which was announced in May 2014 at the Nordic Game Conference. The game has been rumored to be the firm’s unannounced Sony project since 2010. Platforms are still to be announced, but the studio became a first-party SCE developer a few years back, […]

  • Here’s two Mario Party 10 overview videos, one featuring amiibo

    Overview videos for Mario Party 10 and the amiibo which work with the title have been released by Nintendo Japan. Obviously each one is in Japanese, but you get the gist all the same. Mario Party 10 releases on Wii U March 20 in North America and Europe. Thanks, AGB.

  • Clan Raids announced for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Companion App

    Activision has announced a new Clan Raids mode will be made available through the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Companion App. According to the CoD community blog, raids are time-based challenges where success earns you a spot on the Clan Raids leaderboards and new Clan Raid-exclusive in-game gear like the Equilibrium set. Clan members will […]

  • Play Battlefield Hardline starting March 12 through EA Access

    Xbox One users with an EA Access subscription will be able to play 10 hours worth of Battlefield Hardline starting March 12. EA Access members will are being granted access to the game five days before the street date, with full multiplayer and all saves transferring over into the main game. It was announced yesterday […]

  • This video summarizes the contents of Destiny patch 1.1.1

    With Destiny patch 1.1.1 now available, here’s a video summary of what to expect. In the video above, Arekkz Gaming gives you a rundown of the important bits in the update. Subscribe to Arekkz Gaming for more Destiny tips and trick through the link.

  • Destiny 1.1.1 patch notes out, update is live

    Destiny’s 1.1.1 patch arrives today, so if you have been kicked from activities, it means you will need to download the patch now that it’s live. We will be pushing the 1.1.1 patch for Destiny shortly. Players will be kicked from activities and required to download the patch. — Bungie Help (@BungieHelp) February 25, 2015 […]

  • Payday 2 packs based on Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number coming

    Starbreeze has announced another collaboration with Dennaton Games which will see masks based on Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number appear in Payday 2. The collaboration consists of two free updates when you acquire Hotline Miami 2 or its deluxe version on Steam from February 25. The two updates, called Hotline Miami Mask Pack and Jacket […]

  • Velocity 2X making its way onto Linux, Mac, PC and Xbox One

    Velocity 2X will be released on Linux, Mac, PC and Xbox One Futurlab has announced. The developer is in charge of the port, which will be published by Sierra. According to Futurlab, the deal with Sierra came about when self-publishing proved to be difficult due to spending “more time doing PR and marketing on Velocity […]

  • Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number finally has a release date

    A release date for Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number has been announced, finally. The game will arrive on Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita March 10. It is now available for pre-order on GOG, Humble and Steam for 10% off for $13.49/£10.99. There’s also a Digital Special Edition available which includes tracks from […]

  • Warhammer 40,000: Dark Nexus Arena is a twin stick shooter MOBA for PC

    Warhammer 40,000: Dark Nexus Arena has been announced as a twin stick shooter MOBA blend from Whitebox Interactive. Set for a 2016 release on PC, the game’s beta will be on show at PAX East next month. An Early Access release is slated for Q2 2015 and you can already purchase early access for a […]

  • More information, videos for cancelled Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun surface

    A trailer for the cancelled Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun title from Climax which was reportedly set for an E3 2012 reveal, has surfaced. Along with the above video is another which is described as a pre-boss battle cutscene. It’s below. According to a source of NeoGAF’s Mama Robotnik, the game was being developed under […]

  • Three additional games added to Square Enix Humble Bundle

    Kane & Lynch Collection, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and Startopia have been added to the Square Enix Humble Bundle. All three are made available when paying the average price of $7.69. Those who have already purchased the bundle will automatically be granted the titles. All three are available for PC only. The […]

  • Forza Horizon 2 gets Fast & Furious with standalone expansion

    A Fast & Furious tie-in and standalone expansion to Forza Horizon 2 will arrive for Xbox consoles next month. Titled Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious, the downloadable title does not require the base game to play. “We’ve been talking with the folks at Turn 10 for a number of years and have always […]

  • The Evil Within: The Assignment has a release date, new trailer

    The Evil Within: The Assignment will be released on March 10 in North America and March 11 in Europe, it was announced today. Along with an exact release date was a trailer detailing more information about the first set of DLC. The Assignment is the first of two DLCs centering on Detective Castellanos’ mysterious partner, […]

  • Steam and GOG cross-platform multiplayer added to AvP Classic 2000

    Steam and GOG have announced Aliens vs Predator Classic 2000 owners will be able play multiplayer with each other across both platforms. With the recent online multiplayer update for for AVP Classic 2000, Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley has made good on his promise from June to offer cross-platform play between the Steam and GOG platforms. […]

  • OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood arrives on PS4, Vita next week

    Roll7 has announced it will release OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood next week. The developer announced the dates on Twitter this morning alongside the launch trailer. You will be able to download the game for PlayStation 4 and Vita March 3 in North America and March 4 in Europe.

  • Week 7: Play GTA Online with VG247 tonight at 8pm UK time!

    Heists got a date! Come play GTA Online with us to celebrate. We’re playing GTA Online on PS4 tonight with whoever else fancies it. That means you. This week’s playlist is Happy for Heists, because we kind of are. The six jobs involved will last about 45 minutes. Anyone can turn up. Here’s how. We’ll […]

  • Batman: Arkham Knight – first look into the story

    Batman: Arkham Knight has a new trailer available that gives us a peek into Scarecrow’s plan to unite all villains against Batman. The trailer below has a different tone to the ones showing Arkham Knight. Instead, we get a look at Scarecrow’s team of super-villains including new footage of Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. There […]

  • Vita knocks New 3DS LL out of top slot on Media Create charts

    Thanks to four new titles, one of which was God Eater 2: Rage Burst, PlayStation Vita has knocked New 3DS LL out of the top slot on the Media Create charts in Japan. The handheld, which came in thrid place last week, moved 35,203 units for the February 16-22 period, compared to 10,901 units the […]

  • Dragon Quest Heroes coming west in 2015, PS4 only

    Dragon Quest Heroes will be making its way to west this year. Square Enix has announced that it’s bringing Dragon Quest Heroes to the west this year. The press release mentioned only PAL territories (Europe & Australia). Though it’s unlikely it will miss the US. The game will release on PlayStation 4, both digitally and […]

  • Destiny: how to make sure Crota stays down for longer

    If you’re familiar with the final encounter of the Crota’s End raid, then you know every second Crota is immobilised counts. Arekkz Gaming has a handy tip for anyone who’s played Crota’s End or anyone attempting it. The trick is simple to execute and will ensure Crota stays on his knees for longer, making for […]

  • NBA Live 15 added to EA Access just four months after release

    EA has added NBA Live 15 to the list of games available instantly to anyone with an EA Access subscription. NBA Live 15 has been added to EA Access’ Vault, EA has announced. As of today, anyone with an EA Access subscription on Xbox One can play it alongside other available games. NBA Live 15 […]

  • Deal: get Advanced Warfare Limited Edition Xbox One bundle + extra game for £299

    UK retailer GAME is offering a good deal on the Advanced Warfare Limited Edition 1TB Xbox One bundle and is throwing in an extra game. The retailer has reduced the price of the bundle to £299, which is the usual price for the standalone console. The bundle is of course Advanced Warfare-themed. The console and […]

  • That Metal Gear Rising 2 logo was for the second anniversary of the original

    Metal Gear Rising developer Platinum Games has confirmed, once and for all, that the “2″ logo we saw during Sony’s presentation at Taipei Game Show was definitely not for a sequel. Platinum posted this on Twitter earlier. デザイナーの趙&ニシイから、『MGR』2周年記念イラスト! ディレクターの齋藤( @PG_saito )が、開発スタッフブログでご紹介しています↓↓ http://t.co/IW1aOxAZQR #mgr pic.twitter.com/ZbNF3Jk1tF — PlatinumGames Inc. (@platinumgames) February 25, 2015 The illustrations were made by artist Yong-Hee […]

  • Resident Evil Revelations 2 is formulaic and I’m okay with that

    There’s something comforting about the lack of ambition and plain old gameplay in Resident Evil Revelations 2, says Matt Martin. “It’s locked from the other side.” Of course it is. What did I expect? I’ve been here before. So many times. Not just in Resident Evil but a million other games. It’s so familiar as […]

  • Battlefield 4: double XP event live now through Sunday

    EA is holding a double XP event in Battlefield 4 on all platforms. The publisher is celebrating Battlefield Hardline going gold by offering all Battlefield 4 players double XP in multiplayer matches. The double XP event is now live and through 23:59 UTC on Sunday, March 1.

  • BioShock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Rayman Legends free with March Games with Gold

    The list of free games coming in March as part of Microsoft’s Games with Gold programme has leaked. The leaked list of games include Rayman Legends and #IDARB for Xbox One along with Tomb Raider and BioShock Infinite for Xbox 360. In addition, Microsoft will be offering double the amount of games in April. The […]

  • Telltale’s new IP will be a “super show”, bridges the gap between TV and game

    Telltale’s upcoming mysterious new IP will be produced in collaboration with Lionsgate and will be a hybrid game and TV show. Entertainment Weekly spoke to Telltale CEO Kevin Bruner to understand what’s a super show. “A “Super Show” episode combines one part of interactive playable content with one part of scripted television style content,” said […]

  • Next Mortal Kombat X stream to show Brutalities, new character

    Brutalities will be making a return in Mortal Kombat X and we’re getting a look at them very soon. The next Mortal Kombat X live-stream has been dated and we know it will show Brutalities for the first time. Developer NetherRealm Studios posted this on Twitter. pic.twitter.com/ZJYN1FNRZ9 — NetherRealm Studios (@NetherRealm) February 23, 2015 Notice […]

  • PC version of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 does not support offline co-op [Update]

    Players who bought the PC version of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 have realised that the game doesn’t support offline co-op. Unlike the console versions, the PC version of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 can only be played in single player, with no offline co-op option. Capcom has not revealed this prior to launch. Instead, users on […]