Saints Row 4 senior producer Jim Boone has explained to VG247 why it would be literally impossible to create a fully Geo-Mod enabled edition of the sandbox game – complete with all the destruction of the team’s Red Faction series – on current-gen formats.
Speaking with VG247’s Sam Clay, Boone explained, “We’ve talked about it so many times yeah, and the problem is it’s just not feasible with the engine. It’s one of those things where, unless you really dig into it you’ll find all the gory details that the fidelity that you have to do, to do a building and have it come apart – say Red Faction: Guerrilla [or] Red Faction: Armageddon – that system of Geo-Mod 2.0 where you’re doing really exotic, large buildings, the technology behind that is so amazing and also so restrictive at the same time, that the problem is that the density of buildings you can do with that engine literally couldn’t come close to being done to represent the kind of cities we do in Saints Row.
“And so if you’re familiar with Red Faction: Guerrilla or Armageddon, you’ll notice we don’t have a tremendous density of structures – talking about very large structures – and that’s because we push these platform to the nth degree just to be able to do those buildings in the way that we’re doing them, in order for them to break apart in the way that we do.
“So what that means is that technically, it’s literally impossible to apply that tech in the same way that we’ve done it to that kind of density that you would expect from a Saints Row game. We talked about it a lot like, ‘Is there something we’re just missing? Is there some other way of doing it?’ and there’s just no way we’d be able to do it in the way that we’d want to.”
We then asked Boon if – given the arrival of next-gen consoles – a destructible city might be possible, given the advanced clout of new PC tech, PS4 and Xbox One.
He replied, “We haven’t talked at length about it but here’s my suspicion – and this is me talking, rather than anything … programmers would explain it far better than I would I’m sure. My concern is that, it would suddenly make this much more possible – whether it’s totally possible, I suspect it probably would but I’m not certain – but here’s the issue: we would still have to make compromises to the graphic fidelity by still sharding it up and making it so they can break apart and all these pieces.
“My suspicion is that if you looked at another game coming out that didn’t have that technology, that their buildings would look so superior to ours, the gamers would still look at it and say, ‘Wow, what’s wrong with Saints Row, why does it look so horrible? I know the buildings come apart but you know.’
“It’s tough to communicate, and we always had that problem even on Red Faction, that there’s no easy way to clearly communicate that yeah, the graphics may not be as amazing as these other cutting-edge games, but look at the engine. Look at all these things things it does. It’s just when you’re looking at a screenshot, or when you’re looking at a trailer you just kind of look at it and it’s like, ‘Nah, it doesn’t look as good as some of these other games that are out there’.
“There’s a reason for it but at the end of the day I don’t think gamers necessarily care. It’s just, My suspicion is that if they saw a Saints Row game that didn’t look nearly as good as the competition that’s out there, that they would just feel bad and say, ‘What the hell’s happened to Volition? What the hell’s wrong with that? The city just looks awful compared to what I’m seeing in these other games because of the destruction.
“With the kind of competition that’s out there I think, I suspect it would almost be impossible to do it and still remain competitive visually.”
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Saints Row 4 hits PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on August 20 in North America, and August 23 across Europe.