Developer Diary: The Saboteur for PS3

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Greetings PlayStation.Blog! I’m Tom French, Lead Designer of The Saboteur. Since this is my first post on the blog, I figured it might be best to give you an introduction to The Saboteur for those of you that know little to nothing about our game. Simply put, the game is a big-story-driven-open-world-action-sandbox-game that pits a daredevil race-car-driver-turned-saboteur vs. Nazi occupied France. “WWII, really, do I need another WWII game?” We said the same thing to ourselves when the idea was first pitched to the team.

Let me tell you now, straight up, The Saboteur is not your typical WWII game.


In The Saboteur rather than playing what might as well be a nameless-faceless soldier in the war you play as Sean Devlin; a rough around the edges Irish race-car-driver who becomes a saboteur. While I know this idea might sound a bit unbelievable at first; let me tell you now that Sean is actually inspired by a real life person – William Grover-Williams. He was British/French grand prix champion who drove for the legendary Bugatti racing team back in the 30’s. Because of his daredevil nature and his ability to blend into the French culture he made prime candidate to be recruited by the Special Operations Executive (SOE). He then became a saboteur working with the Resistance there. This idea of a larger-than-life hero that wasn’t fighting on the front lines really just felt like a great idea for a game character and we really wanted to make a game with less “history” and more “his story”. More Indiana Jones and less Saving Private Ryan.

The Saboteur Outside_The_Belle_de_Nuit The Saboteur_02

We wanted to make our hero the action hero we all wish we could be in our hearts. Being a team of film geeks we looked to the heroes from the silver screen for inspiration; Indiana Jones for his big adventures and his desire to trade fists with Nazis for his personal rather than political reasons, John McClane from Die Hard who takes a beating and laughs in the face of danger, and finally Steve McQueen who was, well, one of the most classically cool men to ever walk the face of this planet. These are the types of heroes we want to be. To further ourselves from the typical WWII story we set out to make Sean’s story personally motivated rather than political. That’s why one of our first decisions with the character was to make him Irish. Sean doesn’t care about politics but when Kurt Dierker, a rival racecar driver and high-ranked Nazi official kills his best friend Jules, things get personal for Sean and he will have to fight all across Paris, the French countryside, and even into Germany to get revenge on those who wronged him.

TRAIN_Watermarked copy

We felt strongly that it was extremely important to let the player to step into the shoes of Sean Devlin and become The Saboteur right along side of him. You’ll get to play the origin story of The Saboteur, race in vintage race cars across the streets of Paris, scale the Eiffel tower, shoot your way through hordes of Nazis, sabotage their operations with explosives, chase through burning zeppelins, derail trains and that’s just a few examples of the big action moments The Saboteur will have for you. What are the cool features in the game? What can and does he do along the way? Why are some of the screenshots in black and white? I’ll be bringing those answers to you in up coming blogs so stay tuned, I’ve still got a lot to cover.

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39 Author Replies

  • Screens make the gameplay look like a huge rip off of Uncharted 2. Even the train pics there kind of scream it. Gameplay wise I mean.

    • I remember reading about the Uncharted 1 for the first time in the same issue of Game Informer we announced The Saboteur in a few years back. I\’d be lying if I said there aren\’t any similarities to Uncharted and we could see it then. Both games have a very Indiana Jones inspired lead character, big over the top set piece type moments, some similar mechanics, etc.

      The main difference is our game is an open world game with lots of different tools for the player to play how they want to play (more on some of this stuff in later blogs).

      That being said I was a huge fan of Drake 1 and really look forward to getting some time to sit down and play 2 soon. :)

  • Will there be a demo?

  • Ah, I love the Irish accent. I actually saw a special on this awhile back (don’t be afraid to pop in more often- we don’t bite… err, well some of us don’t XD).

    I especially like the artistic way this game is being depicted- the black and white versus color juxtaposition gives it a deeper artistic motif than some games care to give. Honestly, it’s as if the idea of gaming being an art-form is so incredibly strange that it would unthinkable to have such elements taken closer to the forefront. I don’t think you guys are going quite so far as to have everything in the game have some symbolic meaning, but it brings the argument closer to my doorstep.

    • I appreciate reading your kind words. We\’re really proud of the artistic elements of the game. I definitely think games can be art and people are fools for saying they can\’t. Makes me want to lock them in a room with a copy of Bioshock, Okami, Ico/Shadow of the Colossus, and see if they could come out with the same opinion.

      While at times\’s it\’s just for dramatic reason or to make something pop out in the black and white, we do use the color/black & white sometimes to really give symbolic meaning to things. Main characters often have a piece in color to make them stick out in the world and the color we use for them is blue, the color of the resistance.

      There\’s also this great shot of the world when you first load up the game that\’s in front of our cabaret/brothel called the Belle du Nuit. The whole world is in black white but the front of the building is in color. The reason it\’s in color is it\’s a bit like Rick\’s place from Casablanca. The area might being opressed by the occupying forces but inside the Belle is this sense of inspiration with the resistance growing inside.

      Using color inside the black and white was a really neat tool to work with inside the game and we found some great uses for.

  • Is this a PSN title, or a title you buy in retail stores?

  • completely…. forgot about this game.

  • This game looks very interesting. I especially enjoy the idea of approaching WWII genre in a totally different way.

    I’ll definitely keep my eye on this one since I can’t get enough of the resurgence of action/adventure games.

  • Finally a Irish guy in a PS3 Game, but im not sure you’ve chose the time zone well.
    Remember, Ireland, is going through some tuff times with them Brits, the troubles, and all, and around the 1900-1920’s, dont ever get me started.

    • The whole Irish-vs.-Brits thing is something we definitely play up a bit in the game. Sean sometimes has to reluctantly work with the British SOE to get to Dierker.

      Sean at the beginning of the game really only cares about racing, drinking, and his friends. Making him Irish was key to separating him from the political motivations of the war so we could keep his story personal.

  • Love the Schindler’s List reference coloring ;)
    Very cool stuff.

    I can’t wait to try this!
    Are you guys planing on releasing a demo?

  • You have the greatest beard of all the gaming industry.

  • Sounds more like a GTA to me. If it has mission checkpoints and save anywhere, i.e. not like GTA’s insane system, I’m in!

    • We definitely have mission check points because we have some really epic long missions and forcing the player to have to go back to a mission starter and play the whole mission again would likely make people throw their controllers through their TVs. :)

      We also wanted to let the player experiment with the different mechanics and risk death without the risk of having to do it all over again.

  • Love the Schindler’s List coloring reference ;)
    Very Cool Stuff.

    I can’t wait to play this!
    Are you guys planing on releasing a demo?

    @1 No need to be mopey, have some respect. lol

  • jesus christ. This looks incredible

  • Will this game have any multiplayer? Custom soundtracks… etc?

    • We talked about multi-player when we first started designing the game but ultimately felt it would spread us too thin from accomplishing our main goal of delivering an epic story driven action sandbox game.

  • this game actually looks really good, keep us up to date on the blog, and i’ll definitely consider giving it a more serious look come release date

  • What IS an Irishman doing in Paris?

    AWESOME vid on the EA site.

    • I was happy we finally cut a trailer with Flogging Molly as a soundtrack. I always felt like their music captured the fighting spirit of Sean.

  • I LOVE the artstyle for this game. I love games that have a unique artstyle. this factor alone is a selling point for me, but too bad I hate WWII games. Maybe when this game drop in price, I will pick it up.

    • You may be presently surprised when you play the game that it really doesn\’t feel like your traditional WWII game. WWII gave us probably the best real world bad guys of all time, occupied France, and an era where high-spirit-pulp action feels like it makes sense. :) We also take a lot of liberties with the war. Like I said, more Indiana Jones than Saving Private Ryan. Big adventure. Armored Nazi soldiers. Zeppelins that chase you around with search lights and mini-guns.

  • Thank you for the in depth explanation of the game. You just sold me on it.

  • I’ve seen this game demoed a couple times over the last couple months and lemme tell you guys, this looks great. The grey/color effect is pretty awesome and the fact that you can crawl around Assassin’s Creed-style is sweet.

    Looking forward to this one for sure.

  • Give me a demo, and I’m more likely to give you my money!

    But in all seriousness, thanks for continuing to tease this game, you keep spiking my interest with every new tidbit of info. I’d love to see how the game actually plays though before I invest $60 into it

  • I remember first hearing about this game in that GI story a couple of years back, however as time passed, I must admit I’d completely forgotten about it. It looks good, though, and consider my interest regained.

    • Yeah, we kinda went into the dark for a while to really just focus on working on the game. It\’s come a long ways since the GI article days.

  • Really looking forward to this one.

  • This game looks great. Definitately looking forward to it but I really haven’t seen it enough though. I just saw one walkthrough were you blew up some generator or something. It felt cool but I after Assassin’s Creed I’m very worried about the possible repetitiveness. I really do wish that there’s interesting stuff you can do in the city as well though.

    With all these open-world games coming out, I find myself not playing in the “sandbox” after I finished the storyline. inFamous, Assassin’s Creed and GTAIV being my main examples. So I really hope there’ll be something worthy to do in the city (ex San Andreas’ gangs etc).

    • I definitely share your concern about repletion in sandbox games. We didn\’t want the missions in The Saboteur to all be cookie cutter. We put a lot of attention into making sure all the missions of the game are different from each other. On top of that we do have a lot of pure sandbox type game play with our our occupation in the world.

      I\’ll be going into this stuff in a later blog so hang in there. :)

  • Can’t wait to see how development goes. Keep us all posted!

  • Wonderful Developer Diary. I had a chance to play at PAX in the EA booth. It was a great game what I played. I look forward to this game.

    • I have to say I had a blast just watching people play the game at PAX. There was a point a couple years ago when the game could only look good in the hands of a few select members of the dev team and to finally get to watch consumers play the game and have it look cool is really inspiring to me.

  • Sounds good. I have a question; do you have any beard trimming tips?

  • Is it a race game or a shooter? I’ts not really clear to me. I hope its a shooter.

    • At it\’s heart it\’s an open world action game. There is racing, shooting, jumping, climbing, sabotage, fist fights, disguises, and much more. I could almost predict a blog about the mechanics of The Saboteur coming in the near future. ;)

  • @1 if the games does use the uncharted engine then that is not a bad thing. The game seems like it has potential, I’ll be paying attention to the upcoming blogs and hope for some gameplay videos.

    • We\’re not using the Uncharted engine. They\’re a completely separate company. Our game is also an open world game so the tech needs are very different. The technology for The Saboteur is all new tech we developed specifically for the game. When we started working on the game we originally were sharing code with our Mercenaries 2 team but quickly realized we were making very different games and had to build our own technology. We focused our engine on being able to have a lot of detail, objects, textures, etc in our scenes but allow for the player to climb to the top of anything and look out across the huge expanse (you can get to the top of the Eiffel Tower in our game).

      If you\’re curious about gameplay videos, just search the internet, check our website or Facebook, there\’s a good chunk of footage out there.

  • I have been looking forward to this game since it was first announced, which seems like eons ago. I remember reading about Sabateur, a GI cover story, a couple of years back. I have been following it ever since.

    This is my most anticipated game for this year, can’t wait!

  • Gives us a demo.

  • No idea what this game is all about except what i just read. It sounds good tho. I will wait for the next posts about it

  • Been looking forward to this game. I’m even more excited now that I know it was inspired by a real guy.

  • Even though the graphics look good and the story sounds intriuging can developers please for the love of god leave WWI and WWII alone already i mean every year for the last 20 yrs there are a dozen or so games based on one fo the 2 wars with all the wars that have happened since and before than can u guys please give us some different settings. we can only kill so many germans people. i mean seriously.

  • Ouch – one of the only games to fully feature an Irish man as a main character and you make him look as stereotypically dorky looking and with those STUPID & UGLY farmer hats.

    I hope his irishness is not over expressed in the game like anything non American and non English is. That said, interested in the game and hope to see some vids whenever.

  • Been keeping my eye on this one. If it turns out good I’ll get it around Christmas.

  • LAST!

    I love the art style and Uncharted as shown that an every-man kind of character, even if a little larger than life, can make their way into gamers’ hearts.

    Am I right in thinking this is a multi-platform game? Was the game engine built on the PS3 first, then ported or visa versa?

    • You\’re absolutely right. We planned this to be a multi-platform game from the get go of development.

      When we started working on the game it was impossible to get PS3 dev kits at that time so we did start on \”the other platform\” but eventually we partnered up with another group to help work on the PS3. Within a couple months we had the game development going in pretty much tandem.

  • I’m really hoping this game turns out to be good. The story line looks great and unique!

  • Is this one of those multi-platform titles which are pimped on this *SONY* blog despite running better on the 360?

    Lead development on Microsoft system.
    Promote game on Sony blog.

    Hmm… I consider this way of doing things slightly disgusting.

    Ready to eat my shoes if this turns out to perform at least equally on both platforms.


  • Am not interested in ANYTHING with Pandemics hands in it,If Mercenaries 2 is anything to go by,Then I can say with relative ease that this game will be a bug fest and will get no support to fix problems,Pandemic has completly ignored the Mercenaries 2 community by not fixing the bug riding game or the unlockable trophies for those people that bought the game and earned over million due to the stupid trophies devs tie to online material or leaderboard material.

    I strongly suggest others to look the other may with this game as well,We should not support such lazy,Unsupportive,unresponsive and very incapable studios such as Pandemic!.

  • Lol he got recruited by “SOE” (Sony Online Entertainment)

  • Cant wait for this. Love the black and white.

  • I think those screens look awesome.

    To the dev – What’s the lead platform? Cause I’m getting sick of missing out from games that use the other box as the lead platform. Cause using the ps3 as the lead, you get a better game.

  • @1 What is wrong with you? Do you really think they copied Naughty Dog? Maybe it was Naughty Dog who copied them!!

    Or maybe, just maybe, two different devs had nearly the same epic idea for a train level.

    Honestly I just hope your post was an attempted joke.

    • Definitely coincidence. Kinda like how Inglorious Bastards being set in an over the top WWII occupied France is a a coincidence.

      The reason we have a big train mission in the game is if you research the French Resistance it\’s hard to avoid pictures of them sabotaging trains. We thought that would be cool to do inside our game and it\’s literally one of the first things we prototyped in preproduction of the game. We wanted to not only destroy the train but also have moments where you would be on the train, classic movie style. It\’s a giant mission. You can find video footage of me doing a play through of it if you search the internet a bit. :)

  • this game looks cool

  • This game looks great! I bet it will be the sleeper hit of the year…

  • @ reply to #1

    Interesting, so like a odd mix of GTA (open world), meets Uncharted (mechanics similarities), meets WWII…

    Very interesting, hmm… I would need a demo or a rent to see if it really flows together well and doesn’t try too hard, but its on my watch list now.

  • I quite like the idea of a story driven WW2 game rather than ‘nameless soldier killing Nazis = win’ type game. I am quite fascinated by the era and so telling a unique story from a somewhat outside perspective (with Sean being Irish and all) sounds very appealing. After checking out the wiki page for William Grover-Williams you have me wondering if your fictional counterpart will meet a similar end! Poor guy.

    • Yeah, Grover-Williams was really interesting. There\’s a really great article out there that goes into a lot more detail than the one on the wiki.

  • I haven’t hear anything of this game. And was suprise of the 2009 release. Why don’t you guys advertise it more?

    • The main marketing should start hitting pretty soon. Up until now we\’ve been mainly covered on a lot of the gaming sites, etc. Keep your eyes out though…

  • I wanted to thank everyone for their comments (even the negative ones). It’s crazy busy times around here on The Saboteur team but I’ll make sure I pop on and answer questions. Like I said, there will be more info being revealed in the coming blogs.

    _T(French) – Lead Designer, The Saboteur

  • I’m starting to get more into this game. Looks very promising!
    But how is the AU, it looks like the can see you throw the walls in the game play movies. Thta sis when you get spotted of course, is this only my imagine or is the game designed like that. Because it would be more fun if the had a “real” sight and have to look after you.

    btw. from Sweden so sorry for my grammar.

    • Hmmm, I\’m not sure what you mean by AU, but they do have to have direct line of sight to see you. It\’s possible what you\’ve seen in the videos is an enemy spotting Sean from a tower or something like that.

      No worries about your grammar I\’m fairly used to it, we have like a half-dozen Swedes on our programming team. :)

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