gamescom: inFAMOUS 2 Interview

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After the SCEE gamescom press conference, we had an event where press and developers could mingle, overindulge and try out the latest PlayStation games. I got talking to Bruce Oberg, co-founder of Sucker Punch Productions and development lead in inFAMOUS 2; without further ado, here’s what we said.

James Gallagher: From what I’ve seen, you seem to have been working particularly hard on the game’s graphics. Has this been an area in which you’ve placed special focus?

Bruce Oberg, Co-Founder, Sucker Punch Productions: We’ve tried to leave no stone unturned in just about every facet of the game and the graphics have been helped by us having another year of learning about PlayStation 3 under our belt. We’re able to use more of the cell processors now than we finished the first inFAMOUS, so we can have more characters on-screen, more complicated shaders, and much greater layering.

inFAMOUS 2 gamescom pics

It basically means we’re able to up the amplitude when it comes to graphics and the number of breakable objects you see on the screen. The characters, in particular, look a lot better as we have learned things like light scattering under the skin that makes a big difference. We’re also using motion capture for the first time to create animations, which gives movement a more powerful, visceral look. It’s all looking great!

JG:How much collaboration has there been with studios such as Naughty Dog and Insomniac Games on this project?

BO: We’ve always felt like a little brother to those guys that you mentioned; they’re down in California so we don’t see each other all of the time, but we’ll occasionally give them a call if we’re having trouble with this or that, because they’re super smart.

We’re completely humbled to be mentioned in the same sentence as either of those teams.

JG: Morality was at the heart of inFAMOUS and I’ve always thought that the Holy Grail for those kinds of games is to nail the grey shades of personality in-between. Would you agree?

BO: Morality was never our starting point with inFAMOUS; it was ‘what would you do if you do if you were suddenly given superpowers’ and I think that karmic choice is a big part of that. What would you do? It’s not natural to give someone this power and then expect them to be a hero.

People responded really well to the choices we gave them, and we’re going to be doing more of that in inFAMOUS 2, but I think we’re going to make the choices even stronger, taking you either further in the good or evil directions. We want it to be clear to people what kind of choice they’re making.

inFAMOUS 2 gamescom pics inFAMOUS 2 gamescom pics

JG: What are the storytelling challenges in that kind of forking narrative?

BO: It’s incredibly challenging. You think of the story as a tree that ends up with so many branches that it becomes a daunting task creating all of that content. In inFAMOUS there were essentially two endings that you could see and we might broaden that a little bit, but the real emphasis is on making sure that the way the game plays changing after you make certain choices.

JG: What inspired the new setting of New Marais?

BO: First of all we wanted somewhere that would offer more variation than a regular city. New Marais has echoes of New Orleans and other Southern cities, but there’s also a bit of Atlanta in there. We wanted a warmer, wetter climate with all these different districts like a modern area, a French quarter, a swamp and all these different shapes of the gritty world. It gives us a far more varied ‘jungle gym’ to explore.

inFAMOUS 2 gamescom pics inFAMOUS 2 gamescom pics

JG: What are the new powers like?

BO: We showed the Ionic Vortex at E3, which is tornado made out of static electricity that just wreaks havoc. You have to remember that Cole is not a beginner anymore like he was at the beginning of inFAMOUS. He has a lot of powers already, so we’re giving him even more, but also a greater sense of limitation in that he has to consider the damage he’s going to cause to the city by using the really big powers.

JG: For people like me that have played a LOT of inFAMOUS, what’s going to surprise us in the sequel?

BO: I think that the sheer amount of extra content in there and the scale of the new powers is really going to blow a lot of people’s minds.

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