With the the March 21st launch of inFAMOUS Second Son on PS4 just a few weeks away, we recently reached out to you all via Twitter, Facebook, and regional forums with a call for any questions you might have about the latest entry in Sucker Punch’s open-world, superhero series.
Duly, you deluged us with queries, which Brian Fleming — studio co-founder and producer on Second Son — has kindly taken the time to answer. Read on for his responses, and let us know if you have any additional questions in the comments below.
How did you come across the idea for Second Son? (@Crodogile)
Brian Fleming: Like a lot of things, it’s not a single point. It’s actually the reverse — you have a bunch of ideas that eventually coalesce and gel into what becomes Delsin Rowe.
The character himself was an offshoot of the decision to do Seattle. Once we picked Seattle, the idea of taking the roots of the area and having a kid who grew up on one of the Native American reservations here really was the genesis of Second Son.
On the flipside, one of the early decisions was that we were going to make a game where you have multiple power sets. That was an important decision to us, as we felt that a single power set — for inFAMOUS 2, in particular — got overly sophisticated and more difficult to actually play. It just made it a little bit too complex for some players.
So we wanted to simplify the controller layout. One way to do that was to have layered power sets, and that was a very specific, early design decision.
You take those two things and start working on them in parallel, and eventually they became Second Son.
Why didn’t Sucker Punch choose real cities as settings in previous games, but then chose to use a real city setting in Second Son? (@BlackViper75)
Brian Fleming: It’s not as big a change as you might suspect. Obviously Empire City was inspired by New York, and New Marais was inspired by New Orleans. With the jump to next-gen hardware, we wanted to take that same jump in realism.
It made a lot of sense to us, in this case, to do Seattle properly. For example, it’s pretty hard to imagine doing Seattle and doing a fictional Space Needle. Some kind of galactic tower just doesn’t make sense. Maybe we’re just being provincial because we live here, but it seemed like it had to be the real Space Needle. And if it was going to be the real Space Needle, it had to be the real Seattle.
It was exciting to be able to take on all the nuances and quirks of the city. The locals here will recognize all the little opportunities we had to find unusual local vendors — the car wash guy, or the donut shop, even the gum wall in the bowels of Pike Place Market — all these little things. It was an enjoyable task for us. It made doing this more fun, more real — it was just a good time.
How lively is the city? (Cringles88)
Brian Fleming: The population of the city is a big part of how you gauge your progress in Second Son. The team working on that aspect of the game is always trying to make things more detailed and add more volume.
We also want pedestrians to be intelligent. There’s a lot of combat in the game, and pedestrians do as pedestrians do in real life: run away! So when you’re in heavy combat, you shouldn’t expect to see lots of people wandering around. There’s a balance to strike between having the city feel lively, but also have pedestrians behaving realistically.
How destructible is the city? (T1000peX)
Brian Fleming: The most important stuff that you’ll be destroying is the infrastructure that the DUP is putting into the city. You’ve seen some of this in the demos we’ve done. This stuff was designed to break in the most spectacular way we could manage. It’s all simulated, multi-stage breakables — so if you blow up one corner of something, the whole thing topples over and smashes to the ground. That’s been a lot of fun to work on.
It rains a lot in Seattle. Is it the same in the game? (leonidass22000)
Brian Fleming: Yes, it does rain a lot in Seattle in real life, and it rains a lot — or looks like it recently rained — in Second Son. We’re not trying to do an accurate weather sim as much as make the game astoundingly gorgeous.
We’ve changed the weather throughout the game to make it beautiful, and make it our favorite time of day — whether that’s just after it’s rained at dusk, or when the sun is breaking through the clouds. The art director and the tech artists all work to try and define these beautiful scenes that just happen to take place in rainy Seattle.
Do I need to play inFAMOUS 1 and 2 to entirely understand the story? (@MHND95)
Brian Fleming: Second Son takes place seven years after the events of the first two games, so in a lot of ways there’s enough time separation that the game very much stands on its own. If you know a lot of detail about what happened in previous games that might add some richness for you, but from a plot standpoint, it’s absolutely not required.
Will we see characters from inFAMOUS 1 or 2 in Second Son? (Conor Linehan)
Brian Fleming: This isn’t an homage to the previous games. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be a couple of fun things in there for the fans — but it’s not what Second Son is about. It’s not about, say, Zeke being a front line character. This is Delsin’s story.
I’d like to know what Sucker Punch changed about their game to excite themselves for another entry. (@Golwar)
Brian Fleming: If you’re talking strictly as game makers, the most important change for us was changing the power set that the character has. Sure, we changed cities, we changed consoles, we changed a lot of things about how we produced cut scenes, but the most important change from a game-making perspective was the character — and the power sets that he has.
How many powers does Delsin Rowe have? (Frederik Strange Dybsø)
Brian Fleming: To avoid spoiling the game, we’ve really only talked about Smoke and Neon powers, and we’re keeping that stance until the game launches.
One of the things we haven’t talked about is how many powers are in each set, and how many upgrades are available. Without putting specific numbers on it, there’s a substantial number of individual powers in each set, and many — if not all of them — are upgradeable.
Do good and bad decisions affect the story a lot more than in previous titles? (@GTAVFAN13)
Brian Fleming: The most interesting thing about inFAMOUS Second Son is that you’ll be making decisions about the trajectories of some of the other characters, which is a different take on it. But ultimately, the most important changes aren’t narrative ones. There’ve been systems added to really foster different play styles, and that’s the thing that’s going to be the most enjoyable aspect of your second playthrough.
Will Delsin’s appearance change the more evil he gets, like Cole’s did? (Michael Kilfeather)
Brian Fleming: Yes, a lot of the things that players expect — like the changes in the character and the changes in the powers — are present. They all relate and feedback to the karma systems. So you’ll have vastly different visuals and powers depending on which way you’re playing.
Will inFAMOUS use the light bar function? (@MHND95)
Brian Fleming: We’re huge fans of DualShock 4. The touch pad, the light bar — we take advantage of all those things in various ways. Some of them are surprising, some of them simple. You drain power by touching the touch pad, for example.
But the biggest things that we’re excited about regarding DualShock 4 are the improvements made in the tension on the sticks, and the shape of the sticks themselves, all of which make for better control. Not just for inFAMOUS, but every PlayStation game is going to benefit from the smaller dead zones, the improved triggers — all of that closed the distance between the player and the game.
Will there be online multiplayer? (Bjarke Bjerregaard)
Brian Fleming: No, it’s a single-player experience, but of course you can share it with others using the fantastic Share button on DualShock 4.
Will there be online, user-created levels and if so, is it any different compared to the previous inFamous games? (Edres Mo)
Brian Fleming: UGC is not a part of this title. It was part of inFAMOUS 2, but not a part of Second Son.
Would you consider another “what if” scenario like Festival of Blood for a spin-off, possibly on Vita even? (@hayzink)
Brian Fleming: We’re really happy that Second Son went gold and we’re certainly doing a lot to prepare for launch. Once we get through the launch, I’m sure we’ll have something to chew on regarding DLC, but we’ve nothing to announce right now.
How long is the game? (Andreas Nørehave Vestergård)
Brian Fleming: We’ve already established the size and shape of the inFAMOUS experience, and Second Son is very much an inFAMOUS game. We understand what we’re trying to accomplish there in terms of scale. Certainly the world is dramatically more detailed than ever before, and our focus was on improving the quality of every interaction. What we’ve tried to do is take the inFAMOUS experience that you know and love and “next-gen” the entire thing on every level.
How big will the install be? (Michael Briggs)
Brian Fleming: 24 GB.
Will there still be things to do within the game world after the main story has finished? (@el_appyday)
Brian Fleming: The inFAMOUS games always have secondary content spread throughout the world. There’s a fairly large DUP presence inside the city that remains to be cleared out after you finish the main game. They’ll continue to launch incursions into the city after you’ve wrapped up the campaign, so they’ll be plenty to keep you going.
And then, of course, for a lot of players the first thing they’ll want to do is go back and play the other “karmic” direction. Between that mix of things, people should have plenty to do in the after-game and in their second playthrough.
What was the most technically challenging aspect of creating inFAMOUS Second Son? (Sean O’Coileáin)
Brian Fleming: Probably the design implementation and the boot-strapping of our new effects system. When we went into this project, we knew that we wanted to start from scratch on our visual effects. The VFX for a game like this are as important as any aspect of what we do, so we didn’t want to just take our old system and add a couple of features.
So the system was redesigned to entirely run in the graphics chip. There’s so much computational power there. And then we had to design an authoring system, and it ended up being dramatically more technical to author particle effects and special effects in our game than it had previously.
There was a really big technical jump required of the art team. They had to get comfortable with linear algebra and vector fields, and all kinds of crazy advanced mathematics. It’s really to their credit that they were able to train themselves and come to an understanding of all the math that goes into making the particle effects work. And the results are spectacular.
Do you plan to release a demo of the game before its release? (Isaac_Vlad)
Brian Fleming: Unfortunately, we don’t have plans to do a demo for this game.
Will the Seattle music scene feature in the game’s soundtrack? (JynXten)
Brian Fleming: Without getting into too many specifics, there are some local bands whose music you’ll hear. It’s not exactly the point of Second Son to be a Seattle music scene experience, but we certainly recognize that it’s a big part of what the city is about.
We used Dead Sara’s version of a Nirvana song for the trailers, a Mudhoney song in the TV commercial, and one of the famous venues here, The Crocodile, is in the game. We’re very much aware of and respect the Seattle music scene, so it had to make an appearance in the game.