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INTERVIEW: Yann Suquet on Ghost Recon Future Soldier

INTERVIEW: Yann Suquet on Ghost Recon Future Soldier

At the recent Ubisoft event, MCV got the chance to speak to Ghost Recon producer Yann Suquet about the upcoming game.

Has Future Soldier been in production since 2007? Why so long considering there was only one year in between Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (GRAW) and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2?

What happened is that developing a game is actually kind of hard. We wanted to stay true to what we’ve done in GRAW 1 and GRAW 2, and make Future Soldier very close to the vision we had at the end of GRAW 2 for where we wanted to take the franchise and the games.

Making a game is about providing an experience, so if we wanted to stay true to the GRAW pillars, but go further into the action side, we had to stay true, but renew. 

So it was a new experience, and with any new experience comes experimentation with new features. And sometimes it takes a really long time to realise that a feature you’ve been working on might work, but not as well as you intended it to and needs to be reconsidered. This is why the E3 2010 build is so different from the E3 2011 one. It’s because in 2010, we got to a point where we’d gotten to a point where we were really far into the development with a certain set of features when we realised it wasn’t exactly what we wanted; it didn’t go far enough.

Sometimes, if you want to give a certain experience and your features don’t allow you to, tweaking them isn’t enough and you have to take it from the ground up. We actually ended up re-working the whole game in between 2010 and 2011, which is why it’s taken us this long.

So if this game is the logical next step for the GRAW games, why Future Soldier rather than GRAW 3?

GRAW 1 and GRAW 2 are very similar in their experiences. Future Soldier is quite different. We’ve stayed close to everything which made Ghost Recon strong, but the action is much more intense this time.

If we’d have gone with GRAW 3, it would’ve signified that it was just another GRAW as opposed to this new action experience we’ve got now. If you want your market and your gamers to understand that you’re moving in a new direction, you have to deliniate like this.

What was behind the decision to implement Kinect?

Minority Report.

Haha. Really? That explicitly?

Yes. When we started the game, we didn’t think about Kinect. We developed the gunsmith mode to the point where it is today, and it was finished and implemented. Then, one weekend, one of the guys at the studio came back from the weekend and said ‘Hey guys, I’ve just seen Minority Report. It’d be really great if we could just play through the gunsmith mode with our hands.’ and that was how it happened.

The great thing is that we’ve proven that Kinect can be implemented in core games, which is a win-win.

The competitive landscape has changed significantly since 2007 when GRAW 2 came out. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare came out shortly afterwards, which changed everything. How has that shift shaped the development of your game?

It has definitely changed at least one thing. We always wanted to make this game more action-based, but we saw the huge impact those games were having (you’d have to be blind not to) and it got us thinking about how we could move into that direction as well, but the core reason why we wanted to change our next game in that way was never because Call of Duty came out. We didn’t look at it and go ‘Oh, no! We have to rethink our whole franchise!’, it was always our intent to move in the direction we have.

Now, some of those shooters are quite similar. We make sure to keep playing to our strengths and adhere to what made Ghost Recon great, and keep that point of difference.

Whenever you copy someone else’s game, you always end up being inferior to whoever you’re copying. So we stayed true to who we are, developed upon that and came out with Future Soldier.

It seems like a blend of a few different styles of game. It’s the strategy of Full Spectrum Warrior, the gadgets of Metal Gear Solid 4, gameplay like Gears of War and a setting similar to the Battlefield and Call of Duty games. Yet it does very much occupy its own corner of the market.

Take the drones for example. Sending up an airborne drone to scout out your enemies, marking which of your men will take out which enemies once you’ve spotted them all and executing that move in unison is a little like the room takedowns from Close Combat but on a grand, outdoor scale.

Yeah, we definitely wanted to re-examine the orders system from the first games. In GRAW 1 and GRAW 2 we had the teammate AI take out enemies based on location, but we moved away from this because it’s just unrealistic and makes no sense. 

The new system we’ve implemented where you can give teammates specific targets is actually closer to reality and gets you to the exact same point while being more accessible. They’ll actually wait for you to shoot before they do, so you get to that point where you’re actually managing your team, but its different, easier and allows you to focus on something else.

The way the 3rd person camera detaches in such a fluid motion is also incredibly unique as far as cinematic techniques in gaming go.

That’s exactly right, we really wanted to be able to have a specific camera which gives you total control, but at the same time deliver that feeling of a handheld camera which makes you feel like you’re actually in the warzone. So we wanted to find a way to fuse that kind of practical camera with the stylised aspects and came up with this system.

So not letting it go too far in the wrong direction like Kane and Lynch 2. Well, it does work. It’s a really well done system.

Yeah, so we decided we’d have those pivotal moments like when your team is entering a new room or breaching a door or whatever, and allow things to be cinematic then. There’s actually this new technique we’ve used during motion capture where you record your actors using a handheld camera, so while our guys were acting this out, we had one extra person filming without a suit while walking in amongst all of them, creating that unique perspective in the game.

So it ends up with the camera looking around, you can see yourself and the other Ghosts and it’ll neatly end up back behind you seamlessly, and you’re back into gameplay. So that’s how this was done.

How aggressively is Ubisoft going after Ghost Recon being a success this year?

Well, I’m on the studio side, but Ubisoft the publisher is a really big believer in the franchise and is backing it to the hilt massively. We definitely think we’ve got a great experience which makes sense in this market.

We’re definitely supporting it hugely. I can’t say anything specific about DLC or anything, but it has the full support of the publisher.

It sounds dumb, because it’s been postponed and postponed and postponed, but those decisions were entirely based on content. Publishers will often base those decisions on other considerations like the end of financial year, but we showed the game to Ubisoft publishing and told them directly how much the game could be polished and perfected in those extra two months between the March and (now) May release dates, and they gave us their full support.

Thank you for your time.


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