Far Cry 3: Interview with Dan Hay

TSA: The current generation is getting pretty long in the tooth now, and you have to deal with streaming lots of data into limited RAM. How hard has it been to get the vision that you want out of these consoles?

DH: It’s… there’s no question that we want to push it as hard as we can, and you can see that from the draw distances, the amount of stuff we’ve put on the screen and how reactive the AI is.

The vision for the game was that we want to be able to drop you in the jungle and have it be like the first time you’re camping as a kid. You’re in the tent and it’s all really cool during the day, but as soon as it gets dark and you hear all these sounds outside, your imagination starts to run wild… What do you see in your imagination? The idea of being able to stand on the top of a tower or be alone in the middle of a jungle and hear life around you and make it feel credible.

So I could look down from a tower and see a series of Komodo Dragons chasing some goats, but there’s also a panther coming from another direction. There’s a guard over there in an outpost who doesn’t even know he’s about to be attacked by all these wild animals. When you’re attacking an outpost, if you can just take the sniper rifle or the bow and hit the front of the cage, you can unleash the bear and let all hell break loose!

That’s what we’re looking for, the idea that the game is alive, and you can get this emergent gameplay. We’re immensely pleased with what we’ve got out of these systems.

TSA: With all these elements interacting together, that sounds like a huge undertaking…

DH: Yeah.

TSA: …to get all of the animals…

DH: Yeah.

TSA: …and the food chains right…

DH: Yes! My god, yes!

TSA: Just a one word answer: Yes!

DH: Oh, yes! It was a challenge!

It was tough, but I think what was really cool about it was one particular moment, where we kept asking ourselves if we were doing it right. You want to make sure that it’s the ingredients of a recipe, and not a mess that doesn’t make sense.

So we were playing some months back, and I go in to take an outpost, and basically what I did was I went and started a fire. This pushed some of the water buffalo towards the outpost and created a mini stampede, and they went in and cleaned the pirates out. Then I shot at the bear cage, and the bear comes out and started to attack the buffalo. Then the Rakiya showed up and I realised that all these animals were still alive, and they started to go after the Rakiya warriors who’d only come over to help me!

So there was just this huge fight there, and once everything was basically done, one of the civilians drove through in a car and did a hit and run on one of the Rakiya warriors, which effectively started a mini war between the civilians and the Rakiya on that part of the island.

We were just like, “Yes!” We had no idea that was coming, and that was the point when we knew we had something.

TSA: That just sound very, very cool. I’ll have to try and replicate that somehow!

DH: Well the thing is that if you watched us on stage at E3 or Gamescom, there’s a legitimate nervousness there. We don’t really know what’s going to happen.

When you see a caged animal and shoot the cage, you’ve no idea which AI this tiger’s going to go after. We have no idea where that bear is going to go or what it’s going to do. So every time you play it there’s a freshness to it and there’s an agency which comes from that, where if you try and go back to recreate the experience you just had, it’s going to be subtly different. So it’s that emergent gameplay, but not just saying it, actually seeing that it’s different.

[drop]TSA: Away from the single player you have multiplayer and coop play, with co-op following a separate story? How does it tie in with the central plot?

DH: We made a very conscious effort to keep the single player on its own, so you have that man alone experience. That’s the unique Far Cry experience and we wanted to make sure we didn’t erode that. So we decided to just build a completely separate co-op campaign. OK, but it’s got to be more than that. So how do we make it subtly different?

When Jason comes to the island, he’s kind of like a babe in the woods, and he meets this insane cast of characters. What happens if the people who come here have been expelled from society? Have their own baggage, their own brand of insanity, and they’re bringing that to the island. We wanted to see where that goes.

So even the gameplay itself, there are moments in coop where you’re working absolutely cooperatively, and then there are moments which are challenges, so you’re kind of working against each other. We try to treat it a bit like a piece of music. You have intense moments like “Oh my god, I’m down! Come pick me up!” Then there’re are moments where everybody’s got a sniper rifle and time on the clock and it’s a question of who can win. We try and create some palette cleansing between these.

You have single player which is this immersive, man alone experience where a kid’s coming of age. You have co-op which is four pretty crazy people being put through a meat grinder trying to survive it. Then you have PvP, which is a blood feud between Citra and Vaas, who are brother and sister, and you can basically play as the pirates or the Rakiya as they fight each other. So it’s choose your poison.

Thanks to Dan Hay for taking the time to chat with us. Far Cry 3 hits the shelves in the final week of November.

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11 Comments

  1. Certainly got me excited! :) I’m back at Uni for my last year and have made a decision not to sucked into any new games (that will indefinitely chew through my time…), however this may break me.

  2. Quality interview, pleased with all the info. The scenario he described with the stampede sounds awesome, definitely gonna have to try and recreate that.

    I can’t wait for this game, it was awesome when I played it at Eurogamer.

  3. Nice interview Teffers, looking forward to the game.

  4. Awesome interview. A perfect example of great storytelling through gameplay. The randomness especially makes me want this game even more.

  5. Out of the Hundreds of interviews over this game I have read, this has to be the best so far ;) Great interview and I have to say, more people are getting excited about this game as it draws closer to the release date :) cannot wait until 29th November!

  6. Great interview, can’t wait for this!

  7. Very interesting read. I am sooooo looking forward to this!!

  8. Question, Why didn’t you mention the Map Editor which many people are waiting for and the lack of sighting of the PS3 version?

    • They weren’t topics I’ve been aware of. No conspiracy or anything like that!

      • Here’s a Q/A session about FC3 Map editor.
        ————————————————————————————-

        1.(Q) – Bot’s would be pretty nice, even if to guarantee a full lobby for games, especially on the bigger maps?

        (A) “- Definitely nice, but it’s not in our feature list.”

        2.(Q) – Will there be an Object Properties Menu of some sort?

        (A) “- No.”

        3.(Q) – Will we finally have emitters available in the editor for water, smoke, fire, etc?

        (A) “- There should be more of them available this time.”

        4.(Q) – Will water be restricted to one plane as in FC2, or will we be allowed to add water at different heights?

        (A) “- We are currently looking into this.”

        5.(Q) – Do we still get destructible objects and items with physics in the FC3 Editor?

        (A) “- It’s a very tricky issue, as they are typically very expensive on network bandwidth. We are doing our best to see how we can help it to make as much available as possible.”

        6.(Q) – When it comes to spawn points, can you assign them to different game modes (have specific spawn points for Domination and separate spawn points for Firestorm)?

        (A) “- Yes.”

        7.(Q) – Will there be a tool in the editor for making caves or waterfalls?

        (A) “- It is very likely there will be better tools to help with this.”

        8.(Q) – Will there be any form of object editor? (Where you can use shapes and stickers to make an object)?

        (A) “- We are currently looking into a feature for users to be able to make groups of objects, automatically selecting them together to ease editing, for example a house and its content. But I would not quite call that “object editing”.”

        9.(Q) – What will the limit be? (Far Cry 2 had a 40,000 limit or has this not been addressed yet)?

        (A) “- Most likely similar to FC2, but the average object cost and total object limit remains to be determined with our testing.”

        10.(Q) – Will you be able to “lock” specific weapons in your custom map?

        (A) “- No, PvP loadout always applies. Weapon pickups should be available for placement, but I am not sure if there is a respawn mechanism for them.”

        11.(Q) – Will we be seeing more paint textures? (For example, might be nice to see a bit of snow on an arctic themed map)?

        (A) “- There are more of them, though they are still based on what the game has.”

        12.(Q) – Will there be an official community map playlist/ playlists with none of the progression differences (if there are any) of unranked private matches? If this option were to exist, will there be a system in place to make sure the best user maps are discovered and featured in this playlist?

        (A) “- User Made Maps can be accessed through three different Tiers, depending on the ratings of the map. The Tiers are basically playlists that chooses maps with specific ratings. When you publish a map, it will be placed in the Bronze Tier. As it gets played and players rate it, it moves to Silver Tier and eventually to the Gold Tier.

        Maps from the Gold Tier are the highest rated maps and they have a chance to be included into the official Playlists!

        If you want to find a specific map you can use the Map Archive where you can browse through all uploaded maps and play them, either in a private or public match.”

        13.(Q) – I think the MP looks great but I’m a little bit concerned about the map editor (please not something like HALO forge) will it be as big as the one in Far Cry 2?

        (A) “- It will be as big, and then some more. We are basically building using the FC2 editor as foundation. There are also a good number of surprises in store.”

        14.(Q) – Are you going to ship with a complete (Or almost complete) map editor for the PCs this time? (Extends the game’s life time a LOT.)

        (A) “- It depends on your definition of complete. If by complete, you mean the exact same editor and tools we use in production, then no, unfortunately it is not going to happen. It is just way, way too complex and unintuitive (please believe us!) for use by a few persons, not to mention a lot of ties with our production work flow that are simply impossible to export or expose externally. This is not desirable for anyone.

        Please understand we are not in any way underestimating the capacity of the modding community, babysitting the users, or “dumbing it down” for consoles. We have participated in modding projects ourselves; we know the amazing strength of the community. But being mod-friendly is not a feature of the Dunia engine, unfortunately.

        What we can do is focusing on what is possible to do from an end-user perspective, and exposing features in a carefully designed interface to allow as much as possible without being unnecessarily complex. We are working very hard to give the community the most power we can manage. We want that just as much as you do! But our resources are limited and very difficult choices must be made.”

        15.(Q) – With Ubisoft Montreal creating the Single Player game and Ubisoft Massive – Sweden doing the Multiplayer and the Editor I would like to know who dictates what goes into the Editor where items and vegetation is concerned, Massive were you told that you can include anything from the single player game already made, or do you have the freedom to design and include your own stuff for the editor.

        (A) “- Our current approach is to expose as much content as possible. As such, this time around, an overwhelming majority of the assets you see in the game, in both single player and multiplayer maps, will be exposed and available in the editor.

        What this also means is to expect a lot of unfiltered content. There will be a LOT of assets. In fact, there is so many of them we will likely not be able to perfectly review and categorize each individual object and make sure it is easily usable. But this also means there will be plenty of hidden gems to be found, and creativity will once again be the key to success. We are confident the community will be able to manage this amount of content over time, and figure out the best usage patterns.

        As much as we wanted to, we have not had time to design objects from scratch for the editor. We’re shipping a huge game; we believe there will already be a lot of objects to have fun with!”

        16.(Q) – And in Far Cry 2 one of the worst things I witnessed was the collision detection with the terrain, In a lot of areas it was dreadful trying to get out of the water onto what looked like flat land (everything had to be super smooth) Did you have to address this for Far Cry 3?

        (A) “- We have not tested this scenario in the editor yet, but we are adding that on our list of stuff to investigate. Thanks!”

        17.(Q) – Can we still control map size, terrain, vegetation, and textures? Are there still options for those besides ‘Jungle’?

        (A) “- Map size is fixed at 512×512 meters, which is the exact same as FC2. Terrain, vegetation and textures can still be modified like in FC2, with more assets and a few extra features we’re sure you’ll appreciate.”

        18.(Q) – Will you make all the brushes from single player available in the editor?

        (A) “- Already answered above.”

        19.(Q) – Can we lock our maps from being edited by others?

        (A) “- Yes, this is now the default.”

        20.(Q) – Is there a limitation for maps published per author?

        (A) “- We will have limits for practical reasons, but rest assured we will set those high enough and monitor usage post-launch so that no one feels unreasonably constrained by them.”

        21.(Q) – You mentioned having a big selection of pre built buildings being available in the editor (Which I love hearing). You don’t have to get detailed as I’m sure it will be announced in detail later, but will there also be building block type items for building our own buildings? (stand alone Walls/floors/windows/etc.)

        (A) “- To the best of our knowledge, we have not seen anything explicitly designed as such in our object database. However, there are areas of our game built using some modular pieces, so it might be possible to use them together to create really cool stuff!”

        22.(Q) – and will we be able to place mode specific items in the map maker ala Halo’s Forge? (IE you place a building that is only visible in domination but not in firestorm)

        (A) “- Items that are specific to a game-mode, such as a Domination capture point for instance, are only visible in that game mode. As for other objects, our interface unfortunately does not support object layers, as there are quite a few issues involved with those. Good to see you’re interested in those! We will take that in note for the future.”

        23.(Q) – We seem to have news filtering around that the map editor grid will be a lot smaller (or maybe we are thinking this because some interviews and previews are saying maps are smaller in size).

        (A) “- Maps are the same size as FC2, 512×512 meters.”

        24.(Q) – Will we be forced into using your templates which we then make into our own maps (as an example what they do in Forge) or can we manipulate terrain and start with a blank canvas in the editor like FC2?

        (A) “- Same as FC2, we will have both options of starting from a blank canvas, and running a wilderness generator template.”

        25.(Q) – Do consoles have any form lighting in the editor to add into our maps?

        (A) ” – We cannot confirm this yet, but we are actively looking into it, and it’s looking promising that we will have lighting options on consoles. They may be expensive on your map budget however.”

        26.(Q) – So far I have not seen ladders, are they included and if so are they better than the ones in FC2 because on those you had to press the interact ****on and could not jump off to other platforms / ledges.

        (A) “- There should be ladders included, but we have not investigated enough yet to see if they behave better than in FC2.”

        27.(Q) – If I were to design a user made map in the form of a DOOM style corridoor map (all enclosed) there would be no way to drop the psych gas or the fire barrels into the play area – Would this be an issue if I wanted to create something like that, it would still play wouldn’t it?

        (A) “- It will still play, but the support weapons will most likely not work. This is not a game breaker however.”

        28.(Q) – The horrible see through and invisible pieces in the editor from FC2 (when you look underneath them) have you done anything with those or are items the same in FC3?

        (A) “- Unfortunately we still have some of those. Modeling is done primarily for the game needs, and for many reasons including performance, geometry is omitted when it is not expected to be seen through a certain angle. However, I think we don’t have as many as in FC2, but I’m not sure. But we do have a LOT more objects.”

        29.(Q) – OCC (Occlusion) Blocks are these still needed in the editor?

        (A) “- Nope, our new and improved Dunia engine is able to figure it out by itself. Enjoy!”

        30.(Q) – The draw distance with a lot of objects in FC2 was poor on consoles (I can’t speak for the PC version) yet things like colonial fences and the concrete blocks had a good draw distance, IMO it was awful moving and seeing creations appear and disappear because of the render rate / draw distance.

        (A) “- I am not sure how different from FC2 LOD issues are going to be, it may be a bit better, but there is still definitely going to be some. We also have a LOT of objects and they’re unfortunately not all setup perfectly. We prefer giving as much unfiltered content as possible so people can find the hidden gems of our asset library.”

        31.(Q) – I imagine that the PC Editor will have so much more than the one on consoles so speaking for PS3 and 360 would it be possible for you to get a top map from one platform working on the other or is it not currently possible.

        (A) “- Unfortunately there are still many issues surrounding cross-platform sharing. This will not be possible on FC3.”

        32.(Q) – No One seems to know what is going on with these Pre Order special bundles, So far they say Lost Expeditions – Predator and Warrior pack, they all have different stuff, can you say if there will be a version that will have everything or a way to get everything as DLC if someone was willing to pay for it?

        (A) “- We cannot comment on this at the moment.”

        33.(Q) – The map rating system that you speak of – Far CRy can be a jealous game at times unfortunately and some people can often rate a very good map with a poor score on purpose, how would you guys stop this from happening, I don’t think there is an answer.

        (A) “- We hope the majority of people will give reliable ratings to dampen the minority that will grief, but obviously we cannot change human nature.”

        34.(Q) – Are you aware of the Escape & Course maps that some players have been making throughout the Far Cry games, basically like a Get To The End or Escape the complex type map where the idea is not to kill but to go through a sequence of puzzles / jumps and navigate through a course until you reach the end – These have been popular for a long time, some love them and others hate them, What are your opinions?

        (A) “- I must admit I have not seen any of these, the FC map community always keeps surprising me. It does sound interesting. I think there are a lot of different purposes behind map making, whether it be for a game mode, artistic creation, alternative gameplays, messing around, etc. I hope we will be able to better categorize these different needs in the future so that people can find the type of content they’re looking for, while remaining flexible enough for all the creativity that springs up.”

        35.(Q) – Someone from Massive mentioned forums and again in an online preview it was mentioned that there might be some form of social networking with the editor, Is this similar to Halo Forge where maps can be queued online and then downloaded when you start the game, (what is the system you are going with for Map Uploads / Downloads)

        (A) “- We have big plans for the website and community and these include extending some features connected to the editor to the web. More details will come later!”

        36.(Q) – Does the time of day change and weather conditions while a match is playing in multiplayer or can it be locked to stay the same?

        (A) “- Same as in FC2, the time of day is decided by the map maker, and it stays locked when the map is being played.”

        37.(Q) – Is there any form of COOP in the map editor where more than 1 person can edit a map?

        (A) “- If you’re referring to when multiple players edits a map simultaneously, then the answer is no.”

        38.(Q) – Will we get to place ziplines in a user made map?

        (A) “- We are still looking into this!”

        39.(Q) – In Far Cry 2 only some objects had physics, is Far Cry 3 going to have a toggle on/off for objects or just per-defined objects with physics?

        (A) “- Objects are pre-defined. That being said, there is a huge amount of objects in the game and some react differently than others.”

        40.(Q) – Does the map editor have traps that you can place and also does it have like secret moving walls or stuff like that?

        (A) “- No traps. As far as the rest goes – we can’t really confirm or deny it. The editor will let you do a lot of cool stuff, but giving a rundown of every piece of functionality is not something we can do at this stage. You will have to wait and see.”

        41.(Q) – Will we be able to set the waters’ tone, fog density… And other parameters? It’d be really important, as some maps might just not be beach ones, like some dense jungle maps (Where the water, obviously, would be darker green coloured and more foggy.).

        (A) “- The graphics engine will handle this for you. We know you are gonna like it.”

        42.(Q) – Can we have different playable areas for different game modes or is it just one playable area for the whole map?
        (If I build a bigger map for Firestorm but just want to use half of it for domination game mode, will I be able to set a different size area for each)

        (A) “- This won’t matter in practice. If you make a good level, both with regards to placing objects and placing objectives, it will work itself out.”

  9. Thanks for this interview!

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