Interviews// Crackdown Producer Phil Wilson

We have to be a great driving, shooting, platform, fighting and rpg game!

Posted 27 Feb 2007 12:10 by
Realtime Worlds might be a relatively new name in the games industry, but the talent behind it surely isn?t. Founder David Jones was responsible for such DMA Design classics as Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto don?t you know ? so it kind of explains the design aspects behind their first title, Crackdownfor the XBOX 360. Notable for its sandbox gameplay and even more notable for the free Halo 3 Beta included on the disc, the game itself has been getting a fair bit of rep as well for being pure fun to play. Today SPOnG chats to Realtime Worlds? Phil Wilson, the Producer for Crackdown about the game?s release, superheroes and manic fun with blowing up stacks of vehicles. Beautiful.

SPOnG: The roots of Crackdown are evident with gamers making obvious connections with Grand Theft Auto. What is appealing to you about the sandbox approach to game design?

PW: Good question. I play many games and mentally track the core fun parts. Free-form or sandbox games let you do a lot of things because they aren?t linear. When I think about game design I often mentally track the core fun parts of the myriad of games that play. This naturally leads to interesting new ways to combine game mechanics.

The way you develop your character in Crackdown for example is a common mechanic in role playing games. The twist to do this purely through sandbox play, without any of the ?stats? these games use, and to keep it all very visual, came through this process. A game like Crackdown or other sandbox games for that matter are very difficult to make as you draw comparison with the top tier games that only focus on one particular element. We have to be a great driving, shooting, platform, fighting and rpg game!

SPOnG: How challenging was it to build such a persistent world without certain elements breaking the game?

PW: Achieving such prolonged persistence in Crackdown was one of the more difficult tasks. It took a lot of pushing of the envelope on our end. What makes it even more difficult is that we have to track everything twice in co-op play.

If we didn?t you?d see one thing on your screen and your friend would see something else. That would certainly be odd and it was certainly a challenge that took a lot of work to overcome. It?s certainly paid off, just watch a few of those YouTube videos to see the massive piles of debris that people have made. If stuff was always disappearing on you when you were moving things around it make it impossible to do all of that stuff you are seeing.

SPOnG: What was the reason for going for the graphical look you chose for Crackdown, instead of a more dark and serious style?

PW: When talked about the concept and sheer scale of Crackdown to the team it became abundantly clear that we needed to make the game?s styling as over the top as the action he wanted. Everything we talked about was turned up to 11 so a world of drab grey and brown tenement buildings didn?t seem to be the best way to stage this.

It was obvious to us from the start that the best reference point for this type of game already existed in comics and graphic novels which, despite having a variety of visual styles, all have the same fundamentals in common? they aim to depict a mixture of great drama and intense action in every page and often with an exaggerated palette that accentuates it all, which has turned into an extremely unique and compelling look for Crackdown.
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