Interviews// Crackdown Producer Phil Wilson

The audience has really figured out how to make some really volatile cocktails

Posted 27 Feb 2007 12:10 by
SPOnG: In-game music and sounds help complement the gameplay to create an immersive experience ? how did you achieve this?

PW: The music and audio are meant to bring the attitude and personality to all of the environments. There are more than 25,000 lines of gang and civilian dialogue, a multi-layered time-of-day-based ambience system that provides each location with a unique feel, a highly sophisticated physics-driven audio-materials system that can create an almost infinite palette of collision effects, and to top it all off, a revolutionary audio shader that uses the surrounding geometry to dynamically colour and time delay the direct and indirect audio reflections. There is no trickery, everything you hear is real. It has a location and a distance at which it can be heard, as well as is fully affected by our audio shader technology. This creates an overall effect that always sounds correct and really helps immerse the player in new and exciting ways.

SPOnG: A lot of early complaints about the game during the demo period concerned the levelling up system. Why did you decide to hold back the majority of the game?s entertainment so that players had to reach a certain point before the fun really starts?

PW: To be honest with you, I?m not sure I understand your question. In the Xbox Live Marketplace demo we accelerated levelling and put the player in what we would regard as the easiest gang location. We wanted folks to ?get it? right away. It is after all a demo, so quick experiences are often necessary. By accelerating the levelling mechanics in the game for the purpose of the demo you could experience what it was like to be a higher level agent across all five of the agents. The feedback we?ve gotten has been extremely positive, although no one really liked the timer we put in place. Unfortunately, we had to include the timer, or in essence we?d be giving you a limitless experience for free and our publisher probably wouldn?t think that was a good idea.

SPOnG: Could you explain the ideas behind the online co-op mode of Crackdown? What features have you built for XBOX Live play and what was the inspiration for them?

PW: No one has created a sandbox game with co-op available for the whole experience. You?ve seen a dash of multiplayer here and dash there, but it?s always been confined to a particular area or a set mission. With Crackdown, the whole world is yours to share with a friend. You might be driving a car while your friend is on car surfing on the roof with a rocket launcher. You might also decide to part ways and go to another area of the game world. To date this has never been possible, and we wanted to do what others thought wasn?t possible so co-op play within Pacific City was all in the design spec from day one.

SPOnG: Crackdown certainly seems to be a lot of fun, with players creating videos of massive pileups and exploding mountains of cars. Did a lot of this spawn via suggestions from the team during the course of development, or did you have specific ideas from the very start to have things like the Ramp Truck in the game?

PW: All we knew was that we had created a chemistry set. How players combine the various elements was something we knew we couldn?t control or plan for. Our hope, and I think you are starting to see it take shape, is that people would just experiment. Looking at the way YouTube has exploded with Crackdownvideos tells you that the audience has really figured out how to make some really volatile cocktails.
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