Source Since this is Planet Far Cry’s first interview with you could you please introduce yourself and give a quick rundown of your duties at Ubisoft?
My name is Jean-François Dugas, Creative Director for both projects: Far Cry Instincts Predator and Evolution. In a nutshell, my role consists of defining and maintaining the vision of the project from day one until it ships. At the same time, I must also make sure that we reach the desired level of quality from a content stand point.
We’ve seen a bit of confusion around the Internet community as to what the differences are between Far Cry Instincts Predator (Xbox 360) and Far Cry Instincts Evolution (Xbox). Could you give those who have been living under a rock for the past few weeks a quick summary of the differences between the two games?
LOL. Don’t worry, as a team we were also confused in the beginning.
Jokes aside, FCI Evolution Xbox is a follow up to FC Instincts Xbox. It includes 7 new single player maps, 8 new multiplayer maps, plus a host of new features including a new Seek n Secure mode, new weapons, new vehicles and new customization options.
FCI Predator 360 is two games in one, plus more. In a nutshell, it’s like an Xbox 360 “Gold Edition” because it has everything. Not only does it include all the new content (think Evolution developed for Xbox 360, plus a bunch of cool upgrades and new features that’ll I’ll get into in a moment), it also includes a redesigned version of the original Far Cry Instincts game. Okay, now we’re going to do a bit of role-playing. I’ll play the part of the everyday videogame consumer and you play the role of the salesman. Why am I going to buy Predator or Evolution instead of the other spring releases?
I love “role-playing games.”
Here we go:
If you’re an Xbox owner and you loved Far Cry Instincts, Evolution will give you the opportunity to jump in Jack Carver’s boots once again and follow him through his new quest through 7 new single player maps for roughly 7 to 10 hours of gameplay. Expect more open maps, new challenges, etc. Then, you get a new multiplayer mode “Seek n Secure” on top of the existing modes. Plus 8 new multiplayer maps are part of the game as well and you get a revamped map editor with new brushes, templates, functions (i.e. undo). Not too bad for a follow up game.
If you’re the proud owner of a new 360 console and you’re looking for some FPS action to keep in shape and you didn’t have the chance to play FCI yet, Predator is the way to go. It includes the entire Far Cry Instincts game with revamped visuals and gameplay plus all of the new game content from the aforementioned Xbox follow up game.
What do you have to say to those that think Far Cry Instincts Predator is simply a money-making excuse for not offering the original Far Cry Instincts on the backwards compatibility list of the Xbox 360?
With all the improvements we’ve made to Instincts on 360 plus the inclusion of the follow up game, you’ll understand that it’s not a money-making excuse. We’re giving gamers two games for the price of one. We definitely wanted to bring the FCI franchise to the next gen level and we had the opportunity to make it right for next gen owners, so that’s what we’ve done.
So far we know that Doyle and Jack Carver make reappearances in Predator and Evolution. Any other returning cast members? Care to elaborate on this alluring woman who brings Jack in on the heist that goes awry?
Actually, I don’t want to unveil the entire new plot yet, but yeah, Carver returns home after the Instincts incident but this guy always seem to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. The woman he meets is onto something and Carver is supposed to be there as a protection in case something goes wrong. Well, guess what? This is exactly what happens. During the mission with the woman, a corrupt government official is killed and it turns out that Carver is the primary suspect. Once again, he will have to run and adapt to survive.
What element (or elements) of the Xbox 360’s architecture allows for the creation of the kind of water effects and depth of view that we’ve seen in a few of the stunning videos that have recently been released? Do you think Predator pushes the system to its limits or is there still room for improvement?
Like one of my technical guru colleagues, Danny Oros, would say; the Xbox 360’s unified memory architecture and multiple CPU cores allow us to dynamically create stunning effects which were never before possible, such as our realistic water effects and dynamics. Plus, the CPU’s ability to use and render floating-point precision procedural (dynamic) textures and data pushes the quality of these effects and surfaces even further, so every little perturbation and detail can be rendered in its highest precision. With the multiple CPU cores in the console, it also makes it possible to perform tasks in parallel, such as solving AI, physics, and calculating the denser amount of 3D objects over a larger view distance, for a richer game-play and visual experience. Obviously, we’re only starting to explore the full potential of the console.
In the original Far Cry Instincts the enemy AI was considered by some to be a bit suspect as they had a tendency of staying confined to an obviously defined area rather than pursuing Jack through the jungle. Has anything been done to tweak or enhance the AI in either Predator or Evolution?
Definitely. Some technical issues made FCI AI “hit and miss”. But with the experience we gained during Instincts development, it allowed us to target on the right AI and level design problems. So now, levels take more into consideration the capabilities of the AI and the AI itself has been revamped considerably. Reaction times, movements speed, use of covers, flanking techniques and accuracy have all been revisited. This time around I guarantee it won’t be a walk in the park anymore.
Explain how the levels are more wide open than they were in the original Far Cry Instincts. Does this simply mean that the levels will be physically more spread out than they were or will it have some significant impact on gameplay?
On Instincts we had maps with multiple paths, but several maps were very linear for various reasons (technical issues, playtest results, etc.). As one would guess, our designers became more comfortable with the tools toward the end of the Instincts project. This has allowed us on Evolution and Predator to think about things that we had previously thought impossible.
For example, one of the first maps you’ll play in Evolution has 3 different islands that you can visit in any order you want. You have to complete objectives on each island, but how and when you complete them, is totally up to the player. In fact, all of the maps have multiple paths where gamers decide how to approach the mission and all of the maps are generally more open in design.
I think these improvements in level design will allow for a much more immersive experience where players will have an unprecedented level of freedom to approach their challenges. People love numbers and I’m sure all those people who purchased an Xbox 360 last holiday season are looking for some justification for their investment. Give us some numerical comparisons between Evolution and Predator (i.e. polygon count for character models, depth of view, total polygon count in the environments, etc…).
Predator characters are roughly 5,000 polys compared to around 2,000 for Evolution. All the vehicles and weapons have at least double the number of polys and use 1024 textures, versus 128 for Xbox.
Almost all of the objects in the Predator environments use 512 textures instead of 128 for Evolution.
Depth of view is now closer to 2 km versus an approximately 200m depth found in Instincts.
In a nutshell, everything has been considerably beefed up on 360 while keeping a constant fps with tons of enemies on screen.
Any plans for downloadable content for Predator or Evolution? What about taking advantage of the Xbox Live Marketplace with some Far Cry Instincts themes or gamer pictures?
There are some plans for downloadable content but I won’t disclose anything yet. Yes, you can expect Instincts themes and gamer pictures.
Switching gears a bit. How has the reception been from the gaming community with Far Cry making the switch from PC to home consoles? Explain the rationale behind making the switch to focus on consoles for the time being.
Obviously, Far Cry for PC was a spectacular game (even 2 years after its release) and its universe was very inspiring. We thought that it would be a strong game for the console market. Since the PC version was very “hardcore,” our goal was to bring the experience to a larger audience by adapting it accordingly.
Also, the PC game was flirting with some cool concepts (e.g. evolutions, survival aspect, etc.) without expanding on them. So, for the console market, we integrated all those elements into the gameplay department and reworked the story around those things to make a very unique experience. Far Cry was reborn fresh again; it was not a simple port.
It is important to us that Far Cry represents a quality, top level brand across all the different platforms. As a result we’ve ensured that Far Cry receives both the development and post-development support it deserves and needs to be a success.
So far, the reaction to Far Cry has been excellent. People really enjoy the game on PC and Xbox and reactions have been amazing for 360.
Last but not least; are there any hints you’d care to drop with regard to E3 plans or things we should be looking for in the coming months?
For the moment, our major focus is to deliver great experiences with Predator and Evolution. But as a hint to what’s coming, we’ll be launching the official Predator and Evolution websites soon, as well as a few preview trailers. Both games will be in stores late March. We’ll look into E3 and the future afterwards.Thanks for your time and we can’t wait to get our hands on the games sometime soon. The guy said they reworked the Ai, hope hes not bullshitting.This post has been edited by Deftech: Feb 25 2006, 05:01 AM