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The Outfit

Platform(s): Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Relic

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'The Outfit' (X360) - Developer Interview

by Matt Mefford on Dec. 29, 2005 @ 12:05 a.m. PST

Choose from three playable squad leader personalities – each with their own skills and abilities and lead two squads of battle-forged soldiers on missions ranging from reconnaissance and rescue to search and destroy. As you complete missions, you'll gain action points that can be used to upgrade your arsenal, acquire tanks and other vehicles, build machinegun nests and anti-tank emplacements or call for air or artillery strikes. Experience the cinematic intensity of WWII combat through 12 epic single-player missions or go online for a variety of multiplayer modes, including co-op.

WorthPlaying: Who has the honor to talk to us? State your name, rank and position?

Adrian Crook, Producer

WorthPlaying: With so many other WWII titles on the market, how do you plan to break the mold and blaze new ground?

AC: The Outfit is the first shooter to offer the freedom of total destruction. Each level changes dramatically as you play, going from pristine to destroyed as you call in Destruction on Demand. It’s this dynamic gameplay that sets The Outfit apart from other WWII products.

WP: The Outfit is based on a Hitler assassination plot. Can you tell us a bit more about the real-world history that inspired the game.

AC: We’ve used elements of history to fuel an over-the-top script. So while the Hitler assassination plot really did happen, some of the plot elements in our story that surround it are of course fictional. We’ve tried to take the coolest aspects of history and ignore the boring parts.

WP: Several of our Editors made a comparison to LucasArts' Mercenaries when seeing The Outfit. Do you think that is justified? What other titles inspired or influenced you to make The Outfit.

AC: Mercenaries is a great game. Ironically, the first time we heard of it was January 2005 – a year into the development of The Outfit. So it didn’t inspire our initial design at all. That said, I think what we have now is what I wished Mercenaries would have been: much cooler Destruction on Demand and wicked multiplayer.

WP: Tell us about some of the key features of the single-player campaign?

AC: There are 12 missions in the single player campaign. You can do them solo, or play co-op (split screen or over Live!) – which we knew was very important for the early 360 crowd. You unlock weapons, vehicles, cheats, and more as you complete the levels. You also earn really cool medals for completing medal opportunities in single player. These medals show up in your Gamer profile, so I can ask you “How’d you get that medal?” and find a medal opportunity I didn’t know existed.

WP: The "Destruction on Demand" gives you the ability to call in anything at anytime, but can you give us some insight into how everything is unlocked? Or is everything available from the beginning?

AC: You unlock Destruction on Demand items as you complete single player missions. Plenty of stuff is available right from the start – i.e. you may start with a jeep or halftrack – but it just gets cooler as you progress. So once you’re well into the game you’re able to order in air strikes, artillery strikes, flamethrower tanks, rocket launcher tanks, and tons more. Of course you can always call in extra squadmates as well.

WP: In your own words, ‘The Outfit’ is “over-the-top characters, abilities, and actions.” This includes gameplay where “you can call in troops, tanks, half-tracks, jeeps, and perhaps even a zeppelin, which appear so quickly on the field it's both shocking and comical.” Please elaborate.

AC: When you order something in via the Destruction on Demand menu, a large cargo plane will immediately fly overhead and drop via parachute what it was you ordered. It’s a really amazing thing to witness: this huge Sherman tank plummeting toward the ground with three parachutes attached, landing in front of you (right where you placed it), then you getting in and blowing everything up. That’s what Destruction on Demand looks like in the next generation!

WP: Will there be any features unique to the Xbox Live experience?

AC: TONS. We’ll have much more coming soon on that front.

WP: One of the distinguishing factors for ‘The Outfit’ is the ability to choose one of three different squad leaders. How does your choice affect the style of gameplay and storyline?

AC: Each squad leader has different strengths and weaknesses. They each come with a different type of squad, varying squad commands (i.e. one squad leader has a tear gas squad command, among others!), different weapons (bazooka vs sniper rifle, etc.), different grenades (Molotov cocktail vs frag grenade, etc.), different speeds, different purchasing abilities, and so on. They are very different from a gameplay perspective.

WP: Of particular note is the freedom to destroy virtually any object in the game. Will this freedom carry over to the mayhem online? What sort of physics did you implement to facilitate the fully destructible environments? Does this only count for buildings, or is the terrain deformable as well.

AC: Everything you can destroy in single player can also be destroyed in multiplayer. The power of the 360 makes this possible. We use a mix between Havok physics and our own in-house physics engine to handle all the destruction. Buildings, fences, walls, vehicles, signs, trees – every last thing standing can be destroyed. As for the ground, it is not deformable. Something has to support all this destruction, after all! ;)

WP: Up to this point, Relic has been predominantly a PC developer. With this being your first venture into the Xbox arena, are we seeing a shift towards more console titles?

AC: Most of the team on The Outfit has a strong console background. So while Relic’s done PC titles up until now, most of us on this team are here for the console stuff. We’re thrilled Relic has chosen to turn its talents loose on 360. We’re all very excited about The Outfit and everything beyond.

WP: What challenges are you facing in creating your first Xbox 360 title? Is developing for console a lot different than PC? What are some of the big development hurdles you had to cross?

AC: The Outfit team is staffed by primarily console developers. So what we’re most accustomed to is console development, not PC development. That said, the difference we’re aware of the most internally is the different approach the PC and Console teams take toward wringing the most performance out of their target platforms. Every ounce of performance has to be accounted for on console – we optimize continually and are very focused on making the game run quickly, always. PC, especially PC RTS, is a lot more forgiving in terms of performance.

WP: Can you tell us of the key differences between ‘The Outfit’ and ‘Company of Heroes’ (your upcoming PC RTS)?

AC: They’re completely different products. The Outfit is third person, high action – not a strategy game. We don’t share many similarities at all.

WP: With two major titles in development right now, Company of Heroes being the other, how big has the Relic staff become? How do you organize the work flow between departments, or does each product have it own separate team?

AC: Relic is currently just under 200 people. We recently moved into a great office tower in downtown Vancouver. The PC teams are on the 15th floor, The Outfit is on the 16th floor. Each product has its own team. Life here at Relic is good!

WP: When you start planning a game, crazy ideas always pop up, some make it, and others don't. What did not make the cut, and why ?

AC: Well there were a few things that didn’t make the cut, for sure. One of the biggest things was the notion of having two squads to control at the same time. We actually took this mechanic to E3 before cutting it shortly thereafter. It just slowed down the game too much and we found there were so many other cool, new features in there – total destruction, destruction on demand, squad leaders, etc – that adding another squad and squad leader you had to switch between controlling was just way too much. We are very happy to have cut it – the game plays great with just one squad/squad leader at a time.

WP: Xbox, PC, Xbox 360 .. all Microsoft, so I have to ask, is there any possible way we might see The Outfit on PC? How hard, or easy, would it be ?

AC: Fun fact: Up until a couple months ago, we had a PC version of the game that ran in parallel to our 360 version (mostly used for testing purposes). But now that we have a lot of the wizbang graphical features in on the 360 only (MSAA, depth of field, heat shimmer, etc.), the PC version looks like the ugly step child. The 360 is much more powerful than your average PC, so we’d have to make a lot of sacrifices to get the game going again on that platform. You never know though!

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