Q: Hello, first of all could you introduce yourself?
Hi, I am Mathieu Girard, Ubisoft Producer. My role is to ensure that the production of the game goes smoothly, and that we reach the highest possible quality. That means following closely the team at GRIN, and also the group here at Ubisoft.
Q: What engine do you use for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter?
MG : GRIN has developed its own engine called Diesel. It is really a masterpiece of technology and a very convenient development tool. The advantage of having the dev team using its own engine is that they know it by heart and are really keen on taking the best out of its capabilities.
Diesel allows for all the latest technologies. It integrates physics and all the latest rendering technologies in huge and highly detailed maps.
GRIN has strong experience in military applications (they started developing software for the armed forces). They also distinguished themselves in developing groundbreaking technology; in fact GRIN were among the first developers to feature vertex and pixel shaders in cooperation with Nvidia for the launch of the GeForce 3.
Q: What features can we expect on the graphics side, how will that render into the game?
MG : All the graphics features are used to create the heat of war in Mexico. You will see very realistic buildings, props, characters, and vehicles, combined with Next Gen effects that will immerse you in this feeling of urban war. These effects are also combined with the near-future equipments that you and your team will be using to create a cohesive tangibility between player, the environment and the action.
Q: What about physics? How interesting is it in terms of gameplay?
MG : The idea with using more and more physics in games is to immerse the player even further in the simulation of a realistic world. 10 years ago we did a first step in that direction with the explosion of 3D and the apparition of the first mass market 3D cards. Today with more realistic physics we are continuing in the same direction.
We are using two physics engines. One engine will be used for the simulations most connected to gameplay like dead body physics, explosions, environment destruction and/or alteration, while the other one will create never-seen-before visual effects.
Gameplay wise, the layout of the level will be modified, as dynamic objects are destroyed or moved around, thus changing the cover positions in the level. In older generations of shooters a car would be placed somewhere to give cover to the player at one particular place. In GRAW cars give cover, but some heavy calibre weapons will cut through them, destroying doors can reveal a hidden enemy and blowing it up may have it move into the middle of the street, thus creating a natural barricade.
The most amazing thing with physics – visually speaking – will be some of the explosions that you will see in the game. We are currently working with AGEIA to implement their NovodeX technology in the game. Hardware accelerated physics will allow us to create massive explosions including thousands of particles and objects. Some moments in the game promise to be really memorable for this sole reason…
Q: Can you tell us more about the first-person view in Tom Clancy’s GHOST RECON Advanced Warfighter™? Why did you choose this camera system?
MG : We chose the first person view because it is the most consistent with the controls on PC. We still want to have the player “feel” that he is Captain Mitchell; this is also why we have developed body awareness. We will go more into that below. Our objective is basically to provide the most realistic first person view possible. You will benefit from a realistic freedom of movement, and your virtual body will react just as real ones do.
Q: Tell us more about body awareness and special moves. How does it impact on gameplay?
MG : Body awareness helps to feel more a part of your surrounding, being immersed and not just a floating camera. In fact it is an improved FPS view that lets you see your own body and equipment. This gives you better situational awareness and makes your moves more precise. It allows you to see which parts of your body, that you thought were protected by the environment, are in fact exposed to enemy fire. Just like in real life. While implementing body awareness into mechanics such as the rope insertion from the Blackhawk helicopter plays on the use of emotion, immersing you in the feeling of tension and fear when leaving the perceived safety of the Blackhawk and entering a hot combat zone.
On top of that we implemented special moves such as sliding or diving that will allow you to reach a cover point more quickly for instance. Those moves, including the leaning system, will also be useful to survey the environment from your cover point, to locate and suppress the enemy threat in a blink.
Q: What specific constraints linked to the hardware do you have in developing the PC version? How do you plan to give a “next-gen” look to the game with these constraints?
MG : The game is developed as “scalable”, which means that some of the most advanced visual feature can be deactivated for the lower-end PCs. Nothing involving gameplay is changed, though.
Q: You said in a previous interview that GRIN was really good on the technical side of developing games. Can you tell us more about that?
MG : Well they built an impressive piece of technology; they have strong connections with hardware manufacturers, and a handful of wizards and rocket scientists in their team.
Oh, and did we mention that their CEO used to be part of the Swedish Special Forces ?
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