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Red Faction: Guerrilla

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Volition
Release Date: Sept. 15, 2009 (US), Sept. 18, 2009 (EU)

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'Red Faction: Guerrilla' (ALL) Developer Interview #2

by Adam Pavlacka on May 12, 2009 @ 9:00 a.m. PDT

Volition, Inc.'s third-person shooter franchise will make its open-world, next-gen debut with Red Faction: Guerrilla. Set 50 years after the climactic events of the original Red Faction, this third-person open-world action-shooter will return to Mars and once again re-define the limits of destruction-based game-play.

Red Faction: Guerrilla is a 3rd-person, open-world action shooter set on Mars, 50 years after the events of the original Red Faction. Players will take the role of an insurgent fighter with the newly re-established Red Faction movement as they battle for liberation from the oppressive Earth Defense Force. Throughout their fight for freedom, players will carve their own path, wreaking havoc across the vast, open-world environment of Mars, from the desolate mining outpost of Parker to the gleaming EDF capital city of Eos. Utilizing improvised weapons, explosives and re-purposed mining equipment and vehicles, Red Faction: Guerrilla allows players to tear through fully destructible environments in an unforgiving Martian landscape swarming with EDF forces, Red Faction resistance fighters, and the downtrodden settlers caught in the cross-fire. Red Faction: Guerrilla will also feature a robust multiplayer component, including several modes focused on destruction-based gameplay.

WP: Who has the honor to speak with us? State your name, rank, and occupation!

I'm Richard "Mack" Machowicz, and I'm the host and producer of "Future Weapons" on the Discovery Channel.

WP: Can you tell us a little bit about the show, for any readers who haven't seen it?

RM: I'm the luckiest man ever on the planet Earth. I get paid to go around the world, shooting big guns, flying incredible aircraft, and I blow things up for a living. I feel like I'm incredibly blessed, I have this really great show and a great crew that I work with, and I'm very fortunate to be on the Discovery Channel and the Military Channel. It's really cool.

WP: So how'd you get from blowing up stuff for a living to consulting on a video game?

RM: Well, I had 10 years in SEAL team, I was a sniper instructor, hand-to-hand combat instructor, and I taught land and automatic warfare, so I went from a job where I was shooting and blowing things up to another job where I was shooting and blowing things up. I had always had a passion for games. I love gaming, and I think it's a really cool place. I think it's that active experience that you have on a game versus that passive experience you normally have with television or film. There's this interaction that I really enjoy in the gaming world. You have to think, you solve problems, you have hand-eye coordination — little things like that that just really intrigue me.

After "Future Weapons," we were getting a lot of attention from executive producers of shows like "24" and "CSI" and things like that, and then we started having video game guys connecting with us. We were looking for a great relationship with somebody, and we were looking for a long-term relationship with a lot of options, and THQ has stepped up. I'm really tight with Danny Bilson, who's running the creative stuff, and Lenny Brown, and I just feel really blessed to be here.

I mean, I came from a place where, after I left SEAL team and before I did the show, I was doing a lot of instructing, teaching, things like that, and then one of my best friends, who starting training with me, works at Blur Studios. If you ever get a chance to check out Blur Studios, they do crazy cinematics for games, and so I started off doing motion capture stuff because of the martial arts and everything else. The first game I motion-captured was Fight Club. I was Tyler Durden in Fight Club! We just started doing all of these things, like EverQuest and just about every character in Warhammer 40,000. It's a lot of fun!

WP: So you've been involved with a lot of games.

RM: I have actually been involved as a character, and we even did motion capture for Rocky 6. I played Antonio Tarver (Mason "The Line" Dixon), and my buddy played Sylvester Stallone. It was great.

WP: A lot of games bring on famous consultants or bring in the person in name only. What kind of involvement in the game development experience have you had? Did you consult on weapon behavior? Did they bring you in to play and give feedback? Where did you come into the process, and what kind of impact on the process did you have?

RM: I'm really interested in the development of the game and how the game starts, from the fiction to the story to the central ideas and going into that. Now, I'm starting and have an opportunity to play in that part of the arena. I think when I first came on with THQ, we thought we'd take some guys to the range, get them to see the weapon systems, talk about the weapon systems, try to bring a certain level of authenticity to the product. When they asked me about tactics and strategy, try to make it as clean as possible and not ever use that stuff to diminish the gameplay experience because I understand in games, it's all about the gameplay experience and then the fiction. The "real stuff" goes around there to add that wrapping to the gameplay.

To me, coming from a motion capture world, where I first really got to see games and to play on that level when you see the cinematics and detail and commitment that the guys have at Blur to get that product out, and now, to see the backend and work on the engine, the AI and how all that stuff comes together — you take it for granted.

"Oh, I have a great idea." (laughs) To get that idea to a place where people are playing it, there is so much commitment for the guys working in those studios, working those crazy hours, and making sure every pixel is as good as it can be. All these worlds have their own solidness that you're playing in that is as real as you can possibly have them in that space. I'm blown away by the commitment that these studios have to get that end product out. And the time it takes! You know, you turn over a cinematic at Blur in maybe two to four months if you're talking about a gigantic cinematic. These games take four to six years sometimes. It's incredible!

WP: Obviously you've seen a lot of futuristic weapons prototypes. Looking at the fictional weapons in the game, how did you balance the fictional side while still making it seem realistic so that when the gamer plays it, he has no idea whether or not it's a real weapon?

RM: It's a challenge because the concept of the game and where the game takes place really dictate where I go with an idea. Essentially where I'm at, we're talking about Mars, we're talking about the 22nd century, then you've got a little bit more freedom and wiggle room.

You're talking to the guys and they've come up with concepts, and you start going, "This might be a way that it could work," "This is something that I've heard of," or "This is something I've seen." The guys are also fans of the show, so when you see the Arc Welder, it looks very familiar to the lightning gun that I was shooting in season one! These guys do a lot of work on their own to try and get this thing to a place where it works, and they're obviously trying to find stuff that's fun, but you can tell they've done a lot of homework too. My job is to augment that in a real-world environment, if I can, and give them a unique experience like take the guys out to a range like we did today.

If we can get them behind a weapon system and understand what it takes to focus on a front sight, body positions, magazine changes and things like that. We can integrate those in the game where it fits. What we're trying to do is provide a great game experience, and we've got to make sure that we don't try to hold back the game player in trying to get the exact details of magazine loading and changing because some of that would slow down gameplay. What you want to do is have it look as seamless and possible and feel as close as possible, and if you're getting that feeling and you've got the reticles lined up and things are working like they're supposed to, I think the end user is going to have a great time with it.

For a game like Frontlines 2, it's much more just on the edge of the Future Weapons but just close to our reality. With something like Red Faction: Guerrilla, you're 100 years ahead of time so you have a little more play room.

WP: Going back to the myth-versus-reality aspect, what are some of the biggest movie and video game myths about weapons that you've seen?

RM: It's a tough call because you're trying to always create that game experience, but yeah, there are situations where you shoot a pistol into gasoline and it goes up. You could do that 100 times, and out of 100 times, it probably wouldn’t do that once! That's obvious, but one of the things from my place as a game player — I get on Call of Duty 4 multiplayer — the sniper experience is a different thing in a game world.

In the real world, you don't have guys jumping up and down and spinning around in place. (laughs) It just changes the dynamic, and one of the things I try to do is talk about some of the tools that really stack the advantages in the favor of a sniper and how to set that up. I've played games where a [Barrett M107] .50 caliber doesn't really reach out and do the damage that it's supposed to do. Not a lot of guys are going to walk away from a .50 caliber shot, so making it a two- or three-point shot is wrong.

There are little things like that that we try to bring to the developers and make sure that they get what they want. It's amazing to me when I talk about all these weapon systems, their level of interest and how much they want to mine that and bring that into the game experience. These guys are brilliant in the way that they find a way to do it.

WP: This is completely off-topic, but have you seen the "Transformers" movie?

RM: Yes.

WP: Given your experience with weapons, are Sabo rounds as badass in real life as they showed in the movie?

RM: Any round will do its job if it's aimed at the right target, at the right time, so it's not how big the bullet is, it's where you put the round. (laughs) I can take a really small round, put it in your head, and I've got my result. I think the bigger rounds and hollow points are really designed to maximize damage, so if I don't have a certain level of pinpoint accuracy, I can have a bigger round or a more powerful round that goes through that body armor and drops that guy. That's really what you're trying to do.

When you're looking at rounds and how they're developing, you're really trying to say, how do I help the guy who's only going to be enlisted for two years or four years? How do I stack some advantages in that guy's favor? When you're talking about the accuracy of knowing you have to land two headshots instead of "I just have to hit this guy in the body," so whatever advantage that I can stack in the favor of the guy who's got to drop that bad guy as quickly as possible, I want to do. But it's nice to be able to take two rounds and put them where you want them.

WP: Bringing that back to the game and the multiplayer side, how did THQ and the team work on balancing the weapons for multiplayer so that someone doesn't just jump into multiplayer, grab the rocket launcher and have a massive advantage?

RM: One of the things that they do is, they've got these little pack systems that give you different advantages as you're moving through it. With the Rhino pack, they could be shooting at you, but it doesn't matter because if you have that thing on, you're going right through them and right through a building. It's almost a protective shield that you get to use. With the Fleetfoot pack, you can move across the battle space very quickly, so aiming and locking onto a guy is much harder. When you're talking about the Shockwave pack, it's just really setting all that stuff up. It'll come down to you mirroring the right weapon system with the right backpack in multiplayer and then leveraging the heck of that. Believe it or not, if you just have an assault rifle and a jetpack, you're coming up on people and dropping down rounds; that's a simple package. Fleetfoot with a sledgehammer is my favorite — it's a lot of fun to sneak up on people and whack them in the head. You can hit two or three guys at the same time if they're bunched up. That's the perfect system for it, so there are a lot of ways that they found to counterbalance the different weapon systems.

WP: Is there anything about the game that we haven't talked about that you wanted to add?

RM: The general game experience? I'd love to talk about Red Faction: Guerrilla!

My first experience with Red Faction was probably about six months ago, when I started hooking up with THQ. They sent me a link to the multiplayer experience, and I thought it was really cool. They were still working on the physics, they were still working on some of the stuff, but the fact is that all of a sudden, cover isn't the same. When you go online in Call of Duty 4, it's the same room, it's the same thing. It doesn't change through the event. In this, you have guys going online, and all of a sudden, the wall that was there a second ago isn't there anymore, and by the time you finish the game, there is no cover because everything has been destroyed! (laughs)

I think it's really unique from that experience, and the single-player experience is a lot of fun. It seems very organic. You have this gigantic sandbox to play in, and the way the missions come at you — imagine what would it be like if you were called to defend your family or friends and you didn't have anything but a sledgehammer to start off with. How would you do it? That's kind of where they start it with this game, and it feels like that. All of a sudden, you're Mason and you're in this situation and you're trying to figure things out. People are throwing all these ideas at you, you're trying to figure out the weapons system, who goes where, what's going on, but it never feels like I'm driven down the path. You know, when you start a new game and you've got a really tight corridor and this is what they're trying to teach you? You don't have that here. It's very organic, and it's very open. Missions pop up, and you can decline them or you can accept them.

I love some of the very simple mechanisms they have to indicate your progress. The morale of the people is coming up, or the EDF is coming up or down. I think that's great. Really, it's the amount of destructibility, the way you approach a target is completely different. You don't just shoot a guy or blow a rocket against the wall because you could kill the very guys that you've come to rescue. You've got to think it through, you've got to come up with a smart way of approaching it and tearing down buildings. And by the way, the whole thing is a blast to play because you can come at this any way you want.

WP: You were talking about rescuing people and being aware of your surroundings. As the old saying goes, "One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist." How difficult was it in terms of looking at play balancing to get that right? The line is a little grayer here, and you can hurt civilians. How does that mechanic work in the game?

RM: Obviously you never want to punish a player, but what you do is make yourself more aware of what you're doing and making sure you go after the guy you're supposed to versus innocent civilians because you pay a little price for it. The morale of the troops and civilian population, you need them on your side in order to win this battle and take Mars back. That's the way I see it. I see it kind of like the American Revolution more than I see it as insurgencies and guerrilla fighters. I see that these are people who live on Mars, and they want to have basic rights and basic things, and finally things have gotten too intolerable.

First of all, I think it's a miracle that you manage to get someplace where there is an actual Earth Defense Force, so on some level, we made some progress to get to that place and then we got to Mars. Somehow, we really want to control Mars a little too much, maybe. I think the fact that if you have an oppressive government that's really trying to hold you back and hurt your people, at some point, you've got to stand up and be counted, and you've got to do that. This is a fun way of doing it without literally putting you and your family on the line. You go out in this fun world that they've created on Mars, and the fiction is strong enough to carry you. It's peppered in there; it's not overdone. It doesn't get in the way of the gameplay experience, but it's nice because it takes you along, and the way the missions come at you, you understand right off the bat.

Plus, as the science and technology evolves, like I say in "Future Weapons," if it's a science and technology show, what do science and technology bring to the battlefield that you've never had before? Increased accuracy, minimizing collateral damage and getting your guys home and safe to their families. To me, that's "Future Weapons." If you ever want to get to the fantasy called "No War," you're going to have to walk through the door called "Future Weapons" because we're taking more responsibility for the most horrific thing on earth, which is warfare, and science and technology are allowing us to be as responsible as possible in that process.

When you're talking about this in Red Faction: Guerrilla, you are responsible. You're there to help your friends, family and the Martian community to get their basic rights and make sure they're not being mistreated. Your job is to raise the morale of those people and go after just what you have to go after, and there's a price to pay if you don't. I think that's a good lesson. I don't think that hurts. In the gaming world, I think that's OK because it doesn't get in the way of the fun, I promise you.

Red Faction: Guerrilla for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, is scheduled to ship on June 2, 2009 (June 5 in Europe).


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