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 James Hague, and I'm the design director for Red Faction: Guerrilla.
WP: Let's talk about the multiplayer aspect of Red Faction: Guerrilla. We understand the multiplayer came together a little bit before the single-player campaign did. You've got some of the traditional competitive multiplayer as well as a little bit of the pass-the-controller Wrecking Crew game.
JH: In online multiplayer, we started with basic modes that everybody knows. Our version of Deathmatch is Anarchy, so we have Anarchy and Team Anarchy. We've got Capture the Flag. It's what you've come to know and love, but destruction adds a whole new layer to it. What we really wanted to do was integrate destruction into new modes, so we have a mode called Siege, for example, where one side is defending a base and the other side is attacking the base. It's always the EDF versus the guerrillas, but let's say the EDF is defending the base and the guerrillas are attacking, so you need to use destruction as part of your way of getting in, blowing up the stuff that they find important, and the defenders have a tool called the Reconstructor. If you're defending a tower and the tower has collapsed, you can grab the Reconstructor actually rebuilt the tower.
WP: Looking at destruction — obviously having a Reconstructor helps — but when you're talking about a multiplayer game where you can destroy just about anything, how do you keep the action going as opposed to just ending up with a huge area that's completely flat because the combatants have destroyed everything in it?
JH: (laughs) I think if you play long enough, you will end up with a destroyed arena, but part of it is that you have to decide what you want to use your ammo for. If your goal is to blow up certain targets that the enemy has, you might want to save your ammo for that, rather than just randomly leveling stuff. You have to make a choice about what it is that you want to destroy. Again, you've got the sledgehammer, which can be used at any time and doesn't use ammo. You can level anything, but you also don't want to destroy your cover. The cover that the enemy is using might also be yours in a moment, so you just have to think about it a little bit. But we also found that shorter game lengths work better. If you had a 40-minute team Anarchy mode, you might just end up with the ruins of the city afterward.
WP: In the single-player game, one of the things you have to be careful of is blowing up a building and having it fall down on top of yourself, but you can also use the same tactic to ambush the EDF in multiplayer. Can you kill the opposing team with properly destroying a building and having it fall on them? Or is building damage really ratcheted down in multiplayer?
JH: Oh, no! A primary way of killing people in multiplayer is with destruction. (laughs) In fact, some of the best multiplayer maps are the ones with big, tall smokestacks. If you decide to not even go after the enemy but are doing your own thing and knocking down the smokestack as if it were a big tree. When that thing comes down, the people in the world see this big thing and hear the buckling metal, and even if they're not within sight of it, they'll see the shadow cross them, so you've got to run. You can die easily if you're not paying attention. In fact, in single-player as well, this is the greatest game to die in. Usually when I die in a game, I'm frustrated and I slam my controller against the wall, but in this game, I throw up my hands and say, "That was the best thing ever!"
WP: Looking at the Wrecking Crew aspect, you guys have taken a simple concept of blowing stuff up and turned it into a pass-the-controller game. These days, you only see pass-the-controller multiplayer in casual games. At a recent preview event, everyone was gathered around the one console with Wrecking Crew, and the Anarchy and Team Anarchy systems weren't fully packed. Where did the inspiration for Wrecking Crew come from, and why do you think it's so addictive?
JH: Wrecking Crew is something that the design team always wanted to do. We always knew that there was some kind of destructive party game lurking. Early on, we were experimenting with ideas for single-player and multiplayer, and Wrecking Crew kept coming up over and over again, so we knew we had to build it. It just wasn't part of our original plan, but we all pushed for it, and we all got it. We did it in the end, regardless of what anybody said, schedule be damned.
The thing that makes Wrecking Crew work is that the destruction's not a special effect. You've got a lot of games where the building has four hit points, so you put four C4 charges on the side, and after that, it rumbles and there's smoke and then the building is gone.
The destruction in RF:G is very dynamic, and it's very physically correct. If you put a charge on that wall, it blows out that wall. If it blows the support, maybe the rest of the building is under stress. You can blow out sections of buildings, you can blow things off the roof, and you can have them crash all the way down through all the sides of the building to the floor. It's like you'd expect in real life, and it's never the same twice. You feel like you could just experiment with it over and over again and it would be different every time because your charge is two inches to the left this time, or in this one case, you destroyed this wall before you destroyed the support.
It's just the feeling of it being so dynamic and different every time, it just gets very addictive. You just want to do it over and over. I mean, I've been destroying buildings for five years now in this game, and I'm not tired of it yet. Occasionally, I hear people say that the destruction looks cool but will probably get old after an hour, and the answer is, "No, no it doesn't."
WP: When you're working with scripted physics or even arcade physics, such as the exaggerated arcade physics in Volition's other title, Saints Row 2, everything is a bit more extreme. With real physics, how do you ensure that it stays interesting? Like you said, if it's real physics, you don't know where stuff is going to fall. How do you prevent it from breaking the game world?
JH: From one point of view, we just don't care. We want you to be able to do stuff. If we said that this building only comes down when you hit it in these three stress points and you have to use this kind of explosive, we don't want that. We don't want puzzles. We want you to be able to do anything that you want.
On the other hand, real building demolition is actually not that exciting. Looking out of my office window, over the course of the project, three different buildings have been knocked down, and one building took four months to bring down, and the other one, which was semi-destroyed by a fire, took a week. It would make the game time very long, but I don't know how exciting that would be, so that's why we've pumped up the sledgehammer damage. We've pumped up remote charge damage. We want you to get the best elements of destruction, but we don't want it to be tedious, so it is a little bit exaggerated in terms of what the sledgehammer will do to a building or what explosions do. It's just a balance. We want the game to be fun, but we also want it to feel realistic. In order for it to work, we have to exaggerate the explosions and the damage a little bit.
WP: In the single-player story, you've got some tie-ins back to the original Red Faction. How long did you guys work on integrating the story, and how difficult was it to take the story from a linear game and rework the story into an open-world game where you didn't necessarily have predictable, linear progression? You had to let the story unfold in an order that depended on where the player went and still have it make sense.
JH: We wanted to build a spiritual successor to Red Faction 1. In Red Faction 1, it had a small group of miners fighting against the Ultor Corporation. At the end of it, the Earth Defense Force came in and saved the day, and now it's 50 years later, the Earth Defense Force has turned bad and they're the new bad guys. We wanted to go back to the original game and get that feeling of the small guy fighting "The Man," more or less, so that's where we started.
But we also wanted to make the world really, really open. One of the things I really like about RF:G is the high importance targets in the world. The EDF owns a power plant, and the power plant is just there. There's no cut scene; it just says, "Attack the power plant now." It's not some special mode that you have to press a button to start. It's just there, and you can figure out how to attack it whenever you want. To me, that's the big thing we were pushing for. It's very open, very dynamic. Let the player do what they want. We want the player's story to be the play of the game. We want the player to create the story as they go. Now, we still need to have a framework to drive that. There are story-based missions, and those missions tie into the main characters and they advance the plot somewhat, but we also wanted to keep things really, really open because one of the things we learned in making Red Faction 1 is that destruction and linearity are a really bad mix. If you run out of ammo, what do you do if there's a wall you're supposed to destroy? It's game over at that point. Having things be open and fully destructible is perfect.
WP: You've been playing with the game for a few years now. What is the coolest random moment you've had in it? What made you sit down and just say, "Wow, that is just really cool"?
JH: Wow. I see stuff all the time, honestly, and I didn't plan for it, I didn't expect it, but it's awesome. One of the coolest moment that I've seen recently was there was a giant bridge out in Badlands called the Harrington Memorial Bridge. It's huge. I mean, it's hundreds of feet long. Trying to blow it up with your remote charges is like trying to go after a grizzly bear with a BB gun. It's BIG. So I was watching a guy play, and he was out in the middle of the bridge, and an EDF gun ship just came rising up from below the bridge. It wasn't scripted; it just happened. The EDF made a slight maneuvering calculation, and its wing hit the edge of the bridge, and the gunship flipped over and landed right on the bed of the bridge. The player ran over and hit it with a sledgehammer, which caused this massive explosion and took out half of the bridge. It also killed our hapless player, but it was awesome to watch.
WP: Is there anything about the game that we haven't talked about that you wanted to add?
JH: No, I think you got it all, so we're good!
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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