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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' (PC) Developer Interview

by Adam Pavlacka on Sept. 14, 2009 @ 5:51 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 Sean Kennedy, and I'm the associate producer.

WP: With the PC version of Red Faction: Guerrilla, you guys have added in a few tech features and a few gameplay features that weren't in the original console version. Can you quickly run through those?

SK: On PC, we're supporting DirectX 10. If you have DirectX 10 on your computer, you're going to get a much better graphical experience. You're going to get higher fidelity particle effects, better smoke effects, better destruction. The destruction is still the game, but everything will just come off better visually. One of the best examples is with lighting. As you destroy structures, you'll actually see light cast through the destruction.

WP: There was mention that the PC version was going to ship with the DLC content out of the box. Can you give us the highlights?

SK: When we announced DLC for the consoles, a lot of people were wondering if it was coming with the PC version, and it is. When you get the PC version, you are going to get the Demons of the Badlands prequel. From the main menu, you can just right into that. In addition, you're getting six of the Wrecking Crew maps that are in the third DLC pack, which doesn't even come out until October for consoles. You're going to be getting two exclusive multiplayer maps, the six Wrecking Crew maps that were unlockable in the consoles with codes, they're already unlocked in the main game. You're also getting Team Bagman and Bagman, which are part of the second DLC for the console, so you're getting a lot of content right out of the box.

WP: We know that this was developed outside Volition, the same way that Saints Row 2 PC port was. We'll just say that the Saints Row 2 PC port had issues, performance-wise. What's different about Red Faction: Guerrilla PC? Why will this one be kick-ass?

SK: Not being directly involved with Saints Row 2, I don't know everything that happened with that. I do know that in the end, we weren't happy with how the PC version came out, but with Red Faction, we knew from the beginning that we needed to deliver a PC product that people were going to love and was going to live up to their expectations. Red Faction already has a big fan base on the PC; people still play the original Red Faction. With that in mind, we knew it had to be on the same level as the console. We actually worked with another developer, Reactor Zero. It's a great team in Ann Arbor, Michigan, so they're not too far from Volition. We worked with them directly for a little bit over a year to get this game up and running on PC and making sure that it was at the same level as the console and, on top of that, making it better for PC gamers. That was one of the goals for Reactor Zero; they wanted to make sure that it didn't feel like a console game that had been ported to the PC. When you took the mouse and keyboard in your hands, it should feel like a game that was built from the ground up on the PC.

WP: Let's talk about those controls. Obviously there are things with all console games, like assisted aiming and, in the background, a few little tweaks here and there to make things easier for the console gamer. What challenges were there in remapping the actual PC controls?

SK: (laughs) Fortunately, I wasn't the one who had to do all that. I think they obviously had some challenges, but Reactor Zero has a very talented group of people, and they just kept working on it until they got everything mapped in a way that was playable and felt good and natural. If someone doesn't want to use the mouse and keyboard, at anytime, you can plug in the Xbox 360 controller and it will switch right over to that.

WP: What about performance-wise on the PC? One thing with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 is that you can just grab the disc, throw it in and you know it's going to run. It looks great on PC, but what kind of machine are you going to need? Is it some kind of super high-end powerhouse, or does it scale down pretty well to a mid-level Core 2 machine?

SK: Red Faction: Guerrilla PC requires a 2.0GHz Dual-Core Processor (Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon X2), Windows XP/Vista, 1GB RAM, 15GB of free hard drive space, 128MB 3D Video Card with Shader Model 3.0 Support, DirectX 9.0c compatible audio card and an Internet connection for product activation.

WP: Sitting down to re-create the game on the PC, did you have to convert any of the background levels? Were the core map files identical, or did everything have to be rebuilt for the PC?

SK: As for getting maps to work on the PC version, we were able to port them directly over from the console. We have tools that were able to spit out maps for all three of our platforms when we exported them. Artists just had to work on one version, and it worked for all three platforms. It gave us a really simple pipeline. That way, artists didn’t have to worry about technical differences between the platforms, or optimizing such and such bits of data here and there. Rather, we give them the visual bar and any technical requirements, and they just work on the maps, and the code handles the rest. It was a very streamlined and artist/designer-friendly pipeline.

WP: In terms of level editing, one of the things that has kept the original Red Faction going over all these years is that fact that people can mod their own levels. When the console versions came out, people were wondering if they'd be able to do that on the PCs. Has Volition looked into that at all?

SK: You know, that was something that came up a lot during development, and for a while, we were looking at it, but in the end, the engine's too complex to allow any of this. We were kind of joking that we'd have to give you your own copy of 3D Studio Max to even be able to do this, so unfortunately, no, there won't be any modding.

WP: There will be a lot of disappointed fans out there for that one. Is there any sort of customization, or is it pretty much what's in the game is in the game?

SK: What's in the game is in the game.

WP: You're packing in a lot of the console DLC when the PC version ships. Going forward, is there the possibility of future DLC being added in to the PC game?

SK: Right now, there are no plans of anything beyond [the DLC packs], but anything could happen.

WP: We know that this supports Microsoft Windows Live, which is cross-compatible with Xbox Live. Will you be able to do any sort of PC-Xbox 360 multiplayer, or is it strictly PC to PC?

SK: It's strictly PC to PC and Xbox 360 to Xbox 360.

WP: Gotcha. I guess the same answer would apply to the Wrecking Crew leaderboards?

SK: Yes.

WP: Is there any technical reason why you couldn't do the cross-platform play, or is it just a design decision?

SK: It was a bit of both. Just like with the level editor, it was something that we looked at for a while, but tech-wise, it was just too much.

WP: In terms of multiplayer differences, docs PC support the same number of multiplayer modes and multiplayer players as the console?

SK: Same number of modes, same number of players, with DirectX 10 support on top of that, so it is the same but visually better.

WP: That is sort of what people want to know. They've waited a while for the PC version, so why was there a delay? Did development start later on the PC? Why not ship the PC version when the console version came out?

SK: We started the game on the Xbox 360, then we got it running on the PS3, and we worked to get both of those on the same level. Eventually, the PC version followed once those got to a certain point. The PC version's been in development for a little over a year.

WP: So the PC version started after the development of the console versions?

SK: Yeah, we had to wait until we were at a point on the consoles so that it was stable and where we wanted it so that we could start moving those things over to the PC.

WP: Red Faction: Guerrilla and Saints Row 2 were both sequels. What are you looking at next, another sequel or another IP?

SK: We're not commenting on anything right now. Nothing's been officially announced. I can say that I'm personally working on another game. I am officially working on "Unannounced Project."

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

SK: My favorite development story is about the whole destruction system, when we were working on getting that up and running, and we built all our crazy buildings and put the world together, and we'd get into the game, and within two minutes, the entire world would collapse, and we couldn't figure out why. It always sounds so cocky that we ended up making the engine so good that the buildings had to be built so that they were architecturally sound. We were doing all these crazy structures and they couldn't support their own weight, so we actually had to throw everything out and almost retrain the artist to be architects and make sure that everything in-game was built how you would build things in the real world. To me, that one always stands out as the craziest because I'd never worked on a game before where that was an issue. Real physics matter?!

There's a great one coming out that you'll see in the trailers for the third DLC pack: Wrecking Crew stories. We always have competitions. Two people lost. It's in the trailer. It's great.

WP: When is the trailer coming out?

SK: October.

WP: So in about a month, we can see some Volition developers get embarrassed?

SK: Yes, it stars a lot of Volition developers playing Wrecking Crew.


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