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Q&A With 'XIII' Producer 'Julien Bares'

by Thomas on May 26, 2002 @ 9:04 p.m. PDT

XIII is a conspiracy ridden FPS title featuring cel-shaded graphics and unique flashback visuals. XIII is a completely interactive graphic novel that creates a visually stunning effect unique to the action genre. XIII will appear on the PlayStation2 computer entertainment system, Nintendo GameCube, the Xbox video game system from Microsoft and PC CD-ROM and is scheduled to ship to retail shelves in Q1 2003. Read more below for the Q/A!

1. For which formats are you developing the game and when will it be released?
The game is being developed for Playstation 2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube and PC. We expect to release all formats in Q1 2003.

2. What is the genre?
XIII is a stealth/action FPS

3. What is the story line of XIII?
The game opens with the player in control of a lead character who is washed up on a beach. Suffering from severe amnesia and injuries, there is no recollection of who, where or what he is.

As the player delves into the increasingly involving plot, it becomes apparent he possesses high-level military skills and is an integral part of a huge conspiracy against the US government.

This offers a two tier adventure throughout the game; foil the conspiracy whilst finding out exactly who your character is, including which side you are actually on.

The story does have an analogy with the John F Kennedy assassination but focusing on the theory that it was the result of a wider operation lead by a consortium of businessmen, Mafiosi and the US army.

4. What is the significance of the title?
At the beginning the only clue about the lead characters identity is the number “XIII” tattooed on his clavicle.

5. What kind of innovations are you bringing to the FPS genre?
First and most noticeably, is the Cel Shading graphic style. I believe we are the first to give the FPS genre this treatment, which differs from the numerous ‘realism’ style FPS’s.

We have also developed a unique gameplay system we like to call “commando gameplay”. XIII, is so well trained he has the ability to turn any situation into his advantage. For example, he has a “sixth sense”, which acts like a radar when enemies are near and he can also utilise some of the more inanimate objects, found within the different levels, as weapons i.e. a broken bottle.

One particular element we like is where you can take an enemy hostage and use them as a human shield against an onslaught of bullets.

Lastly, as the lead character is suffering from amnesia, it is credible that he needs help which allows us to have very interesting secondary characters that will help XIII through the game.

6. Cel shading. What does it bring to the experience?
Cel Shading places the player in a graphically refreshing FPS environment and offers comic style story telling but with a mature edge.

We have to say though that that the whole experience of XIII is more than just Cel Shading. A more generic term could be that we use “comic rendering” as we also use additional techniques to create a graphically aesthetic world; like using “sharp shadows” and very original SFX

7. Tell us more about the flashback sequences?

Suffering from amnesia XIII experiences flashback sequences, which correspond to memories of his forgotten past. In terms of gameplay, it allows us to feed information to the player (what he has to do, how to do it, who is this character he met, etc…) and immerse them in the gradual unfolding of the story.

8. Will the flashback sequences be playable?
Yes. They are short sequences but the player will maintain control of the character.

Actually we’re trying to develop the sequences so that there will be hidden information to be gained for the gamer that is more adventurous and rigorous in their search.

9. What kind of weapons will you have?
We recognise the weapons are all important in the FPS genre and we will not disappoint. Apart from the classic Beretta you will also have, for your enjoyment, an M16, the all-important Shotgun, an AK 47, sniper rifle and thats just for starters.

Silent weapons play a huge part in the stealth aspects of XIII where tense scenes require the player to remain silent and undercover. These include harpoons, a crossbow and throwing knives

And lastly, but not least, there are those inanimate objects. We mentioned the broken bottle earlier but how about chairs.

There are more but again we wish to leave something to the imagination..

10. Will there be differences between the different formats?
The key differences between the formats is the multiplayer aspects, particularly where the PC is concerned which lends itself, at this point in time, much more to online multiplayer gaming. So this version is currently planned to offer, upto 32 players, Deathmatch’s, Capture the Flag and new developments including ‘Cover Me’, which involves a sniper covering a team mate. We also, at this stage, plan to release the PC version with a map editor.

The console versions will not be without its own multiplayer gaming, taking advantage of the next generation machines power and offering exciting split screen gaming. We are currently keeping a very close eye on the online aspects of the new machines and are ready to adapt if online gaming is an option for the likes of X-box and PS2.

Again we do not wish to reveal all our secrets…wait and see!

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