The Average Gamer

Lying In The Bushes With Far Cry 3’s Jamie Keen

Far Cry 3 - LogoAt Ubisoft’s recent Summer Spectacular I got to chat to Jamie Keen, lead game designer on Far Cry 3 about his plans for the game and what he hopes to improve on from Far Cry 2 and about hiding in bushes.

I absolutely loved Far Cry, but felt that Far Cry 2 lost its way a bit, so what’s changed in Far Cry 3?

Jamie Keen: Obviously we want to pick the DNA of the franchise that really worked. So bits from Far Cry, the setting, things like swimming, those kind of features and the overall approach to how the different scenarios are set out. Kind of cherry pick those areas and something about the tone from Far Cry 2. We really enjoyed the super realistic gritty tone of Far Cry 2 and then we wanted to add something of our own on top of it. We’ve decided to go like a character driven narrative so you really feel this human scale of conflict and feel a connection with the characters you are seeing in the world. It feels like there is something happening to you.

Are you left to your own devices in the game?

JK: We are definitely trying to follow that open-world ethos which is part of what Far Cry is about. Making sure that you can decide that you want to engage with the action at this point or follow a mission or explore and have a look around the island. We want to provide you alternatives for all those different options. So if you decide that you want to take a bit of a break from the missions and want to have a run over here and see what’s going on then you can do that and vice versa. When you are bored of checking out the island you can go back into the storyline for a while. We really want to give these choices to the player so they feel that they are in control of the action.

What kind of vehicles are in the game? Have you gone completely Just Cause 2 or have you reined it back a bit?

Far Cry 3 - Helicopter Explosion


JK: We are being a bit cagey about the vehicles right now because that’s still slightly up in the air. We will have vehicles, which is probably something we want to confirm at the moment as again that’s a really big part of the Far Cry experience. We aren’t going to be listing those [vehicles] for the time being but we want to push on from the vehicle experience in Far Cry 2.

Do the enemies respawn like they do in Far Cry 2?

JK: That’s the funny thing about Far Cry 2 is that there is a lot of people that said they really love Far Cry 2 but and it’s that “but” bit we want to address. I’m a massive Far Cry 2 fan and really enjoyed it but there were a lot of things that perhaps needed bit more time and a bit more love to kinda of really bring them to fruition. I think a lot of the intentions were good in what they were trying to do.

For example the checkpoints, they really fill up the world [with enemies] and makes the world feel more alive but then it counteracts with the respawn thing. These are things we want to address without spoiling the overall formula. When we are talking about things happening to you in the world as you are moving around, yeah, we want that to still happen and make you feel like there’s a world where things are going on. But equally we want it to feel like a more natural thing. You’re not always going to be aggressive in situations. Sometimes there might be a neutral or a friendly encounter and sometimes you aren’t going to know. You might arrive in an area that’s filled with enemies and they might be waving a white flag, parley or something like that. So you’re like, ok, how is this going to go down? We want that feeling for the player, never quite sure of what they are going to run into around the corner.

Far Cry 1 felt like a graphical demo with bits of gameplay added later. Far Cry 2 seemed to focus more on the action. In Far Cry 3 are you looking for a mixture of the first 2 games?

JK: Yeah, we want the player to explore all of it. We want them to explore the game style that they use, explore the world. I think the big thing that we will be pushing with this is the narrative side of things. I think both Far Cry 1 and 2 had their own story lines but they were always slightly at arm’s length.

I’m not going to talk about Far Cry 1 specifically. In Far Cry 2 there was a lot of stuff going on but it kind of cost you a lot to get invested in that. Whereas we want things to be really driven at you, at the player. So that when you have Vaas come right up to you and says “fuck you” he really means you, and you have that personal interaction with him.

We want this to be a human scale game, if you make it through it and live through the whole experience then you have kind of won. You’re not going to get some ticker-tape parade of like, woohoo you’ve saved the universe. That’s not the game we are making, we are much more about you exploring yourself, finding out how you react to the situations that go on in the game and maybe even question yourself about how you deal with those as a player.

If you are letting the player do their own thing, it makes the “how long is the game” question difficult to answer doesn’t it?

JK: It really becomes a how long a piece of string question. If you just follow the narrative section, mission to mission, somewhere between 15-20 hours. That’s really ballpark though. If you just decide to go off and run around and explore the world then it’s pretty much indefinite until you run out of steam [laughs].

If I wanted to spend about 2 hours stalking out a location, the game isn’t going to suddenly flash up and tell me what I should be doing, is it?

Far Cry 3 - OiYou

Vaas - He is not a nice man

JK: We’d like to say to the player, look you decide, you get involved with it. Things like stealth gameplay will actually heavily reward you. If you spend a lot of time prepping the situation and making sure that you’ve got all the information you need before you get involved we want to let you have that tactical advantage.

So yeah, if you want to lie in a bush for 2 days, go nuts! [laughs]

Are you going to have a spectator mode where you can just have a bit of look around at the scenery?

JK: There’s no spectator mode planned at the moment. But who knows, if you’re watching the player who spends 2 days in the bush. It would be like, what’s he going to do next? This is amazing and thrilling! [laughs]

Thanks for your time.

There you have it. If you like spending time in bushes, Far Cry 3 is going to be the game for you ;-) I was encouraged to hear Jamie talk about letting the player find their feet in the game, leaving them alone to do what interests them. It does really irritate me when a game doesn’t give you time to explore a location or just have a bit of a breather. Instead a bit of text, a voice or worse still part of the environment starts flashing at you. I’ve got my fingers crossed that Far Cry 3 will drop the re-spawning enemies that put me off Far Cry 2. Did anyone else hate the re-spawning enemies in that game?

Far Cry 3 will be released next year on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.