Resistance 3 Interview with Jon Pacquette

Back when GamingLives was in Germany for Gamescom, I managed to get one last look at ‘Resistance 3′ before its launch. One of the very strange things about being in those preview rooms at Gamescom is that when a presentation ended, one of the developers would always ask… “so does anybody have any questions”, and for practically every presentation nobody said a word. I, on the other hand, wasn’t going to let the opportunity to talk to one of the industry’s biggest developers pass  me by so I took Jon Pacquette, Writer at Insomniac Games on ‘Resistance 3′, to one side for a chat about 3D gaming, big bosses, co-op and comic books.

When creating a game for 3D, do you need to take anything extra into account in the development process or is it fairly easy with the PlayStation 3 where it’s just a case of flicking a button and *BANG* all of a sudden the game’s 3D?

[laughs] Well it’s a little harder than that. If you have split screen in a game it helps because it has a lot of the same principles with regards to running two buffers, and Al Hastings, who is our chief architect, is a wizard with how he got the 3D up and running. The trick is finding the subtlety in how you actually implement the 3D and the depth to the 3D; one of the biggest things that we figured out during development is that a lot of games put the HUD up at the very front in the closest layer to the player which has the player constantly looking up to the front and then looking back into the game  and we felt that a lot of those games caused some eye strain. So from there we started looking at the best 3D implementations out there on the market with regards to the user interface and we even got looking at ESPN 3D who actually put all of their UI in the centre layer so that whenever you are looking at stuff its always right there; it’s easy to glance down to the score and things like that so we decided to move our HUD into that middle layer and it improved things immensely. We had spent a lot of time trying to get the 3D right as well as get that feeling of depth right, so that it doesn’t cause a lot of eye strain with our 3D implementation.

Do you have to make any trade offs by having the 3D? Is there anything you have to lose?

Well you are basically running two lower resolution “eyes” essentially, so you might see a little bit more aliasing and things like that but on the flip side, because you have the two frames and your eyes are putting them together, it kind of eliminates a lot of that. I think those trade off are worth it if you like 3D but that’s just part of doing 3D in general and we’re really, really happy with how the 3D turned out. I think there are some people who were sceptics when we started doing it at Insomniac but, in the end, most of the people have become true believers.

The Resistance series is really well known for its set pieces, and you seem to be upping the bar with Resistance 3. In particular the section we just got to see where you had to carry a power core through a fire fight and rely on everybody else to cover you. How do those kind of moments come about?

With that level particularly, we wanted to take whatever we could with the power core and make the section all about that, being the object that you want to get, and then we just think about how we can make it fun for the player. Obviously, in other games, it would normally be about protecting the guy who has to carry the power core but the idea just kind of grew from there. One of the things we would do a lot of during the development with Resistance was proof of concepts; we would rough something out and the get everyone in the company to play it, then take all of that feedback and a few weeks later come back with the next version and just try and make it better. This sequence that you just saw with the power core went through a ton of changes; at one point you had your gun and could fight but people would spend too long trying to fight the Chimeran Long Legs instead of moving through it and we figured out that, while it’s not fun to be without a gun for too long, we realised that we can set it up so that you get to see some really spectacular moments and appreciate them because there is nothing you can do but run and look around while trying to survive. Then we flip it on its head immediately afterwards and you swap over and need to protect the guy who is now carrying it and you get put back into the drama when you have the gun and you’re doing the protecting.

In Resistance 2 you had the three modes of the game with the campaign, multiplayer, and the separate co-op mode; are all of these making a comeback for Resistance 3?

We definitely decided early on that we wanted to focus our efforts because ‘Resistance 2′ was just a massive game where we essentially had three full different things: we had campaign, we had multiplayer, we had co-op and that kind of spread our resources pretty thin across those modes. One of the things we really wanted to do was focus and make sure that both the campaign and competitive were the best they can be. Factoring into that too was one of the biggest pieces of feedback we had on ‘Resistance 2′ where people missed the campaign co-op from ‘Resistance: Fall of Man’ and they wanted to play through the campaign with their friends. So when we factored in all of those things it made the most sense for us to drop the eight player online co-op and focus on the campaign co-op, so you’ll be able to play the entire campaign both split screen co-op and online co-op with a friend.

What changes did you need to make to the game for the campaign co-op? Obviously things like the slow down time secondary fire mode on the sniper rifle from the previous game wouldn’t really work.

Well that was the human sniper rifle before and in ‘Resistance 3′ we’ll have the Deadeye which is a Chimeran sniper rifle with a charge shot mode that does a lot more damage and causes the enemy to explode and jib everywhere. Why did we do that? Well co-op was one of the reasons that we did it and I think that in ‘Resistance: Fall of Man’, the sniper rifle didn’t actually slow down in co-op. It was just one of those things that when we were making the campaign we wanted to make sure it works for two players and having the older secondary slow down fire mode and get it work is almost impossible with two players so to streamline it we made a new sniper rifle so that we wouldn’t have to deal with that in co-op or multiplayer. It is just one of those things that we had to consider with the entire game and we had to make every decision knowing that we would potentially have either two people playing split screen or online.

A lot of the big games now like to do the tie-ins with comic books and novels to expand on a games universe. Is that something you’ll be doing with Resistance 3, and do you think they add to the narrative of the game or are they their own thing?

Well, we have just released the novel recently, called ‘Resistance: A Hole In The Sky’, which tells the story of Capelli in the four years before ‘Resistance 3′ and the story of how he came to be where he is at the start of the game. As far as comic books, we don’t have anything planned but there was a six issue series previously which I believe is out on paperback now that also goes into the back story of Capelli and also ties into the retribution game.

One of the trends in these kinds of science fiction shooters at the moment is making a boss as big as possible which you did with the Leviathan in the last game, and other developers like Epic Games seem to be always trying to one up you on that. In theory how big can one of those bosses be in relation to the player? Do you think there is a size limit from a gameplay perspective?

Well in ‘Resistance 2′ we’ve shown that they can be made pretty dam big; I don’t think we were necessarily worried about making them big. I mean, you saw the Widowmaker earlier, which is rather large, and there are some other bosses but it wasn’t always about size for us – it was always about what was fun and what really fits the universe of ‘Resistance 3′, and that was what was more important to us. In theory, it’s possible to make a gigantic boss; just look at games like ‘Shadow Of The Colossus’ – that was just massive, the Leviathan in ‘Resistance 2′ was sky scrapers high; it’s all about how you’re going to present it to the player.




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One Comment

  1. Edward says:

    Quite interesting how they approached the 3D, and the way they decided to implement the co-op, even though many people haven’t given it as much interest as it seemingly deserves is particularly interesting. Good interview, Lee :D

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