Friday, 20 May 2011 11:44

Sucker Punch Interview: inFamous 2 is limitless

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iTWire sat down with Sony stabled developer Sucker Punch to talk through what fans can expect with the upcoming inFamous 2.  Game designer Joe Ishikura and Communications Director Ken Schramm gave us a quick insight into what changes inFamous players can expect during Cole MacGrath's extended journey.


Sucker Punch Game Designer Joe Ishikura and Communications Director Ken Schramm grinded a telegraph wire into Sydney recently to promote the upcoming inFamous 2

Sucker Punch Productions has been hard at work on the PS3 exclusive sequel to a game that stood out amongst a slew of 'super hero' titles released during 2009, Joe Ishikura worked on the original game and is obviously keen to continue Cole MacGrath's journey through superhoodum.

Unlike most sequels however, Sucker Punch is not going to strip away Cole's powers and make you earn them all over again.  '[in the first game you] start out as an everyday guy, do some parkour, gain and learn to use super powers and play out the story,' Ishikura explains 'But I think the big difference in inFamous 2 is that you start off with these powers, but you get your butt kicked by the Beast.  The Beast is this huge enemy that's coming for you , and you have to be better prepared, so in inFamous 2, it is all about escalation there because where you end in inFamous 1 is essentially where you start in inFamous 2, and you just have to get more powerful, so you can be prepared for when the Beast comes.'

'You get most of your powers back, we thought it would be a little bit cruel if Cole could not grind on the wires like everybody likes, right from the get-go, so we decided that was the better route to go'

Sucker Punch Productions has a history of this style of game play.  The Sly Cooper series of games are the obvious game-play design catalyst used for inFamous.

'Yeah it is pretty evident we have elements of Sly Cooper in the game,' says Ishikura 'I'm not sure [the development team] realises just how much Sly Cooper is in there, but you can tell that the core elements that we really push on are fun, that's the thing that comes first and foremost, the charm in the dialogue, there are lots of elements you can see in inFamous., that is never going away.'

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Sucker Punch has by all looked to ramp up the cinematic moments in the inFamous sequel, obviously shooting for even more super heroic action snippets.  As Communications Director Ken Schramm explains there has been a lot of work directed to this theme; 'That is a huge focus for us, I think, I'll anticipate the comparison, but Uncharted 2 really raised the bar over Uncharted 1, both were great games but you really saw how that presentation increase really helped the game-play.  And that is absolutely a focus for us, one of the big things we wanted to hit on from inFamous 1 to inFamous 2.'

Schramm expands on this; 'There are big moments and little moments that have been improved.  So big moments are the more obvious things like, we introduced mo-cap [motion capture] into the cut scenes and key animations, and so you see this in the trailers and so forth all the time.  But it is the little things like during the hand-to-hand combat, we play with the camera a little bit to make sure you feels intense, and it feels like  you are really mashing the guy, every single 'shock' that you fire we change the camera work on that, when you run, we change the camera work, so absolutely everything across the board will change, it is hard for me to name one thing that is really, really important because all these elements together are really what sold the presentation effect.'

Playing with the camera in a third person action adventure game is often fraught with danger.  How successful does Sucker Punch believe it has managed to work this into a game requiring speedy traversal of the landscape?

'It's something we learned very early on,' explain Ishikura 'we did a lot of experiments and we think you will be pretty happy with what we have put together.  But, yeah, there were a lot of ideas that hit the cutting room floor that did not make the game any more fun.'

What other lessons did the team learn from their years on Sly Cooper and inFamous 1 ?

'I think the big one was the melee combat,' Schramm immediately offers 'in inFamous 1 it was something that was never a big deal, we wanted to focus more on the ranged combat, but even when we didn't think it was a big focus, but players thought it was.  So we decided that was something that we absolutely wanted to support, so I think you will see a revamped, lot more high-production value melee combat system in inFamous 2.'

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And surely coming to grips with the PS3 at a tech level has helped the team?

'Oh absolutely, we learned a lot of lessons from it, [our time with the PlayStation 3] showed just how much we can tweak it, and how much potential is there.  Even small things like, we went from having twenty civilians on screen to having 100 on screen, we have these huge destructible environments that there is no way we could have done with the inFamous 1 technology.  We absolutely learned a lot from inFamous 1 to 2.' says Schramm.

Still no multiplayer as such in the inFamous offering, not necessarily a bad thing, this is after all not a City of Heroes clone, but Schramm does mention that the team looked at the possibility; 'When we first started this project we took a look at all Sony had to offer, whether it was multiplayer, co-op, Move or what have you, for us, if we could pull off UGC (User Generated Content) in an open world game, we thought that would be a great part to add to inFamous 2, and I think we did it.  As far as we were looking at it, even if UGC wasn't in our game, it would still be inFamous 2 and we would still be able to charge full value for it.  UGC is more of a gift to our players to make it unlimited play, so some people have accused us of making this because we didn't want to make any more missions, we want to be lazy and that sucks.  I want to make sure everybody understands that that is not the case, there is a full game in there, UGC just adds that element where it makes the game [limitless].'

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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for iTWire.com, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.

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