Directing Splinter Cell: An Interview With Maxime Beland - Features - www.GameInformer.com
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Directing Splinter Cell: An Interview With Maxime Beland



Let's talk a little bit about the individual gameplay features that you are trying this time around.

I think our big thing right now is killing in motion. On Conviction, my big thing with Sam was I wanted him to be more agile. And now that we've got that, it’s about the next step ahead. So, we're kind of working with our animation director to make Sam more fluid, and always one step ahead. So killing in motion is basically three things. The first one is active sprint. You run, you sprint, and you automatically jump over stuff. If there's a door, you bash the door. If there's something to climb, you climb automatically. We're making traversing the environment super easy. Then, if you're moving and you press Y to execute, Sam keeps his momentum, keeps the direction that you've got. And the last thing is hand-to-hand takedowns in motion also. So instead of stopping to do a hand-to-hand kill, Sam slices through the guy.

Tell me about the Fourth Echelon moments idea.


Because Sam's a leader now, we kind of wanted to have moments where the team could help Sam, right? And we don't want to go into a squad-based style of gameplay or anything. We love the idea that Sam is surrounded by amazing people that have different talents. And so the idea came that, what if in every map or whenever it fits the story or the gameplay, we have the team that comes in and is like, “Hey Sam! I'm here, I can do this for you!” So for E3, the example we have is that Grim takes control of a UAV drone and she's like, "I see you're overwhelmed. If you want, I can shoot it down." And what I like about it is that we're controlling when it's happening, but the player is in control of if he wants to use it or not and when he wants to use it. So you can decide on, I'm trying to do a stealth playthrough, so I don't want to have a big rocket that comes out on a tactical target against me. And then you start playing, and you've been stealth, and then you get detected, the s--- hits the fan, and if you've got Kinect, you just yell “Grim, now!” and then the rocket fires. So those are interesting. You can imagine the same idea with the opposite. Instead of being a rocket in the sky, it could be Grim hacking into an electricity system from a building. And she's like, “Hey, I know where you are, tell me and I'll turn off the lights for you or something.” And then you're like, “Yeah, Grim, turn off the lights,” and you're in the dark.

One of the things that's on display in the demo is a choice to kill a guy or knock him out. Those choices – are they largely specific to that moment, and the repercussions end there? Or do they affect anything later in your story?

The first thing is that Blacklist is a mature game with a very realistic theme. It's serious. I mean, when we saw Bin Laden, and they took him out, we were like, s---, this could have been Sam Fischer that was doing it. So we're always reading things like Danger Room from Wired. And we're always keeping up to date on that. We love the idea of putting the player in those situations that these guys are going through. I don't know if you saw Generation Kill, the HBO miniseries. You have to watch it if you haven't. These soldiers. They are heroes. They're fighting so that we're free, so that we're happy. They get into situations that are just awful. It's not a question sometimes of doing the right thing or the wrong thing. Sometimes it's I need to do the wrong or the wrong-er. What do I do? There's no good option. We saw – when they went after Bin Laden – they had a percentage chance that he was there. So what do you do? What if you f--- up? What if it's a school instead? We're seeing that a lot with the drones. If the likelihood is at 62%, do you blow the *** out of that? Is 65% OK? How about 35%? No? So for us, the interrogations are a bit of that. We want to put the player into situations that are like the one we're showing at E3; the guy just told you everything you needed to know. You're done. You're good. You're Sam Fischer. This guy is finished. Are you going to kill him? And we discussed a lot about morality. How can we have the player live morality and play morality in a game, and what we agreed upon after lots of interesting discussions was if you want to have true morality in a game, you cannot link it to mechanics or to a system. Because the player will play the system; he's not going to play the true world choice. If we told you, if you're the good guy, you're gonna get this, and if you're the bad guy, you're gonna get that, you're not thinking, "what am I doing here?" In those moments, what I would like is when you play them and you talk to your friend about it after, you say “I did this. What do you think?” “So for you, 62% is enough?” That's the kind of discussion we want; our team brings those questions up. And I think it's cool to make people reflect on it and hopefully grow as humans a little bit. Because we've got some guys everywhere in the world that are making those decisions every day for us.

I know the focus at E3 is on single-player. Is there anything you can tell me about what you guys are doing with cooperative or competitive multiplayer stuff?


Well, Conviction added amazing co-op, so we're embracing that. So it's going to be even cooler. And then spy vs. mercs was the number one requested thing from Conviction, so that's coming back. I think what's cool with it, what I'm allowed to say today is the idea that we're going to have to cross-pollinate, so regardless of what you're playing, whether is cooperative, adversarial, this is always a game about Sam. Sam's going to be making the money. The money goes toward Fourth Echelon and you can spend that money on Sam, on some co-op stuff, on some adversarial stuff. And that money is buying new weapons, upgrading new weapons, buying gadgets, upgrading gadgets, upgrading Fourth Echelon, so you're going to be upgrading the plane, and that's going to have some gameplay repercussions. And, also, Sam's tactical suit. I think that's super cool because it's not just a cosmetic choice for the suit. It's also linked with gameplay, so if you want to play more action, you can put on a bigger bulletproof vest. If you want to play more stealth, you can go a little bit lighter, be a little bit faster, or add boots that allow you to make less noise when you're navigating.

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