There's a lot going on in Far Cry 3's vast open world. Piracy! Human trafficking! Shark attacks! Even after spending hours with the game, we were left with a few nagging questions. Fortunately, the game's producer, Dan Hay, was kind enough to answer them all.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve seen in open-world games is striking the balance between holding players’ hands through a story while also allowing them to dink around. Sometimes the storytelling suffers, through no fault of the writers. (“The bomb is going to blow up, and you can stop it by walking on this glowing spot! Hurry!” “No thanks, I’m going to drive a cab into pedestrians for a while and maybe deliver some pizzas.”) How did you handle this in Far Cry 3?

In FC3 we were very focused on making sure the open world and the story worked together, and what I mean by that is that we are self-aware of our own genre. Characters in the game will tell you to “go out; use the open world, it’s OK”, but then some of the people you had to rescue would see that you changed because of it. ““Where have you been? What have you been doing out there?”It confirms the idea that you are out there in the world, using it like your own super market, but that the game and characters are actually aware of it. You are out there playing with the toy, not feeling guilty that your friends are in trouble, but you’re actually harvesting the skills you need to go and save your friends. 

During our demo, you characterized Vaas and Hoyt as having a kind of Darth Vader/Emperor dynamic. Can you talk a little bit about their relationship?

With Vaas we set out asking ourselves “What does it take to make somebody like him? Was he born in the island? Was he normal? Where does the hate come from? What makes him interesting as a character? We began to create an entire lore behind him, and that lore steeped its way into the game. 

In order to make a character like Vaas credible, we knew he had to be made of things that you and I have experienced. Simply put: Vaas is a bully. He is always too close and always making you feel like a victim. Now, the question we need to answer to shape our characters and make them click is: What makes a bully? We decided that our bully would come from learned behavior combined with a feel of emptiness inside. 

When we look at Hoyt, there‘s a great opportunity for us to showcase the person that helped make Vaas. In that light, yes, they very much have a relationship like the Emperor and Darth Vader. You can imagine a history where Vaas was lured by the promises Hoyt made, then a lot of these promises turned out to be dangerous, and turned out not to be true, ultimately tainting Vaas. That’s how the relationship was born.

I’m getting a supernatural vibe from the islands. Am I crazy? Should I stop listening to my vibes?

The reality is that we didn’t set out to make the island supernatural. The idea is that the vibes you get are the vibes that resonate and make sense for the player. We built a story where we enabled the player to be a participant in this place. We treated the island like it had a history of its own, that it had a history of thousands of years of civilization that was washed over again and again. If maintained, a place like this will obviously raise questions, and we specifically don’t answer all of them. We think it’s more interesting that way. 

There are a lot of emotions that come from treating the island like a character, so if your vibes are telling you that the island is alive but that it also has a little bit of insanity to it, that’s not a bad thing.

Along the same lines, is there a reason why all of these seemingly broken people are being drawn toward the islands?

Great question. We didn’t set out to make a supernatural entanglement between our characters and the island. Some of them are drawn there; some of them are born there; some of them are victims who have built defense mechanisms to survive it. The reality is, when you build a place where there are no rules, people who have been jaded by the rules of society, have been expelled from society or think they have everything figured out, well, they’re going to gravitate towards it; they are going to find their way, and that’s what we wanted.