Last week, during a special behind closed doors presentation, US developer Sucker Punch unveiled to press inFamous 2, the sequel to one of the PS3's most successful new franchises. The open world action game looks the business - a marked improvement over the solid original - but questions remain. Luckily for us - and you inFamous fans - we cornered Sucker Punch co-founder Brian Fleming afterwards to get answers.
Q: Just how destructible will the environment be?
Brian Fleming: It's sort of like the rule for climbing, which is what looks like you should be able to climb on it, you should climb on it. So what looks like should break, we want to break. There's always going to be a line. We can't have you break the ground. We can't have you break the entire church. So there's always going to be a line. The thing that actually limited us more was the technical realities of making everything break, and we've dramatically increased the design of our breakable system such that we could support something like those verandas in high density areas. You're talking about thousands and thousands of individually breakable items. We designed the verandas and we did a demo to the team everyone was like, these are great! And the engineers are all like, oh my fucking God! That's our job, is to make stuff breakable.
Q: To piss the engineers off?
BF: You can get into a situation where you're doing technology for technology's sake. We tend to be the other way, where we want to build something we like, and then re-engineer the technology to support the thing we like. And we like breaking things. It makes the game better, and so that's what we should be working on - stuff like that.
Q: Is it persistent?
BF: It's persistent at some level. It's not down to the rubble's left where you left it. There are some breakables that of course will regenerate, like all the cars on the streets. But there are significant breakable elements that are persistent. One of the real changes in the game is that there are going to be significant story and potentially even morality-related elements that are going to alter the city, like fairly large chunks of the city. It's not just, oh, you've completed these four tasks so the drawbridge will go down, kinda stuff. But how you decided to solve a particular thing might leave remnants of itself behind.
Q: Can you give me an example of that?
BF: No, I can't today.
Q: Is it story-based persistent destruction?
BF: We'll get into that. There's a long time left for us to finish this game. Today was really introducing it and talking about some of the core philosophies.
Q: Is the morality system greyer?
BF: The motto for the game for internal work is 'no stones left unturned'. We have to make every aspect of the game better. No compromises. Morality is one of the big aspects of the game, so we have to make fairly significant investment to make it better. We've heard all the complaints. There's been 'I want it to be greyer' and 'the choices were too stark'. We're not stupid. We've heard all those complaints, so we're going make improvements in the morality system. Will it be the best morality system ever made? I don't know. We're working on it. That's what we're doing every day.
Q: Can you use data from the first game to affect the sequel?
BF: That's a great question. I think what you're making sure I'm answering is, if I played evil in the last game does it affect me when I start this game? We think, but are not sure, that we know the answer to that question. Until we're sure we're not going to answer the question. We think we know, though.
Q: Does that mean yes?
BF: Well, you get the sense. Even the character stuff; the way we work is to make things and try them and see how they feel. It drives the marketing guys a little crazy because they're like, well do you have an answer to this question? I'm like, no. I don't know. We'll know when we ship. So it's a little hard to answer that question. It's an important question.
Q: But obviously you're thinking about it.
BF: We certainly have thought about it a lot. We are aware of those issues and want it to go well.