Given Crysis 2 was shown on 360 and given the way the internet is, were you worried about the reaction from PlayStation3 owners?
I can tell them that 360 and PlayStation3 versions will be just about the same. There’s no difference.
Why did you decide to show it on 360 rather than PC? Because, I presume, the PC version looks best?
PC is the best looking version, yeah. But if I had shown it on PC, it would have been like… okay, Crysis 2 is on console, but they’re not showing the console version. So we wanted to go with console.
Most people obviously remember Crysis for its technical prowess and it’s now remembered for that more than it was for being a great game. Does that frustrate you?
Yes it does frustrate me. I almost get hurt about it. It’s like hey, we made a great game there as well.
The people who had the rig said it’s an awesome experience but the people who didn’t have the rig, they either didn’t bother to install Crysis because they wanted to wait until they got the right PC or they said they’d buy it when they had the right PC. What frustrated me was even within my own family, within French families, there wasn’t a PC running there. It was about 360 or PS3.
My nephew had a PS3 and he said ‘uncle, why don’t you make a console game?’ And I thought, that would be a big drive to bring this kind of experience to consoles. It’s not really about selling more units. It’s really not. Otherwise I would done console right away as well as PC. I didn’t want to compromise quality. And frankly, I think if we had done it for Crysis, it would have looked different.
Is that why the original never came to console?
Yeah. Exactly. I think back then, we would have been limited with our knowledge of 3D and experience with CryEngine. Today, we have much more experience with the technology and the bleeding edge experience on PC helped us to trickle down the engine, step-by-step.
So we were looking at every high-end feature and said, how can we bring this to console? I said to our technology guys, we have no choice. It has to come. How do we do it? Instead of telling me which ones you can and can’t do, whenever it looked impossible, I said find another solution. So that forced a lot of optimisation and rethinking. Ultimately, that made for an even better PC title.
How have you found working on console compared to PC?
We’ve focused on it from a consumer and technical perspective. I simplified it for our guys by saying there is one difference between the PC gamer and console gamer. I said the single most important difference is a PC gamer forgives you for about a minute.
A console gamer gives you two seconds. It sucks or it fails and you’re either the top or a flop. They don’t respect any value you put into your development, either it works or it doesn’t work.
So I said, this is a harsh situation. It drives a different quality and decision making. It drives a different look at accessibility. It drives a different look at story-telling, ambience, production, everything. So I say we focused on quality perception by saying, will the gamer get it? Let’s not confuse this with simplification, it’s more about being sharp.
I think the console situation helped to make for a better game. Optimisation happened in every area of design and the feature set. So we said okay, how can we made it more streamlined, more optimised, more accessible, more powerful. And that’s the DNA trail throughout the entire development.
If you look at the technical focus and consumer focus, if you look at them in a nutshell, it provides a better game for all platforms without any compromise. For example, sandbox. In Crysis 1, it was left, right… we had kind of a 2D sandbox. In Crysis 2, we have a 3D sandbox.
So yes, it’s more confined space, but we didn’t choose it because of technical opportunities. People have said “hey, they chose New York because it’s easier.” No it’s not. You saw the amount we pushed out, we pushed out a lot of raw data. We didn’t make life easier just because it’s more confined.
When you choose New York…
It was a purely creative decision.
But did you anticipate that kind of reaction?
I knew it. I look at it as an opportunity rather than a threat. So we said okay, how can we transform this into something new we has not been done before? We said okay, this is a great space, make this space a volume now.
So we elevated the verticality, and said now we have net space that’s bigger and more meaningful within the New York context. And it’s more of a technical challenge because you have a full 3D sandbox now, instead of a 2D sandbox.
On console, what do you see as the main rivals for Crysis 2?
You mean, other games?
I really don’t like to talk about rival computer games really. I guess holiday will be really tough for all of us [laughs]. I wouldn’t like to be in the shoes of the competitors.
You’ve already talked about some of the console influenced gamers, do you think console gamers will get what Crysis 2 is about?
I think all the streamlining we did will improve the experience for everybody. I think if I tell console gamers hey, you’ve got this cool hero where you can be either a predator, invisible or a tank, they’d be like… cool [laughs]. It’s much easier.
You spoke during the presentation about Crysis 1 getting 91 on Metacritic and I’ve already asked you about it being remembered for its technical achievements as much as for it being a good game. So what would satisfy you personally with Crysis 2, how do you want it to be remembered?
That it is a creative masterpiece of New York, that the aliens are memorable and I still think a technical-visual leadership is part of Crytek’s DNA, so I wouldn’t be offended by the perception that Crysis 2 is a technical masterpiece. Fine. As long as it goes along with the gameplay [laughs].
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