Attending a Ghost Recon preview day, our very own Rik Wortman managed to get the chance to sit down with three of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier’s prominent team members, Eric Couzian – Game Director, Jean-Marc Geffroy – Creative Director and Adrien Lacey – IP Development Director, who answered questions and shared their development thoughts on the progress of the upcoming Ghost Recon: Future Solder.
The cover swap system you have going for this game is one I know people have wanted implemented in games like Call of Duty, and they tried it a bit with their online third person mode. Personally, it didn’t work at all, so what was your plan when attempting it yourselves?
Adrien Lacey: The basic cover view has always been part of the Recon series, and that cover swap puts you into the heart of the action. It gives you that intensity and gives you that smart experience, allowing you to jump, pop up, shoot, duck, move, jump, pop up, so it sets the tone and the beat to the game.
Eric Couzian: Our first goal was to say “Let’s concentrate on the main character, and lets see when something happens, I want good cover and, no wait! I need something else.” The player has to react immediately, that’s why the main cover system has five hundred animations just for the main character, and a lot of these animations allow us to be sure that each time you have an input you can do what you want, and you don’t need to wait until the end of a piece of animation to join in the next one. That was the first objective. The second one was more game orientated, we wanted to be sure that when you were in cover, you could do all things possible, such as a peek, or what we call a neck standard peek, when you look behind a wall, but can go back to cover quickly, jump over the cover quickly as well. But at the beginning we felt it was missing something, when you’re under fire, what you want is to cover yourself, and when you know your cover isn’t the right one, you want to move very quickly to another one, and this is something where games don’t go fast enough, and when you see special forces, the speed they have when they just move, we need to have a good system like that.
Adrien Lacey: When you’re getting shot at it’s amazing how you want to find some cover, that’s effective, and that’s definitely something we got back from the special forces guys, and something we’ve been working on with the military guys, they’re like “I’m here, I’m gonna shoot, but if I take fire I need to get there for a better angle to think about what I’m doing, and my team mates and me are going to move very quickly, point to point.” I think that’s what cover swap give you, it’s dynamic, it adds that speed and adrenaline.
Jean-Marc Geffroy: I tell you what we wanted was to have this phase to remain undetected, but also to come close to the enemies and surprise them. But when the gunfight is open you can use the same way to defend team mates or get new cover, because the previous cover is now in danger. So this mechanic works the same way.
Eric Couzian: But you can also notice when you are cover swapping in recon, it’s the exact same speed as when you are cover swapping in combat.
Adrien Lacey: It’s also the level of detail, those little moves you see when they put their hands up to warn, one of those little details you get being OTS, and seeing how the camera drops in and feel the battlefield, feeling that heated fire fight, that’s what Ghost Recon offers players that other shooters don’t necessarily touch upon.
With the tagging system, when I first saw it I thought “This could make the game slightly too easy, I’ll just send my team in to do the work and sit back.” So was there any kind of barriers you had to overcome when it came to a difficulty between styles?
Eric Couzian: Yes, actually, with the gameplay mechanic, we tried to think logically, which is, I use my teamates a lot, so if I tag enemies, they have to shoot, therefore they’re taking more risk, so my teamate has risked himself for me, so if you use them too much, they’ll be shot, and you have to revive them, if you want. But it’s a kind of balance which is really used a lot, you ask them to take risks, but eventually they’ll be killed. The other is the way that the AI is programmed according to the threat, it doesn’t react according to the player, and it was a huge job for us because we said “Right, we want to do a campaign full of co-op, so I should not be player centric, but I would say ‘my life’ centric”, so the player tries to find the safest place for the group and their line of sights not according to what the player wants, but according to the threat presented.
Adrien Lacey: And the situation itself.
Eric Couzian: So you use your team mates to find the big threats so the enemy can be shot.
When I was playing the last level of the demo, you had the sniper rifle equipped with heat seeking bullets. Now, I’ve never seen this, but was told that it’s something being developed by the US at the moment.
Adrien Lacey: Yeah, intelligent bullets, that sort of thing.
So are you keeping up to date, quite literally, because the game’s going to be released and those bullets aren’t even available yet in real life, so were you keeping up to date with technology the entire time?
Adrien Lacey: Yeah, we have our authenticity specialist who worked with the special forces anyway, there’s also different companies who develop future technologies for military purposes, so we were always looking very closely at that, and paying very close attention to it. We have one guy who is dedicated to the detail of what’s coming out. It’s like the optical camouflage as well, obviously Cornell University have been doing work on fibreoptics, to show how they can curve light, so that’s a real technology.
We… pull it a little bit, because it’s not on the field, but I remember when we did GR:AW on the Crosscom, that was something noone had really seen on TV or anywhere, and the whole point of Crosscom was so you could look at a map app, for example, while still having an eye on the battlefield, for situational awareness, and when we did the Crosscom, it’s funny that 2 or 3 years later when you’re watching CNN and stuff, you’ve got all these guys with these gadgets on and you’re like “What’s that?” and I was like “Yeah, it’s Crosscom!” Same with your mobile phones, so we find a way to take it further, because now with your mobile phone you look around, you get augmented reality, so your Crosscom does work like that, it’s just an overlay on the eye, so it’s not intrusive, it means you still have full awareness of what’s going on, because it’s