Condemned 2: Bloodshot Interview
The original Condemned launched with the Xbox 360 nearly two years ago. The title was a horror/thriller that featured some amazing graphics, brutal combat, and some very creepy quiet moments. The game was also very quiet and for me it was the game that made me realize just how loud the fans on my Xbox 360 really where. Sega and Monolith have partnered up for the sequel and the game is shaping up pretty well. Here's some more info on the upcoming game.
Can you introduce yourself and describe your role on the project? How long have you been in the gaming industry and what drew you to your current position?
My name is Dave Hasle. I’ve been somehow related to the games industry for the past 15 years. I’m a Senior Producer with Monolith Productions. I previously worked with the Microsoft Games Group. I came to Monolith Productions in the fall of 2003 as a Producer to manage the first dedicated console game of Monolith Productions and to make the launch title, Condemned: Criminal Origins, for the Xbox 360
What would you list as your major non-video game influences in the making of Bloodshot? What things from the first game did you want to improve upon and what things did you want to retain?
There were very little non-video game influences for Condemned 2: Bloodshot. We had the vision from the original game to move forward with, but then had only a hundred or so things that we wanted to change or add to Condemned 2: Bloodshot.
We rifled through every forum posting, streamed through every review and scrubbed through every email that we could find to determine what the users thought needed to be improved for a sequel – then we had our own list as well.
We knew we wanted to keep the in-your-face feeling of the melee combat but that we wanted to add several layers and improvements to give depth and choice to the player. We knew we also wanted t keep the horror/suspense factor. The forensics system we liked in concept, but not in execution, so we knew this would be up for a complete re-design.
How has combat changed from the first game? Will you still be able to use almost anything you find in the game as a weapon? Do you have a final count on the weapons in the sequel and do you have a favorite?
The core combat experience of in-your-face fighting is still the root of our game, but then we’ve added fist-fighting, combos, an attack chain system, thrown weapons and breaking weapons as well. There are now nearly 90 weapons that the player can grab and use at a moment’s notice.
I am currently enjoying the hell out of the cue ball. You can throw that sucker far and it is awesome to see it bounce off someone’s head causing them to stagger.
AI is a very important aspect for the type of game Condemned is. How has it improved for the second game?
We’ve increased the number of AIs dramatically. We’ve expanded the playground that the Level Designer has to play with and we’ve come up more unique boss-types than we’ve had before as well. There are some particular aspects I could discuss, but I’d prefer to wait to let players experience them firsthand.
Since you now have some experience under your belt working with the new consoles, how has that translated into making the second game better or even the speed at which you develop the game? How has development gone on the PS3 version compared to the 360? Are you running into any difficulties with the PS3 version?
Having the core gameplay of the first game to build off of was a great advantage. The speed in which we create Condemned 2: Bloodshot has not really been decreased from the first game because we are always striving to do more. Our tools and understanding is stronger, but then we want to add more models, more textures, more audio, more weapons for every level – and it ends up costing time for additional memory management and iteration.
The PS3 has not been that hard to develop for. It has been a matter of understanding its strengths and limitations from the start and working within those boundaries. The memory management aspect has been the greatest challenge, but we’ve worked to make sure we are running on both the 360 and PS3 at all times during development. I think some developers who are making a PS3-360 title simultaneously, decide to focus completely on one platform then try to get it running on the second console at the end of the dev cycle – a recipe for some sleepless nights.Why did you decide to add multiplayer into the second game seeing as Condemned was so single player focused? Can you give us an overview of the multiplayer modes in the game?
It was requested so frequently by the gamers who loved Condemned: Criminal Origins and we didn’t want to disappoint them. We feel we’ve come up with something unique that fits within the Condemned universe and we’ll be talking about the modes in more detail at a later date, so stay tuned.
Graphics of course will be improved but specifically what's been done to make the game look better? How much have the polygon count been raised for characters?
Condemned 2: Bloodshot sports a new shader system, a new environmental effect system and a new UI system. In addition, our bloom support is replaced by a new HDR functionality. The designers have a great deal of control over HDR and screen effect behavior, enabling them to create new and diverse visual effects. We have also made significant optimizations in CPU and memory use, which allow us to better leverage the platform.
In an E3 2007 interview, Associate Producer Martin Caplan described how players could "do creepy things to complete strangers. And, more importantly, your friends." Along with breaking bones and shoving people into wood chippers, what other creepy things we can do?
You’re going to have to wait to find out on this one, but I’ll hint at a few:
Ever take someone out with a dumb-waiter? Smacking someone with a cueball from 20 paces is a blast. Ever taser someone who is covered in liquor from a bottle you threw at them?
Sound effects and music make up a gigantic portion of horror-thrillers. Who do you have working the sound boards, and who's composing the soundtrack?
Our internal Audio Department did Condemned: Criminal Origins and is also doing Condemned 2: Bloodshot. Brian Pamintuan is our Audio Lead but his Director, James Ackley, has jumped in numerous times to provide support. Kristen Quebe has given awesome support throughout the product on Audio and there is Nathan Grigg who has created all the musical scores and is outdoing himself for Condemned 2: Bloodshot.
Do you have any favorite moments from the new game that you can share with us? Is there anything we didn’t talk about that you think is important?
I have several moments that I really enjoy, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone so I’ll only mention one in general terms: you’re up to your neck in an outdoor riot on some subway tracks. You’re surrounded but then suddenly a subway train comes through, causing mayhem and jumping the tracks – and if you’re lucky, taking out a few of the crazies around you.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.