Fracture is the upcoming third person action game from LucasArts and while third person action games are a dime a dozen what separates Fracture from the rest of the herd is the deformable terrain in the game. Need to reach a platform above your head? Push the ground up to create a natural ramp. Need to take out a bunch of bad guys? Launch a giant rock boulder at them. Here's our chat with Vicki Miller from LucasArt's production team on what else you can expect from the game
Can you give us an overview of the plot of the game? What where the inspirations behind the game? What cultural influences will gamers see when the game when the game comes out?
Fracture takes place in the drastically changed world of the year 2161. The effects of global warming have literally altered the shape of the world. Using newly invented technology, terrain deformation, the US was able to save its coastlines from the destruction. The Midwest however, was left a wasteland. The Eastern and Western United States coped with the disasters in two completely different ways. The West explored genetic alteration and adaptation, while the East relied on cybernetic enhancements. The player enters the world of Fracture just as the US government outlaws genetic engineering, leading to the Western US secession, and all out war.
During the development of the story, the team wanted to take issues that are relevant today, and push them out 150 years into the future. What happens in the wake of global warming? How do people and nations cope with natural disasters on that magnitude? How far could people conceivably go down the path of stem cell research and resulting genetic engineering efforts? These were just a few of the questions that were kept in mind as the story was being written.
Will the terrain deformation be limited to just the environments or will they impact structures in the game? Will the game be strictly set outdoors or will there be inside levels as well? What new design decisions are you finding with the new technology?
Terrain deformation is primarily limited to the environment. However, it can be used to reach parts of structures that the player wouldn’t be able to get to otherwise.
The game has both indoor and outdoor areas. The indoor environments are designed so that terrain deformation can be used the same way it is outdoors. Additionally, in more confined, indoor spaces, the player will be able to use terrain deformation to crush enemies against the ceiling.
The terrain deformation technology opened up quite a few design opportunities as well as challenges. TD provides tools that haven’t been seen in games before, which opens up a lot of variety for players to choose their own tactics in the game. We’ve tried to ensure that the puzzles throughout the missions can be solved in a multitude of ways, so that there isn’t just one ‘key’ to the puzzle players must find. It has also been tricky however, because we often see new players using TD or the weapons in ways we hadn’t imagined. It’s hard to account for that, and make sure that players aren’t getting themselves stuck or finding a way outside of the ‘world’.
Are you using one of the major physics engines (Havok/Ageia) in the game or did you build your own?
We’re using the Havok physics engine. In addition to being a solid physic engine, we were able to use it in conjunction with our terrain deformation tech to really show off the feature and make sure it was integrated into the game in a natural way.
Given the intense processing power needed to do terrain deformation, was this technology something that could not have been done before this generation of hardware or not?
There may be some crazy genius engineer out there who could have figured out a way to get terrain deformation working on the previous generation of hardware, but I think it would have been impossible to do it to the extent that Fracture does.
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