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 John Garcia-Shelton and I’m the Producer of Legendary. I’ve been in the gaming industry for over 10 years starting at DreamWorks Interactive. What drew me to gaming and producing was the control of the content. My passion has always been creating escapist entertainment and games are such a great medium to do that it’s been a dream come true.
Looking at the story of the game in a broad view it doesn't seem to be that much different than many shooters since the days of Doom; an alien entity(ies) are threatening the globe and the main character must fight back to save humanity. Hey were not complaining, being a world saving hero is cool, but how does Legendary take this kind of story and make it its own?
Its not often the player plays as the person who dooms humanity in the first place that’s one difference. But I think that when you are working in a Genre then there are certain story conceits. We wanted a world the player could escape into a word re-populated with world changing creatures so we explored what a normal person caught up in this kind of change could be pushed and pulled into.
You play a thief in the game, does this impact the gameplay at all or is the game a straight shooter? What kind of powers do you get from the box?
Because the Signet is bonded to Deckard you have a connection to the Box, the energies of the box and the creatures held in it for thousands of years. This connection allows you to absorb the life-force of the creatures and use it primarily as health so, as you kill creatures, you can replenish your health and the signet. But you fight human enemies too and they don’t give you health. They can give you weapons and ammo which obviously the creatures don’t. This creates a value judgment for the player. What do I need, ammo or health? It can impact which side of the combat triangle you want to support. Low on ammo, then focus on the soldiers so you can get their drops before the creatures zero in on you. Low on health, then focus on the creatures so you can take some damage when everyone is after you. But you also have offensive ability like the animus pulse. You can use the animus to knock back creatures or objects to buy you a moment for a reload or to get you some needed space. Its costs the player though because that animus can no longer heal you.
What tweaks to the Pandora mythology? Outside of the beasties in the game what will be battling in the game?
We definitely took liberty where we felt it was appropriate but it fits in with the world we have created. We didn’t want to be tied in to known and expected elements of the creatures so we always pursued our own views of the creatures. An example is the Nari, one could look at it and see a Harpy or a Faerie or a Will of Wisp but we didn’t want to be tied into the standard Harpy or Faerie myth - we wanted something with a little more bite. We also did tons of research on the creatures and their surrounding mythologies. We wanted all of our creatures to be tied to real myths but have great gameplay characteristics as well.
Mythical beasts are cool and all but game play footage shows the player fighting human and beast alike. Please tell us that these mythic creatures will not be like the dinosaurs from the last Turok game, only there to serve as a distraction and a few boss fights.
Oh no Legendary is all about fighting the creatures. All of our focus has been on bringing them to life in challenging and fun ways and we will live or die based on the fun of fighting the creatures. You will need to deal with the Black Order, they are tracking Deckard and trying to kill him as well, but they are more standard enemy soldiers. It’s all about the creatures.
Can you talk about the weapons in the game? Will they strictly be modern weapons or will there things tucked away inside Pandora's Box? Are certain weapons more effective against certain types of enemies or not?
With the main theme being the conflict of mythical creature’s vs the modern world most of our weapons are meant to support that theme. We stick with the essence of modern weaponry like the combat shotgun or the assault rifle. Our SMG is a rapid fire spray weapon. 9mm and the Desert Eagle are for true killing power. Then we step out later in the game to some Black Order weapons designed with the creatures in mind - like the flamethrower
We then match these weapons against creatures so you have to think about what you are using because what works well against an Alpha Wolf isn’t as advantageous against a Black Order soldier at range. You want players to constantly make value judgments about what they have in their inventory at the time and what its best suited for because it deepens the player choice when you are in the combat triangle. What weapons do you have and who do you want to fight last. Your weapons and your health/Animus pool will help inform the player about the best choice but certainly not the only choice.From the trailers we've seen a fairly cool bestiary, what was the inspiration for the creatures in the game? Do you have a personal favorite?
The creatures came from a lot of research of books on mythology and movies using creatures. As well as movies we liked that also used the theme. We culled it down to the creatures that tied into our themes and would be good enemies for a FPS game. My favorite is the Werewolf for the depth of its behavior and the challenge it presents to the player.
What lessons did you learn from Turning Point that you are applying to Legendary? How much technology are you leveraging from Turning Point?
I was focused completely on Legendary and both games were developed by different teams for different publishers so the sharing of tech wasn’t allowed. We watched their experience making the game; but we were making different games so the lessons the TP team experienced didn’t help us too much. I really can comment more than that.
The FPS market has evolved over the years, in your opinion, what are the biggest advancements to the genre in recent years? What new things are you bringing to the table in Legendary?
I do see things being made cleaner and with more production values. Some good advancement I like are in the weapon adaptability a game like Resistance did really well or the 2nd weapon set that Bioshock did so well with their plasmids. These are necessarily new features but there were done really wall. The most creatively mined player mechanic has got to be the exploration of the cover point mechanic and tying most of the action into controls aimed at polishing and unlocking more fun from fixed point firing. AIs haven’t advanced much and that is so much of the game for an FPS. That is where we shine in the work we did with the Creatures. They are unique challenges and force the player out of their comfort zone and make them play an fps different from what they are used to, We are very proud of our gameplay and hope people will experience the fun we see in the game.
What can we expect from the multiplayer side of the game? What different kind of modes are going into the game?
We made a unique mode called Safari. We went all in on bringing the Werewolf to multiplayer and making the creatures the central Factor of the game. You won’t win a Legendary Multiplayer match just by killing the other team. You need to do more than that. Since the game is about this idea of three-way combat and fighting creatures we wanted that to be consistent with the multiplayer experience as well so in addition to the traditional two team combat the werewolves will be “alive” in the multiplayer experience. This turned out to be quite a challenging thing to do but it stays true to the core idea of encountering creatures in our world and we wanted something that was more unique than just another Deathmatch mode.
Can you talk about the AI in the game and what kind of things we can expect to see in the game?
In general, a melee creature is going to be at a disadvantage when dealing with a player that can fire from any position. The creature needs to move to hurt me but I can shoot from anywhere while attacking it.
We challenge the player by moving our creatures in unconventional but realistic ways. The werewolf, lightning fast, is strong enough to walk on walls and ceilings and make large jumps while pathing to attack the player. When you tie in a desire to avoid lines of fire you make a challenging target.
But we also make sure the creatures know all the objects in the world and use them in believable ways. That Werewolf may decide, instead of running up to attack you face to face to throw a TV at you. The Minotaur will break through the walls you are using to hide from it to attack you.
By using the world in ways traditionally reserved for the player, you give the creatures a weight and a presence and a believability that most AIs lack.
Also, by having these creatures attack the player you break the repetition of the coverpoint to coverpoint forward progress mechanic that is the staple of FPS games. You have to move in space in Legendary because the creatures are going to track you down and hiding at cover wont work against them. It makes the game more of a motion game but you still need to worry about the black order that is trying to kill you as well.
We'd like to thank John for taking the time to answer our questions as well as Stephanie for helping to setup the interview