“What we have now is essentially the best of the best” – Infamous: Second Son: Nate Fox interview
inFamous: Second Son is out tomorrow, so we tracked down designer Nate Fox to have a chat about the new PS4-exclusive open-world superhero extravaganza.
Q: You talked about how the DualShock 4 has been an integral part of the design process. How has the DualShock 4 affected your approach to the game’s design?
A: We were working on inFamous: Second Son while Sony was working on the DualShock 4. Sony did a great job with communication for this generation. It asked developers like us what we wanted for this generation and how we wanted the new game pad to function. It took this feedback on board and tried out different things. We saw a lot of different prototypes that came out of the development process and they all felt distinctively different. What we have now is essentially the best of the best. A touchpad allows us to implement new and intuitive gameplay concepts, and frankly, one of the best things about the new controller is the sticks and triggers are so much better.
Q: When the DualShock 3 came out the Sixaxis functionality was only partially embraced by both gamers and the development community. With this in mind, have you made the touchpad integration essential or optional?
A: In Second Son the touchpad will be optional. We use it at certain points in the game rather than all the time. You’ll use it at points in the game where the pace is a little slower and you can concentrate on things in finer detail. A lot of Delsin’s moves are so big and explosive that they don’t really lend themselves to that kind of surgical precision. The touchpad moments aren’t everywhere but when they do show up it’s just to focus your attention a little bit more.
Q: How does Second Son showcase the new hardware in terms of open worlds and sandbox environments, and especially in ways that couldn’t be achieved in the previous generation?
A: We put a lot of energy into making Delsin’s superpowers look spectacular. We put a lot of attention into the lighting and particle effects so that when you blast out a lot of energy the world reacts dynamically around you. The PlayStation 4 enables us to make much more detailed environments than we’ve had in the past and they’re much more interactive. You can transform your body into different elements. You can travel through pipes in silence. In this sense the world is much more permeable. It’s all about making the world believable so that when you get superpowers you believe that they could actually exist.
Q: What can you tell us about the changes that you’ve made to the AI system?
A: We rewrote the way that our AI works. We wanted to make sure that the combat evolves around you so that each confrontation offers something a little bit different. We hired a lot of guys who’d worked on first-person shooters because they really understand the world of dynamic combat. I come from art school so I don’t really work on any engine aspects, but I’m always impressed by the progressive thought process that the enemies show when trying to bring down Delsin. How do the AI guys do it? I don’t have a clue but I love the fact that it seems so natural.
Q: How does the good and evil paradigm work compared to the previous games in the series?
A: Good and evil karma is a cornerstone of the franchise and it’s absolutely back in Second Son. We view it as one of the pillars of the series. As your powers grow and evolve, the people in the world react to you differently and, ultimately, the story changes based on the decisions you make.