Interview with David Fracchia, Vice President of Radical Entertainment
We ask if helicopter-smashing gets any better. And other things as well.
Was it a hard decision to take the player away from playing Alex Mercer and making them play a brand new character? Or was it the obvious step?
Well we initially started by continuing Alex’s story and seeing where we could take it but we realised we had this character with god like powers. You see we always maintained an idea. This was that we were to create something that was reality plus one fantastical element – with the virus being the fantastical element – and also we realised that the story of prototype was about the virus and how it infects someone.
It’s the story of virus, and it just so happens that we told the story of the virus through Alex Mercer and we realised that by going farther and trying to give him even greater powers and giving him enemies that would succumb to those powers we started getting into a lot of fantasy and we started removing ourselves from our core idea and so we looked at different scenarios, like taking away his powers and starting again, but we just didn’t think that paid tribute to Alex’s character and the memory of his character – because we thought he was such a cool character – and so some of the stories about where he was going to go we’ve kind of kept in our minds, but then just started playing around with other characters.
You know we wanted some strong strong emotional motivations, and of course having a character who’s whole family has been destroyed by the virus and then wants to go after the virus is pretty cool. The thought of going after that ultimate character that we had built – and we knew how strong that character was, mean almost invincible really – and so that became an idea, and then we thought – What if Mercer creates the next prototype and then they battle? Thinking of how the two stories collide from Heller’s perspective just got so exciting and we realised that we could build in some cool changes and climaxes. It just became something that we couldn’t walk away from at that point.
Have you specifically taken longer to put out the sequel to make sure that Prototype 2 is not only a substantially better game, but also able to differentiate itself from other open world games such as Infamous, or was there other factors that played into how long it took for this game to come out?
Do the two characters start to differentiate from each other in terms of powers in the end?
We haven’t divulged that because it’s something that you will have to see for yourself really. You’ll see soon enough. (laughs)
What features have you focused on improving between the first game and the sequel?
So there are several categories. There are obviously a lot of improvements but the major ones; for starters one of the major improvements has been the story. The first story was pretty complicated and it had a lot of holes in it, and you never really felt emotionally connected to the character.
Also, there is the graphics side. We really sacrificed quality for quantity because when you’ve got powers like that you can’t just have 5 or 6 enemies on your screen. You want to load it up, and it makes it pretty cool that way. We were writing the titanium engine at that time so we didn’t push it that far, I think. When we went to try and push it further in quality for Prototype 2 we kind of hit a brick wall with the way we structured the engine. So we rewrote that part of it. That, along with the artists modifying the pipeline and improving their art work; together we’ve created a world that is much more improved. I mean for an open world game it’s pretty damn good.
Yeah I’ve seen some of the environments, especially the red zone, and it just seems as though all hell is breaking loose because the virus is just making everything worse and worse. Which I guess is what you wanted to show right?
Oh yeah. You’ll even see that in the yellow zone. Following people around you’ll see there is debris falling down. The detail – the atmospherics – everything makes it seem as though you really are in a desperate quarantined zone. When you’re in the red zone it does just feel like hell, and the funny thing is we’re still optimising the game, and even now it is running at a pretty good rate and running smoothly which is fantastic because we tried really hard to work on that.
How would you say Prototype 2 improves on its open world accessibility?
Really part of it is keeping the open world interesting and alive. So you know in the first game it was great being able to get those fun challenges but you know it was in an open world that was a bit deader. The environments were a little bit dead in Prototype 1 but now it’s like you are actively disrupting operations and you feel as though you are actually being more proactive in the world. And then of course there is the open world itself. I mean you can walk around and look at people or attack them and they react in ways which are interesting. I watched one tester just sit there throwing one infected into the water after another and it’s just enjoyable to watch.
It definitely feels at this point as though you allow the player to have as much say over the game as possible, like how you kill people etc.
There is no morality in the game it is up to the player to kill. Well we influence them by giving them the different powers to mess around with but they always have the option to leave the people alone.
Just a quick last question – what’s the main feature that you think fans will enjoy in the new game?
Well my favourite feature is the hunting, mainly because you feel like a Predator. Also, I think people are going to love the tendrils as well because they are so visceral. But it really depends on your style of play.