Far Cry 3 interview – talking tigers, trouble in paradise and sandbox shooting

As you can read in our Far Cry 3 PS3 review, Ubisoft’s tropical sandbox shooter is one of the best open-world games of the generation. We recently sat down with lead game designer Jamie Keen and producer Dan Hay who reveal the work that goes into making a AAA shark-punching, tiger wrasslin’, slightly psychotic FPS masterpiece.

First up, lead game designer Jamie Keen talks us through the holiday from hell, putting RPG elements in shooters and punching sharks.

Far Cry 3 PS3 interview

OPM: It’s so bright and beautiful on the island, were you going for the ultimate holiday from hell?

JK: Part of the contrast that we want is that this is an extremely bright and extremely beautiful game world but that at any moment can jump and up and eat your throat out. We wanted this kind of juxtaposition between the two. We want you, when you are wandering around the world, to just get lost out there and go off and explore, have a look around it and just satisfy your curiosity but know that at any moment, things can just switch and you are suddenly on the receiving end of tigers or an enemy patrol or something like that.

OPM: Do you want to keep players on their toes?

JK: That’s exactly what we want people to be doing, both in the narrative thread itself and when they are just moving around in the world. That they are feeling like there is always something that pulls them off and entices them to go off into the world. Whether it’s like a battle going on, or a little temple tucked away in the forest, there is always something that is always pulling them off. Because that’s the bit where we know we have players, when they are following their nose and finding new things and it’s quite often that you are seeing people that are going off to do another mission or off to do another outpost or something like that and suddenly it’s an hour later and they go ‘oh, what was I doing again? That’s exactly what we want.

OPM: The island is enormous but still so full of detail, what challenges does that pose?

JK: We put more into the topography and into the terrain itself. We are very careful about where we put high points so you can see through the jungle. We make sure we plan out the kind of high moments in things like radio towers or outposts and that in between those that the routes feel natural and there are things along those routes that keep your interested. Just making sure that the beats of all those different sizes of experience kind of mesh up together.

OPM: So we can either fast travel or take vehicles. In Far Cry 2, the vehicles weren’t terribly reliable. How are they this time around?

JK: What we wanted to do with this one is we wanted to make driving a fun experience. We wanted it to feel like you can pull a handbrake turn round a corner and when you do it it is great and fun to do. You can just launch your vehicle at 70mph off a cliff – it might not do very well – but you can do that stuff. We want travel not to become a chore. If you want to just travel across costal roads for hours on end, by all means knock yourself out but if you want to get around the world quickly, then we have fast travel points that let you move quickly around the world.  You never feel like anything is too far way but it’s there and its the choice that you are making, This idea of player choice is very important to us, that you are the one that’s deciding the pace and what you engage with.

OPM: The choice available is incredibly liberating and the tattoo is an interesting part of that. How does it work?

JK: Narratively speaking, the tattoo is about Jason becoming one with the Rakyat and following the path of the warrior and getting closer and closer to Citra and the rebels in the world. In terms of gameplay, what that means is, that there are three threads of gameplay options that you have and you can decide whether you spread out the kind of choices that you make and your skills are spread out across the board or whether you specialise in one.

Every time you get a new skill you’re going to get a corresponding tattoo appear on your arm. And it’s going to depend on the route that you have taken through the world. If you pick more stealth kills then you are going to fill up the stealth part of the tattoo. If you pick up the assault skills then that will fill the assault section so it’s really going to grow kind of organically depending on how you choose to progress through the world.