Infamous Second Son’s Nate Fox interview – PS4, Troy Baker, Seattle & more
OPM recently had the chance to talk to Sucker Punches Nate Fox, the creative director for inFamous Second Son. In this interview Fox talks about the potential of PS4, working with Troy Baker, creating a realistic city and plenty more. There’s a load of new inFamous Second Son screens here as well.
OPM What new design opportunities are opened up by the PS4 hardware?
Nate Fox The hardware lets us build these really big worlds. You can climb a tall building and look out at this huge vista, knowing you can go anywhere, but the meat of the game is what you’re doing moment to moment, what’s right in front of you. These things haven’t changed on PS4. They just look so much better. And there are more things running concurrently than ever before. The urban ecosystem, all these characters interacting with each other, all the things you may or may not see that are happening all around you is something new to Second Son that we’ve never tried in the first two InFamous games.
OPM Rockstar gives its cities a pulse, like people actually live there. What have you done to bring this feeling to the InFamous series.
NF We have a term inside the studio called ‘the reality bubble’. You don’t want to have the game feel like when Delsin leaves the block, everything goes away. So we actually have things going on when Delsin leaves the block. We have a lot of pedestrians interacting with each other in ways that fill out their attitudes about what’s going on in the city.
So in our game, Seattle is on lockdown by the Department of Unified Protection while they search for anyone with powers. They call them bioterrorists. People who like folks with powers call them conduits. So the normal city population is either for it or ardently against it. You will see people either making protests against bioterrorists or in the wake of the city being liberated, some crime will pop up. So you might see drug dealers dealing to pedestrians, which has nothing to do with you other than the fact that it’s you causing the chaos. But it’s going on all around you. Making things feel less comic-booky. Moving away from fictional Empire City to Seattle and tapping into prevailing concerns about the growing sense of living in a surveillance state.
Seattle is as much as star of inFamous Second Son as Delsin.
We’re absolutely trying to make a realistic game that talks about the world in which we live right now, twisted 20 degrees in that we inject the fantasy element of people with superhuman abilities. We need to make the game as relatable as possible so that you can believe in these people with powers, and then we just open the doors when it comes to powers and things get totally weird and totally freaky and awesome. You get to fight people with powers. They’re the great toy you get to play with and provide a lot of identity for the game, that’s something not every game does, so we really revel in them. The player will revel in the powers as well.
More inFamous Second Son
OPM Comics have explored so many archetypal superpowers over the years. How do you tweak those formulas to keep them fresh in the game you’re making?
NF We try and go after powers that aren’t done to death and are also part of the urban landscape itself. So that’s why with Delsin he has this ability to absorb the powers of other conduits into himself. The two we’ve shown are smoke and neon. People are like, why did you do neon? And the truth is that it’s because nobody’s done neon. We have the freedom to show you things you’ve never seen before. And let you do things you’ve never seen on a comic book page or a movie. And that’s exciting as a game creator and as a player. There are powers we haven’t shown yet and we look forward to delighting people with the novelty of them.
“Why do neon? Because nobody’s done neon. We have the freedom to show you things you’ve never seen before. And let you do things you’ve never seen on a comic book page or a movie”
OPM As a game designer, you must start to naturally see the world around you as a potential game space. How has living and working in Seattle informed the version of the city that you’re recreating in Second Son?
NF We absolutely wanted to make the most realistic city we could, again to create that foundation of believability for when we added the supernatural powers. Since we lived here, we knew we could do a better job. We could a fantastic job with every detail, not just in terms of what a building might look like, but what do trashcans look like, what’s the sound like down at the Market. All of these things we could bring home.
As you might know from visiting here, it’s a pretty dramatic landscape. There are big mountains and clouds that come in and streak the sky, dynamic splashing rain that comes out of nowhere. It’s a place that’s constantly changing, which makes it feel like a good landscape for a superhero.
OPM How sprawling is this in-game Seattle and how closely does it resemble the real place?
NF We prioritised making the game as fun as possible so we don’t model buildings just because that’s what they look like in reality. We take reality and then change it to make a really fun game. All landmarks, all aspects of architecture go through the lens of game design to make them function perfectly against Delsin’s powers.