Infamous Second Son’s Nate Fox interview – PS4, Troy Baker, Seattle & more
OPM How much of a departure is Delsin from Cole?
NF Delsin is an all new character, part of an all-new story and the player gets in at ground zero. Second Son is Delsin’s origin story and because our game lets you choose if you want to be good or evil, you get to decide how he grows as a person and how the people around him are changed by his choices. In trying to make a character who can become a hero or an antihero, you have to start at kind of a neutral place and let the player’s choices dictate where Delsin goes.
At the top of the game, Delsin is a frustrated artist who really wants to have an impact, wants his voice to be heard but does not have the ear of anybody. And when he gets powers, he becomes suddenly very high profile. People are horrified by him. He’s a bioterrorist, he’s out in the city where everybody wants to put him in a cage. But that means that his every action is noticed by people in the city, and even the world. So he finds that he has this voice. Really it’s not Delsin’s voice, it’s the player’s voice since he or she gets to dictate how all this stuff plays out.
OPM How does that actually work?
NF The player gets to determine how the story changes and how Delsin’s powers grow by making choices along the way. I think the thing that is more important. The player gets to make small choices – little things in the middle of combat. Somebody might try to surrender to you in the middle of a fight and put their arms up. You could violently execute them or take them down alive. That might seem like a small thing but to me that’s a big deal because people always think about the overarching macro but they rarely think about the second-to-second experience of what it’s like to be Batman. Do you know how hard it is to take down everyone alive? And when you do it, you feel like a superhero. Because you actually did the work. Choosing to be a good guy or a bad guy, that’s the simple choice. The harder thing to do is, are you capable of walking the walk. And that’s where the game comes alive in terms of karma in my mind.
Feth plays another conduit and the source of Delsin’s neon powers in inFamous Second Son.
OPM How are you conveying the story, transitioning from motion comics to cutscenes?
NF We go to cutscenes when we want to show you something that can’t be expressed through the controller. For instance, when you hold the DualShock 4, you have buttons that can shoot smoke blasts or jump up the side of a building. You can do these very big, bombastic things, but if you want to have Delsin our hero make fun of his older brother Reggie’s haircut, you might want to go to a cutscene for that because you want to get the nuance of it. The thing that’s great about going to a cutscene is that you get all the richness of what the actors have brought to the table because we’re doing facial motion capture. You see all these tiny micro-expressions and it fills out the depth of all the characters. When you go back into gameplay, you see how multi-faceted they are and you buy into the peril that they’re in, and that they love each other, which they do.
OPM This is the first time game where we actually see Troy Baker’s likeness. Does the facial capture let you make more of his skills as an actor, getting his expressions from each take into the game?
NF Working with Troy was very pleasant because I’m a very lazy guy and Troy likes to improvise, and he’s good at it. And that gets even better when he’s acting opposite Travis Willingham. Travis was actually the first person that we cast in the game, and we cast Troy because in real life these two are best friends. Travis was the best man at Troy’s wedding. The thing that’s great is that these guys have a relationship that goes back years. They trust each other, they love each other, they flip each other’s shit like nobody’s business and that comes off really well inside the game. You completely buy the relationship between these two characters because it’s so true to who they are.
“We had a script for that scene. [Troy and Travis] started on the script but they went right off it as they’re yelling over each other”
OPM Can you ground this in an actual example?
NF In our previous trailer we showed Reggie yelling at Delsin, ‘Is this how you want to leave your mark on the world?’ And Delsin’s getting really defensive. We had a script for that scene. [Troy and Travis] started on the script but they went right off it as they’re yelling over each other as each is trying to get the other guy to see their own vantage point, jabbing at each other, playing off each other’s turns of phrase. That’s the guys understanding where the scene starts and where it needs to end and feeling free to poke at each other, even to manhandle each other. That is an actual representation of how their relationship shows up in the game. It was an absolute pleasure to be on the mo-cap set. You were constantly surprised at what these guys were going to bring to the table. It was a buffet, man. So much good stuff to choose from.
Often videogame characters are mannequins that the player wants to inhabit emotionally and these guys make the characters so very real and you just believe in the fantasy of the world because you can absolutely hang your hat on the fantasy of their relationship being true.
OPM Existing gameplay footage had no HUD. Are you using the existing template of previous games or are you steering it in a new direction?
NF We’re not really talking about any aspects of the HUD right now. I can tell you that it’s not wildly divergent, but it’s still evolving to some small degree and we only want to show it when it’s perfect. Because frankly it’s a huge part of the game. It’s on the screen all the time and you want to make it just right.
OPM What’s kept InFamous from sharing the fate of the Prototype series?
NF I think InFamous has kept with gamers because you have the choice to be good or evil. You get to dictate the path of the character. You have more of a sense of ownership over the experience. We all watch these summer blockbusters, these superhero films and you want to live that movie. And Infamous lets you do that more than some other games.