Q&A

We speak to lead de­signer Steve Briscoe and se­nior de­signer Tom Rigby about merg­ing mon­sters and get­ting cre­ative with Strange Bri­gade

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - STRANGE BRIGADE -

So ob­vi­ously there are a lot of mum­mies in the game as a par­tic­u­lar en­emy type; what goes into mak­ing each one dis­tinct from the other?

Steve Briscoe: Crikey, you wouldn’t be­lieve us if we told you! [laughs]

Tom Rigby: I think we’re quite lucky in that we’ve got this kind of broad can­vas of things. We can just plun­der all th­ese dif­fer­ent kinds of mytholo­gies, and it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter if they make any sort of his­tor­i­cal sense, be­cause it’s based on highly his­tor­i­cally in­ac­cu­rate films that were just a silly bit of fun. We’ve got this ex­cuse where peo­ple say, “Well, that wouldn’t have been there”, or “That wouldn’t have done that…”—well, we don’t care be­cause it looks cool and it would’ve been there in a film and it would have looked amaz­ing and it would have been a re­ally fun thing to find. Steve: So long as it fits in within the mythos of the world that we’ve cre­ated.

Tom: But it’s the same with the en­e­mies. That’s where I was try­ing to get to—you say mum­mies, and ob­vi­ously mum­mies are a big part of it, that’s all part of the ini­tial in­spi­ra­tion for this, re­ally. But we’ve got tons of other places we can draw en­e­mies from—so once we’ve done a mummy, we’re not re­ally stuck with it. We don’t have to it­er­ate on that too much, we can just take some­thing else and make that.

Steve: The ban­daged mummy char­ac­ter is one of the pri­mary im­ages that kicked off the project, I sup­pose. But we’ve taken it much fur­ther than that, and while we have made ref­er­ence to his­tory for our art style and so on, we’re not slav­ishly ad­her­ing to it. It’s a much lighter game than some­thing like Sniper Elite where its his­tor­i­cal ac­cu­racy is a more sig­nif­i­cant part of its aes­thetic. And so we’ve had quite a lot of fun imag­in­ing what comes af­ter the ban­daged mummy, what other un­dead mys­ti­cal, mag­i­cal, Egyp­tian stuff might come af­ter.

Tom: With­out go­ing into too much de­tail, I think we have a nice ro­bust sys­tem for try­ing those kinds of things out in terms of at­tach­ing dif­fer­ent bits and pieces to other bits, like giv­ing them dif­fer­ent weapons. There’s a cer­tain en­emy—I won’t tell you what it is be­cause it’s not been re­vealed— but there’s a story with a par­tic­u­lar weapon and I thought, “We’ll give him a par­tic­u­lar type of at­tack, be­cause he’s just car­ry­ing this weapon around…” We’ve got this cool sys­tem of just plug­ging things on, and that lets us come up with a lot of nice vari­a­tion.

Steve: Yeah, like a lot of stuff we do, our tools and util­i­ties are set up to largely al­low

de­sign­ers to ex­per­i­ment with stuff and pro­to­type things quickly. Usu­ally it then has to get ti­died up by some­one more qual­i­fied, but broadly speak­ing we can test th­ese things out to see if they’re fun and if they’re worth it then they go on to the next stage of pol­ish. And that’s par­tic­u­larly help­ful with things like en­emy de­sign.

Do you have any fa­vorites?

Steve: Yeah, I’m a sucker for the big ban­daged mummy guy per­son­ally. I like him a lot.

Tom: He is good. I like the as­sas­sin, the one that dodges around loads, purely be­cause of what he’s wear­ing; he’s got this re­ally

in­cred­i­ble ar­mor on. I think they did a re­ally good job on that, ac­tu­ally.

Steve: Yeah, they’re quite sat­is­fy­ing to fight as well. There’s quite a spread as well, there’s the spread of the weak can­non­fod­der-y type things and then the guys that you’ve got to fo­cus on to take down…

Tom: I’m sure you saw the—you can’t miss him re­ally—Mino­taur in the demo?

Steve: He’s the Cham­pion of Apis. The Mino­taur was Greek.

Tom: He’s quite cool as well, be­cause I like the op­por­tu­nity to have th­ese big­ger char­ac­ters that are a bit more im­pos­ing. Steve: He picks guys up and throws them at you, which is kind of fun; that’s quite a good mo­ment.

Ob­vi­ously there’s that gi­ant Anu­bis-y statue to­wards the end; how big do they get, is that the big­gest they get?

Steve: Err… that’s… in the video, that’s about right isn’t it? That’s about the [big­gest] scale I think?

Tom: Yeah, I think so. That’s about right—it’s pretty big though! How big do you want? [laughs]

Steve: Yeah, I mean we can make him big­ger if you want! No prob­lem.

“we could prob­a­bly make se­quels for the next ten years, but we’re not do­ing that, and I think that’s good”

What are you most proud of?

Steve: Re­bel­lion Games cov­ers a pretty broad spec­trum of types of game—we’ve got our ma­jor totemic games like the Sniper se­ries which get a lot of value from their his­tor­i­cal in­tegrity and that kind of stuff. So to be work­ing on some­thing which is less bound by re­al­ity and we can just let our imag­i­na­tions go a lit­tle bit and we can come up with con­cepts for most of the weird things that we want to try—com­ing up with a game that jus­ti­fies us do­ing that, I think, is some­thing I’m quite proud of. To find some­thing within which all of our weird ideas will fit and it will still re­main in­te­grated into the style of the game is kind of cool, be­cause while work­ing on a his­tor­i­cally ac­cu­rate game, you’ve got an­swers to most of your ques­tions al­ready, you can sort of ref­er­ence the his­tory. You have to jus­tify ev­ery­thing when you’ve got that much cre­ative free­dom, so that’s been re­ally fun to ac­tu­ally come up with some­thing co­her­ent out of all that.

Tom: Yeah, we’re in­vent­ing a whole fic­tional group that shouldn’t have ex­isted, ba­si­cally [laughs]. Cer­tainly I’d like to draw at­ten­tion to the fact that it’s a brand new IP, and I’m proud of that. I think it’s a real risk for Re­bel­lion to take and if it pays off, bril­liant. If not—at least we tried. I think that’s what this com­pany’s good at, we’ve got just enough free­dom to try th­ese things and you don’t see that very of­ten. You don’t see peo­ple try­ing new IPs—it’s very safe th­ese days.

Steve: It is very tempt­ing. Re­bel­lion has its big suc­cesses, and of course it’s not obliv­i­ous to that, but to have a mar­gin for peo­ple to ex­per­i­ment with stuff—I mean, Bat­tle­zone was another ex­am­ple of that, a game which just… it didn’t come from nowhere in a busi­ness sense, but it was cer­tainly an enor­mous risk.

Tom: Re­bel­lion’s got enough things that if we wanted we could prob­a­bly make se­quels for the next ten years, but we’re not do­ing that, and I think that’s good.

Steve: The Kings­leys [Re­bel­lion’s founders] do re­ally, gen­uinely think about the kind of things they think gamers are go­ing to want to play, but at the same time they don’t do that by look­ing at what peo­ple are cur­rently play­ing. They re­fer back to them­selves and the kinds of things that they en­joy play­ing, as they are ac­tual gamers, and that’s re­ally free­ing. It’s re­ally nice to know that for ev­ery­body here, there’s the po­ten­tial to work on some­thing com­pletely new and to try and break a lit­tle bit of ground.

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