Q & A

Haze­light founder Josef Fares feels his stu­dio’s ap­proach can be a pos­i­tive force for gam­ing – and he risks his en­tire body for his art

XBox: The Official Magazine - - A WAY OUT -

You said that with Leo and Vin­cent, you’re play­ing as char­ac­ters with per­son­al­ity, rather than just an avatar with stats… Ex­actly. They’re very dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters. As you saw in the trail­ers, Leo is more brash, cocky, short-tem­pered, while Vin­cent is more the calm and cool guy who’s more re­laxed. In the be­gin­ning of the game you’ll get a very small idea of who they are – just a lit­tle bit. That’s pretty much when you choose, so you’re not choos­ing like, he can shoot fire and he can shoot ice. You choose what kind of per­son fits you best, you know? I would hope that peo­ple try to talk to the NPCs... we put them in as op­tional only, so if you wanted to see how your char­ac­ter re­acts to stuff you could but you can skip them all if you want. They’re scat­tered all over the world, and they’re unique ev­ery­where and [have a] unique re­ac­tion for each char­ac­ter. We’ve seen some peo­ple just go by them and some stop and talk to them. How much has your vi­sion of the game changed as you’ve been mak­ing it? It’s ac­tu­ally quite close, I’ve put up some pic­tures on my Twit­ter, and it’s ac­tu­ally very close I would say. Of course you change stuff along the way, be­cause you it­er­ate, you go back, you do this and that… There’s a lot of stuff I want to put in, but it’s not pos­si­ble. For in­stance, I’ve taken in a lot of fun minigame stuff in the game like base­ball, bas­ket­ball, link four in a row – we have ar­cade games. It’s in the ’70s! It’s the small stuff that takes a lot of time to do, [and] some­times my team laugh at me like I am nuts, but at the end of the day, you want to make a great ex­pe­ri­ence. If you look at my orig­i­nal draw­ings [com­pared to] the fi­nal game, some things are ex­actly ac­cu­rate. You’ve al­ready said you’re very con­fi­dent about the chances of the game. Are you wor­ried at all? Not at all. Not at all, re­ally not. You’ve seen this. I mean, re­ally, to be hon­est with me, you’re a gamer. Do you be­lieve this is a bad game? No. Ex­actly, that’s what I’m say­ing. Even if ev­ery­body in my en­vi­ron­ment says it’s the worst game ever, that doesn’t con­vince me. That’s how sure I am. Some peo­ple say delu­sion. I can’t help it. I also think this is go­ing to a philo­soph­i­cal as­pect of it, but I re­ally don’t see the rea­son why peo­ple are so scared of do­ing stuff. I think we’re miss­ing a lot of great stuff be­cause of this thing that’s f**king with our mind. From a kind of game­play per­spec­tive, you’ve ob­vi­ously got couch co-op in the game, but was it a big chal­lenge get­ting the game on­line in split-screen? It’s so hard, be­cause first of all it’s the first time we’ve worked to­gether with this new Un­real En­gine 4 be­cause after Broth­ers I had a break, and then we had to restart. We have the split-screen even on­line be­cause it’s part of the story, and nor­mally you don’t have that – you have the full screen on­line, and you can get away with some lag­gi­ness and stuff be­cause you don’t see the other [player]. But now you see the other player all

the time, which makes this much harder.

We have fig­ured that out at last, and we’ve been work­ing our asses off. Also, be­cause of the di­ver­sity of the game­play, ev­ery sin­gle [thing] that goes on in the game needs unique code. Has your per­sonal ap­proach changed since Broth­ers? Not re­ally. This has been me from the first day of Broth­ers. I had to learn a lot of stuff, be­cause I didn’t know any­thing about games. It was very hard, be­cause there was new me­chan­ics and stuff, so it was a dif­fer­ent ap­proach, we had to fig­ure out the game. I like this kind of chal­lenge – this is what you want. Of course you’re get­ting this prob­a­bly from other games, but we want to push it, push it, push it, push it. Don’t be afraid to take those risks. Risks are im­por­tant to take, other­wise noth­ing new will come up. Do you think your in­die ap­proach can be em­u­lated in triple-A? I hope other de­vel­op­ers are in­spired from this. Some­times peo­ple are, some are so afraid, like, ‘Oh, the play­ers [won’t get it], no.’ Don’t you like it when some­one is like, ‘Hey, man, play this. What do you think?’ It’s about re­spect, but it’s not about ask­ing ‘What do you want? Okay, here, go.’ That doesn’t make sense. We see in Hol­ly­wood, ev­ery movie out there with a big bud­get is just num­bers on a board. Trust me, that’s how they view it, they start writ­ing, ‘Okay, we should have this, this, this,’ and that’s why they each look the same. I’m not say­ing it’s bad, I’m not say­ing that we should take that away, I’m not say­ing ev­ery­body should do it. I just think that more peo­ple could be more risky in what they’re do­ing with this big bud­get stuff. “Even if ev­ery­body in my en­vi­ron­ment says it’s the worst game ever, that doesn’t con­vince me. That’s how sure I am” In do­ing so, you might bring more peo­ple to gam­ing. Yes, that’s it. Some­times it can’t only be about the money. It has to be that we’re work­ing with some­thing cre­ative here. We can’t just say, ‘Money is ev­ery­thing,’ no. Again, the other way around is not good ei­ther. You can’t just take risks. There are plenty of big com­pa­nies out there with share­hold­ers and blah, blah, blah, and so on. I think with the right ap­proach, we def­i­nitely can make a change. And with this ap­proach, are you hav­ing fun mak­ing the game? Yeah. It’s fun, it’s like, we also did some­thing called mo­tion match­ing. What it is, to give you a small tech­ni­cal ex­pla­na­tion, some games do this if you do an in­ter­ac­tion. What you want, you nor­mally have the an­i­ma­tion start­ing with the char­ac­ter pick­ing it up, right? What you do is in some games, they do a cut. When you do a cut, as a player, you don’t no­tice it, you just see the cut and you take it. What hap­pens is that they pop the player to the cor­rect po­si­tion. We can’t make the cut be­cause the other player can see all the time. We need to use mo­tion match­ing, which pretty much means ev­ery time you push the but­ton, the sys­tem knows that the ob­ject is there, so it has to adapt and then the an­i­ma­tion starts. This mo­tion match­ing stuff, we have to do it for all walk, all crawl, all run, all run fast, all jog slow, all the crawl­ing, ev­ery­thing.

What you have to do is you stand and crouch a bit, then you have to record ev­ery an­gle for ev­ery side [for the an­i­ma­tion]. I did this from the morn­ing to the night, and when the day was fin­ished, my toe­nail fell off. It was so painful. That’s true. My toe­nail fell off. This is not nor­mal when you walk in a crouch. When the user’s con­trol­ling a char­ac­ter, [crouch-walk­ing]... I see the tears in my eyes. My toe­nail, to­tally gone, good­bye. That must be a part of why the team has such faith in you. Yeah! I don’t care: take my foot, my hand, my head... Not my head.

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