Questions for Radical Entertainment

February 28th, 2010

Ages ago, I was asked to write a series of questions for an interview with Radical Entertainment for Pixel Hunt (yeah, yeah, I know) which unfortunately never eventuated. This was part of a cover feature scrapped at the last minute because of unresponsive PR people, hence the awkward promise of an interview on the front cover.

Radical Entertainment are the developers behind Prototype, the open world PS3/360 adventure released last year. In case you need a reminder, here’s a trailer:

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I’m a huge fan of their sleeper hit Hulk: Ultimate Destruction and at the same time was very cynical towards the mindless violence and brutality which seemed to frontline Prototype. The opportunity fell into my lap and as you can imagine, I was pretty ecstatic. Talking directly to the developers, sharing commentaries and analysis is frankly a dream for me. So rather than settle for the standard template which’d allow the developers to act as pseudo PR folk, spruiking their wares (“Tell me about this patented mechanic..”, “How will this patented mechanic make your game better than similarly derrivative titles?”, “Will you be taking it to ‘the next level’“?), I wrote a list of questions which I felt would benefit the readers as much as possible.

You can find the questions below, for your perusal. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll get some answers.

On the Prototype universe/Trans-media Franchising

Video games and comic books have had a rather fruitful history together. Prototype‘s protagonist Alex Mercer and his story seems like something taken right out of a comic book. In fact much like Dead Space, Prototype has its own comic book series in production. What do you think of the merging of these two mediums, and how do you think Prototype will continue to expand this relationship?

On the comic book, the first issue is already available, does this make Prototype a video game adaption? How do you guys handle both of these properties?

With both the comic and video game, in a sense it seems like you’re creating a universe, rather than say a conventional game property. Do you think the Prototype universe will continue once the game is released?

Downloadable content is all the rage these days, are the team interested in exploring this option and do you think it’s likely Prototype will feature any?

On Radical Entertainment

Radical Entertainment has produced several successful open-world titles in recent years such as The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction and Scarface: The World is Yours, how does the team go about finding new ground to cover in the open-world genre?

As someone who thoroughly enjoyed Hulk:UD, I was pleasantly surprised to see how similar the two titles are, particularly in terms of ability sets. This is by no means a negative criticism, Hulk was fantastic, but how do you balance new and borrowed gameplay mechanics?

On the game itself

What I personally enjoyed about Hulk:UD was how the game empowered the player, you felt like you were this green wrecking ball of destruction. Prototype carries the same bad-ass mantra. How do you give the player such a strong sense of empowerment and how will Prototype elevate this feeling from Hulk?

Prototype is the first Radical Entertainment title made exclusively for the next-gen systems. What sort of features are we going to see in Prototype that couldn’t have been done on previous systems?

Interactivity and destruction is a trade mark quality of your titles, how much of Prototype‘s world will be destructible?

In the recent story trailer, executive producer Tim Bennison said that the “web of intrigue” narrative system, where players obtain past memories through taking the form of NPCs, plays well to the strengths of interactivity in games. Can you elaborate on this?

In the same trailer, I noticed that the game had this sudden injection of colour, particularly green and red. The original trailers had a very limited colour palette, mostly greys, was this change a conscious design choice or hadn’t we just seen those parts of the game yet?

Violence

Prototype is obviously a very violent, mature-themed title, as developers of adult games are you ever concerned about the implications of markets that haven’t yet adopted an R18+ classification, such as Australia?

On an online podcast, several reporters were airing their concerns about the way Prototype depicts violence and how the people showcasing the game were proud of the glorification of violence. Several of the reporters found it rather distasteful, how do you walk a fine line between cool/disgusting or tasteful/distasteful violence?

Etc.

Prototype has been compared to inFamous (PS3) by Sucker Punch. Coincidentally they’re two open-world, comic-book-inspired titles with parkour elements being released in extremely close proximity. The comparison obviously isn’t fair for either company, but what do you make of their efforts?

Do I make a good interviewer folks? >_<