Bodycount Interview With Max Cant

By Darryl Kaye on August 21, 2011, 10:36AM EDT

Not only did we recently have the chance to check out the single-player and co-operative elements of Bodycount, we also got the chance to speak to the game's Art Direcor, Max Cant.

We discussed numerous topics, such as how much Black influenced the development of Bodycount and why exactly they decided to implement the cover system that's seen in the game. Epic said that Bulletstorm failed to turn a profit and it had a massive amount of hype. Does that concern you?

Max Cant: No, not really. I think that we're selling a different game from Bulletstorm. You can say that we've been put into a sort of collection with Bulletstorm and Brink, as games that were doing something different to standard first-person shooters, but I think what we're doing in terms of the actual second-to-second experience, it's really accessible to a lot of people. We're not so divergent from reality in terms of theming and stuff. So when you play the game you get a real experience. It's very gun-centric, so it's catered for a wide range of first-person shooter fans, but it also covers people who don't want to do the "on the rails grey thing". So no, I'm not very worried. How much did Black influence the development of Bodycount?

Max Cant: Well I worked on Black and we've got a number of people on the team who also worked on Black. We've got a lot of people on the team who also worked on things like Conflict, so there's a lot of heritage for first-person shooters. But yea, we definitely wanted to deliver the successor to Black in terms of stylistic experience. Being able to be in a high fidelity world, but one generation on. Because of that, we really wanted to dial it up and take it in a different direction - we didn't want to make Black 2. Because Black 2 would just have been another toned down grey shooter?

Max Cant: Well, when Black game out, it was new, but that was five years ago. So what are we going to do? Just do the same thing everyone else is copying? So no, it was important for us to look at and see the difference. We worked really heavily to make the opposite of what I perceived other people are doing. Everyone is just trying to take reality, to copy films and stuff. It's easier to handle how a game looks if you're prepared to de-saturate the whole thing and then re-grade it with colour. It's popular in film as well at the moment. You go and watch a film and everything you're looking at is grey/blue, then it goes grey/green and finally goes to yellow/grey. I didn't want to do that, I wanted to do something that looked like concept art. That looked like an artist crafted thing, that looked like it was made by people who really wanted to relish every little asset, every little prop. It's a good differentiator and it puts us in a little bit of blue sky from what you'd expect from people who run around shooting guns. Is that why you also decided to change how the cover system works?

Max Cant: Well, we had a desire to have a cover system that was different - it's not like sticky cover or something. It gives you a realistic, fluid system when you're playing the game. But it also gives you a good feeling of immersion into the environment. I mean, if you want to lean around in real life, you don't lean round by completely moving vertically around a wall, you physically lean. So we wanted to do something to mimic that natural motion that didn't get in the way of things too much. The reason for anchoring on a full left-trigger pull is to show that if you want to increase your accuracy, you need to increase your stability too. Because you anchor your feet, that's what allows us to get that lean mechanic on the left stick. So aiming has become even more about risk vs reward?

Max Cant: Yea, it's not just a traversal thing or an aiming thing, it's a tactical decision. Did you take a look at Killzone at all when coming up with our concept?

Max Cant: No. It never came up in any conversation to be honest. I mean, I liked the game, I thought it was cool. I really enjoyed playing it and I bought a machine to play it on. I mean, it's a brilliant franchise, but we didn't actually look at a lot of games. We had a very clear set of ideas that we wanted to implement: destroying cover, the leaning and the idea of traversing freely through building and structures. All that was part and parcel of ideas we thrashed out initially. And that to some extent, that dictates how the game plays in itself - you get a lot of mileage with that. So we designed around the strengths of that, meaning we didn't have to look at a lot of other things. Do you think that's something that's really bad about the industry at the moment? People are being so cautious about taking risks.

Max Cant: Well yea, I mean games are expensive to make nowadays. It's a scary thing to sign-off that kind of cost at the start of something and it can go two ways. You can go for the strength in numbers approach by going for the large market and hope to be safe, but I think that to stand-out as a new game, you have to do something different. There's no point in trying to do things exactly the same way, but, that's not to say we did things differently for the sake of it. We thought we could do a lot of specific core traversal and shooting things better. You also mentioned that you had those ideas at the start too, they weren't kneejerk reactions.

Max Cant: Exactly. I mean, there's a lot of heritage behind the thought processes of how you move through the world, how you destroy stuff. And a big thing for us was that we wanted to destroy things in an up-close and personal way. So that's why we've gone to a lot of trouble to make sure our props destroy with a much greater level of fidelity. The props and the assets in the game, they have sort of a life-span, a story. You may shoot something in other games where it bangs and disappears, whereas a lot of our props contain a lot of parts. I mean, a 1 metre squared box has over 60 pieces to it and 3 state swaps. If you shoot out an ammo crate, you're going to shoot out three additional tins each one of which has its own unique explosion. In another game, you might be able to hide behind a couch, but a couch isn't going to stop an AK47. So we tear the couch apart. Other games may have melons, but we have melons and yams and a couple of other things in there too. So we try and push things that you expect to be important, further. It's all based on the guns and the shooter experience.

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