PS: Pawel Selinger - Lead Artist and Co-Designer of Call of Juarez
PK: Pawel Kopinski - PR Product Manager
June 4, 2007 - This week Call of Juarez is making the high noon call on the Xbox 360 and PC here in the states, and the West has never looked better. Recently, I had the opportunity to ask a few questions about the western epic being developed by Techland and published by Ubisoft. If you can't wait to taste the dust in your mouth read on and load your six shooter before the game hits.
CCC: Where did the basic idea of Call of Juarez come from?
PS: The idea of a Wild West shooter was born in the marketing department. During the brainstorm, we came up with ideas for an interesting character that would fit the convention. We found two of them the most interesting - a young, rebellious outlaw fleeing from a mad minister who considers himself to be the vengeful hand of God. I came up with the idea to connect them both, and so we created a story seen through the eyes of two characters, with different chapters dedicated to each of them, just like in a book.
CCC: How does the curse of the gold come into play?
PS: "Call of Juarez" functions in the game on two levels. Firstly, it's the legendary obsession with finding a treasure, which is the chief motivation of the main protagonist, which brings troubles onto the heroes. The motive of hidden gold appears in the beginning of the game and is recurring throughout it.
On a deeper level, the Call of Juarez is the curse of the past - unfinished business, escape from responsibilities. It symbolizes a flaw - a burden which the characters' fatal view of the world.
CCC: Were there any specific movies that played a role in the development and the design of the environments, characters, or story?
PS: We've seen lots of movies. Leone's "Man with No Name" Trilogy inspired us to design the Mexican bandits, including Juarez, and gave us materials for creating the Mexican landscape. If we look at corrupted sheriffs in Eastwood's "Pale Rider", we'll see that they're the protoplasts of Manson and his company. Nearly every character in the game is based on some Western character, we even used "Dr. Quinn" for inspiration ;-))))
However, our biggest inspiration was Clint Eastwood's "The Unforgiven" with its rotten town full of mischievous people, mirrored by our Hope. A dark story of evil born out of evil and a protagonist who is a bandit trying to escape his past. It might be a surprise, but Reverend Ray was influenced mostly not by Will Munny ("The Unforgiven"), but by characters from graphic novels by Garth Ennis - a zealous ex-cannibal from "Just a Pilgrim" and the Saint of Killers from "Preacher" - another example of an excellent story.
CCC: What, if any, differences in the Xbox 360 and PC releases can we expect?
PK: Of course there are differences between the versions. For the X360 version, we implemented new motion capture animation (most of the cutscenes have been re-recorded using 'motion capture'), and the appearance of the game has been changed dramatically. It is now even better looking and has even better atmosphere. All levels have once again been assessed step-by-step in terms of their playability, attractiveness and understandability. At nearly every step we made bigger or smaller changes that improved the reception of every level. Some of them were almost remade from scratch. The rebuilt beginning of the game dramatically changes the first impression. There is also a significant change of gameplay in levels featuring Billy. The players can now choose whether they want to sneak and silently go past the enemies or to face them in combat. In the X360 version, Billy has much more access to a bow and arrows and weapons taken from defeated enemies. Three entirely new levels have also appeared in the X360 version. They are separate from the main plot, but they have a story of their own and offer additional time to be spent on shootouts and duels in the Old West scenery. The X360 version also features an entirely new gameplay mode - "Duel Challenge". After defeating a boss in the story mode, you can also face him in this new variant…
I've summarized the changes to multiplayer, although that's only some of them. You simply have to play and see it for yourself :). A lot of changes result from the nature of the Xbox 360 console, especially from the different controller. A system of achievements has been implemented, unlocked for various feats done during the game, a ranking system that is a part of Xbox Live and a system of statistics, allowing you to measure your accuracy, the number of enemies killed and the total gameplay time, as well as many other minor features. .
CCC: Are there any plans for expansion packs or downloadable content for the game?
PK: First, I would like to note that the game already has much richer content than the PC version. We also have downloadable content, containing additional, inlaid weapons, special character skins for multiplayer mode, dashboard wallpapers, avatars etc. Will there be additional downloadable levels and maps? We'll see. Much depends on how many fans the game will have and how popular it will be.
CCC: What can we expect as far as online multiplayer options?
PK: The multiplayer mode is a complex and very important part of the game. It's hard to summarize all its features in just a few words. First of all, the game uses all the functionalities of Xbox Live!. This includes the ability to play ranking games, to track your own statistics as well as those of your opponents, climbing up the leaderboards, inviting your friends to the game, voice communication etc.. Call of Juarez offers 20 unique multiplayer maps which can be played in 7 different gameplay modes. Some of the modes are well known to everyone, like deatchmatch, skirmish (more widely known as team deathmatch), but there are also special modes. A mode unique to the X360 version is "Wanted, which was not included in the PC version. In this mode a chosen player is the target. The next one is Capture the Bag, which is a one-sided Capture the Flag mode variation transferred to the Wild West world. The third one is Famous Events, where you can take part in authentic Wild West events, such as Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, 1881 or The Fall of the Dalton Gang, 1892.
CCC: I know that fire will play an important role in the game, but will there be other environment elements used, other than fire?
PK: Environment elements is a very wide term. Aside from the simulation of fire, which can be started, put off and can spread spontaneously, there are also other elements. Other elements include wind moving the trees, bushes and grass, simulation of smoke that reacts to the movement of air, interaction between fire and water, etc. There are also plants, grass, trees which have been reproduced with great care for the details.