After a recent conference call with Crysis 2 Executive Producer Nathan Camarillo, I'm stoked about Crysis 2, especially the 3D aspect. Read our Q & A to find out why.
CCC: What were the challenges of building the CryEngine 3 for both PC and the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3?
NC: This was the biggest challenge. We had to redo CryEngine2 just to support multiplatform to make sure it works across the board, including making sure the PC version works from min spec to high-end spec to take full advantage of all the PC hardware on the market. We wanted to take advantage of the engine making use of all the PC hardware available. The PC version alone has six different specs with 171 meaningful variables that alter the configurations that take advantage of the latest hardware and in the future we look to support the visuals in the game and there's a lot on the way in terms of what people can expect. It was a big challenge but the team really stepped up to take advantage of CryEngine 3 on all the platforms.
CCC: How much did you squeeze out of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3?
NC: We've squeezed the last bits out of the Xbox 360 and PS3 processing power. If there's a Crysis 3, we've learned a couple things to get even more out of the consoles, but nothing drastically more. We're really pushing the limit here. We'd notice it as a developer, but the end user may not notice it. Ultimately, though, it's all about the learning experience from making the game.
CCC: Are there plans for a console-based SDK to be released similar to the sandbox editor on the PC version?
NC: There are no plans for a console SDK at this time.
CCC: What was the 3D development process like, and how is it unique to other games out there?
NC: 3D is something we've been interested in for a long time as [Crytek] know it's the new way to experience entertainment, and they want to be there in the beginning and have it be a robust implementation that stands out. Research began two years ago to see how they can implement the technology; it's not as simple as implementing visuals for the right eye and the left eye as you have to factor in both eye strain and the entire Crysis experience, where it's not just looking through the gun but the entire nanosuit and HUD visuals, enemy locations, people talking to you, all of which needs to work in 3D.
A significant amount of time was spent on 3D technology to make sure it works the way we wanted it to. We started with small teams working on smaller 3D projects, and then a year ago we started to implement 3D into Crysis 2. Our first presentation was an early implementation and wasn't representative of the final product. Most people simply rely on the first implementation of 3D and then walk away from it, but we've been improving it since to make sure you can play the campaign for ten to twelve hours entirely in 3D without the need to stop and rest your eyes. If you have 3D popping out of the TV screen too much, it really hurts your eyes, which is why we wanted to create a deep 3D experience to prevent such eye strain, appealing to people who dismissed 3D because they don't like it or it hurts their eyes. 2D will still be awesome, but 3D will be how games are meant to be played.
CCC: Crysis 2 takes place in New York City, not a jungle island. Was there a sense of relief for the change of setting?
NC: There was a lot of excitement with the move to the urban environment. This was a decision made early in development. We looked at all the urban cities in the world to see where we wanted to go with our story, but New York City was on the top of the list; a couple of other cities are possible for future titles, but New York City won out.
We wanted to then look at New York City and see how can we tell the story we're known for with the jungle environment. [We] re-coined the phrase of urban jungle and looked for metaphors for visuals of the original Crysis jungle and wanted to recreate it with the urban jungle, such [as] shadows from trees being recreated by the buildings, reflected light from windows that create hot spots on the ground that give the same jungle canopy feel. We took maps from Crysis 1 and used their footprint to put them into spaces we were considering to New York City and made sure they conformed to the same playable space. Crysis has the illusion that the maps were huge sandbox playgrounds that had a lot of playable space, but of course they didn't; we wanted to do the same thing within the city backdrop, keeping you confined in the seemingly huge city.
In lines with the story, terrain helped to shape more of the jungle feeling with the seismic activity, resulting in broken water mains and lots of rubble. We were able to convey caves with buildings. Obviously, you're not going into every single building you see, but if the front is damaged, then you know you can go in and have hanging ceiling titles and water drippings that do a good job of replicating a cave and then you could, say, walk out of the building through another broken wall and get hit by bright lights of the sun and it's like you're walking out of the cave and back into the jungle. In addition, the urban setting allowed us to add more vertical gameplay, such [as] jumping on top of shops and vehicles. You'll be able to do things in New York City that you couldn't do in the jungle.