Crytek UK brought the metal to this month’s multi-part evening shindig.
“Can you kick other players?” asked one hard to please audience member at the fringes of Antenna’s main lounge. Replacing his expression of puzzlement with one of polite appraisal, Crytek UK’s lead designer Steven Lewis explained why such a thing would only be frustrating for Crysis 2 players on the ass-end of the kicking.
No matter how confident they are about their games, nothing can prepare developers for the predictable unpredictability of the general public.
Last night, we were treated to a ram-packed GameCityNights evening, which included a live web chat with Stacking’s art director Lee Perry, a newly released Mega Drive game (seriously) and pixel-related humour courtesy of Paul Butler.
But first, the devs that helped make Nottingham famous for something other than Robin Hood took to the floor to breakdown Crysis 2’s multiplayer.
“Parkour with guns”
Taking place in the urban jungle of New York City, the Nanosuit and its abilities is what truly marks Crysis 2 out from the competition.
It can enhance your skills in customary speed, armour and stealth manners, but through it you can also perform several agile moves – like bolting up and over walls, an earth-shattering aerial stomp and John Woo-style power slides – that are rarely seen in FPS games.
“It’s almost Parkour with guns,” said Lewis.
“We were really keen to explore the vertical play space, which is making the action as much about up-and-down as it is about the horizontal.”
Crytek UK wanting the multiplayer maps to “tell their own story,” they designed each one around a scenario or theme, self-contained snapshots of the effect an alien invasion and seismic activity could have on NYC.
For instance, Skyline, the map in the multiplayer demo set atop a skyscraper, is based on a human evacuation point. Another map, Impact, is the result of a skyscraper collapsing on its neighbour to form an interconnecting battleground.
“We actually got inspiration from a film, in this case, Cloverfield… creating this interesting thing for us from a gameplay perspective of the entire level being none plainer.”
“To help the player know where they are at anytime, we wanted both [skyscrapers] to be distinct,” said Lewis, describing concept art that showed a building with more modern trimmings gouging up the old wooden flooring of its neighbour.
Crytek UK and owning their identity
As well as offering a breakdown of multiplayer, Crytek UK’s Karl Hilton was also in conversation with GameCity director Iain Simons.
Along with discussing his route into the industry through studying architecture, Hilton described his time at Rare making GoldenEye and the formation of Crytek UK’s former incarnation, Free Radical.
“We were 100 per cent categorical that if we were going to make a game with a publisher we would own the IP [intellectual property],” he said in response to Free Radical owning its game properties.
“It’s something that Crytek today still does. They insist on keeping ownership of the IP… It’s very hard these day because the amount of money we’re talking about to develop games is huge, so publishers really do insist very strongly on trying to keep the IP.”
With team sizes over 200 people nowadays, he confided that “keeping team spirit going, and keeping people’s enthusiasm for the project they’re working on is really difficult.”
Hilton also hinted that Crytek UK are working on new IP, something that will give the studio its own identity.
“All [Crytek] studios very much develop their own line of products, and we’re part of that. The idea is that the UK [branch] is going to be a major contributor, developing our own in-house projects.”
Many of the usual suspects, Nerf Games, DropDead Interactive and Gambling Lambs, filled the intermission between the main presentations.
A real surprise to us however, and further proof that your never short of seeing something marvellous at GameCity, was a demonstration of Pier Solar, a cartridge and CD-based RPG released in December 2010 for the long obsolete Sega Mega Drive. This project, by a collective of fans known as WaterMelon, was in development for two years and its original run was limited to just 800 copies for Europe, Japan and North America.
The simple fact that a group of people could be so dedicated and have released something so stunningly beautiful for 20-year-old hardware fills us with a surreal sense of joy.
Showcasing a whole lot of wildly varied elements and people in one manageable evening, GameCityNights is getting oh so close to hitting the ‘fat free’ sweet spot.
Next month, Jakub Dvorský, creator of the acclaimed Machinarium, will be here in Nottingham debuting two new projects, so stick with Platform for more.