inFamous 2 User-Generated Missions Preview -- Shock and AweBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Mar 01, 2011
Sucker Punch revealed a rather "shocking" new feature for its upcoming action sequel inFamous 2 today at GDC 2011: user generated content. That's right. When the game ships June 7, players everywhere will be able to build their very own custom missions set within the world of inFamous 2.
The tool kit will include all of the objects (i.e. enemy types, weapons, barricades, cars, etc.) found in the retail game, as well as custom objects only available to user creators. The system used to create missions isn't terribly unlike that found in Media Molecule's user-generated pioneer, LittleBigPlanet, but it also includes a few distinctive features that make the mission building process a bit easier to keep track of. Like the UI dialogue box that appears whenever you select a node. This box literally says what that control point does (i.e. "When militia are killed, trigger explosion.") It seems like a simple feature, but it helps immeasurably with managing your mission.
Missions are built using said nodes. These little round discs can be placed anywhere in the world. Each action has a specific icon that appears above each node, so when you look at your mission as it's laid out, you can instantly identify what each node does what simply by the icon. During our demo session, one of the game's QA testers built mini-mission to show off some of the different scenarios that are possible using the robust yet highly manageable creation tool set.
The entire game world is open to you to build on, and you can even load campaign missions from the game and totally "remix" them to create something entirely your own. Or you can start from scratch, like we did. Once the location is set -- in this case, a culdesac near a concrete banked river -- a mission start marker was set on the other side of a bridge leading to the culdesac. From here, more nodes were placed to tell the game to trigger specific instances at certain times.
Attached to the mission start node, we put a dialogue trigger, which lets you type in whatever on-screen message you want to appear when the mission starts. There isn't voice support at the moment, but all indications seem to point to that function being available sometime in the future.
Next, we placed a bunch of enemies and friendlies (and one enemy traitor) around the map. The enemies were placed in the culdesac, protected by sandbags that sat on either side of a giant turret. Cole and his group of militia pals spawn across the river, and, per our instructions, they have been told to help us take out the entrenched baddies.
A barrier node was set just ahead of the mission start point, telling the game that when our crew passes that point, it should trigger the rest of the mission parameters. For instance, we set up one node that said when all of the standard militia members have been killed, two chain-gun enemies should spawn behind some nearby houses. This is sort of a quick and dirty way of creating boss battles, or even custom horde modes. Those chain-gun enemies were then assigned to a separate node that said when those enemies were killed the mission was over.
Not only can you control the placement and logic of enemies, but you can also add and tweak objects too. So if you want a car to come flying into your fight and explode, you place the car, add an object modifier, tweak the physics so the car travels in the desired direction, add a timer node that tells the car to explode five seconds after it crashes (for added dramatic effect), and boom! You can even change the ambient environmental effects, so if you want a lot of pedestrians walking around, no traffic, and random parked cars everywhere, you just plant the world node, and change the settings accordingly.
When you look at a scene, even one as straightforward as the one described above, it can look kind of messy. However, there is a grouping feature that lets you assign icons/colors/etc. to any object you place in the world, and then choose which group you want those objects to be assigned to. So all of our enemies were denoted with red icons, and when you assign a particular behavior to a group, their icon shows up on that behavior node, so even if you can't see the object, you know exactly what trigger is controlling them, simply by looking at the node.
Another great feature is the ability to pick up your entire mission (sans placed objects and NPCs) and move it wherever you want. You simply pick up the nodes, move it somewhere else, and drop it. You would then have to re-place the objects assigned to each of the nodes, but it's much preferable to having to rebuild your entire mission again should you decide to change locations.
The possibilities for user-created missions are endless, as evidenced by the sheer amount of variety on display in this very straightforward scenario outlined above. We actually got hands-on time with four sample missions that were built using these tools, and each one offered something entirely different
- The first was a standard race mode, where you had to race along power lines and pass through 15 rings before the timer ran out. Each ring you hit added a few seconds back on the clock (barrier trigger + time trigger).
- The second was an Angry Birds inspired mission in which Cole had to pick up explosive barrels and hurl them at distant exploding platforms holding dancing (yes, dancing) enemies. There are a bunch of scripting options for characters too. One of the tester's favorites was the option of making enemies vomit violently whenever Cole approached them. And, yes, you can even tweak the direction of the vomit.
- The third was a tower defense game, where Cole had to try and stop waves of enemies from reaching his platform. Once 10 enemies made it through, the game ended.
- And the final mission was more story driven, and had Cole and his pals fighting through enemies to get to a bomb in order to diffuse it.
The scope and complexity of the missions are entirely up to players, so if you want to make a series of one minute mini-games, you can. If you want to make a 30-minute narrative heavy action-adventure mission, you can do that too.
Of course, creating mission after mission is great and everything, but it's really for naught if no one can see/play them. To help with this, Sucker Punch has included yet another rather remarkable feature: all of the user-created missions show up inside the single-player game world as mission start markers. "Won't that just turn the game map into one giant green mission objective screen?" Fair question, but no. There is a filter option so you can choose which types of user missions you want to appear on your map. So if you want to only show mini-game-type missions, you tick that. There's also a rating system, like LBP, so you can also choose to have only the top rated missions to show up. Sucker Punch includes a Sucker Punch Featured Content filter by default, which shows missions that the developers have chosen to highlight.
I have to hand it to Sucker Punch on this one. Totally wasn't expecting anything of this sort, but seeing it in action, and seeing how it's been integrated into the game is just remarkable. I can't wait to get my hands on the building tools myself soon to see what kind of mayhem I can stir up. Step one: vomiting, dancing cars. Let's do this.