We find something undeniably charming about “mystery first-person shooter" They. We haven't played the game (it's not out until 2009). First-time game developer Metropolis is building it from the ground up, even the engine, and they think we're going to be blasting mysterious, evil robots at 1080p with good frame rates. Sure! Sounds awesome!
Here's a gallery, and there's a full Q&A under the cut. By the way, we didn't ask the "Q's." They were provided by Metropolis along with the answers.
THEY claims to be a “mystery first-person shooter” for PC, Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3. How do you create this feeling and what sort of techniques are used to provoke this sense of mystery?
The story-telling in THEY doesn’t influence the fast paced action of a FPS game – it has dynamic battles, a living environment and those bad creatures you have to kill. But the story has some issues common with plots of mystery movies! After some analyses we figured out that one key element, which transports mystery is the so-called dualism and this is what we will show in THEY. On the one hand you have a real environment, which everybody knows (London) – on the other hand some mysterious phantoms and you don’t know what they are. Another way is to build up characters’ credibility during the storyline, you feel positive with them, you trust them – and suddenly something happens, which topples your big picture! This is what the essence of mystery is and it’ll take some time to get an overall picture. For players this means, they have been aware of several surprises and nothing seems to be like it is in the beginning…
Furthermore you label THEY as a “Next Gen Title”, can you give examples what special technologies you refer to when speaking of next generation?
Next Gen Title is something more than just visuals. It's about the whole feeling, atmosphere, gameplay – it's a new level of immersion of the player into the game. It takes many technologies combined together to achieve such effect. From pure rendering techniques, through impressive physics, believable AI to comprehensive animation subsystems: They all make a game world more real than even before, and this is what we call “Next Gen” feeling.
You unveiled an interesting new FPS feature, which is called „Pimp my weapon“ or „Weapon tuning system“, what does that mean in detail?
What's so cool about FPS games? Weapons! In the history of games the numbers of weapons have raised from a few smaller weapons in the beginning and more in the past, up to a minor opportunity to edit weapons with an alternative firemodes or so. Now we just put another step forward, as we give players the possibility to create their own unique weapons for example at the beginning of each level. First of all it's NOT just about one gun you have. You can save - based on your weapons memory and the central generator your weapon owns - different setups of a gun where you have access to at any time. Never change what the player is expecting! Each configuration has two different barrels, the already introduced generator and what we call a gadget slot (for scopes and stuff). One barrel can be used as an Ak47, MP5, shotgun etc. while the second barrel is a launcher, plasma beam and so on just to give an example. So players can customize different weapon setups based on their choice or skill, while they collect the upgrade items for their weapon as they progress into the game!
The real important thing is that players have never been given so much freedom in creation before. They can build their own weapons and their imagination is the only limit, because the variety of customization is huge! You're even able to paint it in a way you like by using even external brushes like your picture or whatever you like. In THEY players are not only the audience of the game, they are also co-creators. By creating weapons a player becomes one of the game creators. It's a real game 2.0 feeling. Additional if someone doesn’t like to have fun with the customization ability, he/she will be given a typical set of guns by using auto-tuning. In this case the game does the customization itself in predefined directions like power or shooting speed. Being an FPS games fan, ask yourself a question: how cool would it be to create your own unique weapons? In THEY you can do this. And the interface is very simple and intuitive – everyone who sees it, gets the idea immediately.
How did you get this idea of your weapon tuning system?
Well the FPS genre didn’t change so much in the past, and as we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, we just wanted to enhance it a bit with some fresh ideas. Why not adding a feature, which is common in racing games and pure fun for almost every player? So the idea developed from players desire to be able to have the weapon of their dreams, and not just another weapon a developer is offering them grateful and that is not so much different from other games. So it is fresh, it is unique and it is fun! It is some way of Game 2.0 feature with user generated content.
THEY is playing in good old England. Why did you choose the UK?
It is in the London area, because this is the landscape, which is known to most people in the world. No other city has so many landmarks and known buildings. Everybody in each part of the world knows Big Ben, London Eye, Tower Bridge, Subway system and many other things, while Berlin, Paris or New York have not so many different known landmarks to offer. Beside that everybody, who visited London really likes the city – so why not play and act there in the future as a real hero?
Where the hell do these evil robots come from?
This is one of the main questions the player will face in the single player campaign of THEY, and it is one of the most surprising answers when you will play and continue the solo player mode. But if you like mystery series like Lost or Heroes – would you like to know the end of the overall series before even seeing the first episode? So we will not say where THEY come from, what THEY want…we only want to mention, that we NEVER said in the past, that THEY are aliens …
Will the main character fight alone, or will he receive reinforcements from time to time? If he will be accompanied, what he’ll have to do in the squad? Follow or maybe issue orders?
THEY is a first person shooter – not an always alone person shooter – expect here and there some story based events - but hey, it's Mystery FPS! You'll find out while playing the game and we don’t want to tell you all the fun upfront.
Beside the stunning single player campaign you will find a long lasting and highly motivating multiplayer part, where new game modes will be introduced beside the usual death match, team death match, capture the flag and so on.
What goals do you have for the multiplayer?
The goals for multiplayer are strictly related to the weapon customization. What we aim for is to create new cool modes and we want to achieve it by using the strengths of the weapon customization. Imagine death match where players are equipped with their own special dedicated weapons or team death match with players having unique guns so they can use their own created tactics and it all thanks to the weapon customization. Clan members would be able to paint weapons in their own style recognizable for other clans. We are also thinking about modes based on collecting weapon parts.
As the game is using consoles, which can feature Full HD - are you targeting full 1080p or 720p like most recent releases?
It's too early to say this. At the current development stage we are more focused on implementing gameplay issues on consoles, but of course we are looking forward to achieve 1080p with a good frame rate to make THEY a real experience to the audience! But if the frame rate will not fit our (and the players) expectation, we will downgrade to 720p, as we are quite sure players out there are more interested in a full frame rate, than full HD. But we work hard to feature 1080p.
Why did you decide to program your own engine? What makes your in house technology superior to a technology, which can be licensed like Unreal Engine 3?
When using an external engine we are limited to some level. Having our own engine we have full control over every single feature. We can adjust it best for our game needs and fit the technology to desired gameplay, not vice-versa. Thus it is the decision to build up THEY with our own technology.
Will the game feature physics that influence gameplay or are the physics just used to have even more eye candy?
Of course we use it not only for eye candy. Movable and destructible objects may hurt enemies and the player as well i.e. when a destroyed wall falls down on an enemy. Paths through a level may vary from each other depending on what has been destroyed by the player; of course it must be limited to some reasonable level. Dynamic environment can be used by goal oriented AI. Naturally eye candy in terms of physics is also nice and it adds a realism element.
Actually the graphics system in THEY is created in a way that allows building up levels from A to Z from destructible objects. It means that you can destroy almost all you want, not only scripted objects, but we limited the system to some reasonable levels because what would gameplay look like if you would be able to crush all environment around you? Destroy all and walk to exit? That's why buildings can be damaged, but their “frame” will stay – mostly ;)