Gameplanet: Is it necessary for Crysis to be synonymous with pushing the limits of hardware technology?
Rasmus Hojengaard I think we would probably be challenging some of Crytek's pillars if we didn't do that. The value you get from pushing these things is different now from what it was ten years ago. But it's part of our DNA. Even if people aren't conscious about doing it, it'll just happen anyway. There is benefit in it, and there needs to be companies that try to push things, because it sets an example for others to follow and benchmark from, and that rewards the whole industry.
One of the things we're trying to do now is push things we weren't pushing before, but that's not to say we wouldn't push things that haven't part of Crytek's DNA from the start.
Gameplanet: The original Crysis was fairly brutal on PC hardware, are you saying that won't occur with Crysis 3?
Hojengaard: The hardware and software today is a little more structured. DirectX 10 and 11 certainly give us possibilities to streamline things, and scale things in a way that wasn't possible in the original. So yes, we definitely want to have stuff in the game that you need the biggest beast to support fully, but we really want to have medium specifications that support maybe 85, 90 percent of that fidelity, that visual quality. So part of that is making sure that the artwork itself, the art direction itself, is great. That means that even if you can't use all the features, you're still going to get something that looks awesome. It's something that means a lot more to us in this game than it did in previous games.
The answer is yes, we want to do that, but also no, we don't want it to be an elitist type of game where you can't get a good experience without a nuclear power plant.
Gameplanet: The art direction appears pretty diverse, how did you manage to find seven different types of rainforest to depict?
Hojengaard: What we did was we sat down and researched the concepts of the rainforests, and there were a lot more than seven. There were Amazon-type rivers, misty mountain tops, canyons that maybe slope in a different way. Then we'd have to look at which ones potentially could support our gameplay formula, and which ones fit the architectural and geometrical layout of New York City, and that's how we picked the seven different diverse areas.
All this allows changes to gameplay that we didn't have before. We didn't have the ability to almost artificially approach this because we didn't have this setting of being underneath a dome that has its own ecosystem that would affect the world in a way that the sun doesn't. So it's a great marriage of high-tech and low-tech; the low-tech in mother nature taking effect, but it's controlled by high-tech.
We believe the amount we're pushing New York will really resonate with people because it's going to be very clear that we're not cutting any corners by going back to New York again. We're actually putting it in a different context for you, so that people will go, "Wow, I have not seen this with Times Square", or, "Wow, I did not recognise that church, because I didn't realise those spikes aren't actually trees, they're church spires". So that kind of recognition is something that really gives us a unique visual language, and we haven't explored like that before. We've explored those elements before, but not combined them. And it's a lot of research work!
Gameplanet: So how does the nanodome make the interior grow faster?
Hojengaard: Basically this nanotechnology is somehow filtering the light to the surface from the sun, and it's manipulating it and changing the way that it works so that the ecosystem within the dome is very different to what you find outside. It basically just exaggerates what is already there. I can't give you an engineering explanation as to how this works; we'll probably explain in more detail how it works but we're not doing that just yet. But in theory what you get is a potentially naturally occurring thing on speed, if you will. Overgrowth that would normally take hundreds of years happening in 20 years.
This only affects vegetation, so it's not going to change animals, but the distribution of animals will change. Maybe you'll have a hundred frogs instead of five frogs, but it's important for us that it doesn't feel like a fantasy setting. It needs to have tactical elements and a tactical feel to it. So that's kind of how we're defining how far we can push this stuff.
Gameplanet: You were quick to point out the new water features, what kind of work have you done in this area?
Hojengaard: Well, the engine helps, but it's also about picking out very smart ways of creating water drama, like things that flow, and waterfalls. One side of that is technical, of course, but another is just being smart about how you process things. Let me give you an example – I know this isn't Crysis but when you have waterfalls in Skyrim, it's the same technology, so you need to have equal investment in the assets you use to produce this as well as the technology that drives it. So we're focussing on both things, and to be fair, we do have a lot of experience building tropical environments, so we know what we're doing. We're just iterating on that further, and pushing it even more. Later on in the year you'll see examples of that particular thing that are much more evident of what we've done exactly.
Gameplanet: We've seen the new addition to the suit: hacking. Can you give us an example of how this works later in the game?
Hojengaard: I can't give you a complete example, but what I can say though is that the idea is that the complexity should not be in the hacking itself, the complexity should be in what stuff you're hacking, and at what point. It's about the diversity of this and how you use it, rather than how you use each individual thing. We don't want to have a weird mini-game where you have to connect pipes and type a secret number, we want it to be the strategy of hacking. The suit is so technical it would obviously do that for you if you told it what to hack.
It's going to scale a lot, what you saw now is only a small-scale of what this will eventually grow to over the course of the game.
Gameplanet: Being able to shoot out of stealth is also new, what have you added to counteract this ability?
Hojengaard: Well we obviously need to balance this, but one of the ways to do so is to limit the number of arrows you get. We have all the ways to tweak this, one being countermeasures in the enemies' arsenal, another being the location itself, how enemy placement is, or a combination of that in conjunction with countermeasures then obviously how many of these arrows you're going to have to shoot. Plus finding the right balance at each point in the game.