Binary Domain Q&A - Robot Armageddon

We chat with Sega executive officer Toshihiro Nagoshi about his upcoming squad-based shooter.

If you were ever a fan of Daytona USA, Super Monkey Ball, or the Yakuza series, then you're familiar with the work of Sega executive officer Toshihiro Nagoshi. Late last year, Sega and Nagoshi announced an original squad-based shooter called Binary Domain, but details on the game have been sparse. We know that it takes place in 2080 and revolves around a violent conflict between man and machine. For additional details, we tracked down Nagoshi to learn more about this upcoming release.

The machines might have the upper hand in this fight.

GameSpot: We haven't heard much about Binary Domain since the game was announced in December alongside a CG trailer. How accurately does that trailer reflect the current direction of the game?

Toshihiro Nagoshi: Basically, that was a trailer that roughly outlined the game concepts. Through that trailer, we wanted you to grasp the feel of the enemies and one of the stages, along with the fact that this game is based on a shooter system with procedural damage and squad-based gameplay.

GS: What factors influenced your decision to make a squad-based shooter? How are you hoping to make it stand out from competition in the popular shooter genre?

TN: I can't reveal the mechanics in details yet, but I did not want to make this a simple game which only requires you to shoot at everything with ally NPCs following you around.

The game has a system that automatically detects the situation based on points like "What is the impact on the squad, or does it have an impact at all?" The player is free to make decisions that may work best for him or best for his squad, so you can be a selfish player or a good team player. The situation could differ greatly based on that selection, but simply covering your squad all the time will not lead you to victory. In other words, the key to this game is to make decisions based on all the factors such as the player, allies, missions, and battles in real time.

The game also has a unique and original method of communicating with the allies. Though controlled by CPU, the enemies and allies will act as if they have a life of their own. With such a high level of CPU controls, we wanted to create real-time game scenes with unlimited drama.

GS: You've mentioned that moving AI technology forward is a huge focus for this game. Can you describe the technology behind the game's AI system and how it affects the action on the screen?

Robots are infamous for their deadly efficiency, but still have a lot to learn about teamwork.

TN: First of all, many of the existing titles (regardless of their sales success) had many elements that seemed as if the developers gave up. For example, there are unavailable movements due to technological limits or strange AI reactions that make you wonder, "Why is it moving like that?" or "Why is it not making decisions that could work better for him?" Those actions were just so unnatural and frustrating. I had always been thinking such problems should be completely resolved, so with Binary Domain, we addressed these issues as much as possible. You should be able to notice that once you get to see the game.

Furthermore, that was not our goal but the base of our development for this game. By having the game based on such a foundation, we were able to create satisfactory game scenes with both the enemies and allies acting naturally based on the number of forces, formation, and stage elements. The game scenes are not mere shoot-'em-ups but evolved into exciting and dramatic battles full of tension.

GS: Everyone has a preference for the way a shooter moves and controls. Can you talk about the creative process behind designing how you want players to move around the environment and the way the weapons feel?

TN: This is one of the areas that we're adjusting right now. I agree that preferences vary greatly among the players. For example, Binary Domain is set in the near future, so it would be unnatural to have a weapon with unbelievable power. But at the same time, we want to make weapons with blasting excitement. We've been struggling to work out the balance, but in the end we'll be sure to adjust everything so you can enjoy the gameplay without having the plot ruined.

GS: Man versus robot is a conflict we've seen in a lot of sci-fi stories. Has the story in Binary Domain been designed to evoke more of an emotional response than traditional sci-fi work?

TN: That's what I intend to do with Binary Domain. This is another point where the preferences may vary, but my intention is to create a fresh story based on well-known themes. Once you get to see the complete game, I'm sure you'll understand what I aimed for. I have no interest in making a game with a shallow plot. Of course, you can expect the gameplay to be just as good as the intricate story.

GS: How has your staff's experience with the Yakuza series influenced the development of Binary Domain?

TN: When it comes to drama, the team has the knowledge and skills to create scenes of extremely high quality in great volume. The team is also experienced with the high-end machines, and Binary Domain uses a lot of technology like shaders and motion capture that we did not use for other titles. We did not use them for the Yakuza titles either, but for a good reason. A technology that worked brilliantly with one game does not always work for another game. This time with Binary Domain, the game is filled with a lot of variety, so we are able to use all our skills to the maximum level.

GS: One of GameSpot's best-reviewed shooters of 2010 was Vanquish, a game developed in Japan by Platinum Games. Do you see Japan as a growing contender in the shooter market these days?

Where's John Connor!?

TN: I'm not sure about that yet, but I think Binary Domain will give us an answer. I bet there will be some gaps between the regions and their preferences, but I am confident that a good piece of work made with full devotion (and well-balanced marketing) will be accepted regardless of such differences.

GS: Thank you for your time.

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Discussion

54 comments
P-Ball3179
P-Ball3179

Should be good, especially if it is a step up from Vanquish, which was the f'in s&^%! (minus it not being 1080). Definite buy!

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

2080 hey? Damn.. That'l make meeeee 92? Well im sure as hell screwed if this all kicks off. Unless I beat the robots to death with my hover-zimmer. This looks like something I'd like - I'll just ignore all the other comments below arguing about turd and say it's nice for there to be a decent looking game coming out from SEGA. Lotta love for that company.

Phil-teh-Pirate
Phil-teh-Pirate

Looks like Snatcher crossed with Vanquish. I fail to see how the best elements of each could somehow suck, but my magic 8 ball says nothing but "Maybe".

Devilmann711
Devilmann711

Ok Im talking about something different, just not zombies, aliens, robots or any of the old conventions, and why does a parasite make someone a zombie, what if it where smarter than that, insidious even, and the bad guys werent so clearly marked out,but Im not going to flesh out an idea you morons, Im just saying Im sick of the same conventions, there are some interesting ideas out there Im sure, look at all the really good independent DLC coming out....it seems the big game makers keep pumping out the same old stuff, this game does look just like vanquish, which was really good but I dont want to play it again repackaged as something somewhat different.

Chet_Won
Chet_Won

@Devilmann711 you can play dino-crisis, dinosaurs predate man. And typically a parasite that changes man is of course zombies. your so redundant

TheGreyArea
TheGreyArea

the theory and concept for this piece is actually quite attractive. I'll look forward to seeing how these mechanics are implemented and playout v's graphics / playability etc. added to tracked

watchawant
watchawant

He never actually said how their AI is better than any other previous game...All he said was that they addressed things like AI acting weird and that they act like they have a life of their own. Vague much? I thought that's what every developer has been doing with AI since the beginning of AI?

Fed__X
Fed__X

@Devilmann711 umm really dude re-read your post. You complain and only argue yourself back into generic.

Devilmann711
Devilmann711

I am kind of sick of the whole "rise of the machines" thing, there has to be more to the world of bad guys than robots, zombies, aliens, or demons.....what about something new, like some kind of acient race that predates mankind, and is awoken somehow, or maybey a parasite that turns people bad.....or something....anything new would be nice.

Devilmann711
Devilmann711

Actually thought this was for dead island based on the pic, el-terminator rip off guy kinda looked like a zombie.

zeniftan
zeniftan

Did anybody else click this image on the main Gamespot page without reading thinking you were going to some Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas news?

00J
00J

Aw, this looks good. Sega still has the magic.

MetalRatex
MetalRatex

Recycled ideas all around the game? I won't care if the game's good.

Rizer
Rizer

This looks pretty sweet so far.

KoRniTo
KoRniTo

If this turns out to be similar to Vanquish, which is exactly what it's looking so far, this could turn out to be a winner.

ferrarimanf355
ferrarimanf355

Nagoshi is my homeboy, he just needs to make Daytona USA 3 already.

ziproy
ziproy

Sega needs a big winner

Jamo12
Jamo12

Sounds good, finally some intelligent AI.

finalfantasy94
finalfantasy94

Im happy to hear his vision of giving us really great AI wont hurt the story in the end. At least thats what he promisises. Since this team is know for giving us great character and story it would be disapointing to see them fall flat in this area cause they really wanted to focuse on AI. I cant wait for this game.

Barighm
Barighm

GS forget the most important question, the one that will ultimately determine this game's fate... ...will Sega market it? At all? Just a little?

barnold81
barnold81

This looks a lot like Vanquish.

Doomrul
Doomrul

boring story ... zzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz ...

Hellknite190
Hellknite190

Surprised that this hasn't been said yet. This better have goddamn co-op!

chinchillables2
chinchillables2

Nope... not enough detail for me. Oh, wait... it's on XBox that's why. Okay, I get it now. You mad?

Skargamer
Skargamer

Will wait for more coverage. Too many games coming out now to be interested in this. Sounds like a decent concept though.

oneofthefall
oneofthefall

Why does it have to be 3rd person? :( I wish game developers would put the FPS option in, "in the options menu" Dam shame it looked promising..

lordofallpies
lordofallpies

@turok0 How do you know if we hardly know anything about this game and anyway, it can't be GOTY 2011 because it is gonna be released in 2012.

Taegre
Taegre

I am so putting the Terminator soundtrack on my 360 for this game.

franzito
franzito

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Mattyrock
Mattyrock

Sounds interesting on what Nagoshi is trying to accomplish but I'm still not entirely sure about immersed in this yet but we'll see.

X-Robert
X-Robert

Good to know they are working on AI, I felt like being f****d when play Lost Planet all thanks to the poor AI.

Shady84Porter
Shady84Porter

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Virdentaucent4
Virdentaucent4

Well here's some luck and good wishes to them, I hope they pull this together, especially the amazing A.I they promise. I won't expect anything dazzling, but solid and putting a great standard for games would be nice at least, however I think for a squad shooter it would be unfair to expect them to create A.I that acts too much on it's own accord, a squad does need to follow commands from the player accurately enough, so to a degree they can't be "too" independent, if that makes sense.

method115
method115

@Swindells Exactly what I was thinking.

wilso326
wilso326

the robots look like crash test dummies... lamest enemies ever

Swindells
Swindells

lol, it looks like a robot zombie.

DopePope_basic
DopePope_basic

OK like I said before and I'll say again: If it has destructible environments and destructible enemy player models I'M IN!

DopePope_basic
DopePope_basic

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

CrossFire312
CrossFire312

John Conner? He's all over that wall over there. Well, that's most of him...

RobertBowen
RobertBowen

From that Q&A its sounding like it could be a great game. I'm glad to see one of their key focuses is on AI, because I rate that higher than good graphics.

gogetaz9
gogetaz9

oh my, that does sound interesting. keep an eye on this.

01-cannon-mpc
01-cannon-mpc

Where's John Connor!? Right here in my Shotgun!

Zacmaccraken
Zacmaccraken

That last picture reminded me of SNATCHER!!!!!!!

graavigala
graavigala

This game looks really interesting and the first trailer was excellent. Im keeping my eye on this one :)