Bottling the Spirit of Seattle in Infamous: Second Son

Rebuilding the Emerald City

by

Seattle, the Emerald City. In 1962, it was host to the Century 21 Exposition--better known as the Seattle World's Fair--which gave attendees from across the globe a glimpse into the high-tech World of Tomorrow. Now, roughly five decades later, this eclectic city is being fully integrated into the digital age as the backdrop for Sucker Punch Productions' upcoming third-person superhero adventure, Infamous: Second Son.

Horia Dociu, the game's art director and a Seattle resident since his youth, leads the team responsible for re-creating this rain-soaked, coffee-stained city. And while he's adamant about capturing the flavor of Seattle, and its numerous landmarks, Dociu isn't about to let petty issues like reality get in the way of making a fun game.

While Infamous: Second Son takes place in Seattle, it's not a perfect re-creation. This is by design. In many ways, copying the city brick by brick and street by street would be much simpler, but the city wouldn't be nearly as much fun to explore. Seattle wasn't exactly designed for a kid with smoke-based superpowers to run around smashing stuff and climbing over everything. It was designed as a city, and now Dociu wants to transform it into a jungle gym. Delsin Rowe is the game's nimble protagonist, and his world, while based on reality, will become his playground.

"The line between fun and realism is our number one concern: every discussion we have, from the bad guys' uniforms to the smoke powers, is all within that balance between making sure fun and gameplay are king but it's also as believable as possible," Dociu said. "We're never going to let that stamp of realism get in the way of making an enjoyable experience."

While all the streets may not line up with their real-life counterparts, the team at Sucker Punch is confident it can still capture what makes this city feel like Seattle. The cornerstone of that feeling lies in its landmark locations, including The Crocodile, Elephant Super Car Wash, and Pacific Science Center (shown below). Unsurprisingly, when asked whether they'd like to have their establishments immortalized in a video game, the owners were excited to contribute.

Once a business owner gives his permission, Dociu's team can take an afternoon (or two) to scout out the location and take photographs for reference. However, just like with the city as a whole, the goal isn't to create a simple carbon copy. "Nobody is sitting there counting tiles on a side of a wall or anything like that," said Dociu. "What they're trying to capture is more the spirit of the location, so they'll shoot the building, but they'll also get its surroundings to see what people are wearing in those neighborhoods."

"I use the joking phrase, 'What does this place smell like?' I want those extra details, because if you just look at the buildings and the surrounding geography, you're going to get something that feels like you're looking at an architectural render--like looking at a mannequin instead of a real person."

With photos in hand, the team returns to Sucker Punch HQ to set about re-creating the structure within the game. And while their gameworld is based on reality, they always make sure to let the original owners know they may need to modify the original designs a bit. Say, for example, that Second Son's antagonist, the Department of Unified Protection, decides to transform the Space Needle into its new base of operations. The designers are allowed to stick a few extra armor plates and radio towers all over it--you know, to help give it that homely, totalitarian feel.

While the Space Needle may be Seattle's crown jewel, you may rest assured the rest of the city is receiving the same attention. "We have this guy whose job it is to texture roofs. And you think, 'Hey, what's on a roof, air conditioning? Whatever.' But he actually went on the tour of the Space Needle on his own time specifically to see roofs. He wanted to make sure the roofs around the Space Needle were exactly the right materials for that area. That's the kind of enjoyment people are putting into this project, because it is so close to home."

"If someone wants to do a one-to-one tour of Seattle, that already exists; it's called Google Maps. Have fun!"

This level of dedication from the team is something Dociu is immensely proud of, and he knows the game will only benefit from it. "I think that's something immeasurable. The technology is there, but if we didn't have these artists who pour their hearts and souls into this project, it wouldn't be as successful as it is--and the work shows it. When people see the game, and they say it feels like Seattle, that's the best compliment we can receive."

Discussion

93 comments
RabidBurp
RabidBurp

SuckerPunch sure is milking the hell out of this franchise.

nate1222
nate1222

Just don't make the main character too much like a contemporary Seattlite. Their passive aggressive deuche-baggery is pretty off-putting.

edviges
edviges

Does In Utero ring the bell?

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

It's also important to make a main character that people like, and I think they'll fail on that front.

Syntax_Err0r
Syntax_Err0r

This is the only PS3 game that has my attention at the moment. 

Stesilaus
Stesilaus

Will the player be able to head on over to Redmond to wander through the crumbling, deserted ruins of the post-PS4 Microsoft campus?  :P


rasterror
rasterror

This is the only game that has me excited about the PS4.  Infamous 2 was one of the best games of tthis current generation and this game so far looks amazing,.  I can't wait to get this when it comes out.

Chrypt22
Chrypt22

Capturing the essence of Seattle... Let me guess.  Filthy bums / Hipsters, hippies, eco terrorists.... annndddddd terrible coffee.  

tim1935
tim1935

I preordered this with my PS4... then I found it I have to wait for it until next year... :(

Fursnake
Fursnake

This is one of the few things that is tempting me to get a next-gen console. Very tempting...

munkeypoo45
munkeypoo45

i really cant wait for this game.  i love the infamous series and this just looks plain awesome

Randomisrandom
Randomisrandom

This game just looks cool and beautiful and the gameplay looks funtastic. Its essentially all that  I could want from a game :)

DrRockso87
DrRockso87

First inFamous was great, second inFamous was awesome! Sucker Punch's quality is improving with each game.

With everything they shown so far, I'm more than impressed. Can't wait to finally get my hands on this game!

Sefrix
Sefrix moderator moderator

I'm glad to hear a developer not focus entirely on realism. Make the game fun first and foremost. 

udubdawgz
udubdawgz

let's get to the heart of the matter:  how badazz is the Clink and is it the pc's home base?

Canon100
Canon100

I bet we will see a lot of Starbucks coffee stores in this game. :P


CallMeDuraSouka
CallMeDuraSouka

Man the seared elk and Lima beans at the space needle is awesome, their clam chowder and surf and turf left a lot to be desired.

bksonic123
bksonic123

Game looks impressive. I absolutely loved the first inFamous but hated the second one. Hopefully the pattern will alternate.

BrutalPandaX2
BrutalPandaX2

The world is alluring, the story is easily understood and plays out like an action comic. Also, the character is grounded nicely with room for progression - a rebel without a cause that finds reason and ... cause. What's not to like?

renerak
renerak

I don't like this game.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

Having spent lots of time in Seattle when they showed the footage of him fighting around the Seattle Center by the space needle and the Pacific Science Center it was very cool and weird to see since it was quite accurate. It is weird to see a place in a game and know that you have actually walked through there.

rashood12
rashood12

great game 


hope they mention Cole MacGrath during the game

EL_Bomberdor
EL_Bomberdor

Maybe it's an age thing. A younger me loved these style of games but the older I get the less interested I am in them.

SNESNOSTALGIA2
SNESNOSTALGIA2

This is one of my most anticipated games. However, I have not been that impressed with some of the actual gameplay videos - the graphics look incredible during videos and some close up shots - but for an open world type of game it sure looks constricted in some of the actual fighting sections. I really hope the fighting takes place dynamically over an open world and not in bottle necked "fighting areas" that look bland. I'm very skeptical about this game. Sony fanboys tend to overhype games and think just because a game is being made it is going to be perfect. You would think this is the second coming of videogames when honestly Infamous 1 and 2 were not perfect titles - 1 was a very novel and fun game but it started to wear thin after a while and i couldnt even get into 2 - this game still has a lot to prove. I'm really keeping a close eye on this title going forward. I want it to be amazing though because I am getting PS4 at launch.

pspearman
pspearman

I loved the first and enjoyed the second, this one doesn't appeal to me at all.

Deadly_Nemesis
Deadly_Nemesis

@RabidBurp

This is the third sequel this is hardly at the point where you can declare this milking. It's not like they are bringing back the main protagonist with some implausible bull excuse. They are doing something which actually warrants respect. Letting the last story remain self contained and telling a new one in the same universe.

Milking is Halo 4, the last God of War game and Gears of War and Assassins Creed.

russ_lick
russ_lick

@naryanrobinson I never understood Sucker Punch's philosophby on character design... Who'd wanna play a guy with shitty tattoos, a wardrobe from Hot Topic and a headsock?? 

NTM23
NTM23

@Chrypt22 Every place has that; certainly 'filthy bums'; hipsters; hippies is kind of random, I would assume that's more a San Francisco kind of thing, and eco terrorists? Hm. Not exactly. Terrible coffee? If that's the case, then coffee everywhere else is probably the worst thing in the world. You've never been to Seattle if you think these things, or anywhere else for that matter...

xS3eed
xS3eed

@tim1935 lol you should post it on fmylife.com jst fkn wit ya

thepluggy
thepluggy

@renerak you aint played it yet,dumbass,how do ya know if ya like it or not.

Darksider141
Darksider141

@renerak "insulting comment completely ignoring the fact that everyone has there own opinion"

NTM23
NTM23

@rashood12 There's a (coffee?) shop with the name MacGrath on it.

Ghostdog201
Ghostdog201

@EL_Bomberdor Without speaking to this latest entry into the franchise, the thing that bugs me about many of these urban, open word games (and it's also done in movies too, think True Blood) is that everyone... nearly everyone on the street is relatively attractive, height-weight proportionate and between the ages of 22 and 29.

I don't find this to be a major downside, just an observation I make while playing them.  Hopefully technology and the ability to truly have thousands of different models on the screen at once can give these open-world cities a little more realistic diversity.

Prithwiraj
Prithwiraj

@SNESNOSTALGIA2 Yeh, InFamous 2 wasn't as good as 1, its still a decent game though, you should give it a shot. It sort of grows on you. I hope this game is good too, this is one of the reasons I'm picking up the PS4 at launch as well. I too have my reservations, but from the video above, I'm loving the gameplay sections. At first I was like smoke? really? N now, i'm like smoke? whoa!

pspearman
pspearman

Not sure, I cant seem to figure it out myself. I don't like the characters designs for a start but that alone wouldn't put me off, it has to be something else.

Perhaps it just looks too happy? lost a bit of the gritty edge the first two had...I dunno

xsonicchaos
xsonicchaos

@pspearman Can you be little more specific? What exactly turns you off about this game the most?

xS3eed
xS3eed

@NTM23 @Chrypt22 yee hate those negative tards that focus on the bad side and if they can't find any they just start making sh*t up.

EL_Bomberdor
EL_Bomberdor

@Ghostdog201@EL_Bomberdor 

It isn't that that bothers me, it's the super human, can jump 100 feet and throw cars around at will, it doesn't appeal to me. Give me that PS2 hulk game at 16 and I was in heaven, but that style isn't for me anymore, Think it just stretches past my line of acceptance in terms of video games.

I am a PS3 gamer so none of my comment was troll based and I hope my opinion is down to the lack of quality in this department and the new Infamous can prove me wrong and I love it.