How Far Cry 3's "Dude Bro" Led to Changes in Far Cry 4

Creating the "anecdote factory."

Earlier this year, there was controversy over a promotional image of Far Cry 4 showing a light-skinned man sitting on a makeshift throne, with a dark-skinned man kneeling at his feet. It was, as some pointed out, not the first time a Far Cry game had drawn criticism on the subject of race: Far Cry 3, for example, had a white protagonist who saved an entire island and its dark-skinned inhabitants from pirates, a premise many found uncomfortable.

While we don't know how well Ubisoft will portray race relations in Far Cry 4, we do know some basics for the story. The man in the promotional art is not white, nor is he Far Cry 4's protagonist. He's a pink-suited despot by the name of Pagan Min, who rules over the small Himalayan country of Kyrat. The game's hero, Ajay Ghale, learns of Min's tyranny when he honors his mother's dying wish of returning to his birth country, only to get caught up in a civil war. The developers are conscious of how some thought about the main character from Far Cry 3, and are trying to create a more sympathetic story this time around. "A lot of people found Jason Brody problematic," C.J. Kershner, one of Far Cry 4's writers, said at a Sony event in New York this week. "He was seen as a white savior, a kind of millennial dude bro."

Kershner is one of five Ubisoft Montreal developers working on narrative content for the upcoming open-world shooter. While developing Far Cry 4's story, Kershner found a YouTube clip of a Far Cry 3 player calling Brody an "Aryan warrior king." Similar feedback influenced the team's decision to look for a more culturally diverse setting for Far Cry 4, but with the same characteristics as past games: varied terrain, exotic animals, and a rich history that would lend itself easily to a nonlinear narrative. They settled on the Himalayas. The team organized a field trip to get acquainted with the region's climate and culture; they read books and watched documentaries, taking particular note of accounts like Into Thin Air, a 1997 television movie about the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, in which eight climbers died during a storm. "We wanted to know what draws people to that part of the world," Kershner says. "We thought a lot about what kinds of stories we could tell against this dramatic backdrop."

At this point, a man behind us playing the Far Cry 4 E3 demo shoots an elephant in the head. Kershner buries his face in his hands. "See? Far Cry is a game about choice."

Given the success of previous Far Cry games, the narrative structure has largely been left untouched. There are new elements, of course--new characters, weapons, and vehicles--but as far as story is concerned, Kershner says it should feel familiar to anyone who has ever played a Far Cry game. It's the smaller moments in the game--those narrative threads that players can pick up and follow--that presented the best opportunity to get creative. Kershner calls this the "anecdote factory," because this is what players seem to love most about Far Cry: stumbling upon unexpected moments that make them feel their experience of the game is unique. Kershner himself has plenty. "I was sitting on a hill with my camera [in Far Cry 3] surveying an outpost, and out of nowhere a tiger attacked me from behind. And rather than engage the tiger, I ran off, straight through the outpost, with the tiger in tow; and suddenly the tiger forgot about me and cleared the outpost for me. Not my original plan, but it worked out well anyway."

Sharing these moments has become something of tradition among Far Cry players. YouTube is full of videos of players participating in a range of amusing, and sometimes disturbing, in-game activities, such as the guy who liked to antagonise turtles in Far Cry 3. "He just kept walking up to the turtles and going, 'Hey turtle, hey turtle,' and then hitting them," Kershner says, amused. "We love the YouTube videos of people screwing around and having fun just as much as the actual constructive criticism of what the game is and what it's about."

Hunting animals is core to the Far Cry games--crafting with animal skins, for example, is essential to gameplay, giving the protagonist the ability to hold more loot, ammo, and weapons. Both crafting and rare hunts will make a comeback in Far Cry 4. And, as a treat for those who enjoyed Far Cry 3's animal antics, the game will feature rideable elephants, which can also be used as weapons. Far Cry can get away with it--it has a reputation for the unexpected and for the crazy, so a weaponized elephant fits right into this world.

(At this point, a man behind us playing the Far Cry 4 E3 demo shoots an elephant in the head. Kershner buries his face in his hands. "See? Far Cry is a game about choice. If you want to engage with a compelling story, that's an option; if you want to play in the open world, that's an option; if you want to ride an elephant, that's an option; if you want to shoot an elephant...that guy is a monster," he says, laughing. "Given our conversation, that just breaks my heart.")

The elephant incident, although briefly terrifying, demonstrates Kershner's point about players making the game feel like their own. Open-world games present a bigger challenge for writers than linear ones, for obvious reasons--there's more to write. If players are free to roam to any corner of the world, they always need to find something there that justifies travelling that far. So there's no reason, for example, that a player can't pick non-player characters in Far Cry 4 and just follow them around, listening to what they say. "It sounds creepy, but one of the things I love doing in this game is hiding in the bushes and just listening to NPCs talk," Kershner says.

It also means nonlinear narrative is a lot more fun to write. Kershner gets a kick out of imagining players' reactions to particular lines of dialogue he's created solely for their amusement.

"There's something I'm particularly proud of, and it's to do with Pagan Min's pink suit. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but it's a good one."

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Discussion

247 comments
stevenhearnn
stevenhearnn

I liked the new character playing the role of a villain in this game, the far cry lovers would definitely love it. He is the best upcoming villain till now, Good job done by the developers.

doktron
doktron

the biggest problem with far cry 3 was ubisofts UPLAY.

lionheart66
lionheart66

Parker. What the  f c u k  do u say? Start thinking and live instead!

jonjon81
jonjon81

I actually didn't notice the "racism" in FC3 - the plot of video games is always too stupid all around to take any of it seriously. It struck me that Jason and his friends were all bland personality-less douches and it was impossible to care about them - let's just say the decision at the end was really easy. I thought he sounded literally retarded, like everything confused him and he could barely keep up with conversation. But I WOULD say that anybody who bothers to get offended over perceived racism in the game is going to too much trouble.


STILL - NOTHING grosser than listening to white guys - and I knew I could count on this in the comments here - whine about some supposed "aversion to whiteness" and the "war on white people and white culture." WAY grosser than oversensitive minorities reading too much into the fact that video game protagonists are always white. If you SERIOUSLY think there's a war on white people, I have a war on Christmas to sell ya. I'm a white dude and trust me, I am under NO delusion that I have it bad or that I'm being "persecuted." And if you think so, it's just because you're too used to having literally everything catered to "white culture," and you're annoyed that anybody else even notices it and points it out.

ihateds2
ihateds2

After leaving gamespot for a while after the godawful redesign and coming back to see this, I just have to ask.


Gaming "journalists" just keep becoming more and more cancerous, don't they?

will_no
will_no

What's culturally diverse about the himalayas?  That area has one of the most untouched monocultures on the planet.

janregal
janregal

What the hell is this, there's such an aversion to whiteness now it angers me.

gmarkz
gmarkz

I honestly dont see that big of a change in the bad guy or the main character.

Skrewdriven
Skrewdriven

ugh, its war on white people and white culture these days, we have multi culti/diversity shoved down our throats and only our throats. We are told to embrace it yet, i dont think ppl would bat an eye if the chinese said they like having a china for chinese, or say japan, maybe there is too many japanese in japan they dont have enough diversity. Nono, only white ppl in white nations are told you dont have a right to your own cultures/lands its too white in europe apparently..SHOCKING.  


Now as far as i remember FarCry3 was just a game, in fact i dont remember the evil white protagonist droppin any N-bombs, or other slurs, BUT i do remember him being referred to negatively as a "white boy" many times...Where is the article on that? 

PFCMike
PFCMike

Everything is racist boo hoo. Im so sick of hearing about this kind of thing. The racist are the ones always accusing everyone else of being racist. Its all they think about.

digigamerx
digigamerx

Is it just me or is Ubisoft pushing co op play with their games now? I love playing games just by myself and I hate how their pushing now unlocks only if you play a feature of their games in co op. It's going to fail but I will let them figure it out.

waffleiron88
waffleiron88

People really will complain about anything

fourclawrider
fourclawrider

One thing they definitely need to work on for far cry 4 is more interesting sidequests and more varied NPC's. Far cry 3 had exactly 14 short and uninteresting sidequest that took maybe 2 minutes to complete each, given to you by generic NPC's. This felt totally tagged on and did nothing to make the gameworld a more interesting place or explore the backstory.


Far cry 4 needs to have cool recurring side characters, non-essential to the main plot, that give you questlines that don't overlap with the main story. A bit like the strangers in GTA V


Also in far cry 3 every vehiclerace and shooting/knifethrowing challenge was given to you by the exact same NPC which was kinda rediculous.

SambaLele
SambaLele

I guess the best bet now for game creators is to just accept that all protagonists should be wearing full armour (e.g. Master Chief), so you can't know if he/she's white, black, yellow, red, blue... if possible, not even the gender.

dannydopamine8
dannydopamine8

In so many commercials and advertisements today, you can see the makers of the commercial ENSURE that there is one of each ethnicity in the commercial. 

And even college posters show a whole bunch of multi-raced people standing together. It's like everyone is so focused on racism that its actually racist within itself. Going lengths to not be racist is like reversed racism.

Just aknowleding/talking about racism just reinforces its lifespan. We just need to stop talking about it.

Pewbert
Pewbert

What I'd like to know is - if it was racist for a white person to be sitting on a throne with a dark skinned person tied up next to his feet, why isn't it racist when people discovered it wasn't a white guy but a Chinese guy instead?

Only white people can be racist?

CallMeDuraSouka
CallMeDuraSouka

This article is racist, because it said the game was racist, because you said I'm racist for not saying it's racist, and that is racist because racism is racist, and that is prejudice because that person over there is racist not agreeing that they are racist for not being racist against that racist persons who is only racist if that racist person said racism.

Dear world,

This is how stupid you sound, and no I didn't exaggerate

justerthought
justerthought

@doktron 

Why, I just entered the code they provided and it was totally transparent from then on. I never accessed it at all. It did not interest me in the slightest. I just played the game and it was awesome. UPLAY did not hinder my enjoyment in any way because you could just ignore it like it was not there. I'm intrigued to know what was the "big problem" you had with it.

musalala
musalala

@ihateds2 Dude they have always been cancerous, its just that they appear to be openly not giving a cr*p

jesper6666
jesper6666

@ihateds2 Oh, are you talking about Laura? Who wrote for Gamespot for five years? Who went on to freelance for The New Yorker, New York Times and The Economist among others? 


What a "journalist" - so cancerous. What exactly have you done with your life?

razor_rj
razor_rj

@janregal not "whiteness", but superior arian race saviors, most game character are either white, or if they tan their skin a little to pretende, they are still mostly man and brooding type

HappyFunRun
HappyFunRun

@Skrewdriven Exxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaacccccccccccccccctttttttttllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Thank you

doktron
doktron

@digigamerx 

I hate coop in SINGLE PLAYER games. Sometimes i just want to play a game by myself. If i want to play with other ppl i play a multiplayer game

And if the game fails it will be because of UPLAY.I wont buy any game saddled with that crap (i didnt buy watchdogs because of UPLAY.)

vicsrealms
vicsrealms

@digigamerx Exactly, while I do enjoy co-op with my friends in Borderlands and Borderlands 2.  I really enjoy the option of running through the games solo.  Ubisoft seems to be forcing you to play through the co-op.  Oh well, because of U(Don't)Play I don't buy Ubisoft games anyway.

crzysheeit
crzysheeit

@digigamerx I agree. The way they blocked some of the side missions in SC:BL was pretty lame. I am the only geek in my friend circles that actually plays video games. These bitches though..

justerthought
justerthought

@SambaLele 

That would be sad day for gamers. The era of the nano suite super soldier is a black cloud that I hope will pass. It robs the game of humanity by removing all subtle emotions and personality, creating a generic robot. At least racism is emotive and depicts human flaws. What you are suggesting is total castration of everything that is human and organic. I hope it is a joke and that you're being sarcastic. Go play The Last Of Us, then tell me you would still prefer to remove all the human emotion and replace it with nano suites.

Fireblader70
Fireblader70

@dannydopamine8 Commercials aim to represent as much of their audience as possible so they get more sales. For example, when you see someone on TV saying 'wow, this product is great', they're meant to be a reflection of you, the person who's paying attention. So of course they show multiple ethnicities - it's part of their job.

justerthought
justerthought

@Pewbert 

Respect for making a great point. I hate racism and like to treat everyone as equal, but some black people can be extremely racist by continually playing the race card and wanting apologies for what others have done in the past. White westerners have to walk on egg shells trying to be politically correct while we have the muslim religion with a clear racial bias and not even being ashamed of it as if it is their God given right.

If someone is a racist, I'm not afraid to say so, even if I risk being accused me of racism as a result. The world would be a better place if we all forget colour and forget religion. Tolerance is the key. Let's just respect each other so we can enjoy life together. You only get one shot at life and it's very short.

What would happen if we get a new Far Cry where we play as a black guy slaying an island full of white pirates. Is that racism. Of course not. But if it's a white guy slaying a load of black pirates it would be called racism. I'm happy with either and would not consider it racism. I'd love a Far Cry where we slay an island full of racists though, whatever colour they are.

dannydopamine8
dannydopamine8

@Pewbert Yeah it's only bad if white people are racist. Cuz we are the ones who invented it pretty much

SambaLele
SambaLele

@Pewbert Great point. How can the same act be racist when done by one, but not when done by other ethnical group? If it was racist before, it surely must still be.

will_no
will_no

@razor_rj @janregal Well that's prolly cause the largest consumer of videogames are white males.  It's like complaining that Bollywood movies contain too many Indians.

gmarkz
gmarkz

@ryancyc Hahahahaha he didn't think that one through lets give him a pass on that one

doktron
doktron

@theprismhead @fourclawrider 

farcry 1 was made by the guys who did crysis.They sold the franchise to ubisoft who ruined the series.(as a result farcry 1 was a much better game than fc2 or fc3.)

crzysheeit
crzysheeit

@theprismhead @fourclawrider The traditional FPS is progressing into hybrid FPS/RPG because it adds more depth. Otherwise we would have 50 games/year like Serious Sam. Not knocking on those types of shootem ups, but the FPS genre is branching off into something more. I love that you have to work to do things. I hate playing mindless shooters. That's my opinion, though.

doktron
doktron

@dannydopamine8 @Pewbert

white ppl are not the only racists. in rwanda,africa, 1980s, the hutsie tribe believed the tutsie tribe to be inferior human beings, and slaughtered over 1,000,000 tutsies in 3 days.Id say white ppl r pretty tolerent compared to this.

justerthought
justerthought

@doktron @theprismhead @fourclawrider 

You are so wrong. The guys who made Crysis did not know what a gem they had created and sold it to pursue the Crysis route. Ubisoft realised the potential and improved it with each game, resulting in the awesome Far Cry 3. Crysis on the other hand has just ended up another generic scifi shooter with COD gameplay mechanics.

You are just trying to take the moral high ground by claiming to be a disenchanted Far Cry fan who only enjoyed the first game because Ubisoft corrupted the series. Real Far Cry fans appreciate the whole series and give credit for what Ubisoft have achieved. I'd take Far Cry 3 or Just Cause 2 any day, rather than COD or Crysis. If you don't know the difference between those two genre's then you don't know the true Far Cry, so you don't have any right to dictate what the series should be.

fourclawrider
fourclawrider

@crzysheeit @theprismhead @fourclawrider I strongly agree with you. I used to play a lot of simple straightforward shooters but now they bore me to tears. A game that is nothing more than the basic gameplay of a shooter doesn't do it anymore for me. 

FC adds an open world aspect and some superficial RPG elements, which immediatly makes it a more interesting singleplayer than your average 10-level linear basic shooter campaign. But it still lacks a big deal in other aspects like story, character build up, variety...  

spikepigeo
spikepigeo

@dannydopamine8 @Fireblader70 No, Fireblader70 is right. You're more likely to think highly of a product if you can relate to the individual seen enjoying it. Companies only care about appearing "non-racist" after people point out their racism.


Until then, it's whatever they have to do to make more money. Plain and simple. If the world accepted racism full stop tomorrow, they would too because it would make more money to relate to racists in their ads.

SambaLele
SambaLele

@SkyAboveThePort @dannydopamine8 @Pewbert Good one. There is no known "creator" of that. There were other civilizations that enslaved others before; there's been hate on others before, etc. Just look at the history of Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt; etc. Sadly, there have been and there are plenty of other examples.

doktron
doktron

@fourclawrider @crzysheeit @theprismhead 

its the story that drives the shooter whether its an on the rails shooter or open world.A game with a good story has u wanting to move on to find out whats next.The story isnt the only thing but its a big part of what makes a game good or not.

crzysheeit
crzysheeit

@spikepigeo @dannydopamine8 @Fireblader70 Exactly, look past the actual people and to the underlying reasoning for an ad. Its to make money and they want to target as many demographics as possible. They realized that if it was only white or black people in an ad, you would have a lot less of the Asian crowd going for that product or service.

justerthought
justerthought

@doktron @fourclawrider @crzysheeit @theprismhead 

A linear story is just one way to make a compelling game. With clever sand box techniques, the player can be the story and generate his/her own unique experience. One of the reasons I like the Far Cry and GTA is because they are the closest we have got to that goal. It's possible to forget the main campaign and just live the life doing you own thing within the game world.

I love a good linear story like The Last Of Us but I would also like to see more games where I create my own story by just playing it. That sort of game does not suit everyone because it depends on how creative you are and how well you cope on your own without being led by the hand and told what to do.