Among the varied selection of games shown off for the PlayStation 3, Sucker Punch's Infamous was an eye-popping surprise. The original game from the Washington-based developer is a far cry from the cel-shaded Sly Cooper series that helped put the studio on the map. The teaser trailer for the game showed off a gritty, realistic art style and a whole lot of superpowered madness. We tracked down Sucker Punch cofounder and producer Brian Fleming to find out what the developer is cooking up for the PlayStation 3.
GameSpot: When did development on the game start? What is the background of the team that worked on it (what games have they worked on)?
Brian Fleming: The game has been under development for 18 months and will ship in 2008. Sucker Punch continues to be a one-project-at-a-time studio, so the entire team shifted over to Infamous work when we returned from vacations after Sly III. We're excited to stretch our wings in a new direction with this title. And we're certainly as driven as ever to create great gameplay and spectacular visuals with Infamous.
GS: What inspired the game?
BF: We've drawn inspiration from a lot of different places. I know Batman Begins the movie was really inspiring for a lot of us when it came out. We were already in development when the Heroes TV show came out, and certainly, we're fans of that. But I think our real inspiration is to deliver a game that's so playable and so approachable that you actually get immersed in the journey and really feel like these events are happening to you...that you are in fact making the choice of how to treat people. Will you be a menace or a hero? That's a super interesting question to us!
GS: What can you tell us about the game's story? What elements in the trailer help tell that story?
BF: Not a whole lot at this point. There will be a primary story arc that will unfold as the game progresses, but how you play the missions as a good or bad hero will determine how the world reacts to you. What you can tell from the trailer is the story will be punctuated with some big set pieces and battles. That's something we think that's so important to any superhero story--the opportunity to face and battle with incredible enemies.
GS: What kind of game is it? Open world? Linear? Etc.?
BF: Infamous will have a nonlinear, open environment style of gameplay. We are making a superhero sandbox game that will allow players the freedom to play the game the way they want to play it. You couple some really rich powers with a really reactive environment and population, and you end up with something players haven't seen before.
GS: What are the powers that you'll have in the game?
BF: What I can talk about is what you've seen in the trailer: The hero is shown throwing bolts of electricity and directing a massive lightning strike. Those are specific, offensive powers, which the player will need to decide how and where to use. Obviously, there will be more than these two, but they're the only two major powers we've shown thus far.
GS: What's the change of pace like from the game SP has done previously?
BF: It's been a huge change--really across the board for us. We've gone from the PS2 to the PS3. We've gone from cel-shaded talking animals to more realistic-looking humans. We've gone from a level-based game to a fully streaming open-ended game.
But ultimately, I think these sorts of changes are what this business should be all about. We didn't want to sit around making just more sequels. Don't get me wrong; we absolutely love the Sly Cooper franchise, but it was time for something new. If we accomplish this and do a great job, I'll be incredibly proud of our versatility as a studio.
GS: What's it been like working on the PlayStation 3 for the first time?
BF: For us, the most exciting part of the PS3 has been the cell processor, the SPUs specifically. In our highest density scenes right now, we are currently using about 30 percent of the SPUs' capabilities--with the SPUs doing lots of heavy lifting for us on rendering, visibility, particle systems, skinning, animation blending, and so on...this with scores of pedestrians, cars, fires, etc., all going on. And the best part? We've not made any significant attempts to even optimize the SPU code. I think it's reasonable to guess we could put 10 times as much stuff on the SPUs and still make our frame budgets. It's really pretty amazing.
GS: Thanks for your time.