Interview - Philippe Fournier (Far Cry 3)


Interview - Philippe Fournier (Far Cry 3)
Talking Ubisoft's open world action title
Ahead of the release of Far Cry 3, we caught up with Ubisoft Production Manager Philippe Fournier to talk about his role in making the game and his favourite parts of the epic action title. [read our review here, win a copy here!]

Philippe Fournier is a Production Manager in charge of the cinematics and narrative content of Ubisoft’s upcoming Far Cry 3. Prior to joining Ubisoft Montreal, he worked as a software engineer on licensed games such as Iron Man and Lord of the Rings and acted as a coordinator of Vancouver’s IGDA chapter.

CLICK: Can you tell me what your role on Far Cry 3 is and what it entails on a day to day basis?

PF: On Far Cry 3 my role was Production Manager for the cinematics and narrative content. Basically, I was responsible for making sure that the production of cinematics and story elements was on track and realised to the expected quality level.

CLICK: Have you worked on any of the previous Far Cry titles – Far Cry 2 or Instincts?

PF: Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to work on the previous Far Cry titles but had played them extensively before joining Far Cry 3. My relationship to the franchise is the one a true fan would have. Every day when I play Far Cry 3 I feel like this is the best game out there and that makes me proud.

CLICK: The reaction to Far Cry 2 was quite mixed – did you respond to any of the criticisms when you were approaching Far Cry 3?

PF: One of our first goals when creating Far Cry 3 was to build upon the qualities of Far Cry 2 and listen to player feedback. We knew we had something special in Far Cry 2 with its systemic nature, dynamic encounters and beautiful lush setting. Those are all aspects we wanted to bring back for Far Cry 3 by putting it on a tropical island, it could bring all of those systems to life again. At the same time, we felt like we had to improve on some of the quirks from Far Cry 2. One of our biggest additions come from the Outposts which are pirate controlled bases that govern a hostile area. Take the pirates out and the area becomes friendly, with rebels rolling in to help you defend it. These also serve as safe houses where a player can fast travel to from anywhere on the map. This makes navigation through a big world very easy, the option of grabbing a car or a hanglider is also there

CLICK: What do you think is the defining characteristic of the Far Cry series? It’s open world gameplay? Exotic setting?

PF: To me Far Cry is about giving the player a memorable experience in a rich and totally dynamic environment. Our goal is to create a world where players can get lost, meet a cast of great characters and stumble upon events that are only possible in a systemic game. It was so rewarding to see that Far Cry 3 kept surprising the development team and was always a popular subject around the coffee machines of Ubisoft Montreal. One of the best stories I’ve heard is when a rebel accidentally shot and killed a villager. This event led to a huge faction war between pirates, rebels and villagers where the player could watch in awe. To me this is the core of Far Cry.

CLICK: Were you intent on making the story more important this time around?

PF: With Far Cry 3 we have always wanted to tell a strong story that could live in the expansive world we were creating. The Rook Islands is a large archipelago that is well suited for a cast of insane characters. This is where Jason’s story begins, his friends are lost and he meets with Vaas and his sister Citra who are caught in a turf war for the control of the island. Having this strong narrative keeps the player going and also helps to justify other areas of the game.

CLICK: What impact will all those Drugs and Narcotics have upon gameplay? Will they be stat buffs, or open up gameplay techniques or are they strictly Narrative tools?

PF: As a young man from California, Jason lands on this island with only one goal: survival. Along the way, he will meet Citra and Dr. Earnhardt who can teach Jason the ways of the island and its secrets. Crafting different medicine is only one way to survive and will give him an edge in combat or during exploration. Those same characters will also teach Jason to learn about himself using the ancient traditions of the Rakyat tribe.

CLICK: Some example of how the wildlife can be used to distract/distress enemies...

PF: Early on we set out to build a dynamic and living world with Far Cry 3. Being set on a tropical island, we felt that the animals and their relationship with the environment was something we wanted to explore. This led to a diverse ecosystem where players can either be predators, hunting down a rare animal, a prey, being chased by a pack of wild dogs or attacked by a crocodile. These animals can also be lured into enemy camps and watch how it unfolds. One of my favorite tactics is to attract a herd of water buffalos into an enemy camp and silently take out guards from a distance. It’s the ultimate predator experience… until you hear the roar of a tiger behind you. How you react to this surprise is totally up to you!

CLICK: There seems to be a high standard of Voice Acting in Far Cry 3? Any famous names in there?

PF: The cinematics team should be very proud of their work on Far Cry 3. We had a great cast composed of upcoming actors like Michael Mando who plays Vaas. Our performance capture solutions allowed us to have multiple actors playing out the scenes together and capture their body and facial movements as well as their lines all at the same time. This allowed us to reach a movie-like quality that is all told from the first person point perspective.

CLICK: The melee system seems overhauled with stealth kills, double kills, death from above and throwing knives. Is going Melee only through the campaign a viable option? Or is it simply a precursor to the gun show?

PF: The player has the choice to play the game in his own way. Some situations might be better suited to a stealthier or long range approach but it’s up to the player to choose which tools he will use to succeed. With the melee system, we wanted to expand on the options we give the players and make sure that everyone finds a style that they feel comfortable with. This is also true to our new weapons customisation, player skills and crafting systems that all serve to give the player this sense of freedom of choice. Finishing the game with only stealth kills. Why not?

CLICK: If you could ball park the game length with and without side missions, how many hours would it clock in as?

PF: That’s a tough one, Far Cry 3 has so much content to offer with the single player campaign: story missions, side quests, hunting quests, radio towers, collectibles and more. Add this to the 4 player co-op campaign, the map editor and the competitive multiplayer and you can definitely lose track of time in this immersive world.

CLICK: Who is your favourite character? Is it Vaas? Is it Vaas across the board or are there some as yet unrevealed gems awaiting players?

PF: As awesome as Vaas is, my favorite character is definitely Hoyt, Vaas’s boss. If you thought Vaas had some issues, wait until you meet Hoyt for the first time!

CLICK: The character of Jason Brody starts out as frightened, vulnerable and inexperienced and eventually winds up as the most awesome fighter in the history of fighters? Does the gameplay reflect this progression?

PF: Jason lands on this island expecting the best experience of his life along with his friends. He left his cozy home of California to travel to Asia and go on extreme adventures that he is fond of. Unfortunately for him, things don’t go as expected and he will need to learn how to survive if he wants to save his friends. Along the way, he’ll meet Dennis that will teach him the way of the Rakyat people. Every skill that Jason learns, the player will be able to choose and will be represented by a tattoo on Jason’s arm. Every player will have a different experience and a tattoo to prove it.

CLICK: Some sense of the supernatural has been teased – will Jason develop any powers you can talk about?

PF: The island’s mystery is more about learning how those people managed to survive in those conditions and how this ecosystem sustains itself rather than supernatural powers. In that sense, Jason will learn new skills that will make him stronger and more knowledgeable as well as craft medicine that will be useful in different combat or exploration situations.

CLICK: The gameplay trailers have shown glimpses of Jeeps, Jet Skis and Hang Gliders. Will players get the chance to drive anything more substantial in later levels, like planes, ships or tanks?

PF: Vehicles have always been a big part of the Far Cry franchise and the third installment is no different. Players will have a wide variety of land, air and sea vehicles that they will be able to use to navigate around the island as well as ziplines which offer a quick and stealthy way to sneak onto enemies. We’ll let you discover your favourite one.

CLICK: For a game with a single player focus, is it a challenge to also bring the same level of focus to the multiplayer side?

PF: For Far Cry 3 we were lucky to have another development team, Ubisoft’s Massive Entertainment, work on the multiplayer aspect of the game. This way we could each focus on our respective areas and the challenges they pose. That being said, both teams made sure that the two modes were consistent and were part of the same immersive universe.

CLICK: What can we expect from the multiplayer in Far Cry 3?

PF: Our multiplayer modes really focus on team play rather than individualistic strategies. It’s a really tight experience where you will need to support your teammates if you are to win a competitive match or complete the co-op campaign. It’s deep, engaging and ties very well into Far Cry 3’s universe.

CLICK: If you had to pick a favourite element or feature in Far Cry 3 what would it be?

PF: It’s really hard to choose a single feature because my favorite aspect of Far Cry 3 is the combination of all the systems that create memorable experiences. One of my favourite moments started with a nice drive along the beach to my next objective. When I reached my destination, I saw that friendly rebels were already engaged with the pirate gang whose leader I had to take out with a melee attack. Quickly I sneaked into the camp and realised that everybody was now shooting at a pack of komodo dragons that came out of the jungle. I used this opportunity to get on a rooftop and perform a death from above takedown and quickly made a run for it. This was an awesome moment that had me talking about it at the water cooler the next day!

Far Cry 3 is coming to Xbxo 360, PS3 and PC from the 29th of November. You can read our review here and head over yonder for a chance to win the game!

Interview - Philippe Fournier (Far Cry 3) on
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