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Developer Diary #2: The Saboteur for PS3

Tom French's Avatar + Posted by Tom French on Oct 28, 2009 // Lead Designer, The Saboteur

…Aaaaand back. Last we talked I told you about my buddy and our hero Sean Devlin, since then he and I have been quite busy. We’ve had some pretty cool press trips to the UK and even to the city where The Saboteur is set in—Paris. Felt a lot like a coming home.

Paris in many ways is like one of the characters in The Saboteur. Paris is The City of Lights and Love. It’s vibrant and colorful, rich and cultural. People are constantly out walking the streets and nearby markets are filled with browsing shoppers. If you’ve seen the movie Amélie and you’ll know what I mean. That’s the “fantasy” of Paris we strove to have in the game — and do. It’s a beautiful and bustling city filled with incredible buildings and architecture. Building Paris was an extremely tough challenge to tackle because the city is so well known.

First and foremost, we had to be very cautious about how to bring the in-game version of it to life. We started out by thinking about how to create “the fantasy” of Paris. From a physical world perspective we’d have to make sure that we had all the major monuments in the game, and we do. The Louvre? Check. Notre Dame? Check. The Eiffel Tower? Too big to fit in the game, cut… OK I lied… absolutely! Check! They’re all there and built to their grand real world scale – waiting to be climbed and explored. All monuments have been placed where they belong in a scaled down map of Paris and filled in the twisting streets and buildings in between. It’s not a real map of Paris but it captures the spirit of what the city feels like. For example, from the storefronts you’ll be able to see the street level all the way to the amazing rooftop that inspired parkour. Parkour, for those who don’t know, is the gymnastic free-running you’ve seen in movies like Casino Royale or in games like Mirror’s Edge.

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But the problem with trying to re-create a city like Paris is that, no matter how many Nazi soldiers you place in the world, it could never feel occupied.

To solve this, we had to do something drastic. The idea was to take this city and wrap it in chains, crushing the hope of the people. To represent this mood we literally suck the life out of it by removing the color from sections of the world. This is what we call the Will to Fight. These low Will to Fight areas have the harsh black-and-white, Sin City-style look you may have seen in a lot of our screenshots. In these areas Nazis patrol the world and people in the streets are harassed and even executed. These are grim times, but not for long…

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As Sean fights back in missions against the occupation alongside the Resistance, successful grand acts of defiance against the Nazis will literally bleed color back into the world, inspiring the people inside of it.

While this could have just been an interesting visual gimmick in The Saboteur, this inspiration is where the gameplay of the Will to Fight comes into play. It’s not liberation; the Nazis are still in control of the country and exist in these areas. It’s that the hope and spirit has been restored to them. In these high Will to Fight areas it’s safer for Sean to exist. People will cheer him on when as he fistfights in the streets, even help fighting alongside you by providing black-marketweapon dealers that will give Sean access to all sorts of better equipment and gear for the resistance.

How does Sean accomplish these “grand acts of defiance” in the missions? What types of things will you be doing in these missions? Stick around for the next blog and I’ll answer these questions and more…

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//Add Your Own

27 Comments   47 Replies

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+ Crotin on October 28th, 2009 at 6:01 pm said:

Great job on The Saboteur, it looks good. Oh and uh…we won’t stop you if you want to make it look 2x better on PS3 :). *hint hint, wink wink, elbow nudge elbow nudge*


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+ tojeka on October 28th, 2009 at 6:14 pm said:

@Crotin
The best version will of course be on the PC. PC is always the best as a modern PC has multiple times the power of the PS3 and XBOX.


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+ kdiep on October 28th, 2009 at 6:21 pm said:

love the style and look of this game.

Question
Aside from missions (and sidemissions), are there any world interactivity? You mentioned finding hidden items but to me that’s a bit boring. I’m thinking more on the level of the gangs in the GTAs (always fun to kill them) or having the police chase after you.

Basically wondering if there’s anything to do in the world when you’ve finished the main story.


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    + Tom French on October 28th, 2009 at 7:09 pm said:

    So when I mention the \”collectible\” stuff it\’s more like sniper towers, tanks, Nazi Generals, AA Guns, and stuff that is the majority of our collections in the game. I was actually just playing that type of \”loop\” in the game, getting explosives, tracking these things down, jumping in an AA gun to blow up other occupation, then blowing it up with dynamite. It\’s fun and very different than things like hidden packages, etc. After the main story there\’s all this stuff you can deal with (or while on the story) and you\’ll still have access to the side missions.

    You can get into chases like in GTA. Ours start of simple with motorcycles with standard Wermacht soldiers but eventually escalate to things like tanks, APCs with armored Terror Squad soldiers in them, zeppelins, and planes that chase you around. I love just pissing off the world and fighting in it. Getting all the way to the last level of the alarms is actually quite difficult to stay alive but when you get to shoot a plane or zeppelin out of the sky it makes it worth while. :)


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+ jncasanova on October 28th, 2009 at 6:48 pm said:

This game looks great!

Questions:

You mentioned climbing, this means there is some parkour gameplay?

How much game time do you spend shooting and how much driving? I mean, is the gameplay based more on shooting, stealth (if the whole city is filled with Nazis I guess you have to hide a lot of time), or persecutions (car chases only or are there motorcycle [Steve McQueen’s Great Escape inspired?], running or other vehicle chases?)


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    + Tom French on October 28th, 2009 at 7:20 pm said:

    Yeah, there\’s some parkour style gaming of climbing, jumping, sliding down zip lines, etc. Paris is really great because it\’s almost like the city was built for it. :)

    Like all our mechanics, driving is really a tool for the player in most cases with the exception of the times you need to do it in the missions or the races. You can use vehicles as a weapon too. One of the perks in the game allows you to plant bombs in the vehicle while you\’re driving it and then bail out so it blows up when it hits something. That\’s good fun. :) I\’ll get more into some of the way we approached the mechanics in the game in a later blog so keep your eyes open for that.

    Oh, we do have motorcycles with sidecars in the game (they have mounted guns on them) and there\’s a moment early in our game when you are crossing the German/French border where we do a camera cut when you jump over a bridge there. I\’ve done it in one of these motorcycles and it has that Great Escape type moment to it (I love that scene in that movie by the way). Another cool moment I had was I was in a Nazi car jumping it but hit a motorcycle just as I was going over the bridge sending the passengers of it flipping out in slow motion over my car. I love emergent gameplay. :)


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+ Pelt_Hunter on October 28th, 2009 at 6:50 pm said:

That avatar pic kills me.. lulz. Definitely have been following this game for a while. Looking forward to it, hope that it lives up to the Pandemic name more than recent titles.. not to say they were bad, just not quite what I expect out of what I consider one of the top devs. Mercs 2 and LOTR:Conquest, I’m looking at you..


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+ WingReborn on October 28th, 2009 at 7:24 pm said:

Haha, looks pretty interesting. I like the feel with colorless and colorful areas, adds a pretty nice environment to the game making it feel like…an old movie but at the same time it isn’t. Really hoping there’s a demo, I generally appreciate trying out the game to see if it’s smooth and worth it. But by far, the screens look absolutely amazing. But it is now on my list of possible games of 2009.


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+ ryanmck142 on October 28th, 2009 at 8:10 pm said:

looks like a great game.. ill have to check out the review on the storyline first though… is there online or coop.


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    + Tom French on October 29th, 2009 at 1:33 pm said:

    See #41 but in short, it\’s a single player game.


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+ kdiep on October 28th, 2009 at 8:27 pm said:

Thanks for answering my question Mr Tom French (cool name btw lol). I guess I misunderstood your “collectible items” part. My bad, looking forward to your game though and for the record I would have still been very much interested in your game without the world interactivity, but it just adds way more replay value (like I don’t see myself playing through inFamous again anytime soon you know).

Oh and I hope there’s a trophy for taking down that Zeppelin/Plane cause I’ll go for it. Meh on a second thought I’ll go for it anyway, trophy or not! December can’t come soon enough!


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    + Tom French on October 29th, 2009 at 1:33 pm said:

    Blowing up the zeppelins continues to be one of my favorite things in the game. I do it on an almost daily basis. :)


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+ BigPoppaB on October 28th, 2009 at 10:34 pm said:

To be completely honest… I am completely stoked for this game. It looks awesome, really fun and the variety in gameplay is great. I love the art style, and the sandbox nature of the game.

The only thing that really holds my hype back is that I didn’t really like Mercenaries 2 at all. I kinda worry this game could just be M2 (which was received fairly well.. but just not my type of game) in a different setting.

I also kind of fear that maybe you guys were rushed to get this out during the holidays. I REALLY hope I’m wrong because I love to try new IPs and there arent too many sandbox games out there.

Also, be honest… how long will this game, including side missions take. Developers like to exxagerate, which i get,,, but maybe just ball park it

Thanks dude, you seem like a really cool guy


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    + Tom French on October 29th, 2009 at 1:39 pm said:

    The game feels definitely different than Mercs 2. You can see hints of some Mercs type game-play in there (I did work on the first one) but while their game was about pure sandbox destruction, ours is a more intimate game focused more on story and character.

    As for length, focus tests seem to be about 20-25 hours. So that\’s the best estimates I really have. Doing all the side missions would probably add another 5 hours on that and taking out all the occupation targets in the world (literally hundreds and hundreds of them) I have no idea. :) I do it in about 15 but I know the ins-and-outs of the game and some of that time is me taking notes.I\’m sure people will be able to \”sprint\” through the game faster than that once but It would be pretty hard to do your first time through on normal difficulty. There is also a super hard difficulty that really does make the game kinda brutal and a real challenge!


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+ jaserious on October 29th, 2009 at 12:11 am said:

I remember seeing this e3 09 and it reminded me of Call of Duty meets Assassin’s Creed.

I like the open structure to a war game.

This is just another reason why i need to get a PS3 again.

Curse you YLOD. :|


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+ MegadethAndy on October 29th, 2009 at 12:26 am said:

No wonder most games dont have custom soundtracks, the devs dont even know they have the option to put the code in.


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    + Tom French on October 29th, 2009 at 1:42 pm said:

    What I was getting at is I thought you could just use the XMB to put on whatever music you want when playing.

    We put a lot of love into picking cool music for the game that we think fits the tone and mood of the world so by default we want people to listen to that. Adding custom soundtrack support is a lot more than just plugging in a line of code to make it happen. :) It also doesn\’t make as much sense as it does in say a sports or purely driving game as well.


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+ PullusPardusUS on October 29th, 2009 at 12:43 am said:

sounds like a nice idea of a game.
i am also looking forward of that “Fantasy” of paris, since i like paris.

also i am very glad that you guys (EA) are trying different stuff like this. i used to be one of these haters,but you guys listened (even though it toke you long) and said “i have changed” <– from Mirror's Edge song
=]

now activision on the other hand…. its hopeless lol


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+ makingdamage on October 29th, 2009 at 1:26 am said:

Is this a free roaming game or a corridor game?


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    + Tom French on October 29th, 2009 at 1:42 pm said:

    It\’s a free roaming sandbox game.


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+ beastilyone on October 29th, 2009 at 2:47 am said:

I wasn’t interested in this game until you posted this article, i will now be buying the game!


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    + Tom French on October 29th, 2009 at 1:46 pm said:

    Wow! Nice!


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+ hush404 on October 29th, 2009 at 4:42 am said:

I’ve purposely not been following this game too closely… (as it seems when I follow a game to closely I end up knowing more than I want to and ruin the experience of finding it all out during my play through)but just the short details and the style in which it is presented… it’s really got a hook in me. I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into it :)

I read a response saying you guys hadn’t made any plans for a demo… I personally hope ya do :) Demos rawk! I think a lot more people may be driven towards the title if they can get a taste of it.

Lastly, I read another one of your responses (#49) about the PS3 having built in custom soundtrack support… it doesn’t. It’s available to insert into a game.. but it’s a feature developers need to implement to make work, else it doesn’t. Sadly. Either way I don’t think it’s a big deal… I like customs in racers or w/e but a story driven game like this doesn’t really need such features.


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+ zaltar on October 29th, 2009 at 7:09 am said:

This looks like an awesome game!

Btw: I love your beard!

zaltar


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+ Hpedni on October 29th, 2009 at 7:14 am said:

I’ve been excited for this game since I saw it. I’ll have to watch Inglorious Basterds the day before I play the game.


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    + Tom French on October 29th, 2009 at 1:45 pm said:

    Hahaha, it\’s funny how Inglorious Bastards has a very similar tone to our game yet they were both developed very independently from each other. There must be some kinda hive mind! I was also glad that movie came out to kinda introduce to the mass that WWII wasn\’t always storming the beaches of Normandy, there were small more intimate conflicts going on all over.


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+ DeTh_aNgEl-69 on October 29th, 2009 at 7:36 am said:

Will we be seeing mutliplayer in this game or will it be all out 1 player game?


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    + Tom French on October 29th, 2009 at 1:46 pm said:

    See #41


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+ shaneosan on October 29th, 2009 at 7:58 am said:

Paris? Amélie? Best movie ever. I think I might buy this game JUST because you said that.


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    + Tom French on October 29th, 2009 at 1:47 pm said:

    Hahaha, I love that movie. It\’s one I have to watch at least once a year. That and Escape from New York. :)


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+ CL_KANOS on October 29th, 2009 at 11:04 am said:

Hey Mr. French couple of questions about what looks to be a really good game!

1. Is Pandemic using any of the aspects of their previous games such as Star Wars Battlefront in the controls?

2. Is there any pre order bonuses planned or DLC?

Thanks for your time and effort on the blog, keep up the great work!


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    + Tom French on October 29th, 2009 at 1:50 pm said:

    And some answers:
    1. Mercs and Battlefront had some similar controls but we have a lot of mechanics neither of those had so we had to make changes where it made the most sense while trying to be sensitive to not break conventions. It\’s definitely got fairly standard 3rd person controls with some additions/changes to facilitate all our mechanics. We want the game to feel somewhat familiar when someone just picks it up for the first time.

    2. There is a pre-order bonus from some of the retailers that unlocks an in-game knife stealth kill. As for DLC we haven\’t made any announcements about DLC for The Saboteur.


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+ snowbrdr1 on October 29th, 2009 at 2:03 pm said:

Wow, well this looks to be an amazing game. Definitely going to go pick it up on day one… I have one quick questions on the weapons, how far into the game will we need to get to see those “blackmarket weapon venders” and can you pick up the weapons of nazi’s you kill?


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    + Tom French on October 29th, 2009 at 2:20 pm said:

    The black market starts showing up pretty quickly after you get into the first act of the game after the prologue (where we setup Sean\’s story, etc). And yes you can get weapons off of the dead bodies of Nazis. The only exception is the basic flamethrower units have the weapons attached to them with hoses that you can\’t get off but there are flamethrowers you can get in the game.


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+ BigPoppaB on October 29th, 2009 at 2:14 pm said:

hey tom thanks a lot for the reply.

I tend to really take my time with games.. so a 20-25 game sounds really great as far as value for money goes.

the gameplay looks pretty similar to Uncharted’s in terms of fluidity and platforming… which is a great thing.

I’ll be getting this for christmas… so long as the reviews are favourable (im sorry… games just cost too much these days to ignore expert opinions)

thank you for using the blog for what it should be… developers and gamers communicating with each other


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    + Tom French on October 29th, 2009 at 2:23 pm said:

    There\’s definitely similar ideas to Uncharted (character, climbing, shooting, brawling, set pieces). The main major difference (and there\’s more than one, this is just the main one) is that we\’re an open world game so it\’s a lot more free form how you complete your objectives, etc in the game. There\’s also other mechanics like driving, disguise, suspicion, escalation, and more just general sandbox type stuff.

    That being said, I just finished Uncharted 2 over the weekend and really loved it. Probably going to take it for a second spin when I get some time off. :)


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+ shadowkiller11 on October 31st, 2009 at 4:57 pm said:

Looks great, going to get this whats with some of the haters though purely hating on a game because its EA seriously. EA did have some bad reputation and still has some but at the end of the day they are producing not developing also EA has made alot of great games. Mercenaries 2 i loved but it did have a few flaws so yeah.


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    + Tom French on November 3rd, 2009 at 9:58 am said:

    I agree. EA definitely has the baggage of a bad wrap. It\’s hard when you\’re that big of a company to not get targeted. :) I’ll admit I was as sad as the next guy to lose Origin and Bullfrog but the reality is EA is a different company it was back then.


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+ ShtayimPac on November 1st, 2009 at 9:40 pm said:

Hello Tom,

My name’s Gil and I’m from Israel.
I was a bit skeptical about your game first but I must admit that after reading this interview my mind has been changed. Kudos do you guys.
There’s something that’s bugging me as an Israeli and a jew in particular though. You see, my grandparents escaped the holocaust but then again, if I pre-order your game I overheard I could get a Hiter’s Youth Dagger. Wouldnt you say it’s a bit like spitting in the face? How can you guys give out presents that have anything to do with the Nazi regime?


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    + Tom French on November 3rd, 2009 at 9:49 am said:

    I see what you\’re saying here and sorry the idea seems insensitive. The idea behind the dagger is that Sean killed an officer to get the dagger and turns the use of the tool against it\’s former owner. There\’s a lot of times in the game when Sean will re-purpose gear he has taken from Nazis he\’s killed, only to use it against them (guns, uniforms, vehicles, using AA guns to blow up occupation, etc).

    That being said, if you preorder the game you don\’t have to use the dagger either by not entering the code or not actually doing the action in the game (the player has the choice to use this stealth kill).


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