"We've Got A Gun Culture In The Office"
At the recent Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Multiplayer event, it quickly became evident that Red Storm Entertainment and Ubisoft are creating an incredibly authentic shooter - right down to the feel of each weapon, how they handle and sound. Authenticity is king, and its grand architect is lead chief level designer Evan Champlin. Able to steal a few minutes of his time before a multiplayer tournament kicked off, I was keen to discuss how much research Red Storm put into getting everything just right, and how painstaking research permeates every aspect of the experience.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): Just to get the ball rolling, could you please introduce yourself to our readership?
Evan Champlin (Red Storm): Sure. My name's Evan Champlin, and I'm the lead level designer at Red Storm.
Dealspwn: Great stuff. Authenticity is going to be a key part of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, so what sort of research and field testing did you put into making the experience as authentic as possible?
Champlin: So, many of our designers and employees at Red Storm shoot regularly, that's a big part of our culture. We've got a gun culture in the office, so there's a lot of shooting and a lot of hands-on stuff. We also have military advisers coming to the office pretty frequently, and we work with some specific groups to make sure that we're doing it right.
Dealspwn: Can you name these groups? Are they secret, shadowy groups? Should we be scared?
Champlin: Well, some of them we definitely can't discuss. One that we do use is a company called Grey Group Training based out of the Fort Bragg area. Basically they're a military pro shop, so they sell military equipment to the people in the Bragg area, and they also run a whole training organisation so they provide high level training to military in the area. People fly in, so we get their take on it.
Dealspwn: The sound design is impeccable - right down to impacts and ricochets. I hear that creating the SFX was a major undertaking?
Champlin: All the weapon recording is done by our sound team at Red Storm, and they're an award winning sound team. One of the things they pride themselves in is the guns. So they go to as many lengths as they need to to get the 'real deal.' The majority of the guns in the game are the real deal weapons, though some had to be fabricated. They're very, very authentic. I believe they use six or seven mics to record at different ranges, so they get the muzzle, they get the action, they get behind the rifle, in front of the rifle, far away and mid-range.
As a shooter myself, I really love what they're trying to do, they're trying to change the perception of what guns actually sound like. We've heard a lot of guns from Hollywood and other games, and they're not an accurate description of what they sound like in real life. We're trying to push the boundaries, so when people think of suppressors, they think of what they hear in our game and not "pew pew."
Dealspwn: Yeah, there was a real sense of weight, clatter and clack - and the occasional fleshy thump. Out of interest, how long do you think it's going to be before we 'see' Ghosts out in the field with optical camouflage? Are they already out there?
Champlin: Oh boy, I think it's way too soon. Maybe they are out there - and we'll never know - but I guess maybe a decade. We actually work with a guy called Dutchman Gay, and he is based in the Natick Soldier Systems Centre, and he's our technology contact and we've used him on previous titles. He's the one who gives us all this information about technology.
Dealspwn: Right, while I've got you here, there's one question we love to ask developers. What is the most badass, awesome or awesomely badass thing players can do in Ghost Recon: Future Soldier?
Champlin: Mmm, oh boy, that's tough. There's a lot of cool stuff! I think one of my favourite things in the game is in the Saboteur [multiplayer] game mode. You're carrying around a briefcase bomb, and you've got your secondary weapon out. But if you actually melee someone while you're carrying the bomb, you use the briefcase. It's fricking awesome. Oh yeah, it's instant kill, once the animation kicks off, you'll hit him in the solar plexus and shoot him a couple of times!
Dealspwn: Annoyingly, that's all we've got time for. Many thanks for talking to us, Evan.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier will release on May 24th for PS3 and Xbox 360. The PC version is slated for June.