Will Porter turns on stealth mode and creeps into Crytek HQ
Seeing as they're so adept at (justified) high-end technological willy-waving, it's interesting to discover that in person the gents who make up Crytek are some of the most polite, interesting and decent human beings in the entirety of the games industry.
Always honest and philosophical about their achievements, our interview with them on the creation of the gameplay marvel that was Crysis was so open and so interesting that we've granted it extra room. The men interviewed were senior game designer Bernd Diemer and lead level designer Sten Hubler - let's just hope our mag is of a high enough spec to do them justice...
SUITED AND BOOTED
Bernd: The original design for the nanosuit was actually something different, back when we had our working title 'Paradise'. We had an upgrade system that started you as a normal soldier in his uniform, and as you went through the first half of the game you got upgrades to the suit, to fight the aliens with.
We tried to incorporate that into the design, but we found that it didn't work out too well because it was more of a role-playing thing. After preproduction though, we decided to give all the stuff to the player right from the start, and that's when we really started thinking about the nanosuit as essential - a core feature of the game.
MANO A NANO
Bernd: The inspiration was the 2020 Future Warrior project, which nearly every army on earth is working on. They're not looking to create superheroes, but to make people move faster and act stronger.
From that we took it a bit towards the edge, more towards sci-fi. We wanted somebody who could do cool stuff but never an outright superhero who could fly or be far beyond human enemies. We wanted to give people more choice in encounters, and so we came up with this three power system, so you could go into a situation and think 'Hey, maybe I'll cloak here,' jump on top of something or whatever.
Bernd: We had this device, which allowed you to adjust the external temperature of the cloak to match the environment. We took that out because it was so complicated to work - fiddling with the dials. In the end we used a more digital system: you're either cloaked, or you're not.
At one time, anything we thought was cool we'd try - even our version of bullet-time. We had a prototype but, even though it was really cool, it was just one of those things you just have to do right - if we have a superpower in the game it has to be something we're comfortable with. So we thought 'No, no. We'll stick with what we have, and put it in the drawer with all our other fancy ideas.' We may take one or two out in the future.
BEWARE BRANCH MONSTER
Bernd: From the start we wanted to have this completely open world in which you have the freedom to even kill story characters, but then we got to the problem that every project like this has, that we can't tell the story if a story character is dead. It turns into something we nowadays call 'The Branch Monster,' because when you cut one thing, there'll be another head growing.
The most important thing in the end was the production value, and the story itself, so we decided to focus on a more traditional storytelling method - you want to make people care about characters in the story, and having them killable is counterproductive to that.