A few weeks ago we travelled to Moscow to go hands-on with THQ's post-apocalyptic shooter, Metro 2033.
You can read our Metro 2033 preview for thoughts on the game, and what follows is our lengthy chat with THQ's Dean Sharp and 4A Games' Andrew Prokhoror.
Has Metro 2033 changed direction over the course of the project? It was announced, all went quiet and now its back... what's changed?
Dean Sharpe: Well THQ's involvement has been for about two years, so I can't really say what happened before that. I think before that it was more of pre-production and certainly the stuff that was seen at Leipzig, that was all just pre-production, the design wasn't set, they didn't have a publisher... Since THQ's been involved, it hasn't changed that much.
Before Metro 2033 went into production, were you playing with the idea of other formats or genres other than a first-person shooter?
Andrew Prokhoror: No.
What's been the most challenging part of bringing the novel to game?
Andrew Prokhoror: Well the key points of the novel are in the game, but because it's impossible to copy the book directly to the game, it's even harder than making a movie of a book. That's why we were given the freedom, to make our vision of the book by the author and he's very comfortable and satisfied by that. He understood that with such a philosophical book with such philosophical ideas it's very difficult to convey the ideas in a game.
So we've tried to add the philosophical elements as much as possible, but not so much to spoil the impressions of players who want a shooter. There are some elements of RPG, but nevertheless at its heart it's a shooter game.
Post-modern apocalyptic shooters are quite a crowded genre. What's going to make Metro 2033 stand out?
Dean Sharpe: There are other ones? [Laughter]
From my perspective I think the story is the biggest difference. Generally, I don't think - aside from a few titles - the stories in videogames are pretty weak to say the least and more often than not, the stories are written for the game as opposed to trying to adapt a game from a book.
Especially with Metro, Prof read the original story, because it was released online and was like 'I'd like to adapt this into a game'. Then talked to Author Dmitry Glukhovsky and said, "If we can change a couple of things, we could really make a good game out of this." Part of the book is now actually different because of that.
Andrew Prokhoror: It's hard to say that, for example, if I would say to my team, 'okay the last five, I don't know how much XXXX gives but let's change this with this and it's natural post-apocalyptic game.
I would like to recreate the game and people would believe that if it would have happened in the real world it will be like that. So it was the goal. So all features secondary. So creating a general realism, it didn't start with game we have unique selling point, marketing don't like it, so approach was from a different side. From real world and all features which could help us create the atmosphere, interesting gameplay.
Some of your team worked on S.T.A.L.K.E.R. how different is it approaching a linear gameplay experience?
Andrew Prokhoror: Yeah different, we decided we're fed up with [open world] replayability and let's just concentrate on making a good cinematic game. It was interesting for us.
Dean Sharpe: From my perspective when you're making an open world game, it's a very difficult to control the overall gameplay experience, because you have no way of knowing what the player will do. The more linear you are, the greater control you have over the overall experience and with us trying to tell the story it was critical to really control what the player was seeing and what he was experiencing to be able to tell the story effectively.