Crytek interview: 'We don't want to be the company that just does sci-fi shooters'

Crysis dev on Warface, mobile and a secret shooter...

Crytek's been called "one of the most ambitious independent developers in existence." Does the European middleware monster think that's a fair assessment? In a word, "yeah".

And with an upcoming release slate that includes a Kinect game, social platform, free-to-play shooter and a "spectacular" console and PC game, plus the launch of its first iOS title, we can't really disagree.

Fibble is out now

To help catch up on its long list of projects, we met up with Crytek's GM of games, Nick Button-Brown at GDC.

So, what did Crytek show off at GDC this year?

For the first time we're showing our tablet game, Fibble, which is our first foray into mobile. We're showing it on iPad 2 and we're really proud of it. It's not really what people expect from a Crytek game; it's very cute, with a home environment and a little hint of Micro Machines to it. It's important to us to not just do realistic, sci-fi shooters all the time and the team in Budapest have been working really well on it.

We're also showing CineBox, which are our cinema and TV productions tools - so that's kind of high-end engine stuff. We're redesigning our tools to make them more appropriate for cinema and TV production. They have a lot of tools but they're not real-time and we hope we can bring something special to that mix.

We're showing a little bit of G-Face. We're not talking about it much here but we've started on a closed beta in January that's really just a functionality test. We'll talk about G-Face later when it's much closer to actually coming out.

Most importantly we're showing Warface. This is our MMO FPS initially for the Asian market. It's a free-to-play, micro-transaction based shooter running on CryEngine and it's really looking good. It's PvP and PvE and it will be out in some countries very soon. We're still kind of deciding when it comes to North America and Europe.

Warface: A free online FPS

So why is now the right time for Crytek to enter the mobile arena?

Because one of our teams really wanted to do it. It all comes down to people having having a passion to do what they're doing. The Budapest team said they'd really like to do some tablet stuff, they have a really strong technical team there, and they were just really passionate.

We do want to do a lot more tablet games going forward, so this is the first of many. Not too many... but if we've got a good idea, then yeah. The current generation of tablets give you a lot of room for technology. Four years ago you couldn't, but now games look really good. We're really happy with the technical achievement but we also think we've got really nice gameplay beneath it with Fibble.

It's important to us as a company to not just do sci-fi shooters. We wanted to do something a little cuter. We're all getting a little older, we've got families, and one of my favourite moments recently was coming back from holiday and I gave my daughter a tablet, which gave me two hours of peace. I'd spend millions of development budget to get 2 hours of peace in a car journey (laughs).

With all this talk of mobile, a lot of our readers are now going to be asking, 'are you still committed to big budget first-person shooters?'

Absolutely. There are so many things I can't talk about... A big part of our business is big budget console and PC games. We are doing all these other things, but they're on top of that and we're doing them because they're interesting. We still want to deliver the highest quality that we can, wherever we go. You know about Homefront, you know about Ryse. We are working on another project... [laughs] all three of which are looking really good.

The other project looks absolutely fantastic - I mean, genuinely the best of that kind of project we've ever done. It looks spectacular, the team are doing really, really well and it's just really nice to see the team really enthusiastic about what they're doing. They're really happy. We're going to carry on doing those games. We like doing mobile games, we like doing free-to-play, but we also like blowing things up in a visually stunning style.

Crysis 2

When will you be able to tell us more about that?

April! We're constrained by our publisher's PR machine but we're really excited by what we're seeing.

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