We caught up with Rainbow Six: Siege AI team lead Jerome Lassere the day after the team had their big reveal as the conclusion to Ubisoft's E3 2014 press conference, to talk the reveal, the switch from Patriots to Siege, and what we can expect from the game as a whole.
"We weren't super satifisifed with the results." he explains on the project going dark as it shifted name and concept, until they started work on Siege in January last year. "We didn't feel it was up to par with what we wanted as a game company and what the players expected or deserved as players,. At one point we had to make the choice: is it going to work, or do we make the hard decision to start over fresh? To focus on next-gen consoles and and let's bring together the next Rainbow Six game. And this is how we got to the Siege gameplay."
He continued, elaborating on what made the series so distinct. "The process was; what is Rainbow Six? what defines that tactical first person genre? [We] decided to put together gameplay that encompasses the whole game of Rainbow Six, and we've been working on the destruction technology for a while, and we knew we had something good in our hands. So we combined all these to have gameplay that really defines and encapsulates what Rainbow Six is."
Obviously the destruction tech changes the way the game is played, but according to Lassere, its more of an expansion on a key part of the franchise's history.
"There's always been this notion of a breach in Rainbow Six. That has always been there, but generally limited to some walls, some doors. Now in Siege, with full procedural destruction, you can breach anywhere. You can breach a floor if you want to get to a room that's below you. You can breach walls, the barricades the defenders have put on. It allows the players to have very different games even on the same map. The defenders on their side, their role is completely opposite. they need to prevent destruction, so they're fortifying the area. They want to make a stronghold out of their location, and so they have tools to barricade windows, they can reinforce walls, traps, barbed wire... anything to prevent the progress of the attackers."
"It's an awesomely complex problem," he went on, when we raised the point that breaching anywhere must create a headache for the designers. "It's opened up so many doors, not only in gameplay, but in terms of complexity and production. First of all the technology is very high tech - it only runs on next-gen platforms - and this is why we made the full-on switch."
Turns out, the team have had to become carpenters and electricians to more accurately portray a part of the game world we normally don't get to see. "Contrary to all the other games that everybody has been doing in the past, if you model a house, there's no need to do inside the walls. Nobody's ever going to see them.
"Now with Siege, we have people that have to model the wires and the pipes and wooden beams inside the walls. Because if you shoot through a wall and there's a wooden beam, there's going to be splinters everywhere. But that needs to be there. So have a full-on house that has all the structural elements of a real house even if its a video game. In terms of production, it's very big. It changes a lot of the ways we work... in the end we're pretty knowledgeable about everything that goes into building a house."
While the multiplayer was focus of presentation and hands-on demo at this E3, Jerome did tease some of the wider aspects of the whole package, calling the single player "different and new", and that every mode will tie into the entire Siege experience.
"We definitely will be working on some single player and co-op aspects. With me being AI lead I have a vested interest of that aspect of the game. Yes, we are going to have a lot of that. Rainbow Six fans are going to be at ease, they're going to feel at home in the game we're going to show. It's still going to be different and new.
"One main focus we have in production is to have the whole game as a cohesive product. Some games we have the single player and the multiplayer as completely different games. But this is Rainbow Six Siege, and it has to feel whole. We're going to have ways for players to get into the game and feel whatever they're playing it has a different feel to it, that's the same game. they're going to have ways to get used to the game and play it, but we're not saying much now."
A question about what weapons and gadgets we should expect to see lead to him touching ever so lightly on the game's progression system. "We're going to have emphasis on different roles, its asymmetric gameplay, and because of that we have different ways of playing the game, if you're attacker, defender... there's going to be variety there. People expect some level of customisation, progression and all that. And there's definitely be some aspect of that, and the way we're going to be doing it is interesting, but we're not talking about it. We're keeping some good news for later as well."
Catch the full interview below.