Crackdown 2 is set to be released sometime during the first half of 2010, and ask Billy Thomson, design lead on Crackdown at Real Time Worlds and now creative director on Crackdown 2 at Ruffian Games, a few questions about the upcoming sequel.
1. What expectations do you feel you have to fulfil when doing a sequel to an game as popular as Crackdown?
Well, there are so many varied expectations, that we wonder whether can we fulfill them all. I believe we can fulfill most of them; we would very much like to fulfill them all but that is just not possible. We have taken Crackdown in a different direction, albeit derived directly from the first game, but it has undoubtedly changed the focus of the gameplay. However, that is not to say we cannot achieve the primary goal: making a great 'Crackdown game'. Hopefully the fans will agree! However, reading through the various forum posts regarding us developing Crackdown 2, it is clear that the areas of the game we had selected for change, for enhancement, line up with the fans' expectations: Increasing the number of co-operative players from 2 to 4, the multiplayer mode, new abilities such as the wing suit, new types of vehicles such as the helicopter, new toys, more AI and the expansion of playground that is Pacific City.
2. How do you go about adding enough extra content to the "Crackdown-formula", while still making sure that you don't overstep your boundaries?
First and foremost we had to define the boundaries, and considering a good amount of Ruffian staff had worked on the first, this was not a difficult process. We had to ensure that the player defines their path to completion, their methods, their strategies, their story. Introducing new gameplay, missions and flow while conforming to the fundamental rules of Crackdown was much more difficult. We did have some tough battles, but we believe we have managed, very successfully, to offer a very new, rewarding and distinctly Crackdown experience.
3. Even though your team has members who worked on the previous Crackdown, what does it mean for a new developer to work on as big a sequel as Crackdown 2, as the company's first game?
It means an awful lot to us, a massive amount to everyone associated with the project. For us at Ruffian, It's almost too good to be true; having the opportunity to work on what could be argued as one of the most unique Xbox 360 games as our first project. I don't think we expected the volume of media attention and the inevitable hype after the E3 announcement. I would be lying if I said we were not feeling the pressure, it is inevitable that we would. However, we have a very talented and driven bunch here and all of us realise just what an opportunity it is. We are well up for the challenge and we repeatedly exceed expectations.
4. Is there anything specific that you still feel Crackdown does better than any of the other games that have since been inspired by it, and how do you hope to accentuate these strengths?
I think it's difficult to say that Crackdown does certain things better; each of the current crop of open world games are fantastic in their own way. Making an open world game is very much a battle of balance. You want more of this, then you get less of that. All of the games out have pushed their boundaries of open world games in some direction to make their game. We need to focus on what will make Crackdown 2 better, and that's as a sandbox or toybox, but not necessarily copy or emulate what others have done. If we did, we wouldn't be making Crackdown 2.