Next up we talked with Michael "Maxx" Kaufman, Creative Director of inXile entertainment. Maxx's credits include titles like Kingpin, Redneck Rampage, and Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
Co-Optimus: Prior to working in the video games industry, you did model work on the fantastic (depending on who you ask) sci-fi film “Stargate.” Did your experiences in the entertainment industry have any influence on the art style for the games you’ve worked on since joining this industry?
Maxx: Absolutely! Movies create vast worlds of depth and detail from the angle of the camera. In creating games we create similar detail and depth but allow the players the freedom to look and move wherever they want to go. In the games I have been involved in I have always pushed the technology to create an experience that will be memorable -- both visually and tactually.
When we started developing the idea around Hunted we used a movie veteran concept artist to create the template for all of our outdoor environments. When we design new areas, we constantly ask ourselves “What do we want the player feel, see and experience?” As a result, Hunted has some of the most beautiful environments as well as some of the harshest I have ever seen in a video game.
Co-Optimus: We like the idea of two players still being able to support one another and not necessarily be tied at the hip through the “co-op at a distance” feature. What inspired the idea for this kind of mechanic?
Maxx: The concept of “co-op at a distance” came purely out of our desire to play co-op games, which we love to do, without the constraint of being tied to the person we’re playing with.
We were all talking and coming up with the design for the game and we asked “What happens if your partner is across the room and needs help?” or “What happens if you want to do something with your partner cooperatively but they are far away?” So we came up with the ideas such as healing your partner at a distance and battle charging your partner when they are in the heat of the battle and need “super powers” for a limited time.
Co-Optimus: What were some of the goals you set out to accomplish with the Hunted that you haven’t been able to do before?
Maxx: On the visual side we had never been able to create such a richly detailed world. It takes a lot of very talented people these days to create a big game, and we are fortunate to have so many working on this project. Through their hard work we have created a very exciting world for people to experience.
On the gameplay side the elements we have put into this game are truly unique for a game in this genre – including co-op at a distance and the ability to effectively use ranged and melee weapons. Another unique feature is that players will have two very different characters to play as – along with the ability to switch between using one character or another.
Co-Optimus: In the two to three years that Hunted’s been in development, have there been any changes made or features added as a result of some of the games (be they co-op or not) that have been released, or has the vision for the game been constant?
Maxx: We are always refining our game and paying attention to the market. However, the core design or its features remain true to our original game concept.