Nick - So we'll start with the big one: Are we going to see Too Human this year?
Denis - Yes! Our Launch date is officially going to be August 19th.
Nick - The game's been in development for some time now, it's on its third platform, is it meeting your original vision for Too Human?
Denis - I would say overall it's surpassing it. When we started thinking about the original vision, it really was from a contextual point of view. We wanted to bring up the invasion of technology in society, and that message is very strong in Too Human and will be strong in the trilogy. As we started working with and partnering with Microsoft, we became very ambitious on other levels. The one was combining action with RPG, and when we first started thinking about it, it was kind of funny and ironic in a way. We wanted to combine action with role playing as well as hunting and gathering elements. It's perfect for co-op which is what we wanted to do from the beginning and we just went ahead and did it without thinking about it; without thinking about how challenging it was going to be. And it was challenging. To see those things interacting now near the final stages, I'm confident and everyone here is very happy with the game, Too Human is a game that I can confidently say like no other I have ever seen. The gameplay with the fusion of those two elements alone make it something really really special. The graphics and engine, all that stuff is really really awesome, but the gameplay and fusion that we did really stands apart.
Nick - I'm sure you've seen the comparison made to Diablo and Diablo 2, do you feel your game is the next step in that evolution?
Denis - I think so. We've talked about if you do something right, it should change the way people will make these kind of games in the future. We've got a lot of groundbreaking things that are combined here. It's interesting to see the reactions on forums and stuff, because before you play Too Human you can't really imagine what it's like. The automatic camera control, the dual analog stick control, people can't envision that. That kind of stuff helped us translate hunting and gathering games to the console. I think it's just as big of a leap as it was when people started bringing FPS to a console. For a while no one thought they could do it. And with games like Diablo or World of Warcraft, bringing those to a console has generally been pretty foreign. You have a game like Diablo that are pretty reliant on mouse clicking. We had a lot of people both internally and externally both say we don't know if we can ever do this, but the control system itself really stands apart, and we look at those kind of things and we go; man there's some stuff here that really really shines when it's all combined. We are really happy with it. I think, I think so. Time will tell. Consumers will be the judge of course.
Nick - I mean, maybe the problem was people always tried to adapt mouse clicks to a console game, when really you had to approach it from the other direction.
Denis - You know, it's very true. It's the same kind of problem that exists in RTS's right now. I don't know what the answer to that is. A lot of people have been trying for a long time to bring real time strategies to the console with limited success, it really comes down in my opinion, to the controls. If someone somehow could break that control problem, or solve it, then I think it's really going to change that genre and allow it to be transferred to the console. I think thatt's what we've done with Too Human. The control scheme really sets it apart, and I think it'll really surprise people.
Nick - Lets talk more about the story and the gameplay of Too Human. With Diablo the dungeons and levels were always randomly generated, so it added a good deal of replay opportunities. Is that something Too Human will have?
Denis - Yes. Although to a different extent, yes, but in general to more extent. One of the things that Diablo did is that they completely randomly generated everything. It was in such a way that it was problematic in our eyes. We looked at that and said, should we do something like that? The problem with that is you generally don't get very good level layout because it's systematically generated in pieces. It becomes random, it's so random, that the gamer really can't distinguish between dungeons. They are the same, but just random.
What we did is that we don't change the layout of the levels that much, although they do change on occasion. What we do change is the setups of the enemies in those levels. And as you also level up and you replay the game, the setups will change; you'll get different kind of tactics with different enemies. The enemies evolve as well. Their behaviors literally change. You'll get some enemies that suddenly will start freezing you, and they never did before. Or you'll have, as an example, trolls with a hammer. You'll start seeing variants with guns that fire ice lasers, and when they hit you, they hurt. You'll be frozen for a while. You'll start seeing things like that, and you'll be like, this is getting tactically very different.
Again, until you play the game, it's not really clear. With the different races in Too Human there are different types of enemies that all work together. The leader has this pole arm, these things coming out of his head, and he draws this light tracer on you. If he holds that beam on you for 5 seconds, then any missile guys in the room can fire 4 to 5 times the amount of missiles with more accuracy. So you need to look at all the setups, and you realize you need to take down the leader before the rest. If you take that genre specific, what we do is mix around all these kind of setups. We put in Trolls, Dark Elf leaders that give everyone shields, by mixing all that stuff up, you get this kind of strategic element to the game.
It really works well with the kinetic gameplay because you sort of say, "I'm gonna slide to this guy, take him out, then take him out". And if I don't, I'll be in a lot of trouble because they'll all have shields and it'll take twice as long to take them out. And have that change on the fly as your character levels up, makes the game really interesting. It's really hard to tell, as we are really close to it, the one thing I'll say about Too Human, usually by this point in development - and no one will ever admit this - Oh man, I'm so sick of playing my own game. You know GTA just game out, I played it for a couple of hours. All I've really been doing is playing Too Human 24/7. I'm still loving it every time. There are still variants I haven't tried. There are still skill class combinations I haven't tried. It's just really really really deep. It's really rich for experimentation. I think that's really going to make people happy with their purchase of Too Human.