For our Question Time feature, Kotaku reader Ryno asked Volition’s Sean Kennedy about the prospect of Red Faction: Guerrilla’s destruction technology making an appearance in the next Saints Row title. Kennedy says it won’t happen for a long time:
“The hardware is just not there to allow for a world of that density and size, with all that is expected to be going on in, say, a Stilwater and have it be fully destructible in the way Red Faction: Guerrilla is. There is also a balancing act between destruction, time, quality, and other things that just would prevent that from happen. So, it’s not even just a hardware issue but a lot more.”
Kennedy also spoke (addressing a question from Kotaku reader tomnookisdead) of the sheer technical challenge Volition faced implementing the destruction tech in RF:G, and how far ahead of the competition it really is:
“I would love to see it not make its way into mainstream games for a long time. Fortunately with what we have made it should be a long time until you see other developers hit the same level of destruction and type of destruction we created for RF:G.
“The tech was in development since 2004, and it was a long, uphill battle. Several times we all together to admit that we had run out of ideas for getting destruction to be fast enough, and then a miracle would occur—some new optimization that doubled the frame rate—and we’d continue on.
“Designers had to change their mindsets. It’s not possible to control the player, to micro-manage him. They learned to build scenarios for the player, but not to worry too much about what the player would do, because the player could do all sorts of crazy things, like driving a truck off a cliff and crashing it through the roof. The rule was ‘respect the player’s freedom’.”
While I loved the destruction in Red Faction: Guerrilla, it really seemed to suit the anonymity of its Mars setting. In a “real world” environment like a Saints Row or GTA, where the city itself is as much of a character as the human cast, it’s difficult to envisage how you could let the player destroy it all without, well… breaking the game at the same time.
What do you think? How would you approach designing a Saints Row 3 that used Red Faction: Guerrilla’s destruction tech?