A few weeks ago, Game Rant visited Ubisoft Montreal to preview the single-player offerings of Far Cry 3. At the event we had the opportunity to interview some of the creative leads behind the game’s development, including Animation Director Robert Darryl Purdy.
In our chat, we discuss the crazy cast of characters that define the Far Cry 3 experience, their origins, and how Ubisoft took an actor centric approach to crafting the people protagonist Jason Brody (pictured up top) meets in his quest to survive the island.
What makes the characters of Far Cry 3 unique?
"With all the characters we try to give them unique personalities, so everybody you meet will not be cookie cutter. They'll all have their own backstory, their own vices. So players will have a unique experience with each one."
Outside of Vaas, Dr. Earnhardt and Brody, what can players expect from the game's other key characters?
"Each one, whether it be someone who helps you along the way or who tries to hinder you, you'll have a fairly in-depth experience with each main character."
How many "insane" characters will we meet in Far Cry 3?
"It's got a fairly well-rounded cast that we've paid focus to. Obviously there's the primary cast which I'm not sure of exact numbers, but it's fairly high, it's in the double-digits, and then we have the supporting cast... We have quite a few people for you to interact with."
Jason's on this island for a long time, "a few weeks to a few months" according to Purdy, and of course this experience is what will change him along the way. For more on Brody's progression and transformation, check out our Far Cry 3 interview with Producer Dan Hay.
Do we get to see the character's past?
"For the most part, the game is in real-time. You meet them and your experience follows Jason's time on the island while he's trying to get his friends back."
Purdy continues, explaining why the theme of "insanity" worked for the story of Jason Brody, a young man in this twenties who has finished school and is exploring the world. They needed a "catalyst" to launch the story around the idea of Jason being an ordinary guy, but how they came about the focus on characters who are incredibly eccentric, yet believable and gripping, was not intentional from the beginning and was evolved out of casting.
"When we started casting, for let's say Vaas. We started casting actually for a different character and we saw Michael [Mando], we saw his audition reel and it blew us away, but it was not the character we were casting for. So we said, 'ah, this was interesting,' so we got him in and we said 'look, we really like your performance, we're going to create a character for you.'"
Once they started shooting, they kept re-doing and re-doing the scenes until they got something perfect. Out of that came the demo video showcased during the Ubisoft press conference at E3 2011, a monologue about insanity.
"Once we got this first performance from Michael that we nailed down, which you saw at E3, we kind of knew we were on to something. We hadn't seen anything like this before... So, then characters became a bigger focus. We thought this was really interesting, you know, I just watched a two-minute monologue with this guy, right, and I was riveted. So then we started to think, how can we push characters and how can we push performances... we thought how far could we go before people thought 'oh, this isn't believable'?"
They then began researching war-torn areas of the world, infamous warlords, even the sorts of cases Vice works on. They even brought vice into the studio and they felt they had met the types of characters in real life who were crafted for Far Cry 3.
"Not only are you going to have an amazing shooter experience, but when the gun goes down, you can still really have an amazing, wacky experience just with the people you meet."
What's the story behind Vaas and what are his goals?
"Vaas is basically the very dark side of an alpha male. He's on this island that has no laws, no rules, no police, and he's power hungry. He'll do whatever it takes to make money and control people."
There are warlords vying for power, but the game's characters are not broken down into factions where players pick one side or the other a la Skyrim. The island is absolutely in turmoil and its residents are in conflict, whether it be the natives trying to survive, Vaas (pictured just above) doing his thing, natives doing their own thing, and other characters with their own agendas.
Where were characters like Vaas inspired from?
"I'd like to say 'yeah' but not really. I told you how Vaas came with Michael [Mando] and we really invested in what we call this 'actor centric' model. It's not only for the actor but it's for everybody. Like when we get a scriptwriter in, obviously we want him engaged in writing a great story and we take that script and what I love is, I take it to an actor - and the doctor's a good example - we try to find the actor that can really embody the character and is not afraid to take a bit of chance and bring his own to it."
In the demo we see Jason talking over the radio to a character named Willis. Who is Willis?
"Along the way, Jason's main goal is to get his friends and get the hell of the island. Willis is one of the people you can meet who has... means to get information on his friends and right now is helping Jason. That's pretty much as far as I'd like to go because I want to go too far into the story."
Jason has zero background experience, but like your or I, he's seen his fair share of action movies and played action video games so he knows which way to point the gun and where the ammo goes. "The further he goes the more comfortable he gets," seemingly hinting at the experience and RPG elements of the game.
Do any characters from the previous Far Cry games play into Far Cry 3?
"I would say no, but we're aware of our lineage... Like Mark [Thompson] alluded to after the demo, we're aware of where we came from so we try to build in... if you notice where we're fighting at the beginning is the Medusa and the Medusa was in Far Cry 1. So, you know, we pay sometimes homage to it, but are not necessary tied to it."
How does the progression and experience system affect the player and Jason?
"Well, basically the whole world is open to you to explore, and what I can say is that the island is going to leave a definite mark on Jason."
By mark, look towards the tattoo on Jason's arm which will be key in representing Jason's experience on the island. For more on that, again, read our interview with Producer Dan Hay.
Is Jason being set up as a franchise character?
"At this point, we haven't even put much thought of that. We're so focused on making Far Cry 3 the best experience, we haven't really entertained it. Myself, I'm kind of undecided on that. I love that Far Cry, to me, was a great way to say, at its core, here you are in this remote place away from civilization. This is a great vessel to tell new stories each time."
Far Cry 3 will releases on September 6, 2012, for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.
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