By Andreas Misund Berntsen
Recently UbiSoft conducted a public developer chat where people got to ask the producer Mathieu Ferland questions regarding Splinter Cell. We were approximately 40 people in the channel, so a lot of interesting questions were asked. I’m sure some of you are particularly interested in the XBOX live content and info about the PC version, so here’s your chance!
When will we start to see XBL content, and more importantly, will it be free?
It will start next March, and first level will be free.
Will the Xbox LIVE downloads be available on demo disks for those without broadband?
We're not sure about it yet, but if we do make it available on DVDs, it will be few months after Xbox Live users.
When will Splinter Cell come out for the PC?
Splinter Cell PC will be out early next year.
When will there be a demo out for PC?
We're working on it. It should be available in mid-December.
I'm interested in the lighting system for the game...what sort of tweaks were made to make Splinter Cell stand out in terms of the lighting atmosphere?
We've been using some specific xbox features like shadow buffer lighting. We wanted it to be all real-time so we could interact with lights in the environment, and we made it happen.
What do you think of the 8.6 review from Gamespot?
I think it is a good review since they've been searching for little imperfection (because this game is great, but no game is perfect). I think it is fair, but we would have got the message even with a 8.9 score.
How are you going to make the controls for the PC version of Splinter cell with keyboard and mouse, and if so how will we be able to handle all Sam's moves
The free camera allows Splinter Cell to be perfectly adaptable for PC as it is quite similar to 1st person game type of control. All moves will be available and the experience will be quite similar to the Xbox version.
What is the difference in playing Splinter Cell on level Hard or Normal?
Do you really want to die? The AI is more accurate, your life is shorter, enemies are harder to get rid of once you've been detected.
Are there 14 or 9 missions in the game?
There are 9 mission + a training level. Even if you've played the demo, you'll learn some new stuff in this training.
How do you feel about the constant comparison between SC and Kojimas MGS-series?
It was a natural reflex to be compared to MGS2 or the Thief series, since there are very few stealth games on the market. It is an honor to be compared with MGS2, but I'm glad that people like the gameplay once they've played Splinter Cell, since it is quite different.
How long time does it take to finish Splinter Cell? (minimum/maximum)
Between 15 to 35 hours depending on how you play.
Did Splinter Cell become everything the developers wanted it to be, or have some things been left out along the way?
A game is never exactly how it was meant to be. You always need to test if the system works well and modify content to improve imperfections.
Did the Splinter Cell team get help from Mike Grasso, the technical consultant for games like Rainbow Six?
Yes we did, especially about the use of weapon and gadgets and how to move with them.
Did Tom Clancy have any influence on this game?
Of course. Mr Clancy was mostly involved in the beginning when we worked on the concept, the story, and the core of the game.
What was the most important part of the development?
Shadows system and AI was a big part, but also the management of all gameplay possibilities. There were millions of details we needed to test and make sure that players can really play the way they want.
What is going to be the difference between the PC and XBox version?
There will not be many differences in terms of gameplay experience. We are mostly making sure that PC user will play a PC game, and not a console port on PC...
Why do the guys keep holding the guns after you knock them out, and why can’t you pick up their gun and use them?
Picking up guns is fun, but not realistic. Picking the weapon would have been very hard to calibrate since we wanted this game to be more a stealth game than a shooter.
How long time did the development of Splinter Cell take?
Splinter Cell, along with Metroid Prime and GTA: Vice City, are probably the most obvious choices for Game of the Year. How do you think Splinter Cell stands a chance against those other two titles?
It's very hard to say. Once again it's all a matter of cheering!
Is Sam based on a real-life-character?
Sam is a pure creation. We've been inspired by different characters from movies and others sources.
Any notable hidden features (Easter eggs, costumes, etc)? Something special for completely it on "hard", other than extreme satisfaction?
There are not many Easter eggs in the game. I think that a lot of enjoyment will come from trying different things with enemies in a same zone.
Will there ever be a sequel to Splinter Cell?
It's all a matter of how successful Splinter Cell will be. If it deserve a sequel, than maybe.
What do you like most about the game?
I like to do tricks on enemies while remaining hidden. This provides a great feeling of power.
With games constantly being turned into movies like Tomb Raider and Resident Evil, do you think we could ever see a Splinter Cell movie?
I hope so. But you’ve got to ask Mr. Clancy for that.
The console war is on at full strength. Why did you decide to release this game first on the X-box instead of the PC or PS2, which have a wider market?
The development team wanted to make the game that was in our mind. Other console would wave also make very good game, but Xbox was the one to pick in order to achieve exactly what was in our mind.
What games did you use as a source of inspiration?
Mostly MGS and the Thief series.
Why is Splinter Cell different from any other Clancy game? Why didn't the game become a team based tactical shooter?
Because we wanted to create a new hero in Tom Clancy game series. NSA comes back to traditional type of spying with a man on the field. This game is quite tactical, as you need to think twice before doing anything.
Is the AI completely event-scripted or does it also has a "life on its own"
Both. If you're not detected, enemies will use a scripted AI, but as soon as you're detected, anything may happen!