Today we had the opportunity to interview in a one on one session, Mike McCoy, Creative Designer/Director on Rainbow Six 3 for the Xbox.
3DAvenue: Can you introduce yourself and explain your position on the development team?
Mike McCoy: My name is Michael McCoy I was the creative designer/director on Rainbow Six 3 for the PC and Xbox.
3DA: Ubisoft has made it very clear that Rainbow Six 3 is not a port. What made you decide to create a brand new game and are there any influences from Raven Shield and Athena Sword?
MM: For sure, the reason that we decided to make a different game was that the audience for consoles is very different to the audience for PCs. PC audiences are willing to put a little more time in reading things and planning and things like that, the console audience want to go right into the action, they just want to be immersed, they want to have this really incredible experience, they want to learn as they go. So we set out with that in mind and we said "you know what, what plays good on the PC doesn’t play as well on console" and we’ve seen it in the past where companies just dump a game over one way or the other and it just doesn’t work. As far as influences sure we started with Raven Shield code and that was kind of the basis. Raven Shield is the storyline of the PC game and we have a whole new storyline, new missions, enhanced AI, no multiple teams, the hero’s game. You have up to three team mates with you but you don’t pick them and you don’t arm them. They are assigned to you. So there is a whole bunch of different things. If you die in the game, you restart the mission. Period, end of story. There is no switching to another guy, it’s a real hero game versus on the PC you could play as a kind of a turn based or real time strategy game by planning and then saying I want to watch. You could create a plan and then play, you could not go with a plan and do lone wolf you had all these different games. On the console we said we know what we are going to do and we are going to do it really well. We redesigned the reticle, we changed just about everything but because we started with the Raven Shield codebase we were able to do all this in nine months instead of three years. So in a way the console has had about a thirteen months development time where the PC had about twenty month development time.
3DA: Would you say that because of Ghost Recons phenomenal success on Xbox that influenced your decision making on Rainbow Six 3?
MM: Absolutely, in Ghost Recon there was a lot of talk about “I don’t think this game will do very well on console, we don’t know if its a console kind of thing” and the guys from Ghost said look we are going to make you this game, everyone's going to love it and they really want after Xbox Live which I think was brilliant because all the Clancy games well at least Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon are co-operative gaming and they just play so well with other players. So we took a twenty five percent rip meaning twenty five percent changes and seventy five percent like the PC but because Ghost Recon did so well basically upper management told us do whatever you have to do, there is no stops, all we are saying is we want it for Christmas, anything that you want, any time you that want, you know anything they gave us all these resources so Ghost Recon really opened the door for us.
3DA: Why was the decision made to have players only control on player as opposed to the entire squad?
MM: For one there is memory issues, you know you’ve got sixty four megs of ram and there’s no cache so you’re pretty much stuck with what you’ve got. On the PC you could be at four places instantaneously, in your character, in another member of your team with all three of those characters in the one spot or jump to the leader of the other two teams but we had to keep one area loaded in high resolution and the other loaded in medium resolution and that was a memory nightmare on console so we said ok that’s not going to work. So it gives you a little more disjointed gameplay. On the PC because you spent time looking at planning and you said you know what im going to set them an alpha go zone here so I can drop in from here and here and then switch to Bravo and go from here to here but there’s no planning on the console so you get this game and characters in the console version it would be very disjointed, you wouldn’t know which map you were playing because there is no preview of the map so if I jump from here to here how can I tell where to go and what’s going on and it just didn’t work out so we decided stick with the hero game and you are Ding Chavez who is the most well known Rainbow in the book other then John Clark of course and if you die its the end, mission over, start at the beginning. You don’t get to switch to the other characters. They are supporting characters, they have their own voice, they have their own personality, they are very unique individuals because you are Ding Chavez and I think it really focuses the game play to a hero game and to a little more action.
3DA: Rainbow Six 3 is going to feature some advanced voice communication features such as controlling the players. Do you anticipate that there will be any problems in terms of accents or the way people talk, can people talk in French or English or German etc?
MM: We support French, German, Spanish, English and there is one other that I can’t think of. All of those are in Microsoft’s XDK. What we found though because we are from Montreal there are a lot of French Canadians. They speak with a different French accent and a different English accent so it takes a little bit of a learning curve. The game was made around American English so a person from the UK or Australia it will take just a little while to figure it out but the hardest command to say in any language is move because its got that long sound so we found people from England who would say move, move, move and then they finally say it right and it recognises them and they use that and go with it. It takes about twenty seconds to figure it out its a really simple thing and then it takes a minute for the default commands which is GO, GO, GO and the team does the default action for where ever you’re looking so if you’re looking at hostages and say go go go, you secure the hostage. You look at the door they open and clear so by learning that one command you can command your team in real time using your voice.
3DA: You’ve got Tom Clancy behind the Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six series do you have any other Military Advisors working with you?
MM: There is a guy who does a lot of advising for Red Storm and he is a former Navy Seal and some kind of operative like that, I can’t remember exactly his background. We constantly get versions to him and we get feedback on that, we have Mike Grasso who works for the LAPD and is now a US Marshall. He basically does Rainbow-like things everyday, he goes to hunt down America’s most wanted on the West Coast, he has half the US to deal with and he goes and collects these ten-time murderers . Anybody he arrests will never see the light of day again. So he gets after bad guys and we had him and he was really involved in all the tactics, all the AI development things like that and what we did do we said Mike we don’t want anything that’s classified, anything your using now, we want the latest stuff that you’re not using because as a regular person you don’t know that its a year outdated or whatever but we didn’t want to put in the actual real stuff because that puts peoples lives at risk and its a game. So we got the latest non-classified stuff and he’d play it and go “Well thats not what I would do but, taking into account I can’t tell you what I’m going to do thats pretty good I can see what your trying to do” and he actually came to Montreal and gave us classes on how to move as a team and how to clear a room and how to do things like this and that. We we’re going through the offices so you would have the POP team and the Splinter Cell team, plastic guns so we learned a lot and I think it can come down to the realism. You know when we see the team sweep an area or clear a room, you don’t know exactly what they are doing but it looks right, oh cool these guys know what they’re doing. It works well.
3DA: Can players expect to visit real world locations and famous landmarks?
MM: Well a lot of our locations exist in the real world, like we would visit Sydney Australia but we would make up the actual building. Like we could visit the Sydney Australia Opera House lets say we had a level like that but the inside would be our version not yours and again we don’t want to give away real floor plans, we don’t want to go there. How many people really know what a bank in London looks like? Well as long as you have the outside right and the smell and the flavours right you kinda add a little to the inside. We always to anchor it into a real country or a real town and then we look at it and say well London is a banking capital so we’re gonna have a bank mission there.
3DA: So is there a mission set in Sydney?
MM: No, no I wish there was that would be great. We play in Switzerland, we play in Venezuela, the French Carribean, the US, Montreal, Croatia and I think that’s it. But those are different locations then PC again we reviewed some of the alpine textures and the wood pile so we rebuilt the level so then we played Alpine on the console and we played on the PC and its two different experiences completely.
3DA: The lighting engine is used from Splinter Cell, how does this affect gameplay.
MM: Any time you put in real subtle details like that its kind of like a door you know in the US at least doors open out and the reason for it is fire, you go out the door and outside. So if you have a door in the game opening in, it wouldn’t feel right you wouldn’t know what it is it just wouldn’t feel right. So by putting the lighting on subtle things you go into a room and you feel like you’re really in this room. So what we did when we took the splinter cell graphics we tried to enhance them because we thought well they spent two years making them , we can spend nine months trying to make them better so we played with it and they did the same thing on PC, they took a lot of our PC effects and started tweaking them. So it was great having them right down the hall, when we needed help with the console they helped us and when they needed help with the PC we helped them.
3DA: Does the player have a limited number of operatives for the single player campaign?
MM: No, what we did was we decided to give each operative their own voice, their own personality and really detail them so we have three operatives that are on your team like your all a team of four. Operatives never die they just get incapacitated and then come back on the next mission. So that that way we could spend a lot of time and effort making really rich voice sets and really develop the personalities. We’ve tried to go away from the multiple operatives because one we had to manage them and we wanted to go more with this action adventure. In the game you don’t even pick who’s on your team John Clark assigns you a number of team mates. They pick their own weapons and then they look at what you pick and they’ll change accordingly you pick a silenced gun so ill take a silenced you gun you have a gas mask they’ll say hey the boss wants some gas we’ll take gas masks to. You can’t pick them and you can’t pick their weapons there operatives and they have things that they like to do.
3DA: What can players expect from the Xbox Live features?
MM: We had Microsoft up there recently and they were saying that we were the best implementation of Xbox Live that they had seen to date. We have everything that Xbox Live has friends list, player list, you can invite your friends who are online to join your game directly. We have downloadable content, we have real time voice communication. Anything that Live supports we support it. We started out from day one knowing that that was going to be a major component in our game.
3DA: Is there anything that you want to say to the people who are waiting for this game?
MM: Thanks first off you know that’s what drives us is to know that people really enjoy what we do and that’s the ultimate reward is to see how many people really enjoy it. We’ve tried really hard to make the game very unique if you have the PC version and an Xbox get this one to you’ll have a different experience. It will be a Rainbow experience but it will be different all the same you know we don’t re-use any of the same storylines, any of the same missions, nothing, its all different. So we’ve tried to give you very unique experience on your console.