By Spencer . November 21, 2006 . 10:37am
Out of all the exclusive Playstation 3 launch titles, Resistance: Fall of Man has been getting the most attention. Resistance: Fall of Man is developed by the same company that brought you Ratchet & Clank, but it has a grittier war style instead of the cartoon world in Ratchet. To learn more about the title we asked the team at Insomniac a little more about Resistance. Is this the launch title you’ve been waiting for?
The tale of Resistance: Fall of Man is set in an alternate timeline of World War II. Why did you choose this setting for Resistance: FOM and what was the inspiration for the storyline?
Josh Wall, Writer: The story of Resistance: Fall of Man requires a particular global setting to occur. Our alternate timeline aligns world powers in a specific way to elaborate on various aspects of the Chimeran invasion. In doing this, it was especially important that we subvert history in believable ways. The horror of the story we’ve developed comes from playing off the audience’s expectations of known events.
This relationship between actual events and the Resistance: FOM spin on them draws the player into our world. It allows the player to share the perspective of our protagonist, Sgt. Nathan Hale. At the beginning of the game, Hale walks into an absolute nightmare. To put the player in that position, we had to give them a world they could recognize.
Inspiration for the story was never lacking. We’d like to think of ourselves as being a strong creative engine. At its core, Resistance: FOM is a very human story. The player is one man in an amazing struggle for the fate of Earth. Fortunately for them, they’re the single most important man in that struggle, so they’ll get to see all the fun parts.
Since the Playstation 3 has more power what kinds of advanced AI routines are in Resistance: Fall of Man that would be difficult to include in the previous generation of consoles?
Max Garber, Lead Gameplay Programmer: On the PS3, as compared to previous generations of hardware, we have made two major advances in AI. The first is that there are way more things going on at the same time. In Resistance: FOM we have large battlefields populated by many enemies, allies, interactive glass, and physically simulated props. In any given encounter with a group of enemies, you might see the enemies firing at the player, jumping through glass windows, using cover, diving away from grenades, reacting to damage, navigating around dynamic objects, performing complicated kill moves on your allies, manning gun turrets, and many more behaviors. Having a large number of enemies executing all of these actions around you makes the battle feel more alive and dynamic. The other major advance is in the complexity of the AI routines themselves. In Resistance: Fall of Man, the AIs exhibit squad behavior, acting as a team to attack their target. In addition they use a complex navigation system to plan their way through the world. They can use this navigation system to find the player wherever he is, or to find useful cover from which to attack. Once an AI has decided what to do, it can leverage our animation system to blend what is often more than six animations at a time to achieve realistic motion through the world. All of these systems were written exclusively for the PS3 to take advantage of the new hardware.
One of the features mentioned in Resistance: Fall of Man is the frame rate is locked at 30fps. What were some of the challenges to achieve the steady frame rate in the single player mode and multiplayer?
Al Hastings, Chief Technology Officer: The challenge of running at a locked frame rate is becoming harder and harder to overcome as games get more complex. Ultimately what you care about when you’re trying to achieve a locked frame rate is the worst-case scenario – that point in the game where too much is happening or too much is on screen and you can’t finish all the processing in the allotted time slice. One of the reasons this is getting harder is that games are less predictable and less scripted than they have been in the past, so as game developers we can’t fully control or predict all the scenarios that the player might end up in. The ultimate example of this is a 40-player online game. If all 40 players chose to run into the same room at the same time and throw grenades at each other, you have the definition of a worst-case scenario. From another angle, the parallelism of the hardware makes it more of a challenge too. If any one of the execution units on the hardware fails to finish its work in time, you end up dropping a frame. It’s not as simple as the old days when it was just a CPU and a GPU that you had to worry about. At the end of the day, we rely on the techniques that we always have for overcoming these things — trying to create the most efficient code and assets that we can, and scaling the game design to make full use of the resources without going over budget.
Forty players at once in multiplayer is an ambitious task to take on. How large are the maps to support the players and what kind of multiplayer modes are in the game?
Eric Ellis, Lead Online Gameplay Programmer: The maps are pretty large by historical console game standards. They are definitely large enough to support 40 players and have a variety of different settings and cover and choke points to help keep the battles focused. We also support smaller versions of each map and some additional smaller maps so there are plenty of options whether you’re into small or larger games. We have maps tuned for 8p, 16p, 32p, and 40p.
For modes, we have the standard deathmatch, team DM, and CTF and we also have a few other modes that are variants on familiar themes but tuned with our own custom flavor and rules. The other modes are Conversion (a last man standing with the twist being that you start out human and then convert to Hybrid after a death), Meltdown (a team based strategic mode where you fight for control of nodes to wear the other side away and reduce their energy level), and Breach (similar to meltdown but the fight is over destroying the opposing team’s base in order to win and nodes give your team abilities and powerups).
One of the best things about multiplayer online though is that these basic game modes are only the beginning of what we offer. We also provide a huge number of player-adjustable settings that let you create a pretty significant variety and feel to the game. For example, we’ve been lucky enough to sneak some play sessions in since the Japanese launch, and they seem to be experimenting and having a lot of fun with the options. One thing they’ve started playing with is creating team games with a kill target but a limited number of lives (say 20); that setting forces you to play much more carefully and strategically because if you blow all your lives you’re out of the game. It made for a really fun and intense game.
Resistance: Fall of Man is said to support clans. What can gamers who want to set up clans expect from the interface in managing their group?
Eric Ellis: Clan support in Resistance: FOM gives you the basics to organize a group of up to 200, advertise your identity, and easily find your clanmates and play together. You can create a clan with a unique name and publicly displayed clan tag, manage invites, kick people from the clan, and post messages on the clan message board to help organize the group. There is a tab on your player manager popup where you can easily see the online/offline/in game status of all your clan members and PM them, invite them to games, or choose to join one of them in another game. Clan members also show up color coded in all player lists, and games with clan members in them can easily be searched and also show up color coded in general game search results.
Famitsu scored Resistance: Fall of Man with a very respectable 33 out of 40 (broken down to one 9 and three eights). It was also Famitsu’s second best rated game for the Playstation 3 in Japan. This seems like a good sign, but how do you think Japan will respond to Resistance: FOM?
Ryan Schneider, Marketing & Communications Director: First off, we are thrilled with and honored by the Famitsu review score. Famitsu actually visited us in our studio recently, along with a few other important Japanese media. They each had a chance to learn in-depth how we made the game and what we were trying to accomplish overall. After playing Resistance: FOM, the journalists commented how impressed they were with the balance we had achieved in creating both a high quality single player and online experience. So far, Japanese consumers agree, as we were one of the three most-purchased launch games after PS3’s first weekend of availability. As a western developer, we are particularly proud of this accomplishment, and hope our good fortune continues.
It’s hard not to make comparisons between Resistance: Fall of Man and Gears of War even though the games are notably different from one another, but what do you think Resistance: Fall of Man can offer that Gears (or any other first person shooter) does not?
James Stevenson, Marketing & Communications Specialist/Insomniac Online Community Manager: We’re keenly aware that people are itching to make comparisons between both games. This is flattering for us considering we’re being compared favorable to the most popular second-generation Xbox 360 title as a PS3 launch title. However, we try our best not to get caught up in all that hoopla and speculation. With Resistance: FOM, we set out to make a well-crafted first-person shooter that transcended a typical launch title experience, while adding our own unique twist. We’re confident we’ve succeeded in those regards.
As far as what Resistance: FOM offers that other shooters do not, Insomniac Games is known for its weapon design, and we believe the weapons in Resistance: FOM have many unique features and fire modes that you haven’t seen before. This relates directly to gameplay strategy as each weapon offers two or three ways you can use it. As you play through the game in single-player or co-op, you’ll need to decide which weapon is best for a given situation. However, we still give you the flexibility to use your own style. On the multiplayer side, 40-player online is a first for a console launch title and even after months of playing it, I’m excited to play more. When you add up the single-player, co-op and online experiences, we think we’ve created one of the most entertaining and well-crafted launch titles in console gaming history.
Insomniac does make creative weapons, the BullsEye automatically homes in on enemies and sapper throws explosive balls of goo. I’m really curious how a 40 player match is going to turn out and as soon as all of the Playstation 3s go off eBay and into the hands of gamers we’ll find out.