Part Two: Ruffian's Steve Iannetta on Crackdown 2

Give me an idea of the creative process behind developing a sequel like Crackdown 2. You showed off the magnetic grenade, a weapon that allows players to tether objects together to create chaos. How does it work staring at a whiteboard in a meeting with a group of people tasked with creating something original out of a universe that already exists?

It's such a fortunate position. I'm surrounded by lots of talent. An awful lot of talent. And we've got a very open system, and people have great ideas and we try implementing them as quickly as possible. We like to get the focus on a feature, see it to the end, get it working and then ask, "What's next? What's the next feature, and let's focus on that."

Also we realize that is is Crackdown and we have an obligation to make that game but have fun with it. The tools, the toys. That's the fun of it. That's the fun of Crackdown. We want to expand on it, how you can get weapons, where you get them, how you use them and adding things like props to use as well. How you can utilize things like the Mag Grenades. Adding all these elements. Basically we just try to maximize as many ideas as we can. Realize them, get them inside the game and just make sure that we've got this world where players can take these pieces and mix and match them up. Mash them up. We want the player to be able to create moments. That's basically what we focused on from the beginning. That's it. That's very much a unified effort.

You're showing deathmatch, that's what we've played.


But what else is on the scope for competitive modes? Crackdown was a big proponent of co-operative gameplay, you're trying to expand on things in Crackdown 2. What else is planned?

What we're trying to do -- and of course there are classic game modes like capture the flag, team deathmatch, things like that -- but we do have a few ideas to give it more of that Crackdown experience. As for what they are, it's a little early to talk about what those are.

Well, let's brainstorm here.


"You see it and you know, 'That's Crackdown.' The art has a distinctive look."

What about a mode similar to Left 4 Dead's Versus mode, where players can take over as The Freaks against The Agents.

Uh. There are no plans for that, at this point. No plans for that.

It's too early to talk about it! [Laughs]

Alright, I'll let you off for now.

Back in July, Microsoft revealed they had signed a license agreement with ScaleForm to use the GFX middleware for HUDs in select Microsoft Game Studios titles, Crackdown 2 will be one of the first releases to use that middleware. How does that change the development process? You worked on the original Crackdown, how is it easier now having that middleware available to you?

I think it is easier. Speaking from my position, and that is very much the realm of art and design who work on those functions and sorts of things, but so far it has just been very easy to layer these kinds of things on. And of course we already have a HUD in place on the front end. But these areas are just a lot tighter than in the first game. I think it has helped improve the process quite nicely.

I noticed -- and this is of course a very early build of the game -- the game appears to be much darker than the original. Is that atmosphere change there because of the "apocalyptic" side of the storyline? Am I just going crazy?

No it is [darker]. We're really trying to reflect ten years of change. But, we're still trying to make it look like Crackdown. One of the interesting comments I've been hearing, and people have mentioned this to me recently, is instantaneously you can see Crackdown when you picked up a magazine or saw a screenshot. You see it and you know, "That's Crackdown." The art has a distinctive look. We're really trying to retain that look, but also we're trying to reflect what has happened in the world in the environment. Trying to make it look -- I don't know if sinister is the right world.


Yeah. It's a civil war. It's a living, breathing world.

In the first game it was very much about becoming the most powerful being in the city. In Crackdown 2, it seems like players will not feel the same. Players won't get to a point where they feel like a God in Pacific City.

No, no they won't.

That's a conscious effort? That's the mood here?

Absolutely, yeah. I mean, I don't want to give too much away just now, but we've got a fantastic hierarchy of ... uh, nastiness in the world. The Freak Family, we're got a number of variations -- here you saw two, maybe three on screen. There is a lot more, and again we're really walking away from... Yeah, you might be a human tank -- a real man of destruction -- however, you will come up against enemies like that. You are going to experience some really, really, really brutal moments.

We showed you the game using God Mode, but I would love to see us trying to do what we were doing in the game. [Laughs]

Yeah, that seems like a bad idea. Right now, this generation is very focused on downloadable content and the future experiences with retail released. Crackdown had some DLC. I hate asking this question, but is the future something you plan when developing a title with DLC potential, especially when it's already established to work? Or is that a time to wait for when you step away from a finished product and then think, "How can we add to this?"

Downloadable content was something we were really happy with. When I say "we" I mean RealTime Worlds [Iannetta's former employer] was very happy with downloadable content. The Keys to the City Mode, the driving parks. We know that's an area we have to, have to focus in on. So we have a number of ideas, a number of concepts going around and already we are really planning downloadable content and it will be a big, big area.

"The old classics like Keys to the City -- that will be a big part of [Crackdown 2 DLC]."

It doesn't sound like you're just talking about little things like character skins, you mean more substantial content?

[Laughs] Well again, I would like to hold off on saying too much at this point. Leave those doors open. However, the old classics like Keys to the City -- that will be a big part of it. I have to say that will be a big part of it.

We are looking to offer -- I think we would like to offer -- additional content, again probably in the world that we'll be adapting new areas in the world for new experiences. But again, there are a lot of ideas kicking around and a lot of concepts I hope to see come to reality.

Thanks. Oh and when did you say was the exact date for Crackdown 2?

[Looks at Microsoft PR handler] Uh, 2010, right?

PR Handler: Yeah. [Laughs] Nice try though!

[Laughs] Alright, alright. Thanks a lot Steve.

Thank you.