Joystiq interview: Wanted executive producer Pete Wanat

Kevin Kelly
K. Kelly|03.10.09

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Joystiq interview: Wanted executive producer Pete Wanat

Unconfirmed: Pete Wanat in his work clothes.

Pete Wanat has worked on games ranging from All-Star Baseball to the upcoming Wanted: Weapons of Fate, and it was his groundbreaking work on The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay that's made him the go-to guy when a movie studio wants to launch a movie-based game. He's worked on Scarface, The Thing, and both Riddick titles, and he's working at Universal Pictures Digital Platforms Group (or Universal Games, if you will) overseeing development of its movie-based titles.

We spoke to Pete recently about Wanted: Weapons of Fate, which releases on March 24. Read on for Pete's thoughts on the Wanted franchise, video game development, NBA Jam (greatest sports title ever?), multiplayer and GTA IV.

The last time I saw this game you guys were showing off the airplane level. That was at E3, so that was like six or seven months ago. What has been going on since then, just a lot of nitty-gritty work?

A lot of it was sort of finishing up the game and sort of getting it where it needed to be. We spent a lot of time on A.I. One of the things that is so often left to its own devices is artificial intelligence and making sure that the NPCs react a certain way. When you are doing a shooter, nothing is more frustrating than playing a shooter where your enemies are stupid, because it just takes you out of the environment, out of the element.

When your enemies sort of think for themselves or react smartly ... we have all been playing games and go, "That is so cool! Did you see what he did to me?" Even when it fucks you up, even when it kills you, when it is done in a smart way and not in a fuck, you played it wrong kind of way, then it is really good.

We have done a lot of tweaking. So much of what you do in the last six months of a product is about shaping and molding the game to make sure it has a certain feel. You never have as much time as you would like, but we certainly spent a lot of time doing that, and a lot of sort of building out a bunch of levels toward the end of the game.

Nothing is more frustrating than playing a shooter where your enemies are stupid.

The level that we showed today during this event, the original title was Gondola because there was a gondola in it. Eventually it has a more story appropriate name, "Spiders Don't Have Wings", which is directly related to the bad guy and a reference to the flies and the ability to shoot the wings off flies. For so long I thought it was the weakest level in the game. Once it was all said and done, this goes to show you. We try to break down each level into like, "How good do we think this level is?"

I always had it as one of my worst levels. I thought it was the worst level in pre-production. I thought it was the worst level in the original design. It never felt right. And then, you get everything up, you put it running, you put all the enemies in. The guys at the developer in Barcelona, they place the enemies and they set up the routines and the scenarios. So much of what we do in Wanted is almost like these gun puzzles. Like if I shoot this guy, what do the other guys do? How do they react?

For some reason, in that time, "Spiders Don't Have Wings" turned into one of my favorite levels in the game. The fact that it is outdoors ... one of the things that the Diesel engine does really well for GRIN is they do these outdoor environments that are really spectacular. We turned up the saturation really hot; the ability to work with Wolf and Wolf's ability to sort of tweak lighting and change lighting. Those changes had the most dramatic effect, in my opinion, on that level. To me, it is one of the most fun levels to play within the game.

The whole bullet curving mechanic; can you play through without curving a bullet, or is it pretty necessary to do it?

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