Last year's shockingly awesome superhero title inFamous boasted a massive sandbox world known as Empire City -- a playground full of climbable, grindable, shootable objects. It was an impressive environment, made all the more impressive by a startling piece of information revealed by Sucker Punch's Nate Fox during a recent GDC panel: The whole city was created by a team of just 12 artists.
Fox explained that this feat was accomplished with the liberal reusing of the game's catalog of environmental assets. For example, there were only two types of cars in the game, differentiated by hue shifts and decals. The map was partitioned into a hexagonal grid -- the inspiration for which came from the popular board game Carcassonne, Fox explained. Edges of each hex were designed to effortlessly fit together, allowing designers to make minor changes to each compartment, and paste the location into another chunk of the city.
This might sound like a cheap tactic for a developer to employ, but Fox explained that a developer's time and resources are limited. By swiftly executing the creation of a game's setting, the developers are given more of an opportunity to focus on designing "evil lairs" and other memorable landmarks. Oh, and according to Fox, the industry term for these outstanding structures is "Weenies." Yes, for that reason. Yes, that is wonderful.