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Ubisoft on making Splinter Cell for a broader audience


Speaking to IndustryGamers, Splinter Cell: Conviction creative director Max Beland shared his thoughts on the new direction of the Splinter Cell series. According to Beland, the team at Ubisoft Montreal spent a lot of time looking at previous games in the series to decide what its core values are. Beland said that the series does a good job of providing the "fantasy" of Sam Fisher, but that the difficulty was turning off some players. "What was coming up all the time was, 'Man, that game's hard. I played the first map and I stopped. It was too difficult,'" said Beland. He admitted that sales of the Splinter Cell series declined from the first game to the fourth.

Thus, the team decided to focus on the values of Splinter Cell -- stealth, light vs. shadow, etc -- and look at them in a different way. "If you're the best elite agent in the world, if you're Sam Fisher," asked Beland, "why do you have to hang off a ledge and move at one centimeter per minute?" He added that the team wanted Sam Fisher "to be a predator, not a grandmother." This concept led to concepts like the Mark and Execute feature, giving players the feeling that they really are an elite agent.

According to Beland, such changes to Splinter Cell are part of the delicate balancing act in which the game industry is currently engaged. "We need to stop making games that are super hardcore," said Beland, "But we're afraid because we don't want to lose the hardcore people!" He added that "it's a real challenge" to make a game that is both accessible to the casual audience but still appealing to the hardcore.

The full interview also discusses Beland"s opinions of Natal, the fate of the Splinter Cell movie -- he says it's not in production -- and the maturing of the video game industry.

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