Sucker Punch is riding the hype train to success. It revealed inFamous 2 at E3 2010 to an excited media, built upon that good work with strong showings at gamescom and PAX, and redesigned series star Cole MacGrath – twice. But now the hard work of crafting a visually stunning destructible sandbox really begins.
Here, Sucker Punch co-founder Bruce Oberg reveals to Eurogamer the truth behind Cole's double makeover, explains the benefits of PlayStation 3 exclusivity, and discusses the future of the independent studio.
Eurogamer: Why did you change Cole so that he looks more like he did in the first game?
Bruce Oberg: We had a pretty strong reaction to Cole after E3. We got a lot of feedback. I've got a working theory – I'm not sure I can prove this yet – we read a lot of reviews and the media reaction to the original Cole was lukewarm. We thought, well, we're changing so many different things, let's take a new look at Cole.
We knew we had cast a new actor for him – we have a new actor doing both voice and motion. So we redesigned Cole the character. We had no idea there were so many fans so emotionally invested in the old Cole. It's great that people could be so passionate about that character, given Cole had articles written like, 'Here's the 20 bald guys in every videogame.'
Eurogamer: Were you tempted to say, "It's just the vocal minority," and ignore the complaints?
Bruce Oberg: No. They were valid points. At first I thought it was a vocal minority, but it turned out it was a bunch of people. We run our own fan forums and there was a pretty big consensus there - 16 pages of Cole complaints. Ultimately we don't make the game for ourselves. You've got to listen to the fans. However, we put our own spin. We look at the best of everything. We wanted to get rid of the jacket because we want to see him move and fight.
Eurogamer: Is it like when a married couple compromise?
Bruce Oberg: No. No, it's not that, because there nobody wins, right? Here everybody wins.
Eurogamer: Good answer. Graphically the game looks a lot better. It must be a bloody nightmare to achieve the fidelity you're going for in an open, destructible world.
Bruce Oberg: One of the great advantages is we've got a team that made inFamous. We're building on the toolset. We know how to make a big city. When we started inFamous 1 we didn't know how to do that. Now we've gone through that once, so it's not quite as much of a learning curve, although we're creating more variety in the city itself.
We wanted the neighbourhoods to be very distinct, in addition to doubling down on the parkour – one of the cool things everyone loved about it. So, we have more things to parkour on in the city, the shapes of the buildings of different, so parkour is different in different areas of the city. There are now power lines on different parts of the buildings Cole can use to power glide through and better navigate.
Eurogamer: Is it an easier job because you're PlayStation 3 exclusive and you're focusing on just one platform?
Bruce Oberg: From the engineering side it definitely is. It's easier. I used to work at Microsoft years ago, and I worked on Word – maybe you've heard of it? We made Windows and Mac versions. It was very complex. Being able to optimise everything for the Cell processor, for the RSX, gives us a lot more freedom to be creative artistically. We don't have to worry about testing for the limitations of some other platform. I don't think we could make this game, from a technical perspective, on any other console or any other platform.