Rainbow Six Vegas 2 LiveText

See what Game Designer Philippe Therien had to say.

Hello and welcome to Eurogamer's LiveText Interview with Philippe Therien, Game Designer on Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2. You're a bit late for the actual interview, but you can catch up on what happened by reading through the dialogue below. Vegas 2 is due out on 20th March for PS3 and 360 and on 17th April for PC, and you can check out our review early next week.

Our live coverage of this event has finished.



Moderator: Hello everyone! Phil is ready to begin. Unfortunately for him, Ubisoft has actually sent a biography over, so we don't need to ask our usual 'who the hell are you?' question. Instead we can simply tell you that he has worked in the film industry on special effects and props, and has experience in game development ranging from architecture designer to level designer and game designer. He's worked on the likes of Uru Ages Beyond Myst, The Matrix Online, Naruto Rise of a Ninja and Rainbow Sixes Black Arrow, Lockdown, Vegas and of course Vegas 2. So Phil, what specifically do you do on Vegas 2?

Phil Therien: My job title is Game Designer. It means that I handle concepts, game mechanics, scenarios, characters, weapons and I followup on all these things while we are in production.


OK, So I'd like to ask 2 things: 1) Is the Xbox Live Vision face mapping still in the game, because I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere. 2) What are the chances of getting GRAW-esque 'throwback' map packs for this game? I love the Airplane assault and sneaking missions from Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear. I know this game is more action orientated but this would be cool.

Phil Therien: 1- Yes the face mapping is still very much there and we improved the image controls a little bit. 2 - GRAW is more of an outdoors type of game while we are a CQB game so its pretty much a decision to stick with close quarters. We do have a few maps that are more outdoors though just because we wanted a little variety.


Although lots of people play Rainbow Six games are you ever tempted to tweak the format slightly to be more forgiving to try and entice more casual gamers to play?

Phil Therien: Actually yes! We really wanted to make the game more accessible to newcomers so we created a new casual difficulty mode that adapts to your skill. Someone who is very new to shooters can enjoy the game and finish it. At the same time we also revamped our hardcore realistic mode which is really for veterans.


Why did you choose to make a direct sequel to Vegas rather than a Rainbow Six in a new setting?

Phil Therien: The ending to the first one should be an obvious tell-tale. We really wanted to finish the story and include everything that we wanted to have in Vegas. So there's closure in this one and a lot of updates that fans requested.


In Rainbow Six Vegas, finding a game online with a good ping rating could sometimes be a chore, when one was finally found and by the time you had entered the match, it had often already started. With the long match times and ranked matches, this could be very time consuming. How has this been improved for the sequel?

Phil Therien: We made some really big improvements in the way that the game looks for a match. Basically it looks for games in a different order so you will notice more matches that haven't started yet as first results, classed by ping in order. Overall we feel that this makes the game a lot smarter about finding you a game.


I'm coming to the end of my first year of a game design degree, and so far we've been learning Maya and Photoshop as a means of presenting our game ideas, whilst working through topics such as game theory. I was wondering what hints and tips you would give to a budding game designer?

Phil Therien: Good question! make sure you know your mathematics, this will come in handy more then you can imagine. Use videos, other games, old engines if you have to to illustrate your ideas. Not everyone is very mechnical or can see your ideas from a simple document. Imaging your thoughts is really useful. Also when you play games, try to figure out why you are enjoying it or not and think of how you would change it. One of the things we ask new designers is how would you change Pac-Man or Pong and see what they have to say!


Are there any plans on doing a Rainbow Six Vegas that works on the Mac? If not, why not!

Phil Therien: I really have no idea! That's a decision that's made by some very technical people and I make no pretence of knowing why it's hard or not!


Any (PlayStation) Home implementation planned? What is your opinion of PSN? How do you think it compares to Xbox Live and do you plan to use it more in the future?

Phil Therien: The stuff on PS3 is exciting but it's also very new. It took us a while to really master Xbox Live but we are working hard with Sony to see how we can best use their system. For Vegas 2 there won't be very much new stuff there but in the future this is something that we want to expand on a lot.


I was just wondering what plans you guys had for the next instalment in the series? Will you be looking to expand on the Vegas forumla or will you be wanting to go in new directions with the series?

Phil Therien: It's hard to say what we are going to do next as this is something that is not even discussed at the moment. One thing is for sure though, the Vegas series is well over and whatever comes next if there is a next Rainbow will undoubtedly have significant differences.


Are there any plans at Ubisoft to make a Rainbow Six - or a similarly themed tactical FPS - for the Wii?

Phil Therien: Hot topic. This is discussed at least once a week here. No plans at the moment but we love the Wii and I would really like to do something on the platform.


Moderator: Have you worked up any prototypes for Wii games or anything like that?

Phil Therien: Top Secret! No Comment! Nothing to see here folks - lookout behind you, a two-headed bear!


Will the face mapping be available for PS3 users as well, via the Playstation Eye?

Phil Therien: I believe it's functional, yes. I am not 100 percent sure because someone else was working on it, but I'm fairly certain it made it in.


I'm disappointed by the drop from four to two-player story co-op in Vegas 2, as myself and many others found this to be a defining feature of the game. What were your reasons for doing this and is there a possibility of a future download to bump it back up to four-player co-op?

Phil Therien: The call was made because when we switched to fully integrated co-op in the story we became restrained by the same limitions as the single-player game. Having more then four Rainbow bodies would have simply not fit in many places, so we had to move down to two. We still kept Terrorist Hunt with four players though. We know that it's not the optimum solution, but it really came down to either having an awesome co-op with two humans and two team-mates or having a cut-up co-op again.


What's your favourite new weapon in the game and why?

Phil Therien: M468 assault rifle - long overdue, sleek assault rifle. Looks hot, sounds awesome. By far my favourite. I do have a soft spot for the Skorpion though!


Do you believe you can get much more out of the 360/PS3 hardware or do you think we may see the next instalment on a next-gen console?

Phil Therien: We can still push the 360 and PS3 a lot. In fact, you will see that graphics are even better on this instalment. In the future prepare to be amazed ;-)


PS3 supports up to 14 players and Xbox 360 supports up to 16. Why the difference?

Phil Therien: Dedicated server support and a lot of very complex technical stuff. I probably cant give a good answer on this but I know that the limitations come from technical issues and not design decisions.


Here's an awkward question for you - do the manufacturers of the commercial weapons featured in this game (i.e. H & K, Accuracy International etc) receive any licensing fees or royalties for their products appearing in these games?

Phil Therien: I really can't discuss commercial issues or licensing, sorry!


Do you have any plans for DLC yet? If so, is it simply going to be more maps (like in the original) or do you intend to add new weapons/co-op missions?

Phil Therien: Nothing is announced at the moment for DLC. If there is DLC announcements it would be made after the game has been on shelves for a while. I don't know myself at the moment.


Do you still see the PC as a viable platform? There's been some significant comments coming out of Epic recently. I'm a great fan of the RS series and gaming on the PC - the three-foot experience as opposed to the ten feet. Do we have hope for a polished continuation of the franchise on PC or am I just a dinosaur?

Phil Therien: I still have strong love for the PC. The thing is that consoles are starting to be really attractive with the stability and almost the same quality graphics. If we do keep using the PC platform, I would really like to see more effort put into it. Recent games on PC have really had a hard time, and piracy doesn't help either - it makes it a lot less viable to release on PC. I'm not making a statement here, but the PC is in a weird spot at the moment, and it's hard to see whats going to happen in the next year.


The FPS genre is hugely over-subscribed these days, releases often characterised by copycat mechanics and ideas. What will be the next major development to move the genre forward into new ground or have we seen everything the format has to offer beyond subtle tweaks?

Phil Therien: We feel that we can push FPS games much further than this. We are not done by a longshot here. As to what we have in mind, the two-headed bear guardian of secrets will not allow me to divulge anything under threat of severe maulings and unemployment!


What recently released games from other developers do you admire, and why?

Phil Therien: I loved Mass Effect because I really felt like I was watching a good episode of Babylon 5 while playing a game. I enjoyed BioShock for the awesome story and mood and I thoroughly enjoyed Call of Duty 4 for the gunship mission. I am a huge gamer and I can't pass up good games! Even competitors'!


How happy are you with the Unreal Engine? There's no plans for a Silicon Knights move right?

Phil Therien: We're doing good with the engine I feel, but I really don't have a comment on what's going with SK.


Has Tom Clancy had any involvement in Vegas 2?

Phil Therien: There is a validation process that occurs with the Clancy licence but it's kept on a high level. All gameplay issues stay in Montreal.


Compared to Rainbow Six Vegas, how long is is the single-player part of Vegas 2?

Phil Therien: It's about an hour longer. There's actually more content in this one!


What's your view on EA's aggressive strategy towards the take-over of Take-Two? How healthy can it be for the industry, and it's long term future, if a publisher with a portfolio as strong as theirs remains vunerable to acquisition?

Phil Therien: I am more focused on making games. The business moves I keep an eye on, but really it doesn't affect the quality of games. On a personal note, whoever signs their paycheck I doubt that these guys will forget how to make kickass games. EA is a big house and they are seeking to expand, Ubisoft is putting out more and more good games, it's the nature of the industry, everyone wants to be on top.


You briefly touched on the changes to co-op in an earlier question. Will split-screen co-op still be present this time, and, if so, will the story be more cohesive in that mode compared to the first Vegas game, where many of the story sequences seemed to have been left out of the co-op experience?

Phil Therien: The story is perfectly intact in co-op and yes you can play split-screen. We are pretty happy about co-op this time - it's the best we ever made. All the PEC stuff, customisation and levelling is present in single-player as well so you can play co-op and level your character at the same time.


Any chance we'll see the other side of the coin one day? A game played from the terrorist's point of view against the oppressive Rainbow thugs?

Phil Therien: I mentioned that one night at 4am when my team-mates would refuse to open a door because of a bug (that is fixed now). Who knows? It might happen someday, but no idea really.


From the videos it looks like there is no 'weapon bob' when using scopes etc., unlike Call of Duty 4. What was the thought behind that, as it surely makes the games less realistic?

Phil Therien: There is actually a little bobbing we just lessened it so that it would be less aggravating to use sniper rifles. Realism took a backseat to fun for this specifically.


I'm a longtime fan of the old Ghost Recon 1 games on Xbox 1 and PC, mainly becuase they were more realistic, with one-hit kills, no recharging health-bars and massive levels. The newer Ubisoft shooters seem geared towards a mass market. Are there any plans to release or re-release any of these old super-realistic shooters on next-gen consoles?

Phil Therien: I doubt we will ever go back to really hardcore only shooters. The market was too narrow for it to be a viable business choice. We would like to be able to please both sides but compromises have to be made. We have some ideas to improve on the situation though - keep in mind however that we want our games to be accessible to as many people as possible, otherwise we just couldn't keep making games.


Steam has started to have a major impact on PC gaming and following today's comments from [Xbox Europe boss] Chris Lewis [he said discs will disappear "sooner than any of us think" - Ed], are you of the mind that digital distribution is the most likely way to combat piracy?

Phil Therien: It's a decent enough idea, but not owning a material version of the game I think scares some people away still. Maybe if technology evolves it can be a lot more popular in the near future though. Can discs really disappear? Yeah probably!


Will there ever be a Rainbow Six: London, mate?

Phil Therien: I tried to push for Rainbow Six Hawaii so we could go do some research! Seriously though, we did like the idea of a major city so I won't say it's impossible to see a Rainbow Six London. P.S. I really did push for Rainbow Six Anywhere Warm.


Not wishing to start a fanboy war, but are there any diferences (performance or otherwise) between the console versions, apart from the afromentioned number of players online?

Phil Therien: Not really. A few minor differences in graphics as usual, but nothing major. We wanted it to be a choice of console and not a choice of content to play Vegas.


What you plan for the german version? What will be different? Just removing headshot points or a complete change of the ACES System?

Phil Therien: That's something that is being looked into at the moment, but I can say that we are making every effort possible to offer a version of the game to Germany.


Is it difficult to get the balance right between linearity and choice with regards to the missions and story? Did the story have much of a bearing on how the levels were designed?

Phil Therien: It's extremely hard to balance choices with an experience that is controlled for emotions. We want to offer the best game possible while maintaining choice. It's something that takes us a lot of time to get to a point where we're happy. In the future we want to push this even further!


With the casino setting so widely praised in the first instalment, why the sudden switch to a back-street setting now? Surely this takes away a key aspect of the appeal?

Phil Therien: There's still a few casinos with lights and glitter but the contrast with the darker and seedier parts of old Vegas really feel good along the lights of mainstreet. Its hard to describe, but when you play the game you will see what I mean. We have some pretty exciting locations that are definitely on par with downtown Vegas.


How many times during development did you sleep at the office?

Phil Therien: Fell asleep at my computer three times, slept in a meeting room 4-5 times, bought flowers for my girlfriend Holly often to apologise. On the plus side, did you know that you can save on detergent if you wear the same clothes two days in a row?

Moderator: You're preaching to the choir, Phil.


Rainbow games have always been comparativly fast. Looking at the different game modes in COD4, and the difference between, say, team deathmatch and team survival, would the team behind the multiplayer ever consider a slower style of play with more tactical gadgets?

Phil Therien: Absolutely. Actually, try out Team Leader in Vegas 2. This mode has a much slower pace and takes some serious tactics!


Rainbow Six Vegas is often heralded as one the few games to have been ported succesfully from Xbox360 to PS3, what is your secret? (maybe it could help other developers who seem to have had problems in this department)

Phil Therien: Secret 1 - make the game fun. Secret 2 - talk with Sony to make sure you use the console as well as you can. Secret 3 - have Ubisoft Montreal make your game (shameless self-plug).


Looking at other multiplayer level design, which maps have had particularly large influences on the Rainbow series levels?
Retrospectively I see a lot of CS Assault in Rainbow Six III's Warehouse map.

Phil Therien: Hmm, good question. The shop from the Soldier of Fortune 2 demo back then, Dust from CS, the train in Unreal Assault mode and Airport from Rainbow. All maps that had something special. Yes we do a lot of studying and research!


Where's your favourite place (casino or otherwise) in Vegas? Tell us an amusing story about when you lost lots of money there.

Phil Therien: I actually got lucky and won money in Vegas! The rest of the team lost though. We got lost in old Vegas one time and found ourselves in a bit of a bad place where we were told politely that we shouldnt be there! Oops. We had a team member freak out in a helicopter ride and we shamelessly lied about who we were to get into a cool private party in a hotel.


I havent heard anything about split-screen really. Is there split-screen online play? If not, why?

Phil Therien: Yes it's there actually so, hmm, yay!


Has the experience of Splinter Cell's multiplayer had much of an effect on Rainbow's development as a franchise? I personally have always savoured the thrill of a well-executed neck break from behind [... - Ed], and feel that it is the sort of thing that Rainbow could benefit from. After all, half of the fun in Hollywood action films does come from the silent but deadly infiltration.

Phil Therien: We try to stay in our own direction with the game. Rainbow has silencers so they shoot instead of sneaking up on people. This might change in the future but we really don't want to be just like Splinter Cell, we want there to be differences.


How important are reviews from critics to you? Do you see Eurogamer as an important group of people to please?

Phil Therien: I think all reviews are important obviously. The more people we can reach, the better off the game will do. I don't think I ever turned down an interview, from simple fan-site podcasts to huge publications and television. As a gamer I always check reviews of games before I buy, but I try to keep an open mind on bad reviews too. After all, we don't all like the same things!


Has anything been done about spawn camping in Team Sharpshooter? For example, having dynamic spawn points based on enemy location ala Halo or Call of Duty, increasing spawn invulnerability, or removing the ability to disable items in ranked matches. I played the first game to death, but by mid-2007 it became increasingly hard to find matches that didn't have explosives disabled, with the whole team rushing the spawns in the first minute. This rendered maps like Streets and LVU Campus unplayable.

Phil Therien: We moved some spawns away from campers through a dynamic system but it's not perfect. With coordination a really superior team can potentially spawn-camp you. You do have invulnerability to alleviate that. It's a really difficult issue to handle as it involves alot of player skill along with layouts, but we did our best to minimise it.


Wait, that split screen question, is that for terrorist hunt only, or can this be applied to ranked adversial matches?

Phil Therien: No ranked matches on split-screen, but you can do Terrorist Hunt, yes.


Is there a demo of Rainbow Six Vegas 2 on the way on any platform?

Phil Therien: Unfortunately there won't be a demo. We took the decision to spend our time on polishing the game and the demo option was cut. It's really time-consuming to create a demo and we needed the dev time to finish our game.


Are there any easter eggs in the game? Elvis perhaps?

Phil Therien: Yes there are quite a few actually! No Elvis though, but if you are really paying attention you will see some. There's obvious ones (like body armor with my gamertag) and hidden ones like...read posters and boards well!


There were a fair few helicopter sequences in the first game. Are there more in Vegas 2, and during development were there ever any plans for making these sections user-controlled? (Flying helicopters is cool, after all!)

Phil Therien: We thought about it but since the chopper follows a predetermined path it would have taken too much work to make it work that way. Theres more helo scenes this time around and in co-op you and your friend ride together for some pretty badass-looking moments.


At the risk of coming across as xenophobic, is it possible to filter online games via region, i.e. only European games? Having the host on the other side of the world to you can be very frustrating.

Phil Therien: You can filter by language and the region filter is done in the background you dont have control over it. We do try to provide you with local games first but if none are available you might be sent across the pond I'm afraid!


Concerning PlayStation 3, are there any plans to integrate Home features and Achievements into the final release?

Phil Therien: Achievements are there, but no Home features at the moment.

Moderator: I think he means the PS3 trophies - is that what you mean, or do you mean 360 Achievements?

Phil Therien: It's like the Xbox Achievements except we call them awards I think on PS3. It's the same concept.

Moderator: It's not specifically the sanctioned Sony Home "trophy" system, though?

Phil Therien: Exactly, it's not that.


Was it a concious decision to realease your game before GTA IV and avoid direct competition?

Phil Therien: We didn't really try to make it different. They picked their release date after us, I think. I think it's two very different games and there's plenty of room for both of us out there this month.


Moderator: Phil has to go, but we got him to answer one final question - would he rather be invisible or have lasers for eyes?

Phil Therien: Invisibility would be awesome for all the sneaking about, but on the other hand with laser eyes you could finally compete against the dangerous shark with lasers on its head riding an elephant (the most dangerous thing on earth). So it would really be a decision between sneaking into the womens locker room or being the hero who defeats the Laser SharkaPhant (thats what it's called). Heck, I am going for hero, so laser eyes!

Moderator: Thanks very much for your time, Phil!

Phil Therien: My pleasure, hope everyone enjoys the game!

Latest comments

Sign in to comment on this livetext.
    FullSPecWarrior 14 years ago
    PS3 only has 14 players because of "Dedicated Servers" and "Technical Issues".
    Does he think any savvy gamer believes that statement ? No. The PS3 has less player support because Ubisoft care less and or their PS3 team is weak.
    Vaxadrin 14 years ago
    "I want rainbow-coloured explosions."

    Then play Halo. ;)
    Smugglarn 14 years ago
    Is there a possibility of more players in Terrorist Hunt for the PC? I understand the limitations of the consoles, but with the PC and the simplicity of TH - it could be done with a patch.
    Four just isn't enough! If you want to increase sales for the PC - expand the multi-player aspects! No wonder you don't sell as well as you would like on the PC, since you are not dedicated to releasing a competitive product in that market. PC games do incredibly well if they feature good multi-player options and co-op is extremely popular.
    The only reason I and my 8 buddies, whom I play games with bought GRAW, was the patch which increased the player cap in Terrorist Hunt to 16. Multi-player is a tremendous factor in choosing to purchase rather than to download pirated content. Another is availability and lastly price - everyone I know who plays games BOUGHT the Orange Box from Steam - almost all pre-ordered it because the rebate.
    PC gaming isn't in trouble - you are.
    asphaltcowboy 14 years ago
    Good Q&A!
    Laika 14 years ago
    Yes, Vaxadrin. Haze.
    lemonfist 14 years ago
    Depth in games lolol

    I want rainbow-coloured explosions.
    Nill 14 years ago
    Sadly, there's no middle-road satisfying the mainstream and what has apparently become "the hardcore", or in other words, the PC gamers. At least those of us that prefer our games with a bit more depth.

    I loved the Rainbow Six-series up until Ravenshield. Had Ubisoft not been complete arses and pulled the official servers, way too soon after release by the way, I'd probably still be playing it.

    Let's hope they make an effort and create a hardcore-mode in upcoming games, not unlike CoD4, but one that's actually tactical, like the old games were.

    Oh well, who cares. Bring on endless wave after wave of shallow spray-and-pray games. It's like everyone has an attention-span of five seconds now a days; if something doesn't blow to bits as soon as the game loads, and if something doesn't continually blow to bits every five seconds after that, gamers fall asleep. Morons. :-/
    seasidebaz 14 years ago
    i want sharks with laser beams riding elephants

    in game and in real life
    marilena 14 years ago
    Matty, mate, really? You like games about shooting stuff but consider guns and gun manufacturers evil? I know that's not a complete contradiction, but I believe it's a tiny bit schizophrenic. It's not even a fantasy game, it's one grounded in reality and has to have real weapons, because that's what a significant part of the game's public wants.
    MattyD 14 years ago
    Vaxadrin 14 years ago

    crestedzulu 14 years ago
    Everyone is entitled to an opinion,but i think its unfair to argue that "unreleased title X" is superior to "unreleased title Y"...
    Apologie 14 years ago
    Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is not in my list, there are in my opinion far better shooters already released "or to be released in short time" such as COD4, Battlefield: Bad Company, SOCOM, Haze, Killzone2, UT3 (to fresh things up a little and bring some arcadish style) Ghost Recon, Resistance 2 etc...
    crestedzulu 14 years ago
    "I'm sure we'll all agree that my question was the most eloquent and topical..."

    Yeah i thought yours appeared to have been heavily edited ;p
    seasidebaz 14 years ago
    i asked about getting drunk and coming up with a concept so AWESOME that it couldn't be programmed... but got ignored
    JJKrista1 14 years ago
    I'm sure we'll all agree that my question was the most eloquent and topical...
    crestedzulu 14 years ago
    Yeah nice session,decent questions and solid,honest answers.
    DFawkes 14 years ago
    I actually got my question answered, so when it's out, people can shoot me in my real accurately misshapen face :)
    Vaxadrin 14 years ago
    Yay! It was answered and I am happy. :)
    myiagros 14 years ago
    He answered 4 of my questions WoooHooo!!
    CrunchinJelly 14 years ago
    Bugger, didn't answer my question on why there's no party system.

    That's an oversight if ever I saw one.
    seasidebaz 14 years ago
    yay woohoo! question answered ;) seriously, though, sleeping at the office is a hazard. someone might trip over you.
    Krelle 14 years ago
    This shit fails :(
    Vaxadrin 14 years ago
    I asked about multiplayer balancing & spawn camping an hour ago and it's being ignored. :(
    seasidebaz 14 years ago
    my attempts to bring humour to the proceedings are failing...
    JYM60 14 years ago
    Please ask, 'What do you think of Turning point: Fall of liberty? Better or worse than RSV:2?'
    seasidebaz 14 years ago
    lol @ bertie

    although chris moyles came up with a good idea this morning: get vernon kay to do the voices

    "frag out!" in a bolton accent... hehe
    Bertie 14 years ago
    I asked if he would consider getting Ross Kemp in to do a voice over. I'm quite obviously being ignored.
    seasidebaz 14 years ago
    all i asked was about post-beer concepts :(
    JYM60 14 years ago
    My question about home suffered much butchery.

    Wrongly asked, 'I'm sure you don't want to exhaust the Vegas setting to much more. Where to after Vegas?'

    Forgot this was ubisoft we're dealing with.
    monkeypuzzle 14 years ago
    No answer to my question either, it was astounding.
    seasidebaz 14 years ago
    boo my question has fallen upon deaf ears :(
    zoidberg 14 years ago
    it seems to be okay now.
    Bertie 14 years ago
    The rather bizarre formatting is being fixed now. Someone had gnawed through a wire. Fingers are being pointed at hamster boy.

    Oh. Oho. There goes rauper, stealing my thunder.
    rauper 14 years ago
    Fixing, hang on!
    seasidebaz 14 years ago
    no just severly confused :p
    Bertie 14 years ago
    I'm not dead. Are you?
    seasidebaz 14 years ago
    5 minutes in, no answer.... is everybody dead?
    zoidberg 14 years ago