A quick list of things that invariably get my blood pumping at a PlayStation E3 press briefing: 1) Big, bold new IP reveals; 2) Hugely talented developers getting their first shot at realising an original vision; 3) Ravishingly stylish games set in my hometown of London.
Duly, the debut trailer for The Order: 1886 ticked all the boxes – yes, even the last one – making 2013 something of a banner year! But while the first showing of Ready At Dawn’s new creation was undoubtedly one of the highlights of this year’s show, it also raised plenty of questions. Sure enough, I tracked down studio co-founder Ru Weerasuriya backstage in search of answers.
We’ll be talking more about the game in the not too distant future, but in the meantime hopefully the following exchange will keep your interest piqued.
So, exactly what kind of game is The Order: 1886?
Ru Weerasuriya: The Order is a third person action adventure with shooting mechanics. It’s very much story-based – it’s a linear story-based game. We’re trying to tell a story. It’s what we call a ‘filmic experience’.
It was really refreshing to see London being used as the setting for a video game. Why did you pick the British capital?
Ru Weerasuriya: For me, London is one of the greatest cities in the world. There’s a real diversity there. A lot of European cities have it but specifically London, as there are moments throughout history that have played out there. It has a very interesting history, particularly at the end of the 19th century during the Industrial Revolution. Because this game is based in the real world, we wanted to feed off that and use some of the events, the people and the stuff that existed in that time to accentuate and bring our IP into a world that is believable.
Are Londoners going to recognise it as the city they live in today?
Ru Weerasuriya: Absolutely. Sure, I don’t think we’ll be able to do an exact 1:1 mapping of London. We tried! But we’re going to try and stay as true as possible to it. You’ll recognise a lot of things.
There are obviously some things we’re going to put in there that don’t exist, and we’ve moved certain locations a bit, but as you can see from the trailer, when you pass in front of the Thames, Parliament is where it’s supposed to be and London Bridge is where it’s supposed to be. We don’t want people to go “Nah, this doesn’t look right”. You’ll be interacting with real people, real events and real places.
PlayStation gamers will know Ready At Dawn best from your God of War games on PSP. What are you bringing over to The Order: 1886 from your experience on that franchise?
Ru Weerasuriya: I think what we’re bringing over is everything that we’ve learned over the past 10 years. This was always the goal when we started the company. We started with the mind-set that we’re going to build our own IP, but we didn’t want to be the guys who, straight out of the gate, went “We’re going to do everything all at once.” So we learned little by little – building technology, building expertise, getting the right team together. It really took us a long time to find exactly what we wanted.
We’ve done well on a single platform. We’ve tried to push the boundaries of what could be done. That’s the same mentality we’re bringing to PS4. We’re working on a single platform – we want to push it, we want to get everything out of it, and hopefully that’s exactly what we’re going to do – milk it for all it’s worth.
What aspect of the game do you think will make gamers say “Woah, that’s new, I’ve never seen that before”?
Ru Weerasuriya: There are gameplay features we’ll be talking about that will be very, very cool. Right now we’re playing with things – the moment-to-moment gameplay is really not what you might expect. We didn’t want to make it single-tone, where you rely on one single thing in expense of the rest.
The overall feel – that filmic experience… the one thing we brought to this is something people are accustomed too but usually can’t tell. When you watch a movie you don’t question what lens is being used. You don’t question why there is grain on the film or why there’s a certain lighting. Those are things we’ve been accustomed to seeing for 30 years. So when it’s missing we usually go “Wait, something is wrong with this image”.
With this game we replicated a lot of physical attributes. We have true lens distortion. We built physical lenses into our engine so we could get something where people will look it and not be totally disconnected. Games have a tendency sometimes to be too clean and crisp. We thrive in the dirt. We just love the fact that it feels dirty. It’s filmed in a very realistic way.
It’s a good fit – London can be pretty filthy…
Ru Weerasuriya: That’s exactly right, and that’s why we chose it, I think.
You’re working on a huge new IP on a huge new platform. How are you coping with the pressure?
Ru Weerasuriya: Yeah, it’s tough. Anybody would be lying if they said it wasn’t. It’s a lot of pressure and there are a lot of unknowns. You make a lot of bets at the beginning because you don’t know how things are going to be two years down the line. The good thing for us is that we didn’t have to bring a lot of legacy over, and because of that we’ve made a lot of bets that luckily for us turned out really well. But yes, the pressure is always on. It seems that there’s a lot of expectation now and there will be more after E3. So all we have to do now is finish it!