Interview with Haze’s Rob Yescombe


Answers De-hazed

Recently I got the chance to speak with Rob Yescombe from Free Radical, Screenwriter on the hot new PS 3 Shooter Haze. I got the chance to play an early version of the game at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, and Rob was kind enough to take the time to update me on what gamers can look forward to from this hot new titles.

GVK: What is the background and setting for the game?

RY: Haze is set in 2048. There’s a war going on in a region of South America where a bunch of evil skanky-ass malevolent rebels called The Promise Hand are trying to overthrow the government. Thankfully, a private military company (PMC) called Mantel Global industries is sending in its forces to iron things out. Now, mantel is a media-savvy company, and they don’t want the bad press of one of their soldiers getting killed or hurt. So, they give all their soldiers a ‘miracle nutritional supplement’ called Nectar. It makes the troops tougher, smart and faster. Basically everything they want and need to be on a battlefield.

The Promise Hand are led by a guy called Gabriel ‘Skin Coat’ Merino. He got his nickname by skinning the POWs in his prison camps, and fashioning those strips of skin into crude leather, from which he made his ‘coat’. Not the kind of guy you want to meet in a butchers’ shop.

GVK: What can you tell us about the A.I. in the game?

RY: One of the main focuses for the AI has been creating a noticeable difference not only between different character classes, but specific behavioral differences between the two sides, and also a whole extra set of behavioral differences within the mantel troopers depending on how much Nectar they have in their veins. Even after playing it over the course of a two and a half year development, I still find it pretty bloody challenging.

GVK: What are some of the locales gamers will see in the game?

RY: As you’ll know from the TimeSplitters series, we like variety. Unlike TimeSplitters, however, the levels aren’t separate – the entire game streams, meaning that you won’t see any loading screens once you’ve booted up the game. In terms of where you’ll be traveling to in the game, you can expect things like an enormous tourist centre connected to an observatory at the top of a mountain; a claustrophobic copper smelting plant; rebel villages and towns; the Mantel ‘land Carrier – an all-terrain air craft carrier; and a bit of jungle, of course.

GVK: What are some of the weapons we will see?

RY: Well, whilst both sides have their own unique weapon sets, with mantel’s being high-tech and the Promise hand set being quite run down and rickety, the best weapon in the game is Nectar. As a mantel trooper is improves your aim, speed, strength and awareness of danger. BUT! If you take too much, you’ll Overdose. If you overdose, you’ll go nuts and start shooting all your buddies, so the key is to be careful how much you inject at any one time. However, the rebels have tricky ways to force Mantel troopers to take too much and go nuts on each other.

GVK: How will vehicles be used in game and what will players be able to ride in?

RY: Each side have their own vehicles, but you’ll spend most of your time driving either the Mantel buggy (the ‘Boxcart’), or the Promise Hand’s equivalent – the ‘Stag’ – or the quad bike (the ‘Mule’). There are also helicopters and dropships that you’ll be shooting out the sides of, but the AI pilots those.

GVK: What gaming engine will you be using and what will enhancements will it bring to the genre?

RY: We build everything from scratch in-house. We hardly ever buy in technology from outside, which means we can tailor the engine to fit our vision for the game. We think it’ll speak for itself.

GVK: What forms of multiplayer will the game include?

RY: Apart from all the game modes that people expect as standard, like Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and so on, we’re also doing story-based assault maps. We’re not going into detail yet, but the idea is that your perspective on events that you see in the single player will be changed when you play the multiplayer maps and vice versa.

GVK: What sort of enemies will players face?

RY: Well, it’s common knowledge that you switch sides halfway through the game, so you won’t just be facing the sneaky, guerilla tactics of the Promise Hand, you’ll also come face-to-face with the brute force of Mantel and Nectar.