FUSE Interview with Ted Price.
Developer Insomniac Games
Platform PS3, Xbox360
Release Date TBC Q1 2013
Fuse is an upcoming third person shooter from Insomniac Games, boasting an impressive 4 player co-op feature that manages to capture the 4 player co-op experience even when you are playing alone by utilizing very impressive intelligent AI. It also has an interesting Leap feature that allows you to jump between any of the other available characters at any time.
Fuse actually started out life as Overstrike and has gone through many changes since that first reveal trailer but the one thing that has remained is that sense of fun.
When we got to chat with Ted Price founder of Insomniac Games we started by asking about this evolution in the design process and why Leaping is his favorite feature in the game.
BI: Hi Ted I guess you get asked all the time about what happened to the game we first saw as Overstrike at E3. How come it has changed so dramatically?
TP: It has gone through many more changes internally not just the look. That was an early concept demo and since then we have fleshed it out to what you see today.
We have seen many changes internally such as the way you can leap between characters mid-game. That was something some people in the studio didn’t want to see as it broke with tradition, but my thinking was why can’t you do that? Why should you be stuck with one character with one set of skills? Why can’t you be a sniper one moment, then a tank the next? There have been a lot of changes along the road but what we are seeing is that it has started to all come together and thankfully it is a lot of fun to play.
BI: That was something I did notice while playing FUSE today that it was a whole bunch of fun to play. I don’t think I have just enjoyed a game like that in a long time.
TP : Ah that’s great to hear because it is so hard to judge it when you are working on the game all day every day. You think it’s good but it is not until you get the chance to show it to the public and you can get a reaction. Getting that kind of reaction is great, you can start to believe that it is good, so thank you that’s a relief to hear.
BI: As you mentioned the leaping between characters in the opening can we go into that a bit more?
TP: Sure we put the “Leap” feature into the game so that the players could experience the story in many different ways. As each of the character classes are very different (the tank, the healer or AOE etc) we wanted to give the player the chance to experience them all without having to start the game all over again and again.
Initially we made the decision to lock the players in, so once you chose Dalton you were locked into him. That became frustrating for me as a player because I want to play as the other characters. I like to try them all out and as there is not one single character that really stood out as the one with the best weapons or biggest personality. We soon realized that we needed to even things out and let the player choose whoever they want whenever they want.
This is my own favorite feature in the game as I like to be able to leap around. So I can be over on one side of the battlefield pinned down by heavy gun fire, then I can leap to the other side and pop up behind the enemy. It’s really a cool feature.
You have four characters that you can level up in the game, you have individual objectives, team objectives and XP bonuses that will benefit the whole team. This avoids playing as Dalton for four hours and leveling him up only to find when you leap to another character you find out that they are miles behind as they have no character progression at all.
So you are levelling up all the squad slowly as well as levelling your main character at a regular pace.
BI: So are you better off leaping around and spreading the XP around the whole squad, or just powering ahead with one character that you like and that that suits your play style?
TP: It depends what you mean by better off. It is a tradeoff, you can take one character further and get them to be tougher. Or you can spread that out so your full squad is better but doing that means your main character wouldn’t be quite as advanced. I like to leap a lot because I want to see how a character would handle a situation differently.
BI: What was the approach you took when looking at the AI from the outset because it is really good?
TP: Absolutely, the game is difficult, on top of that the enemy AI is intelligent. Then the friendly AI really only has one job and that is to be able to get you out of trouble but they also need to get involved in the fight without stealing all your kills, because where is the fun in that? You want to get those kills.
When you are taken down by the enemy it is important that the squad members on your team are able to get you back up.
BI: Are there sections that you can’t pass unless you are one specific character, and are you directed to know which one is needed?
TP: No, the players will have to discover things for themselves. There are sections where one character will be better suited to the situation but it is up to the player to chose whichever character they like.
For example: There is a section where you need to cross a bridge without any cover available. So the tank is the best option here as the Tank has a shield he can use. But there is nothing stopping you playing as the sniper and holding back and picking people off. That’s the fun of the game, in finding out what works and retrying different scenarios with different characters to see how it changes things.
BI: Echelon mode. Why did you decide to mess with the traditional easiest to hardest difficulty setting for the enemies?
TP: Our goal with this mode is to not be traditional and keep player on their toes. We wanted to (for example) throw in a mini boss early on. It is fun to be able to mix it up and most players will come to this mode having at least played some of the campaign and gotten familiar with the weapons. So players should be able to handle it. Even if you get your butt kicked you will still learn from that experience.
BI: So when did you decide to go with a competitive co-op mode rather than the traditional multiplayer mode with death matches etc?
TP: We actually did create a multiplayer mode but after a while we realized that the game at its core is a co-op game. Everything about it from the way it plays to its features are co-op based. So we wanted to create another mode within that co-op mode but still different from the campaign. We also wanted to add a different level of competition for the players.
We also wanted to avoid what most multiplayer games have in their multiplayer sections. That is when you get dropped in at first you get your head blown off by experienced players! And that’s not fun. Echelon mode is a much friendlier mode in that respect but still brutally unforgiving in other ways.
BI: So do you need to play with people you know or can you drop into a game with strangers and do you just have to hope they work together?
TP: Well they do have to work together or they won’t get very far. It’s tougher for them when a player bleeds out as the odds then become stacked against the remaining players. You really want to keep everyone alive as the game doesn’t scale down when people get killed.
BI: So when you bleed out you are out?
TP: Yes in the multiplayer mode your gone that isn’t in the campaign.
BI: Awesome thanks for chatting to us today Ted best of luck with the launch I’m sure you are going to be very busy over the next few weeks.
TP: That’s for sure thanks guys that was great.
Fuse is set to launch in a few months stay tuned for more closer to release date but while you wait here is the launch trailer.