How will the citizens of virual Chicago react to your actions? We speak to Ubisoft for the answers.
By Tim Colwill on October 16, 2013 at 1:03 pm
In our short hands-on time with Watch Dogs, we saw that the public were quick to react to us when we, for example, opened fire on them, or tried to run them over with a car. But what about if we perform civic acts of heroism, or help take down corrupt authorities? What then?
Creating an open world that reacts to you — persistently, and without crippling your ability to play — is difficult. Story designer Kevin Shortt explained to us that you’ll notice this quickly in the way Chicago media report on your actions.
“Let’s say you take somebody out in the open world, you step into a crime in progress,” he says. “If you take one of those guys out, if you just execute the guy on the street, civilians are going to react to that. They’re going to notice and that’s going to build your reputation. You’ll end up with a bit more of a negative reputation. If they see you they’re more likely to back away and call the cops.”
“The media as well is going to start reporting on you a little more, so you’ll get more media alerts happening… and if a media alert happens and your face goes up, civilians around you will go ‘Woah! That’s the guy!’ and call the cops.”
However, says Shortt, it’s possible to bring people on your side as well — or at least, not make them outright hate you.
“The inverse of that is that if you’re playing more carefully, maybe you take down this guy but you don’t kill him, you just wound him and leave him for the cops, civilians are going to recognise that you’ve stepped in and that you weren’t just reckless and crazy, so you’re going to get a more positive reputation,” he adds.
“The media’s going to report on that a little more positively. Not saying you’re a GREAT guy, but maybe there’s more to you. Civilians might see you and then say ‘Hey I know who you are, you better get out of here’. Say you’re trying to steal a car, they might see you do that, and this time they won’t call the cops because they know your reputation.”
You won’t be locked into being a Good Guy or a Bad Guy, says Shortt, and it’ll be possible for the public perception of you to shift up and down through the game.
“We’re trying to avoid that video game thing of being the ultimate good guy OR the ultimate bad guy,” he explains.
“I think we’re more interested in playing those zones, the grey areas. We don’t want to treat him (Pearce) as a superhero who has got the Good or the Bad side.”
Watch Dogs isn’t aiming to be the sort of game where you finish playing, turn it off, and just forget it ever happened, says Shortt. They want to inspire a discussion.
“Ideally the players put their game down and get to talking about it. What we like is that this game connects well to where our world is. You put that down and… well, look at you,” he says to me. “You’ve got your phone right there. We’ve all got our phones right there. What does that mean for my privacy? We hope that’s what players are going to come away thinking about it.”
Shortt isn’t advocating that we all “become luddites and back away from technology,” but says that hopefully Watch Dogs will make us think more about what it means to be so reliant.
“We’re not at all trying to make any sort of damning statement. I think for one, well, we’ve got an opinion. We certainly have an opinion and we want to put our opinion forward. But I think it’s, you know, it’s kinda crazy for us to say ‘here’s the answer’. Because we’re just in the early stages of it. We’re just starting to see where technology is going, where it’s taking us.”
“Smart cities are coming,” he concludes, somewhat ominously. “They’re definitely coming.”