Saints Row 4 Interview with Jim Boone – Part 2
After a presentation showing off some of the ridiculously wacky things we’re due to expect from Saint’s Row 4, we got the chance to sit down with Jim Boone, Senior Producer at Volition, to ask him some questions.
In part two we discuss rivals, exotic weaponry and customisation, flying around in a UFO, and the first DLC to launch for the game.
Saints Row has a very distinct vibe and that’s really well known. Obviously you have your rival, GTA, and you’ve made it known that you’re not worried about going toe to toe with those guys. I think Saints Row proved that you can do it, and you can do it better…
It’s always been about fun. Is that what you’ve gone for this time, with the knowledge that you know what you’re good at and you’re going to stick with that?
Absolutely, without a doubt. It was something that we know about Saints 1, that it was really reminiscent of GTA, and we’re big fans of GTA – the guys do an awesome job with what they do. We clearly run a completely different angle now though, right? I like it personally and kind of equate it to back in the stone ages when Doom came out. We were working on Descent, and there were a lot of people that called us a Doom clone, even when we were in a ship flying around with robots, but because it was first-person it was deemed a Doom clone. Ultimately though first person shooters expanded and now there is no such thing as a Doom clone, there’s just a first person shooter. I feel as a genre we’re finally going the same way, in a sense that there’s a lot of open world games, a lot of people do it in really different ways – I don’t think there’s any one right way to do it. If you want to do it with that really gritty story sort of experience that GTA does… fair enough, I totally get that, it’s a great game. We do such a different tone; with us it’s all about fun and silly and humour. It entertains people in a totally different way.
A big selling point was that you have no qualms in taking the piss out of anyone or anything, including yourselves. It’s like nothing is off limits, and no one cares. One of the fun things during the build up to Saints Row The Third was the ad campaign. Is there going to be more of that?
Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if you see more along those lines, definitely. Even with the game itself, there’s a lot of references to other games, movies etc… I think people will be pretty entertained. It’s silly, and it’s all done in good humour; we usually do it for things we’re huge fans of so there’s some good stuff in there.
It’s flattery in a way…
Yeah, that’s how we intend it. We’re also self-referential; we poke fun at ourselves too, so it’s all in good fun.
Do you have any other celebrities in the game this time around?
We do – unfortunately none that we can reveal right now, but we do have a couple…
So Burt Reynolds isn’t making an appearance?
Burt Reynolds isn’t making an appearance, but we’ve got umm… well, I look forward to you guys being able to see it. It’s one I’m very excited about.
So those weapons were insane – we know they’ve been crazy before, but that dubstep gun is just… I couldn’t understand it! Do you fire it and people start dancing?
Yeah, that happens. So whatever you’re shooting at will take damage – all those blasts will definitely kill anyone you’re shooting, destroying cars etc. But then everyone around it will be reacting to all the stuff that’s going on. They’re dancing and the cars are bouncing and windows are shattering. It’s pretty absurd. We love it.
We kind of pride ourselves with our weapons – we always do it, not just with Saints Row – we love to do these really exotic weapons. We feel like there’s two different ways to make a game in this day and age: there’s the really tried and true, finely crafted experience, super polished… and that’s awesome. Those games are great. The kind that we respond to, personally at Volition, are more of a unique and fresh sort of experience. That’s what we try to do. When we come up with our weapons, we feel like that’s a great way to express “here’s something that’s totally different to what you’ve seen before, it’s totally fun and fresh.” It’s just fun to do it that way.
What was the other weapon we saw?
That was the inflator-ray…
Is that a fixed animation, or does it depend where you hit them?
Well it is in terms of the head, but what is different is that if you shoot someone they start to inflate, but if you let off on it they’ll come down, and you can just keep playing with it. People will do that, they’ll just sit there and go back and forth until eventually they will just pop.
You showed customisation – people go nuts for that. I will spend 2-3 hours before I start a game going through it all.
I’m the same. Games that offer it, I’ll take forever finding just the thing I want, having it just the right way…
You’ve got it with the weapons now as well – in terms of character and weapons have you gone x10 with everything?
We’ve tried to go pretty absurd with them for sure. Pretty much every weapon has it, even within the weapon class. There are a couple of different pistol types, and each type has unique costumes just for those. We tried to get a good range of things to customise with, but the majority of them are more in the ‘over the top’ sort of tone.
Yeah, we’ve got UFOs that you can fly around with, so of course you’re going to be able to get the UFO, travel around, hover, shoot… We didn’t go as far with the vehicles on Saints Row 4 I’d say, from what we’ve done previously, mostly because we found in a lot of our testing that people, when they have the super powers, tend to fly or glide around more than they get in cars. So we’ve focused our efforts on other areas as a result of that, but we still definitely have a number of new, exciting things, like the mech or the UFOs… there’s hover cars from the aliens and stuff like that. It’s pretty cool!
We’re assuming you have a DLC plan already, seeing how well the DLC for Saints Row The Third was received. Are you going to be doing more… do you already know where you’re going to go?
You know, there’s one I can tell you about – do you remember the story about Enter the Dominatrix, our expansion pack we were doing for Saints Row The Third? When we were working on that, there were a number of elements within it that we wanted to bring over into the full game of Saints Row 4 that were already developing. We didn’t feel like we had enough time to develop those features fully within an expansion pack, but we saw a lot of promise in and brought it over. What we’re now though, because the expansion pack didn’t come out, we’re going to do that as the first DLC pack – almost like a director’s cut – because believe it or not there’s stuff in that that’s utterly over the top also, which is saying a lot. We’re going to do that as a director’s cut as our first big DLC pack that comes out… going back, spend some time to take it the rest of the way, because there were some ideas that we thought were pretty cool.
Then they’ll be tonnes of… nothing we’re announcing now, but yeah, you saw what we did with Saints Row The Third so you’ll have a pretty good idea for what we’ve got in mind with Saints Row 4. We do have new capabilities though, with the weapons and customisation, so there are new avenues there… it should be fun.