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Godfather Q&A
(hx) 12:46 AM CET - Feb,08 2006

Electronic Arts sent out four pre-arranged Q&As with David De Martini, Steven Smith and Steve Szakal as they talk about The Godfather, an upcoming open-ended action-game for PC, PS2 and Xbox. The game will be released in March 2006.

Q: How did the 'MobFace' idea come about?

David De Martini (Vice President, Executive Producer, Godfather):
Building off of the GameFace success in Tiger Woods we set out to allow you to create & customize you character and allow YOU to join the Corleone family taking on roles as a lowly outsider trying to work your way up to become Don yourself. Our goal was to increase the emotional impact of the overall experience by allowing the play to create an Italian American version of themselves so that they would then be part of the Godfather fiction and you would experience the game looking at yourself as a key player in the fiction.

A: How in-depth does the feature get? Is it true to the era?

David De Martini:
The customization possibilities are seemingly endless. MobFace is presented in a slider driven fashion so you no longer "choose" your character, but rather sculpt him from head to toe. There are over 75 sliders; each controlling a different facial/body feature from hair style to scars on your face all the way down to the shoes on your feet. We stayed very true to the era with the clothing choices (over 50 different attire choices each with dozens of pattern and color choices) and stayed true to the fiction with the appearance allowing you to create a character of Italian decent...after all if you weren't blood you could never become Don.

Q: Why is it so important to the game? Does what you wear have an effect on gameplay?

David De Martini:
As you progress through the game you are managing two commodities, Respect & Money. As you partake in the various opportunities New York City offers (extortion, racketeering, bank heists, etc...), you will earn money. With that cash you can visit the tailor shop and edit your characters appearance. A mobster who doesn't spend money appears to be struggling so in buying apparel upgrades (not to mention other "lifestyle" items such as safehouses, explosives and weapon upgrades) you increase your characters Respect Level, which is the key to becoming the Don of NYC.

Q: Talk a little about the development. What were the big successes?

David De Martini:
I remember the first time we saw our MobFace characters sitting amongst the Corelone family in one of a recreated In Game Cinematics and thinking wow, that guy really could have been there...that really is me in that scene. It really does accomplish the mission of increasing the emotional intensity of the experience. When the character does something great, it is me doing something great. When the character gets arrested or killed, I'm getting arrested or killed. When I watch the movie moments in the game, I'm in the movie!

Q: How would you design your Mobster?

David De Martini:
I almost always try to create myself each time, but you can create anyone from a scrawny, frail Fredo like character to a heavyset brawler like Luca. The coolest thing about Mobfaces is that everyone has freedom and choice to create their mobster. It is a level of customization not seen in these open world games.

--- New Jersey ----

Q: What makes New Jersey unique in the world of The Godfather?

Steven Smith, World Designer Extraordinaire: New Jersey is the only neighborhood in the Godfather world which has a different environmental feel to it. It's patterned after a traditional small American town, particularly of the type found in the outer regions of Manhattan. Though most of the buildings are made of brick they are lower in height, typically two or three floors. Many of the city blocks are not populated with tenement buildings but instead they are occupied with detached houses usually with corner businesses at the end of such blocks. The most noted feature of New Jersey is the town square park located in the middle of the neighborhood, complete with a band shell structure and community type venues located around it such as a bank and a church.

Q: New Jersey is considered by many to be the ‘armpit of the Northeast'. Does that show at all in The Godfather version of Jersey?

Steven Smith:
In the Godfather world New Jersey is a neighborhood that conveys an industrial ambiance. Through no fault of its own that's the nature of such communities circa 1945 that were located along water way transit points. It's an outlying residential community located along the waterfront of the Hudson River, and so it's going to have warehouses, power plants and rail yards.

Q: What type of research went into re-creating 1945-1955 New Jersey?

Steven Smith: The starting point for research was to look at aerial photographs of New Jersey along the Hudson River region. Much of the area appears grid like and uniform, so little things such as city parks, angled streets relative to the grid layout, and rail yards in urban areas tend to stand out and identify an area that can represent a symbolic New Jersey town for the Godfather world. These elements along with the locations of the Lincoln and Holland Tunnel toll plazas to the north and south respectively really identified the general location for the New Jersey neighborhood. Other research pertains to looking at the types of buildings which are representative of many of the outlying neighborhoods of Manhattan such as the two story brick storefront and detached housing typologies.

Q: The Stracci's are considered the Butchers of Jersey because of their ruthless ‘business' methods. What type of trouble might you find in Jersey if you snoop around in the wrong areas?

Steven Smith: Well for one thing most nearly all the business venues in New Jersey begin as Stracci owned locations. Thus when the player begins to take over a couple of these venues and gets the attention of the Straccis, the player - if injured - will need to take care when trying to get to a safe house or clinic. The Straccis will be highly visible on many of the Jersey streets. Also, snooping around the main rail yard can yield some interesting if not altogether dangerous results.

Q: What's your favorite area in Jersey and why?

Steven Smith:
I like the area around the Stracci compound and the rail yard. I find the Stracci compound to be an interesting challenge because the entry to the compound can be approached from three directions and so the player has some choices on an attack approach. The rail yard is a big open area where it might be possible to lose or neutralize a pursuing vehicle, and its one of the approaches to the Stracci compound.

--- Brooklyn ---

Q: What makes Brooklyn a unique neighborhood in The Godfather?

Steven Smith: Brooklyn is a neighborhood located along the riverfront between two of New York City's main bridges, the Brooklyn and the Manhattan. Both bridges serve as two key life lines connecting Brooklyn to the rest of New York City. Most of the Brooklyn businesses are located in this core area, which reflects a rather grungy working class neighborhood with warehouses, industrial buildings, dock sides, town house walk ups and Federal housing estates. Near the end of the Brooklyn Bridge is the Brooklyn City/Borough Hall, the civic area and an upscale pocket neighborhood reflecting Brooklyn Heights.

Q: How is Brooklyn 'planned' differently than the others?

Steven Smith: Brooklyn in the Godfather game world context is a very stylized version of the actual neighborhood. The main area we wanted to focus upon is the industrial waterfront area. Thus the character of the river front area is emphasized for Brooklyn with attention to the Vinegar Hill and the Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass (or DUMBO as it is known) regions. The outer areas of Brooklyn are Brooklyn Heights, the Borough Hall, and a Federal Housing Estate near the old navy yard.

Q: What key movie and game locales are found in Brooklyn?

Steven Smith: One of the key movie moments takes place in Brooklyn. You'll have to dispose of a certain traitor to the family. In terms of general game play, Brooklyn is the neighborhood belonging to the Tattaglias, and with this family as an early adversary the player will get quite familiar with Brooklyn in the course of the game.

Q: The Tattaglia Family was known a bunch of sleazy pimps and drug pushers. Do certain parts of Brooklyn reflect that?

Steven Smith: We had this idea very much in mind when developing the Brooklyn neighborhood. We wanted this neighborhood to project a grungy and industrial décor, and so we opted to emphasize the water front region as the setting for the neighborhood core. In the context of fifty years ago, areas such as the Brooklyn water front were not desirable places to visit due to the heavy commercial activity of loading and unloading of goods and produce. Such areas are off the main the path and not inviting to the general public. Thus it's an ideal setting for illegal activities.

Q: What is your favorite location in Brooklyn and why?

Steven Smith: In Brooklyn there are two areas I like. One area is around the Brooklyn Borough Hall. This building projects a grand civic appearance and has attached to it a modest city park. It's inside that park that the player can meet up with black market sellers. The challenge however is that there are enemy gun men who like to wait in ambush in the park. The player can get a pretty good if not vicious shoot out going in this area, and it's not guaranteed that you will make it out in one piece. The other area I like is centered around the enemy warehouse in the waterfront region. I feel that this area really reflects the Brooklyn waterfront region of the late 1940's, with the Manhattan Bridge visible behind it to one side and a huge power plant building looming in the background. And as is the case with all enemy warehouses, it's a location for a guaranteed and ruthless fire fight.

--- Cop Chases ---

Q: Tell us about the cop chasing mechanic - how does it work and when does it kick in?

Steve Szakal (Gameplay Designer):
On foot and vehicle, cop presence increases and decreases according to the player's heat level. Every time a player commits a crime, their heat level increases, which is represented by shields on the in-game display. At moderate heat levels you'll start seeing cop patrol vehicles on the streets. And committing a crime in their sightlines or crashing into them will begin a chase. How long they'll pursue the player is dependant upon the heat level. While the cops are in pursuit, if the player continues to commit crimes, like running over pedestrians, the cops will become more relentless. The cop's goal during the chase is to stop your vehicle through ramming tactics and at higher heat levels they'll open fire at the player's vehicle.

Q: Any tips on fleeing the scene unnoticed, or at the very least, alive?

Steve Szakal:
If there are multiple cops in pursuit then one of the best things the player can do is head for their safehouse. Once the player enters their safehouse, cops will stop pursuing and it will decrease the player's heat by a significant amount. But sometimes they'll be waiting outside, so be careful on the way out.

Q: What type of research went into cop chases in the 40s and 50s?

Steve Szakal:
The research involved visualizing how cop chases functioned in movies and games, both new and old, and from there we focused on creating the police behaviors that gave a visceral and intense experience.

Q: How long will the chases last? Will they chase you into different neighborhoods?

Steve Szakal:
If the player is being pursued and enters a new neighborhood, the cops might stop chasing because the player's heat level in the new neighborhood might be significantly lower. This gives the player another option of escaping the cops, but once the player re-enters the neighborhood they just left, their heat levels will still be high and the cops will be waiting.

Q: If you know the cops will be chasing you following a bank robbery, what getaway car would you recommend?

Steve Szakal:
I personally like the pickup truck because its one of the most stable vehicles in the game and it can take a beating. When cops try to ram the truck it won't get banged around nearly as much as some of the other vehicles.

related links: A cop chase movie (16.6MB)

genre: action
platform: PC, PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, PSP
release: March 2006
developer: Electronic Arts
publisher: homepage

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