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Jonathan Morin
Creative Director (Ubisoft Montreal)
Interests: music, food, games, design, martial arts, tv shows, movies, reading, family, cappuccinos and endless beer design discussions...
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Great post Clint, Good luck on this new chapter of your life. I don't think any word is really necessary to tell you how much I appreciated our design dynamic on Far Cry 2. All the great debates we had and hopefully still have forge our friendship in many ways. Best of luck for all those new moments of your life(big year for you)and the same goes for Anne-Marie. Without Ubi as a link, let's make sure we still see each other from time to time. You will always need that guy with the balls to say: "And I am 100% you are wrong..." :) Was an honor and still is... Jonathan
Toggle Commented May 5, 2010 on 451 Weeks at Click Nothing
Jonathan Morin is now following The Typepad Team
Mar 15, 2010
Thanks to all of you for the good comments. All those who post here, mailed me or talk to me about it. It is greatly appreciated.
Toggle Commented Jan 23, 2010 on Context is Everything... at Game Design Cave
J.Santo - You know I cannot answer those questions :). It's true that Flares had bigger plans and we didn't manage to make them happen. The one flare idea I wish would have made it is the reinforcement system. The idea was to first of all have AI uses some kind of launch platform to throw flares in the air which would alert reinforcement troops in the field. If the player managed to prevent AI from going there they would had prevented the call. Also, we wanted to have two flare types (one per faction)making it possible to use your flare gun to call enemies from the opposite faction which would have caused some cool fights out there. That was one of those thing we lacked the time to make. Far Cry 2 was a massive game and they were quite a few things like that... Jon
Benjamin: I am not saying improvisational play is a problem. It was simply poorly supported because so many players didn't fully understand the possibilities and the mistakes they were doing. For them it was like a musician who improvised without any comprehension of the notes he uses. Your example of the checkpoints is an immersion breaker for you as a player (and probably 80% of players out there) but it is equally problematic to not understand why your gun jammed and what you did wrong. There are many problem in Far Cry 2 as there are in most game. Lack of AI persistence is one of them and lack of system understanding is another. Several systems and rules are better off unexplained in games, but there were quite a few systems/rules in Far Cry 2 that should have been clearer... Jon
Ahn: No problem you can use it and if you want you can send me extra question related to the article...
Toggle Commented Oct 20, 2009 on Player’s Footprints… at Game Design Cave
To the first two comments I simply want to specify something. It is true that uncertainty can be significantly reduced through clever long distance play or good use of stealth upgrades but it will not get rid of it. There's always a ratio for the gun to jam anyway and even if a given fight goes as plan, you might have less ammo than predicted or something like that and you will have to change your mid level plan. It is more and more obvious as you crank the difficulty level up but it is still there at normal. It is unlikely to happen, but never the less possible. Martin: We intended to teach the system by altering the weapon's shaders and make them rustier as its reliability goes down. We also have a pretty bad text tutorial early in the game, the kind that most players pass pretty fast without reading everything. Everything is there, but it wasn’t good enough. In the end when managed properly, the system is not too much of a challenge but it does alter the way you plan where you go when and that was the interesting part for the level design. This renders navigation choices meaningful which is good for the open world structure. Unfortunately it was not properly explained and it was also a bit tedious for some players. It is pretty fun for me to play it at higher difficulty level and feel the impact on my mid level game. But it is definitely implemented in a very hardcore way which I am guilty to love but clearly isn't the best way to go. We now know better for the future :).
Wordsmythe: Yes I remember that post and also quite a few discussions on Bioshock with Clint. It is definitely the same concept I am talking here but focused on the split second decisions player makes. Scott & Martin: There are a lot of board games out there but one that comes to mind is Scotland Yard. This is a game where every decision you makes are fundamentally related to the cops & robbers chase concept. The fantasy of outsmarting your enemies is shining in that game. But to be fair, I should say that simple video games also do a better job at it. As Martin points out in his reply, complexity and misunderstanding often are the cause of this disconnection. Pac man is in many ways a better fugitive game than any other of this genre done today. The more you add, the harder it gets to keep track of what you are doing. I think the real challenge is to keep things simple but deep and focus around a core experience. It is so tempting to add what sounds immediately cool on top of foundations that are taken for granted by every game. I actually believe the secret is in defining interesting challenges in those redundant foundations because most designers do nothing there. An example of that would be GTA IV, when we walk around in that game it is pretty boring. There are no challenges or meaning in walking, but there are a shit load of stuff on top of it. I think simple mechanics like walking and running are rarely done well and are often meaningless. If they were better and deeper less additional stuff would be required and potentially less would be asked to designers from all directions. That would certainly help to maintain focus on the original vision. Side note, if you guys can gather six players and play Scotland Yard I recommend it. It is always refreshing to go back to those old school board games...
Toggle Commented Aug 19, 2009 on Player’s Footprints… at Game Design Cave
Martin: I’m in this bender because I’m currently starting conception. It is a good opportunity for me to make sure we don’t over-complicate things. I am definitely interested to explore this “simple but deep” concept. I think we did a few mistakes on Far Cry 2 and I would like to avoid repeating them. Complex goals can be achieved simply and to pull it off it will definitely require a huge effort on my side. I guess this is why my thoughts often go naturally in this direction these days. If I find the time to do a GDC talk this year I guess it will explore ideas of this kind... :) Thanks for the book references. I will check those out as well as a few others... Jonathan
Toggle Commented Aug 9, 2009 on Player’s Habits Alienation at Game Design Cave
Chris: Yeah I did see the entire vengeance trilogy which also includes Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. Those films are amazing and the art direction of all three is pure madness. Martin: Bushido Blade, wow that brings old memories from the days when Squaresoft took design risks founded by final fantasy profits. They are pretty much in survival mode now which kind of shows a new era of the industry and serious problems in Japanese development. I was not a big fan of the game at the time, but I can still recognize the elements you describe. Back in the days I wasn't paying attention to those things as a player I guess. Interestingly, they had no choice but to go in this direction considering the overall Bushido concept. I mean, after reading stuff like Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa, I cannot imagine a game about this art any other way. If you guys never red this novel from Mr. Yoshikawa, I highly recommend it: Thanks for the comments guys.
Thanks Clint, I will definitly post my slides in there. I simply have to finish adding the notes in them to make sure they are at least usefull...
Toggle Commented Aug 1, 2009 on Finally Caved In... at Click Nothing