Monday, February 02, 2009

Godfather 2 interview: The Don's View

One of the more dynamic games of early 2009 is EA's The Godfather II, due out this month. The first Godfather game was an interesting mix of a GTA-style open world and RPG character progression; set in the Godfather universe, of course. I enjoyed it.

The sequel seems to have made many improvements. A major difference between that first Godfather game and this one is a new feature called The Don's View. Associate Producer Wes Culver answered some questions I had about this fresh aspect of the game.



How does the player defend his turf? Is it as simple as taking a cut in profits each day or week to hire guards? Is there any tradeoff involved?

As a Don, there are several different ways the player can defend the businesses he owns (besides physically going there himself). First off, as soon as a player takes over a new business, he will immediately want to add guards to protect that business. Having guards allocated to a business will keep your rivals at bay, as an unguarded one is ripe for the taking.

When guards alone are not enough to ward off a powerful attack, the player can choose to send his made men to a business to defend it. Made men are much more powerful than regular guards, and you can tell them to defend a business whether it’s being attacked or not. If it’s currently under attack, they’ll kill off the enemy attackers. If it’s not, they’ll be ready and waiting for battle.

As with most things, there are tradeoffs involved with each method of defending the player’s turf. Guards cost money, so they will eat into your profits. Made men are free, but there a limited number of them and when one is sent to defend a business, that’s one less personal bodyguard for the player’s character.

Do different gangs have different general strategies, which the player will compete against?

Each rival family does have a certain set of traits that causes them to have varying strategies when competing against the player. For example, one family might be obsessed with money, so they’ll go after the businesses which generate the most income. Another family has a weakspot for prostitutes, so they’ll go after the brothels. The traits of each family are subtle, but they do add a bit of variety while the player progresses throughout the game.

How many cities does The Godfather 2 include? Do they all share the same types of rackets and such?

There are three different cities in The Godfather II and all have a pretty good variety of different types of fronts and rackets. Certain groups of rackets – called “Crime Rings” – will give you a significant bonus if you own every business within that crime ring. We focused on crime rings when deciding which businesses are located in each of the three cities. Some crime rings can be completed in a single city, while others may be spread across multiple cities so they’re harder to complete. All in all, I believe the variety is balanced well.

Your site states: "When taking over a venue in a monopoly all connected venues in the monopoly will be revealed to the player." Does this mean only that the connections between businesses will be revealed? Or does it mean that venues are not marked at all in The Don's View until they are discovered?

Businesses become “discovered” when the family that owns each are revealed. The way new families are revealed is by progressing through the story missions of the game. However, a player may run into the situation where he took over a business where related ones have yet to be revealed (because the family that owns it has yet to be revealed). In that case, those businesses will be visible, but additional information (like the actual location) may not be accessible to the player until the family is revealed.

How many different game perks are available to be acquired through controlling monopolies? Will the player likely control all of them by the end of the game?

There are a total of 9 different Crime Rings (monopolies was a term we used early on, but have since renamed them “crime rings”) and each carries its own special bonus. And yes, by the end of the game, the player will control every single one. The player will be one extremely powerful Don by the end.

Does the gameworld remain active while the player is in The Don's View? I noticed some buildings on fire in the screenshot on your site.

When you enter the Don’s View, the game world is not active. Buildings that are under attack or that have been bombed will have their own unique animations (such as being shown as on fire in the Don’s View), however, game time is actually paused.

Early on in the design process, we were considering both alternatives, but keeping the world active while the player is in the Don’s View ultimately led to too many complications and questions to be answered. Acting like a Don and using the Don’s View is already a robust system and we didn’t want to overwhelm people with too much complexity.

Can you offer some examples of different strategies you've seen players take when using The Don's View?

Throughout the development process, we had many potential customers come into our office and participate in focus tests by playing the game from start to finish like a player at home would. Each had their own way of attacking other businesses using the Don’s View.

As an example, some players love to go after the rival made men- take them out to weaken the families before expanding to much. Others would attack the businesses that provided the most money each day, so they would have more cash flow to hire guards and upgrade their character and family. Many also would specifically target a certain Crime Ring so they could get the bonus, so there is a great deal of different strategies each player can employ.

Here's a GameTrailers video of The Don's View:


As I said before, The Godfather II seems to be a dynamic game. Whether you go after the enemy's Made Men or businesses first, the order in which you take Crime Rings, the order in which you take businesses, the stats you give your character, the Made Men you choose and how you use them... all of these things combine to give each player a relatively personal experience and add replayability. I'm looking forward to the game.

My thanks to Culver and EA for the interview.

So what do you think?

4 comments:

  1. Niels Hammers2/3/09, 11:01 AM

    thanks man, love the godfather 2 game so much. I live in The Netherlands, so i hope the date when the game comes out isn't much later

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  2. I realy look forward too the game, i live in denmark and they say it comes in about 26 feb or 4 may and i cant wait, and as the other guy said i hope it doesnt get over the realese date.Thanks for the preview

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  3. "Early on in the design process, we were considering both alternatives, but keeping the world active while the player is in the Don’s View ultimately led to too many complications and questions to be answered. Acting like a Don and using the Don’s View is already a robust system and we didn’t want to overwhelm people with too much complexity."

    Am glad that they choose to freeze gameplay while in Don's View that's something that had concerned me about the title.

    Good interview, Aaron & cheers for 'turning me on' to the game!

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  4. i live in bradford in england and pre-ordered godfather on play.com godfather rocksssssssssssssssssssss!!!!!!!
    woooooooohoooooooooooo!

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