I attended the What’s Next de Focus event last week and had the opportunity to talk to some of the team that is working on A Plague Tale: Innocence. Unfortunately, the game was not available to play at the event so please bear that in mind when reading this interview.
I had the chance to sit down and have a chat with Kevin Choteau, Lead Game Designer on A Plague Tale: Innocence at Asobo Studio. We spoke about what A Plague Tale: Innocence is, what problems the Asobo has encountered in early development and how the developers settled on a look for the game.
GameWatcher: Could we just get you to introduce yourself for us, please?
Kevin Choteau: I am Kevin Choteau, the Lead Game Designer on A Plague Tale: Innocence.
GameWatcher: Can you give us a brief overview of your game?
Kevin Choteau: A Plague Tale: Innocence is a third person action adventure game that will be released on console and PC by the end of next year. The game depicts the story of Anissa and Hugo, who are brother and sister. They are trying to survive in Medieval times in South-West France. They need to flee the castle they were living in because their family has been slaughtered. Now they are on the road trying to find shelter and someone to help them survive.
GameWatcher: Have you encountered any issues developing this game? If so, how did you overcome them?
Kevin Choteau: One of the challenges has come from the rats you’ve seen in the demo. In the Church, we had three thousand rats on the screen at the same time. We needed a lot of horsepower to make that run, but because it’s our own engine we have focused a lot on making this possible. We have no worries about consoles not being able to run this because we have taken the time to do it perfectly, and the way it is done is awesome. It’s pure engineering genius and I am still amazed how the team have brought the rats to life. Even with the design constraints we have given they’ve still managed to make it look great.
GameWatcher: What games inspired you to create A Plague Tale: Innocence?
Kevin Choteau: When we started to think about this game, we said “Okay, what was the latest great emotion we had in a game. What was this game and why?” There are two main games I think about with this question. One of them is The Last of Us. There’s this bond between two characters and this narrative… we are huge fans of Naughty Dog’s work at Asobo. We talked about their game for weeks in front of the coffee machines, “Ah, it’s amazing the way they were doing this, the way they were doing that, all while being efficient…”. The other game (which is quite different) is Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Again, there’s this bond between two characters, and this time they successfully bring emotion and narration without any understandable voice. That’s another challenge that they managed to face, it’s amazing. The game has super deep gameplay on top of that, and it’s very different compared to The Last of Us. The Last of Us is a AAA game, whereas Brothers is a small indie title. In both cases, the character’s bond works well. It’s in a different way, but they still work well.
GameWatcher: Is VR something you would consider adding to this game? If not, have you at least thought about it for your future releases?
Kevin Choteau: At Asobo, we worked a lot on the Hololens, so we are used to mixed reality. We haven’t worked on VR stuff yet. It’s a topic we haven’t talked about with any focus at this point, so I don’t know what will be the plan for that. As a player, I love the VR experience, even more with Resident Evil 7, now. It feels like a real game is finally on the hardware, not an experience, but a full-length game that works perfectly on VR. I’m curious what will happen with VR. I don’t know if it really fits with what we are building because of the third person aspect. I haven’t seen any control method or something that would work with it. Maybe there’s something you can do, I think Oculus has a game (Lucky’s Tale) that works well with it. If you find a good reason to include VR then why not, however, I’m not aware of any plan forcing VR right now.
GameWatcher: Will the children in the game have more abilities beyond being able to interact with fire and use a slingshot?
Kevin Choteau: Eventually. We are keeping that information to ourselves right now. We don’t want to say too much about that yet, but the basis will be the slingshot which will be upgradable. You can unlock things for that, giving you more tools to face the world. Maybe there will be some other stuff, but we’ll see that later.
GameWatcher: The art in this game is absolutely incredible. How did you go about settling on this look?
Kevin Choteau: I think it’s our art genius! I’m a big fan of our Art Director. He’s a friend and I’m a fanboy of his work. He successfully created a new style that is very different to what we are used to seeing in other games. I don’t know where it came from but the result of it is great. We have other levels now and sometimes they look almost like paintings from parts of the world.
GameWatcher: What do you think is different about this game compared to other games in the genre?
Kevin Choteau: The setting. The fact that we are in Medieval time, not fantasy, it’s realistic Medieval time. We used historical facts to start our journey and used a realistic setting without needing to add magic and stuff. We also take the point of view from two children which seems to be different than from what we’ve seen from other games. The last thing would be the rats, which I do not think I’ve seen in any other games. I think the result of the rats is great as it creates a permanent threat throughout the game. It’s permanent, it’s concrete, you know it’s there when you see it. I don’t like this word but it’s almost visceral for people, you know, you see rats and you directly associate that with The Plague and to the danger, not to mention the ugliness and dirtiness of the rats.
A Plague Tale: Innocence is still very early on in its development. You can expect to see the game sometime in Q4 2018 on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.