Prototype 2 - Interview with Radical Entertainment's David Fracchia

Prototype 2 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3

With Prototype 2 soon to be winging its way onto Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, we were lucky enough to squeeze some time in with Dave Fracchia, VP of Technology at Radical Entertainment as part of his whirlwind tour of Europe.

Dave spoke with great enthusiasm about the game, giving away just enough to really whet our appetites...

GAME: First of all Dave, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself, your role at Radical Entertainment and your involvement on the development of the PROTOTYPE series?

DAVE FRACCHIA: I started creating video games back in the old days of the Commodore 64 and Atari 2600, programming with my best friend in his basement. I ended up a professor, teaching computer graphics for seven years before being lured into developing software for CG television, DVD and films for 10 years. I returned to gaming five years ago when I joined Radical Entertainment as VP of Technology, heading their central tech group. I'm now more of an overall Studio VP. I joined about a year into the development of the original PROTOTYPE game and focused on the engine side from the exec level, but for PROTOTYPE 2 I've been overseeing the project with the leadership team, with some hands-on work on the story side. But, I can only take minimal credit as it's our great team that deserves the lion's share for developing an amazing sequel.

G: The original PROTOTYPE has sold over two million copies and has been played by gamers all around the world. What sort of feedback have you had from gamers moving into development on PROTOTYPE 2?

DF: The feedback has been incredible and invaluable. We have the very best fans! And one thing I absolutely love about gamers is that they are incredibly vocal. Gamers don't pull punches. When we first broke the news of PROTOTYPE 2, our fans were ecstatic! Of course, at first, the decision to bring in a new protagonist (Sgt. James Heller) and make the original game's main character (Alex Mercer) the antagonist became polarising. But after explaining our choice and how epic a PROTOTYPE vs. PROTOTYPE showdown would be, our fans became even more excited. Also, for those gamers critical of the first game, I believe we're on the path of demonstrating that we've heard their voices as well. In fact, we incorporated this feedback into the design of PROTOTYPE 2, and the press and gamers have taken notice. We've added many new great features so that PROTOTYPE 2 isn't just an improvement on the first game, but an absolutely great game in its own right.

Radical Entertainment's David Fracchia answer's our Prototype 2 questions

G: We last got to see PROTOTYPE 2 up close and personal at GAMEfest 2011 and the game looked a blast! It was already looking extremely playable and polished - what have you guys been doing with the game since then?

DF: Thanks for saying so! It's a great testament to our team, technology, and processes that this was universally felt by those that saw PROTOTYPE 2 during GAMEfest and other shows in 2011. Since then we've continued to focus and play-test the game, tune and polish missions, finish up our cinematics, localise the game for many countries, and squash a lot of bugs in the process. If you liked what you saw then, just wait until you see the final version!

G: The web of intrigue has us... well intrigued! Could you tell us a little more about it?

DF: Well, I'm certainly not going to give away any spoilers. But yes, the ability to consume key targets and access their memories is back in PROTOTYPE 2, and this time, those memories may unlock new objectives. We've also kept that great WOI style look and feel from the first game. One memory that still really haunts me is...oh yeah, no spoilers.

G: Sgt. James Heller seems like a worthy replacement as the lead character in PROTOTYPE 2. What was the thought process behind switching Mercer out as the bad guy, is there more to this switch than meets the eye?

DF: When we first started working out the story for PROTOTYPE 2, we did consider continuing with Alex Mercer as the protagonist. The issue is that we had built Alex up to such god-like powers in the first game, that there weren't many directions we could go without entering into a more fantasy-like land. Sure, we could have taken Alex's powers away and started again, but we felt that was a disservice to Alex. That's when we realised that the star of PROTOTYPE wasn't actually Alex, but rather it was the Blacklight Virus itself, and its story told through the protagonist. As Alex was still alive at the end of the original, we wanted to still continue that story. When we hit upon the ideas of having Alex create the next PROTOTYPE and the epic battle of PROTOTYPE vs. PROTOTYPE that could ensue, it all began to come together. We also wanted to fuel our new protagonist's motivation very deeply and clearly. And what could prompt someone to want to kill another more than the murder of their family? Enter our new protagonist, Sgt. James Heller. And, of course, Alex has a story as well. In fact, the story of PROTOTYPE 2 is really the collision of two stories, Heller's and Mercer's, nestled in the third story of New York Zero.

It's Prototype vs Prototype in Prototype 2

G: We love the idea of 'hunting' in PROTOTYPE 2, can you tell us more about how this works?

DF: With hunting, we wanted a more active way for Heller to find key targets in the world beyond just finding some icon on a mini-map. We were inspired by the feeding behaviour of bats and the technology used by submarines for tracking and navigation. In our game, Heller hunts by sending out a sonar pulse into the open-world. Visually, the pulse tints the world a reddish tone, with the front of the pulse wave brightly highlighted. When the pulse hits the hunting target, it sends a return pulse back. As the pulse travels, it returns the world back to its natural colour, so that the direction of the return pulse is very clear. Heller can then traverse the world looking for the centre of the return pulse. It really makes the player feel like a predator as they can trigger a pulse while gliding and swoop down on their unsuspecting target!

G: Do you have a personal favourite aspect of PROTOTYPE 2?

DF: I've realised I've given more than one answer to this question. At first I said I loved the visceral feel of the new dismemberment system, and then it was the great feeling of being a predator while hunting. But I've come to realise that my most favourite thing about PROTOTYPE 2 is that it is a game that allows a player to create their own amazing over-the-top moments. One of my own is when I carried a car to the top of a skyscraper, threw it at a damaged chopper knocking it out of the sky, leapt onto the second chopper, ripped off its weapons system, destroyed it as I fell, targeted a tank below, trashed it with my Hammerfist, unleashed a devastator on the remaining soldiers, and then... quiet... and I felt like the most amazing badass ever! That's the best part of PROTOTYPE 2 - it is THE ultimate power fantasy! Just saying this felt damn good.

G: With the 'Bio-Bomb Butt Kicker' as a pre order bonus to GAME in the UK, was there anything you considered putting in the game and thought 'actually, that's probably going a bit too far'?

DF: Yes.

G: Any final words for all the people who haven't preordered yet?

DF: One word... RADNET.

Prototype Limited Edition on PS3 and Xbox 360

Prototype 2 is released on 24th April on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 with the Blackwatch Collector's Edition also available.

SKU: Features-165512
Release Date: 17/02/2012