How Ubisoft’s designers transformed Sam Fisher into a ‘panther’ and a leader in Splinter Cell: Blacklist (interview)

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GamesBeat: It’s a very peace-loving game, then.

Carrillo: [Laughs] Well, it can be. That’s one of the big things about the game. We allow the players to attack in any way they want. They can go nonlethal the entire way, using the ghost playstyle, sneaking through from A to B without ever raising any alarms.

blacklist 7GamesBeat: You’ve shown a couple of levels here. What are some of the takeaways from these two particular stages?

Carrillo: The interesting thing here is that one of the levels we’re showing, Benghazi, is a daylight map. The other level we’re showing, London, is a nighttime map. We wanted to compare those dynamics. We have a lot of variety in the game. It’s a huge game.

We wanted to show everyone that the daylight maps … I know there’s a lot of curiosity about that. People are wondering if it’s going away from stealth, but you can stealth the daylight maps as well. It’s a lot harder — there aren’t as many shadows to stick to — but you can get through them without being spotted. It’s just that you have to use all your distraction techniques and all your gadgets perfectly. It’s more of a challenge, I would say, than a nighttime map where have that cover of darkness.

GamesBeat: Is there any reward for using no tech to get through a mission? [Laughs]

Carrillo: Well, with the scoring system overall, we’re constantly tuning and tweaking it to make sure it properly rewards players. We definitely want people to utilize all the tools we’ve given them, though. There isn’t really more reward for not using the kind of gameplay features that we want everyone to use.

GamesBeat: What else is happening between now and the release date?

Carrillo: In terms of the development of the game, it’s just putting those extra fine touches on. Making sure it’s playing really well and looking really good. The build you’re seeing today is something a bit older that we polished up to make sure that we could bring it here. These guys are always constantly working. In the coming months we’ll be showing you co-op. We’ll be showing more of the spies versus mercs. We have a bunch of passionate teams working on those game modes.

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GamesBeat: What are the fans going to think of Sam Fisher after they’ve finished this game?

Carrillo: You’re going to see a different side of him. We’re putting a lot more depth into Sam Fisher as a character. With the leadership role, he has a lot more pressure on him. Making the calls is not as easy as it looked in the older games when people were bossing him around. You’re going to see more depth. You’re going to see him out of his element a little bit, especially on the daylight maps. We’re excited about showing this character who’s gone through so many games in some unique and interesting new situations.

GamesBeat: If you pull back, have you addressed any concerns that people might have about… This is a long franchise. It’s been going on so long that people may be getting fatigued in some way. They may want something brand new. How would you say you’ve addressed anything like that?

Carrillo: I think the biggest thing Blacklist offers is that openness and variety. Generally, when you have long franchises, you need to keep varying how they play. You need to keep giving the player more options. Each rendition can’t just look like we put some new maps in.

We’ve evolved Sam Fisher as a character. We’ve evolved his surroundings — Fourth Echelon, the characters around him — and evolved the story. We’ve escalated how deadly this new enemy is. We’ve also always stuck to that real-time, real-world type of feeling, making it more like a ripped-from-the-headlines story. The variety of gameplay and the variety of situations Sam has to deal with in a leadership role offer a lot more to the dynamics of the game to make it stand out.

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