GamesBeat: Is there a different between the public’s perception and the government’s perception?
Shortt: For sure. Aiden’s a vigilante. Cops never like vigilantes. They’re always going to try and stop Aiden. The public fluctuates depending on how you act.
GamesBeat: With this huge canvas to work from, where did you want to go with the storytelling?
Shortt: The main story follows a pretty straight line. We saw opportunities to explore different things in these micro-stories that you see, these micro-opportunities. Like when you hack into somebody’s house and you see a guy cuddling with a mannequin. You’re getting a window into his life. You can explore the e-mails on his laptop. That could lead you to other opportunities.
GamesBeat: That was one of the really interesting aspects. When Pearce hacks someone’s cellphone, you see these micro-stories — “Failed CPR class,” or “Related to Dutch royalty.” It’s like a six-word story.
Shortt: The great thing is, you can just go downtown inside the Loop, turn on your [cellphone-hacking] Profiler, and spend 15 minutes standing there on a corner. You’re getting information. You’re getting opportunities. You’re getting these great stories that you can listen in on. That helps create a sense of this rich, big world around you.
What’s cool is that the system works in such a way that we ourselves don’t always know how things are going to align. You often end up with interesting situations where the profiler says one thing, and then the phone call you listen in on is giving you another story. The player is bringing their own interpretation into what they’re hearing from that story. We try to make it as rich as we can.
We’re making sure that there’s enough storytelling and enough opportunities in there that it just goes on and on. You’re never going to exhaust what we have.
GamesBeat: You’ve told me about the kind of story you’re telling. What do you want to say with it? What do you want people to experience and come away with?
Shortt: We’re becoming a hyper-connected world. We have our cell phones, and we have our computers. What does that mean for how we live our lives? Where is our society going with that sort of information, that sort of connectivity? We’re not saying that this is evil or that this is good. We have our own thoughts, but we want players to come away with their own opinions. We’re just posing the question.
GamesBeat: Where do you fall on that scale?
Shortt: I love how connected we are. I love that I can now fly on a plane and get the Internet in the air. That’s great. But I’m hyper-aware, especially after working on Watch Dogs, of what information I’m putting out there and how easily things can be hacked and what that can lead to. We want to be this connected in the world. We just have to be smart about it.