IGN can exclusively reveal a seven-minute video showcasing Six Days in Fallujah's "Procedural Architecture" technology, which aims to deliver a more authentic wartime experience that will re-shape the entire battlefield each time the game is played.
This new tech developed by Highwire Games and Victura, which you can see in action in the video below, was inspired by Marines who told the team that "they never knew what was waiting behind the next door."
“Memorizing maps is fake. It’s that simple,” says Sgt. Adam Banotai, who led a squad of Marines block-by-block through Fallujah. “Clearing an unfamiliar building or neighborhood is terrifying. You have no idea what’s about to happen, and this is one of the reasons we experienced such high casualties.”
"Procedural Architecture" hope to communicate this aspect of war to the player in some small way. The game engine will assemble every room in every building procedurally, and this will even occur if a player needs to retry a particular section multiple times. The goal is to make every encounter feel like a new and unknown one.
We spoke to Six Days in Fallujah's Peter Tamte and Jaime Griesemer for our latest IGN Unfiltered, and they discussed more about this tech, and how the team spent "months bordering on years" developing it.
"So, when we heard over and over from these guys, you never knew what to expect anytime you went in a house, anytime you opened a door, you could not anticipate what was going to happen on the other side," Griesemer said. "And in a traditional video game, that applies to the first time you play, right? You're playing through a campaign mission, you kick open the door, it's an ambush; there's a guy over there, there's a guy over there. And maybe you don't succeed, maybe they get you, right? You revert back to a checkpoint, you come back to the same door. You already have a beat on the first guy before you even open the door, right?
"That is not the experience that these guys had, right? They got one shot. And how are we going to recreate that in a game? So we spent literally months bordering on years developing this technology that allows us to recreate entire sections of the city dynamically. So, not only do you not know what's going to happen when you kick open the door, but me as a designer, I don't know, right? I didn't go in and play and set up the scripting and all those stuff, it's generated."
This tech is meant to give players a way to feel "just a little bit of what it must've been like" to be in this battle. While Griesemer acknowledges Six Days in Fallujah doesn't even come close to the experience of actual war, he hopes it will offer players context when they go into one of the included testimonials and hear a Marine talking about how he was afraid every time he opened a door.
Another big challenge for Highwire Games was making it "as easy for you to order your team to do something as it is to fire your weapon." Teamwork and coordination are essential for survival in hostile situations, and the team wanted to make sure they made this an integral and accessible part of the game.
"How do you create enemies that are actually using tactics that require a coordinated team to overwhelm them? And number two, how do we make it as easy for you to order your team to do something as it is to fire your weapon? Fundamentally, if we can make it as easy to direct your team as it is to fire a weapon, then that becomes as powerful a tool for the player as the weapon. And so that's where we get the Go command, and that's Jaime's, that's some brilliant thinking on how to do that," Tamte explained.
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Hand signals are meant to be contextual so as to not confuse players, and seem to be of similar function to the ping system in games like Apex Legends. If you point at a location, your team will know to go there, if you point at an enemy, your team will know to target them or lay down suppression fire, etc.
"And if you're pointing at a door, when you say go, it means stack up on that door because we're going through it," Griesemer said. "And if you're pointing at a corner, it means secure that corner, watch that corner because I'm going to go this way, but I need somebody watching, it's a 360 battlefield, I need somebody watching that way. You can't do elaborate three-part plans with your AI, but it's very responsive, it's happening constantly, as you're going through a house, you're able to just manage your team as you're also trying to focus on a bunch of other things. And then that extends to the co-op experience too, right? If we're playing together, I don't have to just describe an elaborate plan. I can just give you the appropriate go command and you see it on your screen. You're like, okay, I understand what we're doing."
Six Days in Fallujah is set to be released in 2021 on PC and consoles, and pulls from the real-life events of the Second Iraq War – it's been a controversial project ever since it was originally announced in 2009. The game was subsequently resurrected by Victura and Highwire.
We recently spoke to a number of Arab and Iraqi game developers, members of the video game community, and a US military veteran about how Six Days in Fallujah is both complicated and painful for those who are connected to the real events the game is attempting to depict.
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