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    Ryan Barnard Director for The Division Speak About The Game

    Last year you blew everyone away with the E3 reveal demo. Earlier this year Watch Dogs had to contend with accusations of visual downgrades, so we’ll ask this straight: is that reveal demo what the final game’s going to look like ?

    Ryan Barnard: Yeah. Absolutely. If you look at this year’s demo, we believe the graphical fidelity is actually a little better and completely within what we expect for the consoles, so absolutely. It is Snowdrop that allows us to do that high level of detail and the animations on the scale that we’re doing for the game. So yes, no worries.

    The Division is set in New York. How much research did you put into the city, and how many visits did you make out there ?

    Well, the team’s done many. I actually, it’s a sad little side note, I’ve only been able to go once because I had other work obligations and I went in the winter, so the worst trip. But it was so good for us to go there. When you see the areas that you’re building with your eyes, not looking at it like from a tourist or someone visiting, when you’re looking at the city for a gameplay space or iconic kinds of locations close to things, it really changes it up. So we’ve done tons of research. Everything in the game kind of starts with that logic thread. It’s a Clancy game and we’re near future, but we want everything to be plausible. So that’s no difference for the city; we pick areas we build locations and make adjustments if necessary for the game.

    New York is no stranger to videogames. What made it the right city for The Division ?

    I would say a big part of the strength of New York city is that it’s so iconic and everyone on the globe has an image of what New York looks like or would look like. So choosing that city so that then we can have the stark contrast to the New York of The Division was really important. Because then you get that, ‘I want to go see Times Square and then look at what’s happened in Times Square’ you get that kind of real stark contrast, I think that’s really interesting.

    You’ve been showing off a very flexible skill system. Can you explain it for our readers ?

    I think ‘simple with depth’ is the way we like to think about it. So there’s kind of a baseline skill that you’ll be able to make a choice on that bottom line, but all skills can be modified as you level up through the game up to what we call ‘large modifications’, which will actually change the functionality of a skill maybe completely. The turret that you see in the main demo with the fire, that can actually be made into a sticky turret, and you can throw it into a ceiling corner and it’ll be able to come back and fire down at the enemies. So things like that is how our skill system works; we want it to be broad.

    New York is contaminated with a virus: how does this contamination affect the game’s mechanics ?

    We try not to gate any content off or any areas off. We all believe that in a true open-world game, you’re not gated, right? You can go anywhere. Now there can be horrific, horrible things that happen to you if you go to an area where you’re not equipped to handle, which is how we approach that. So those contagion levels where you will need gear to be able to handle these pockets of higher viral activity or higher virus if you don’t have the equipment you can go in there but the virus will kill
    you. We want it to be important; it’s the whole catalyst of the game and it needs to be scary and deadly, but we also want it... It’s a little gamey, it’s a little fun, because we need there to be an immediate consequence for that.

    The Division’s an online RPG console game. That’s not a common thing. How have you found working with new-gen ?

    I’m not the best person for that question, but I know that the dev kits that we've gotten we've had them over a year and a half. Sometimes it’s challenging but I think, in general, from what I hear and read in the tech emails that I quickly file and ignore, it’s going well. It’s fine.

    What sort of tail do you expect The Division to have ? Is this a game that will last months and months, potentially years and years, with fresh online content, or is it more of a traditional boxed game ?

    Finish the story and you’re done? No. We’re absolutely the previous example. We’re looking at The Division as a franchise, a new franchise. So we want to build upon this universe for years and years hopefully, with everything going well. So the game is constructed that way where we’re a progression based game where you want to empower your agent with stronger and better gear and better weapons near the end of the game, and then we have endgame activities to keep people playing in-between major additions to the game.

    There aren’t too many console games operating this way although we’re beginning to see more and more. Do you think that’s the case and why is this happening ?

    I personally absolutely believe that that’s the case. I think that, you know, it depends on the genre, but in general I would say the gaming communities first and foremost like being online. You get some people that want their offline modes and of course you’re going to have that, but generally games where you’re competing with or playing with other players are always the most engaging and the most fun. So there’s that, and then I also think that most game companies are realising that.
    Especially when I speak to Ubisoft. We want to create worlds. We want to create universes that our players can really dive into and immerse themselves in. They lend themselves to this type of game that you can build upon.

    The Destiny guys, who are doing something similar, have a ten year plan. How far ahead can you plan, and are you planning ?

    That’s a great question. The truth is, we’re working so focused on this game. Now, the way we build it is so that we can add to it. Thinking of the future is how we approach that. But I’m focused on The Division in New York, and getting this game out and having that graphical fidelity that everyone’s waiting for. So yeah, that’s where we’re at.

    Focused on The Division in New York ? Does that mean we can one day expect more areas or cities ?

    You’re trying! No, I'm focused on The Division in New York and I really don't know. I don’t even have a good dodge answer for you [about] where we’ll go from there.

    What are you most excited about in regards to the players getting their hands on this ? And what are you hoping as a developer to take away from that experience with what the public’s doing ?

    I love that question. I personally am most proud of how we’re integrating player versus player with The Division into the core experience. Trying to take some popular I would say more strict or hardcore game mechanics and flip them so that they can be positive and mainstream. And what I would love to take away and learn from The Division is that it can work: a PvP game with a layer just on top integrated into the core kind of progression or campaign, that it’s popular and people like it. That would be great. And if not then we learn why and we learn how can we improve it and make it better.

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