5 Minutes With Resistance 3 Lead Writer John Paquette (Interview)
You all know how we got our hands on Resistance 3 yesterday. We loved it, naturally, and while David Moss was getting his hands dirty with the multiplayer demo, we stalked Resistance 3′s head writer John Paquette. He sat down with us for a quick chat about the creation of the upcoming shooter, and had a lot to say about the story they were telling, the give and take between the writers and designers, and Cormac McCarthy.
GameFront: Based on [the Resistance 3 presentation shown prior to open play], Resistance 3 is a significant departure, plotwise, from Resistance 1 and 2. Can you elaborate on that?
John Paquette: Sure, Resistance 1 and 2 was mainly a military affair. The player played [Resistance 1 and 2 protagonist] Nathan Hale- he was part of the US military and it was very focused on squad-based combat and of course, killing aliens (which is our bread and butter). In Resistance 3 you take on the role of Joe Capelli. He served with Nathan Hale in the previous games, however by the time of Resistance 3 the world’s been taken over by the Chimera. Any military around the world has been disbanded.
GF: It’s all guerilla combat at this point?
JP: Exactly, and so people are trying to do anything they can to survive. Joe’s found a woman he’s fallen in love with and they have a family.
GF: This is all backstory though, not a Heavy Rain style intro?
JP: (Laughs) yeah, there’s no copulation mini game. It’s a very personal story about Joe, the guy (not the soldier) who has to do whatever he can to save his family.
GF: Obviously the series is still set in the 1950s at this point-
JP: Correct, it’s now 1957.
GF: I’m sure you’ve been asked this a billion times but since this is essentially alternate history I gotta ask if you’ve read the Worldwar series by Harry Turtledove?
JP: Yeah (laughs) I’ve read the first two books but not the whole series.
GF: Was it an influence? Approaching the story for Resistance 3, where did you draw inspiration from?
JP: I think a lot of people understand alien invasion stories so I didn’t feel like we needed to go into a lot of exploring other works covering the same subject. What I really wanted to focus on was the journey that the player goes through. Our inspiration came more from – early on in development I read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and I love it. Soon after I read it the movie came out and we saw it as a team. It was certainly a main inspiration. But then, also District 9 was another film that provided awesome inspiration, with cool aliens and extremely ‘kinetic’ action. I look at those two films as being prime influence on the story of Resistance 3 and the universe we wanted to create.
GF: How so?
JP: The Road is a very personal story, it was very depressing, but it was about a family, trying to survive as they travel through hell, and what I wanted to do with Resistance 3 is make it a simple story. In this case of a guy who needs to get to New York, which is the only way he can save his own family.
GF: So without giving any spoilers away, do we end Resistance 3 on a sort of ‘more to come’ note, or is it the most depressing ending ever as in The Road?
JP: (Laughs) We do not end on the most depressing note ever. You know, the end of Resistance 21 was shocking for a lot of people, so we kind of feel like the end of this game is a little more hopeful. Our goal was to give the player a sense of satisfaction that they did something along the way, and hopefully we’ll pull it off.
GF: The Road is father and son traveling across a blighted out United States, while District 9 is a very different story, about aliens being brought here and oppressed. Are you imagining a storyline in which Humanity turns the tables on the Chimera?
JP: The Resistance universe is rich and there’s a lot of directions you could go, especially after this game. I think if we end this one on a more hopeful note, it opens up a lot of possibilities. There are a lot of characters you meet in this game who we might revisit. It’s also a big story across half the country.
GF: The main character is from-
JP: Yeah, he starts out in Oklahoma.
GF: I’m actually from Oklahoma, though obviously not as hardcore as Joe. I’d be soiling my pants in an alien invasion.
JP: I think we all would, and what we’re trying to do in Resistance 3 is try to show what real people might do. You wouldn’t just poop your pants. If there was a weapon around you might pick it up and try to use it. You wouldn’t be great at it – neither would I – you wouldn’t have the kind of survival skills a soldier would, but the urge to survive and defend your friends and family is something we can all somewhat identify with.
GF: This is an annoying meta question, but we’re genuinely curious; during the presentation they showed off some new features and conventions, like cloaked enemies and new weapons. They mentioned that some of those changes were added later and subject to a lot of debate. How much of that were you part of during the writing of the game, and how did it affect the story?
JP: I was, I’ll say ‘forceful’ from the beginning that I wanted to be integrated with the team. I was a designer on several other games, and I understand what it takes as a level designer to make a level come to life. So I wanted to be with the men and women who create the levels and in a sense see myself as a designer too. I go to all the design meetings, and I talk to those guys every day.
It’s funny how the development for a writer goes. You start off saying ‘OK, this is a grand vision I have for how this game is going to go’, but at some point the game designers take over. They say “this is what I envision or my level, here’s what you need to do to make that fit into the game’. The tables turn in a way and I become the guy trying to serve the designers. That’s great because the better their vision is, as long as the story we came up with at the beginning can mesh with the levels and visa versa, the stronger the game is going to be for the player.
GF: Previous Resistance games had a strong multiplayer component. When you were creating Resistance 3, did you approach it first from the single player campaign story, or from the multiplayer perspective?
JP: I think Insomniac has always had a great history of top tier multiplayer, so we’re doing our best to make sure that stays true. There’s a bunch of different types of players out there too. There are players who, when they get the disk they put it in and start playing multiplayer right away. They don’t even touch the campaign.There are also players who have to play through the campaign, maybe twice.
GF: That’s how some of us learn how to avoid being completely humiliated online!
JP: (Laughs) Right! Obviously, I’m primarily focused on the single player campaign and I’m trying to do whatever I can to make that the best. In development, the single player campaign takes up a lot more resources but we’ve tried to make sure that we didn’t take away from the multiplayer to serve the single player mode. (Laughs again) I know that’s kind of a cop out but I’m coming at this from the perspective of both a writer and a developer and that dictates how I approach the games I work on.
Resistance 3 drops September 6 on Playstation 3.
1) SPOILER: Joe Capelli kills Nathan Hale.