An Interview With Far Cry 3 Writer Jeffrey Yohalem


My Google-Fu might be letting me down, but am I right in thinking that no one has yet compared FC3 to Lost? The beautiful, dangerous South Pacific island; arrival more or less by accident; warring factions; mystical history; things aren’t always what they seem; normal people forced by circumstance to do extraordinary things. How would you react to such a comparison?

You may be the first! There are a lot of mysteries to be solved on Rook Island, I definitely take that comparison as a compliment. Lost did a great job enticing people to want to see more, rather than shoving things down people’s throats.

Francois Truffaut is often quoted as saying (to paraphrase) that there is no such thing as an anti-war film, because even anti-war films unintentionally glamorize war. Is this observation relevant to video games, and, if so, how?

Well, that critique could be applied to Far Cry 3. However, I believe an artist can make a statement about how a medium expresses ideas by pointing out the laziness of those ideas and then subverting them. But that’s postmodern, so post-Truffaut. Games need to stop wanting to be liked so much. I feel like most games are constantly worried that the player will leave, and so DING, DING, DING come the reward-loops. Once we stop trying to be liked, then we can become compelling.

Before he departed for his vacation, did Jason Brody play video games?

He was avoiding work and responsibility, so most definitely, although he spent way more time surfing and skiing. He’s more into extreme sports.

Do you think that knowing about the game’s themes and key concepts ahead of time will affect people’s reactions to it? Would you prefer that people experience its unique meta-commentary on video games without knowing that that’s what they’re in for?

YES. I think it’s super important that people approach the game with their brains turned on, expecting an experience, rather than another version of Rambo. Something that challenges tropes used in other games and even in films like Avatar. It’s like if people pick up Scrabble thinking it’s Battleship. I want them to know what kind of a game they’re getting in to. However, there are enough clues that someone who doesn’t know can still figure out what the game is about. I do think that if a player is familiar with other video games, Far Cry 3’s story is more enjoyable and they’ll get more of the point.

In FC3′s most recent trailer, Brody’s voiceover says that “it’s not a question of whether my friends will survive, but [of] how far I’m willing to go to get them back.” Isn’t the answer to this question, in any video game, simply “as far as it takes?” Between doing all manner of disturbing things to get to the end, and just taking the disc out of the machine and not finding out what happens, it’s not much of a choice, is it? Is it possible to control or channel the all-consuming desire to “beat” the game or get to the end of the story in the context of a choice-based narrative?

YES. I don’t want to spoil things, but there is a solution that gives the player powerful agency in Far Cry 3. I’m banking on the fact that players will leave their disk in the drive long enough to get to it.

Check out Game Front’s other Far Cry 3 coverage! Tweak the graphics to get the game looking its best. Find Easter Eggs. Unlock signature weapons. Navigate difficult sections with our walkthrough. And let us know what you think about Yohalem’s answers in the comments below. Do you think the “meta-commentary” on video game tropes was effective?

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1 Comment on An Interview With Far Cry 3 Writer Jeffrey Yohalem

The Defenestrator

On December 16, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Y’know, I’m not entirely sure I buy it. I believe that he believes it… but if what you wrote is indistinguishable from the thing you’re satirizing or sending up, then that means you failed. He mentions guys like Lynch and Cronenberg but they have a consistent tone of disconnection or unreality that throws whatever you’re seeing into question and can’t feasibly be maintained in an open-world shooter. And that’s what FC3 is at the end of the day.

Maybe they wanted for the game to be something more than “just a shooter” and I respect their ambitions but I really don’t think they pulled it off. Whatever those ambitions were, I think it ultimately just allowed for them to have their cake and eat it too.