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Volition's evolution toward 'Saints Row 4' and beyond

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Saints Row has been one of the most popular gaming franchises over the last half decade, with its adult content and addicting gameplay, and as it seems like this may be the last installment in the beloved franchise, Volition has not left any stone unturned.

Saints Row 4 take players into a new world where they assume the role of the President of the United States, who has to overcome an alien invasion. From what we have seen thus far, Saints Row 4 seems like it will be delivering another unique, hilarious performance when it hits retailers on Aug. 20th.

In an exclusive interview with Examiner.com, Saints Row 4 creative director Steve Jaros took some time to speak with us about the game's evolution, the transition from THQ to Deep Silver, whether or not the studio has started looking ahead to new projects and how Volition is looking at the next-generation of gaming.

With there already being three installments in the Saints Row series, Volition has been tasked with the challenge of topping the things the franchise has done in the past, as well as delivering a new, unique experience that gamers will love.

Jaros said they had to answer the question of what could they do to top previous games that would make fans happy, and that they've maintained the perspective that no matter what, Saints Row 4 has to be fun.

"The evolution through each of the games has kept getting more crazy and more over-the-top, and then when you try to think about what is more crazy, you're left with Saints Row 4. So we thought, 'well okay, I'm the President of the United States and I'm getting invaded by aliens and I have super powers.' We just keep throwing more and more on top of it, but sometimes you start to wonder, 'how much is too much?'

"The most important thing though is that Saints Row 4 is fun. It's really difficult to find humor in a game that is suppose to be funny. Just the way it all works together can be tough, but we have a lot of guys who have been on this game throughout the entire series, which helps with creating humorous moments," Jaros said.

As everyone knows, Volition was acquired by Deep Silver after the collapse of THQ last year. We wanted to know what that transition period was like for the development team and what has been different about working for the two publishers.

He said it was a smooth transition and that Deep Silver really placed a lot of faith and trust in the development team.

"I tell you what, it was as smooth of a transition as it could possibly have been. Yeah there were outside distractions, and of course you're anxious about it. You're thinking, 'what's going to happen?'

"The best thing that happened was Deep Silver said, 'you know what, we trust you guys and you are experts at what you do.' So aside from the outside noise, we had the core of the game still going untouched. Looking back, I don't think the transition could've gone any smoother.

"Certainly they both have different ways of doing things. THQ was obviously a much larger and more established company, but it's still pretty much the same. We had creative directors outside from THQ that would offer suggestions and guidance, but it was still Volition that was making decisions on our own. By being so successful with Saints Row, we really been able to go with our own creative vision," Jaros said.

With this seemingly like the end for the Saints Row franchise, people definitely want to know what the studio is working on next.

Jaros couldn't confirm what they've been doing internally, but he did say that they are actively thinking about what's next for Volition.

"Obviously there are discussions of where we will go from here. The success of the game will dictate a lot of that. We've got plans in the works, but nothing we can announce right now.

"Of course we are excited about next-gen and what it has to offer. Right now we are just focused on getting this game out, but there are some cool things and ideas we are tossing around," Jaros said.

With this type of a franchise being so successful, it's hard to imagine Volition moving away from the humor and open-world aspects that are in Saints Row, but the studio may want to try something different.

"I mean humor is always going to be there, but you always have to find the balance between low-brow and high-brow humor. When you first think of some of the major things we've promoted from the game [like the penetrator from the last Saints Row].

"Some of that started out as something that was just an easter egg in the game, but suddenly things became popular and they get pushed to the forefront of the marketing campaign. You set out to do one thing and then aspects of the game can just take on a life of their own," Jaros said.

Hearing feedback from test players, friends and family is no doubt an important to making any game, let alone one like this that has so much explicit content.

He said they value the feedback they receive from people and it especially makes a difference when they see someone playing the game, laughing and enjoying themselves.

"We have play testers come in off the street during development and gauge their reactions to certain content. Sometimes I'll say to my wife, 'hey were doing this, what do you think?' She'll sometimes respond saying, 'that's absolutely crazy,' but when I bring a build home and she gets a chance to play it, she usually responds saying, 'wow that's actually pretty cool, I didn't think that would actually work and there it is.'

"We do have a lot of support and positive reactions to what we're doing. It feels great when you see someone playing the game and you hear them laugh because that tells you you're on the right track," Jaros said.

As we all know the next-generation of gaming is upon us and we wanted to know what Volition sees when it comes to a game's potential for the future.

Jaros said what next-generation means, is something they are always asking themselves because it's more than just better visuals and polished games.

"That's the question we are always asking, 'what are these systems actually going to bring?' I think a lot of the knee-jerk reactions is 'oh it's going to be a prettier, more polished game.' With the cloud service, bigger is what I am thinking.

"We'll be able to have more alive cities. There's always the dream of having every house be enterable. We'll have more interiors in there and we'll be able to stream more data. I think to me, that's the most exciting thing. Naturally, things are going to be better looking over the life of a console, but I think it's all about making a much more cohesive experience for the player," Jaros said.

Saints Row 4 is scheduled to debut this coming Aug. 20th on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

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