Watch Dogs is largely based on the ground, not allowing players to fly aircrafts for good reason, and it will also have varied NPCs at every turn, along with a simple, yet effective crafting system.
Jonathan Morin, who is the creative director on Watch Dogs, talked about the reasons behind not wanting to add flying in the game and how it relates to Watch Dogs emphasizing different areas that other games don't touch.
"We don't ride helicopters, planes or BMX. It's something we hear about a lot and it surprised me a bit. There's a lot of questions about the stuff that other games have, and [whether or not] we have them. Some of them yes and some of them no. One thing we did want to push is stuff that other current games don't have.
"We wanted to have elements that pushed the fantasy of Watch Dogs a lot. So by pushing density and all of that, we didn't push for crazy scale and stuff like that. If you have planes or choppers, you need that kind of scale.
"We wanted to dig into a different area, put the money, put the resources, the five and a half years of research on something else that players might not have touched already in a game," Morin said.
Colin Graham, who is the animation director on Watch Dogs, talked about whether or not the NPCs we see in the game will be repopulated throughout the game or if they will be 100% different and unique.
"Yes. We have a system to generate NPCs and you have to have some logic in it so you have the right people in the right area. The people you see on the street are going to be generated randomly on the fly to create the demographic of the locale you are in.
"There are some characters that are in some of the missions though and you will see them pop-up over and over again. Sometimes we play with them because they are important to narrative context. What's interesting about that on an animation level, we took the approach of trying to make this as random as possible, which make our job really tough sometimes.
"For example, if Nick goes on a street corner I can guarantee you, you will not see what Jon saw because the person will be different, the arrangement of the people will be different, the combination of all of these arrangements are different and we have a large amount of variety of them. It's not really possible to see the same thing twice," Graham said.
Graham then talked about some of the difficulties surrounding a game like this in an open-world setting, as well as how the design will open itself up to a slew of random moments.
"I think the biggest challenge is how everything is interconnected, which is part of the reason why we needed the extra time. Every component of every system, can affect another system, so Jon talked earlier about [Watch Dogs] being systemic, it's simulated.
"So it's the butterfly effect, you change one thing and the outcome will be different. A lot times, when we're playing the game, you're like 'what just happened?' It can take a long time to produce some of the things that happen, but [with that], the player then gets an infinite amount of unique gameplay," Graham said.
Danny Belanger, who is the lead game designer on Watch Dogs, added, "from a design perspective it's letting the player do it, explore it, play with it, and he creates his own gameplay story that's very unique because it's systemic. We don't know exactly what is going to happen, he's playing with the systems and then out of that chaos emerges gameplay," Belanger said.
Morin provided his perspective and noted that the hardest things for them to do as developers is to let go of control and place it in the hands of the players.
"I want to reinforce a point Danny made about letting go. I would agree. The hardest thing on our side as people who love the game is precisely that term. When you create a game, you naturally have an old school way of wanting to control everything. It's like giving a musical instrument to the player, instead of giving a concert that the player will enjoy. It's very hard to [let go] in the way emotionally," Morin said.
Crafting has been a feature we have seen in a lot of open-world games over the years, especially with RPG elements in them, and Belanger talked about the type of crafting players will be able to do in the game, as well as what is considered a crafting item.
"Yes, crafting for us is a lot like hacking. All of these tools will either add hacking opportunities or disrupt the system, jam-comm is a crafting tool. You need to hack civilians to find system keys, which are passwords you can use once.
"A blackout is the same thing, so a lot of these tools are very powerful. Crafting is very, very easy in our game. We wanted it to be part of the core so you don't have to go somewhere, stop playing, if you find stuff you just craft it on the fly. Basically all of your non-weapon tools are crafting tools," Belanger said.