In the past edition of SOFA we had the chance to interview Jonathan Gingras, head of Game Design at Ubisoft Paris, the developer, and publisher of Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Here’s what we talked with him.
Geeks Magazine: Tell us your name, your charge and what you do as a developer at Ubisoft.
Jonathan Gingras: My name is John Gingras, I work as a part of the game design realization team on Ghost Recon Breakpoint and I work at the Paris Studio, which is the lead studio for the development.
GM: What is the main difference between Wildlands and Breakpoint?
JG: You know how Ghost Recon has always been about the special force operator fantasy, so it’s how do we get to feel what it is to be a special force operator. In this edition because of the addition of these survival features the fact that you can get wounded, the fact that you’re always under surveillance, they have to be very careful about how you navigate this is new but there’s also a brand new world to explore which is Aurora, an archipelago occupied by Skell Tech, a big tech company that decided to establish the world’s 2.0 and it turned bad because the security that had hired decided to force them to do military drones, killing machines, and so when they did that to cut communications with the rest of the world and you got sent as a “Ghost” with your team to find out what happened. When you get to that island you see what happened and you have to solve it, so that’s new, also you’re gonna fight drones which is a whole new type of enemy to fight. There’s also the what we call shared progression, so anytime you invest into your campaign or faction missions all the gear that you unlock all the skill tree, skills that you unlock all the progression you do in your classes that’s transferable to your PdP experience so this fluid back and forth between PvP – PvE this is all new. Well, there are rays that are coming, the class system is new. Yeah I mean there’s so much to talk about but this is main things and of course, the new story.
GM: We want to ask you about what the fans say about microtransactions in the game.
JG: Microtransactions? Well, the way we have it in the game because there’s been a like a big, a big topic, that’s been raised about that because there was an error of publication that made people think that we had microtransactions to make a game pay2win but it’s not. So the way microtransactions work in the game is because we have a very broad community, and part of this community it’s really important to have very specific guns, very specific attachments, very specific equipment, we want to allow that to happen, there’s also paint jobs to put on their guns, paint jobs to put on their equipment, and all of this we want to make that available for the people that want it so if they want to buy it it’s fine. But they can also buy it with the in-game currency so if they play it up and get the in-game currency, they can buy pretty much the same things so that’s what microtransactions are about in the game. It’s cosmetic.
GM: Is going to be some kind of rewards or anything like that to the players that already have and played Ghost Recon Wildlands?
JG: Oh, you asked about legacy rewards? I think so, but there’s a lot of departments and the progression and monetization departments they’re in charge of this aspect of the game so I don’t know the details but I think there are because I’ve heard that people are looking for those rewards, so I think they exist.
GM: We read an article saying that Breakpoint has so many new systems in the game that they feel a little “flunky” sometimes, what do you have to say about it?
JG: Have you played the game? So my point of view on this is: Breakpoint is very different from Wildlands, and whenever something’s different people compare, they compared to what they know what they’ve played for years now. It’s been three years people playing Wildlands they’re really used to that, so anything new coming is going to be uncomfortable for a while and I think that the more people play Breakpoint, the more they’re gonna get used to those systems, the more you’re going to see how well they’re and bring together, how they’ll work together. Again, we’re coming out with this game, we’ve balanced it as much as we could, the community is always going to come up with requests and things to help us understand how we can refine it polish it makes it better, so it’s good that we hear these things, but I mean we’re not close to doing something about, it but we need, we want people to play the game enough to give it time to understand how those systems work together and to appreciate them.
GM: People complain about how Wildlands was very repetitive, quest, quest and epic quest. How do you improve Breakpoint in this aspect?
JG: Okay well, there’s more variety, there’s a bigger variety of quests, there’s more substance to the quests, there are more narrative-driven quests also that have to do with how you make the campaign move forward, there are faction quests that are related to the different groups that you meet along the way in the campaign, and and you know if you haven’t played it maybe you don’t know this but, in Wildlands “momen” (sic) was in your ear all the time, It was telling you where to go and what to do and, all you have to do is follow the yellow line on your mini-map. Now you can turn off the guided mode and you can become some sort of a detective where you find it, you find your hints, you try to assemble them, to try to understand what your missions are going to be about, where they happen, what you have to do, so all of this brings a lot of depth to those missions that you’re doing.
GM: Like the open-world classic system?
JG: Exactly! So I really love that. To me, this is a really good way we gave greater immersion into the special force operated fantasy. So yeah, because developing this game should be authentic we had to work with a lot of military consultants, so these are former special forces operators, active special force operators and these guys they tell you how it really goes down in the world when they’re in operation. And they tell you, man, nobody’s in your ear telling you what to do, you have to find out you have to organize and be self-sufficient and work your way out of trouble, because what if they also told us is that you have a plan most of the time things don’t go according to plan and you have to be able to make it happen anyways.
GM: You can then switch on and off the guide helped system or it is always on?
JG: The guided mode? Yeah you can turn it on and off, I mean I turn it off and this is the way I like to operate because I feel it’s more like real.
GM: Game like Sekiro’s have the chance to activate an easy mode that solves this problem, is this the same thing?
JG: I think so, but also there are difficulty levels. You can play an easy if you want, the aim is easy, the enemies don’t find you as quick, they’re not as accurate when they shoot, and you can play with this difficulty level to put it the way you want right.
GM: Is there any chance that we can play this game using cross-platform?
JG: So cross-platform has to do with first parties. If Sony and Microsoft agree we can do cross-platform, yeah we can do it, but until they say yes we’re locked, we can’t do it
GM: But can you play it cross-platform between PC and Xbox?
JG: I mean it has to do with if they agree if they want to do it because you know how they’re protective about their business right. So but you were talking about PvP, you want to go deeper into that?
GM: Of course! How many players can match in PvP and hoy many in cooperative mode?
JG: PvP it’s forty-four, that means eighty-eight players in a match and cooperative it’s up to four yes.
GM: Do you have planned any Battle Royale mode for the game or anything like that?
LG: It’s a way we found very good to force people into action, so we have your regular Ghost War where you’re either playing ‘Elimination’ or the other one is hacking or something like that where people are going after an objective, and after a while if people are static and they’re not moving then there’s some sort of like a toxic gas coming in and forcing people to move, so I could say it has some elements that remind you of the Battle Royale but it’s not a full-on Battle Royale, so it works like that.
GM: Have you plans to make a Ghost Recon game located here in Colombia?
JG: So a lot of people ask me that you know, but put yourself in my shoes. The last game (Wildlands) was in Bolivia, if we do another game about narco-something or you know somewhere in Central or Southern America people are gonna say “it’s all the same” right so I think that if we had like some sort of an episode of game where like let’s say, for example, in ‘Future Soldier’ where you’re you’re going to one mission and then you’re going to something completely different we could probably do that because we could have one level here, one level somewhere in the States, one level somewhere in Afghanistan, but I feel like because we have this open world where everything occurs at the same place we have to change from time to time so that people don’t think it’s all the same, so it’s kind of logic for me but then again, why not? Maybe one day, we’re coming to Colombia and do something about that, because, I mean this whole FARC dynamic I think is really interesting, but I think it’s also very politically delicate doing something about it, you have to do it in a very specific way.
GM: What’s your politics about DLC’s, Season Passes and monetization?
JG: Okay so, year 1 content 3 episodes. 1 episode about every 4 months, so if you get your season pass you get one year of content. In this content you’ll get the ‘Raids’ which is a new dynamic to the game, you’ll also get new PvP maps, new PvP modes, new classes. We’re introducing for Episode 1 the ‘Engineer’ class, so now you have a ‘Sharpshooter’ which is sniper, ‘Panther’ which is stealth you have ‘Assault’, you have ‘Medic’ and now we’re adding ‘Engineer’ and so every episode is going to have it’s a new class coming in. There’s a new story coming in, these new missions, with your live content you’re getting 12 new missions every day, so it’s there’s a lot of content to work at.
GM: How many years of new content do you expect to bring to the gamers?
JG: That’s a really good question and I think it has to do, and if you think about it for us Wildlands we’re like “okay well we’ll do content as long as the community wants it” so we did one we did two, and you can expect if the community wants it more content, but if the communities says “enough we’ve had it” then why do I do more? It’s because we’re really close to that community. All the comments that they’re bringing to us towards Reddit, on YouTube videos that they’re posting, all of that comes up and we have community developers on our team that are compiling all this information and bringing it to us. My priority saying “Ok there’s a big thing about this topic or this topic” and so then we can react on it. If it’s bug fixes, we fix the bugs, if it’s new content that they want, or if it’s new features, or if it’s adjustments or balancing, we all take that into consideration and then improve the game.
GM: Thank you so much for your time Mr. Gingras!
JG: Thanks to you guys, let me sing some posters for you!
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