Hilton looks to the studio's future with projects such as Crysis 2 and, just maybe, TimeSplitters 4

Crytek UK: Future Perfect

Last week’s interview with Crytek UK managing director Karl Hilton gave an inside-view of the studio’s turbulent past.

Today, in the final part of Develop’s Q&A, Hilton shows his optimism for the studio’s future, and offers a glimpse into the exciting projects that lie ahead.

Currently, how many projects is Crytek UK working on?
We’re working on one main project and at the concept stage with some other stuff as well. The UK studio is contributing some critical elements to the Crysis 2 franchise. We’re co developing these elements with the Frankfurt team and contributing to the whole project. We are working on the console and PC versions of the game.

This would be the first time Free Radical (and now Crytek UK) has co-developed a game. With the PC edition being made a few hundred miles away at Crytek’s Frankfurt offices, how are you handling co-development?
We’re in a good work environment with the Crytek group. It’s still very easy to exchange ideas across studios, and a lot of our team go over there and vice-versa. Crytek is a very international developer, so they have experience dealing with their remote studios.

Yes, we have always done everything in-house, so I guess we’re fortunate that Crytek’s tool-set is very versatile. It’s very easy to swap and exchange assets and code, and I’d say the communication between the two studios has been great, it’s going very well, we really haven’t had any issues at all.

It actually makes a nice change with co-development, because you get to talk to people who are a bit more detached from your own projects and therefore are able to provide you with unique feedback.

What can Crytek UK add to the Crysis 2 project?
We have a lot of history with first-person-shooters, action-adventure games and multiplayer gaming, particularly on consoles so we are contributing in all of these areas.

I know Crytek itself was a PC-based company before, but they are going to increasingly play a major role in the console space, and we’re going to be a big part of that.

The CryEngine has classically been showcased through hyper-realistic games. Is there a feeling that you have to follow the company’s signature style?
Really I think it’s entirely down to the project; the CryEngine will do whatever you put into it; it’s just a very fast, very advanced renderer that can do a phenomenal number of really clever lighting effects. And in terms of model creation and texturing, it’s happy to do whatever you put into it; it’s all down to how we direct our art style.

Going forward with future projects, it will be up to us to talk to publishers about what they want, be it the old TimeSplitters or Team Fortress route of slightly stylized or comic characters, or whether they want hyper-realistic games.

These days the mass-market shooters tend to be aimed at the hyper-realistic stuff. If developers had free reign with the CryEngine, they would easily be able to produce really bizarre, wacky wonderful stuff.

Whether that’s commercial or not is down to the publishers to decide.

But what about your owning company, Crytek itself? Do you feel they will give you the freedom to work on a game where the player can, say, toss a monkey in the air and shoot at it with a rocket launcher?
(Laughs) Like with all businesses, content is dictated by the desires of the market. We have artists who can make super-realistic games but we also have a team that has experience making completely bizarre stuff too.

If the time comes, if there is a demand for that type of game, I’m confident we’d be ready for it.

But with whatever we want to do, there’s always going to be a time when you have to talk to publishers about it. They’re the ones who are going to read the market and see what people want from their games.

Obviously publishers want developers to come to them with ideas, but they will always look at your proposals in terms of what the market wants; what’s selling well, what isn’t, what’s proven, what isn’t, what’s original, what isn’t, what works, what doesn’t. That’s the really complicated bit!

Despite confirming that your entire production time is focused on Crysis 2, there’s little chance Crytek UK will ever be able to shake off rumours that it’s working on a new TimeSplitters game. That speculation came back when Cevat Yerli told us that your studio is going to work on projects it has “always dreamed of”.
Well, firstly, Crysis 2 certainly is a major AAA game that we are delighted to be working on. It is a dream project. We played the first Crysis a lot in the office back in the Free Radical days, so the opportunity to contribute to a series we admire is fantastic.

Going forward, we’ve always made it very clear that we want to build original games and we’re going to do that, and we are concepting some of that up at the moment. It’s early days, but there’s some really exciting stuff that we’re concepting. When we’re ready we’ll talk to publishers, and hopefully publishers will like it, and we’ll own and produce those games in our own studio.

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