Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Interview - Going Back in Time
Written Saturday, February 04, 2012 By Lee Bradley
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Ghost Recon: Future Soldier’s journey has not been an easy one. Thanks to a dramatic change of creative direction, only now is the shooter nearing completion, two years later than intended.

No longer the futuristic vision it once was, GRFS is a far more grounded, contemporary experience. In making that shift, months and years of progress was discarded and delays were inevitable.

We spoke to the game’s director Eric Couzian and production manager Yann Suquet to discuss the change of direction, that slippery release date, Future Soldier’s sci-fi origins and the pain of starting over again.

How long has Future Soldier been in development now?

Yann Suquet: It's been a while. Obviously we presented the game at E3 2010 and it's taken us a while to bring it to the market. The thing is, Ghost Recon has always been about the spec ops experience, so it was quite clear from the beginning where we wanted to go.

The E3 build of 2010 was good, but didn't allow us to go as far into the experience as we wanted. So we needed to work on some stuff and the thing is when you develop a game, it's not easy. You don't just tweak it here and there. If the design doesn't allow you to go as far as you want to, you need to question many things. So it took us a while to take a step back, look at it and rework it.

So this is why there's a difference between the builds of E3 2010 and E3 2011. There's a huge gap in quality. What we have now is pretty awesome. This also explains why it has taken us a while to ship the game.

Eric Couzian: Right after the success of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, we wanted to renew the franchise while keeping faithful to what is Ghost Recon. To do that you need time to iterate and sometimes you follow the lead of some mistakes. Sometimes it can take six months or a year to work out that a feature doesn't work or doesn't fit. So yes, it takes time.

So how does the initial vision of the game match what you have now?

EC: We wanted to go into the future but be as credible as possible, we wanted to offer the spec ops game experience, we wanted to tell the story about the Ghosts and who these guys are, and we wanted to give freedom of choice to the player...

Mixing all these things together, it's not easy. When we first started the game we knew what we wanted to be in there. Two or three years ago we were going in a more futuristic direction, but it was too much. Ghost Recon is tomorrow, not the day after tomorrow.

How far in the future was it?

EC: We were going in a direction that was far more futuristic. But today, if you see the game, it's like everything that you can watch on CNN or on YouTube in current conflicts, but it's the technology that you can have in five years. The tools you have in the game already exist, or will exist, based on current US army research.

YS: You can imagine like, ‘yeah in the future we'll be ten feet high and... y'know.’ It's great but it has to work from a gameplay perspective and it's hard to anticipate the future and take what you think would be cool and translate it into an interesting gameplay feature.

So the approach we settled on is to have that short-term anticipation and it's relevant in every situation we encounter in the game.

What I'm trying to say is that if you go far into the future, you have to provide relevant gameplay. You always have to do that when making any videogame, but it's hard if it is set 50 years from now, 100 years from now. Our game is close and it anticipates, it's not science fiction.

EC: When you think about optical camouflage, one year ago many guys told us that it was too futuristic. Two weeks ago there was an article published by a university that showed that this tech is being researched right now. So when we use a technology, it's because we know it's solid.

Does the E3 2010 demo still exist? Does it appear in the game?

EC: No no. Everything has changed in terms of our direction. All the futuristic tools we were talking about doesn't exist any more. We are back to the roots of Ghost Recon.

Are there many missions that you designed and just had to throw out? That must be a difficult process.

EC: You cannot imagine how hard it is, because there is so much personal involvement, emotional involvement. And as I said, you can work for one year on a feature and realise, even if it is hard to realise, that people won't like it. The day you decide to drop it, it's like a divorce.

You know, you might have 28 people that have worked for one year on something, but you have to make that decision for the good of the game.

It takes a long time to make a game – even without delays. How do you know when to draw the line? Presumably there's a man standing over you with a calculator saying, “Ok, you gotta stop now.”

YS: That's a question for me actually, I’m that guy. Project management rests on three things: you've got quality, time and budget. So if you work on one, it will have an impact on the other. So sometimes you have a budget and you have a time constraint and you say, 'Ok, we're going to ship everything we can, within that time constraint.' 

Of course, the great thing with creative people is that there's always ideas. It's awesome because it never stops, it literally never stops. But the reality is that you have a limited budget, so at some point you have to go 'Ok, this is where we're going to cut it' and it sucks because I like making games with people and they hate you for it. 

You have to make that horrible decision. So what you do is you don't implement every idea in this game and you keep it for the sequel. So if there's ever a GRFS 2, some of the awesome ideas we passed over this time might make it next time.

EC: Yes. That is why we hate you.

Presumably on Ghost Recon Future Soldier, Jann, you've had to give far more leeway than you normally would?

YS: Yeah, again it comes back to that triangle of quality, budget and time. The quality wasn't there, so it depends on what you wanna do, but if you wanna remain a credible company with a good image, if you want to provide good content and a good experience, then quality needs to be your primary focus.

So it may cost more, but if you're investing in the future of this brand, if you ship this thing that's mediocre, people will say, 'Ok, Ghost Recon has gone down, I'm not going to buy the next one.' It would cost a huge amount of time and budget and man hours to get it back up. 

But if you spend a little more in development to ensure that you're shipping a good thing, then it's worth it. So it was a good call. Delaying was a good call.

So you’ve got an extra few months. What’s left to do?

EC: Everything is done now. It’s just a question to make tweaks and optimise and make improvements. The code you played today is around a week old, it’s pretty much the code we’re working on now. There’s so many bugs, we showed what we have. That’s why we need the time.

So what we want to say to people is that even if they are frustrated by the delays, it’s out of respect to them. Five months is a long time. You will see many improvements to the graphics, the animation... at the end of the process you will have a very, very good game. As good as the others.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is currently set for release on May 22nd in the US and May 25th in Europe.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 155
Comment #1 by ckingvengence
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 10:17:23 AM
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when is the beta gonna be released?

Forum Posts: 7
Comment #2 by BlackArrow
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 10:27:33 AM
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@1 The beta will be released in April.

Forum Posts: 463
Comment #3 by M1 Punk
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 11:03:26 AM
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They delayed this game for 2 years. GOOD, if your game isn't ready, don't release it.

But if the game is still full of game breaking bugs, they may as well sell the franchise because it would be worth less then what I have in my wallet.

Forum Posts: 125
Comment #4 by Pr0ph3cy
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 11:24:10 AM
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very good article on how these games are made.

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #5 by Damodar Thade
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 11:45:04 AM
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Really looking forward to GRFS i'm not a big shooter fan but their is some very good looking ones out this year.

Forum Posts: 714
Comment #6 by Bajan Elite
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 11:48:49 AM
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How come you didn't ask him about that moment in the demo, where you had to order your teammate to kill the target after pumping so much lead into him?

Forum Posts: 108
Comment #7 by Slayinfool
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 12:07:34 PM
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Ubisoft is notorious for delays of Tom Clancy titles. Splinter Cell, Rainbow, Ghost Recon, all go through multiple delays time and time again. They need to just stop giving release dates and just take Valves approach and say "it will be done when it's done"...

Forum Posts: 15
Comment #8 by Jack Flak
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 12:38:00 PM
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@7 At least Valve's stuff is awesome tho...

Forum Posts: 566
Comment #9 by KuShNsTieN
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 01:18:48 PM
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looking forward to this game, and Rainbow six patriots

Forum Posts: 499
Comment #10 by AirborneRichard
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 02:00:10 PM
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I already was wondering what happend to the 2010 E3 demo, even so i def liked that setting and gameplay, and expect from the cloaking system there wasn,t to much futuristic stuff in that demo. I think here is alot more futuristic stuff in the new build as far i can tell, but yeah i,m glad Ubisof finaly giving us some news now on regular basis instead if being silent and u wonder what happend to ghost recon and if its still alive. Anyways i hope they can deliver that old Ghost Recon spirit because i loved the first 2 games for that.

Forum Posts: 1068
Comment #11 by The Bum-Mobile
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 02:29:11 PM
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Pisses me off how they didn't really answer any of the questions asked. And they're bringing it "back to the roots of Ghost Recon"? So much bullshit. The game really looks good, but yet another game tries to emulate CoD.

Forum Posts: 20693
Comment #12 by Barad
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 02:36:29 PM
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@9 same boat man.

Forum Posts: 18
Comment #13 by dedoubleyou
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 05:22:42 PM
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wait what.. the E3 demo from 2010 isn't anymore in the game?.. I loved this demo.

Forum Posts: 590
Comment #14 by Tonic24k
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 05:40:09 PM
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Emulate CoD?? How so?? This game is much more innovative and actually completely different.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #15 by hutchy1984
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 06:09:32 PM
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This game seems to be shaping up nicely, its been too long lol. looking forward to getting online with a decent crowd again!!!

Forum Posts: 26
Comment #16 by Wing X Custom
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 06:32:04 PM
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Gotta agree with #12. They basically wanted to make the game more "modern" and grounded in reality because thats what sells. Don't give me this quality shtick. You can make a futuristic game without compromising its quality, those 2 things arent even related. I was exicited for the older looking trailers and build. Not these new moderized "more realistic" one's. They just sacrificed what made their game unique and what had me even interested in buying this game in the first place, just to compete with these modern shooters. You dont have to compete with Modern Warfare to make a good shooter. You just have to make a fun and original idea into a game and worry about your own game rather than what everyone else is doing, which is what they HAD.

Forum Posts: 1595
Comment #17 by HalfEVILmonkey
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 06:47:50 PM
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God I wish that this franchise would go back in Never-Ever land.

Forum Posts: 1068
Comment #18 by The Bum-Mobile
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 09:26:05 PM
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@15, explosions! More explosions! Shootin'! Some stealth. More explosions! It's absolutely trying to emulate CoD; what is popular in video games. Mindless action. Older Ghost Recon and even the E3 demo was slower. Even the shootouts had a method to them.

Forum Posts: 325
Comment #19 by chrishaney23
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 11:01:44 PM
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@7 - Gotta agree anbout the delays from Ubisoft
@7 & 8 - Valve is the definition of delays and bugs.

Forum Posts: 325
Comment #20 by chrishaney23
Saturday, February 04, 2012 @ 11:06:55 PM
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....and where is a demo with Kinect ? If that E3 demo was all its gonna do then they can kiss my ass. Not buying a Kinect so i can make a weapon. It better be more like what Mass Effect 3 is doing with it.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #21 by flyingdog
Sunday, February 05, 2012 @ 12:29:45 PM
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all new york yankees fans are fuckin crybabies

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #22 by bigmac393
Sunday, February 05, 2012 @ 01:58:57 PM
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#3 and #22 are both very correct.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #23 by piut
Sunday, February 05, 2012 @ 09:13:45 PM
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Giants won!!!!

Forum Posts: 111
Comment #24 by Mc1ovin11
Monday, February 06, 2012 @ 09:44:54 AM
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Yet another game i fancy this year-I do hope they're not trying to emulate CoD @ 12,as i hate CoD and the mindless hordes of gimps who think its "real gaming".
Ghost Recon has always been more Squad and gadget based and from what i've seen and read Future soldier is definitely worth a look.
Keep on gaming people!!

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #25 by Scorpionlawd
Monday, February 06, 2012 @ 02:57:27 PM
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loved the other games, played them for hours with friends on the first xbox

Forum Posts: 287
Comment #26 by ViNyLek
Friday, February 10, 2012 @ 03:57:07 PM
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SOunds good to me. Ghost Recon has always been high quality games, so hopefully all that time will be enough for it to deliver again=)

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Game Info
Ubisoft Paris


US May 22, 2012
Europe May 25, 2012

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