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An Interview with Crytek's Mike Read, Producer on Ryse: Son of Rome

I recently went down to the Xbox One VIP Community night at Sydney’s Potts Point (read Part 1 and Part 2 of our coverage) and had some hands-on time with the Xbox One and a bunch of games. One of the games on show was Crytek’s cinematic action-adventure Ryse: Son of Rome. Mike Read, a producer from Crytek, came down as well, and he was gracious enough to answer a few questions about the studio’s upcoming title.

For those who are at home and can’t come to the event, can you tell us a bit about the build you’re showing off today?

Read: We’re showing off the Ryse Gladiator, which is a co-op mode set in the Colosseum. There’ll be eleven different tilesets at launch. We’re showing off one here with it, called Courtyard. It’s a dynamic tileset: you’ll have different objectives and different things that you play through, basically you and a friend.

Can you talk a little bit about the objectives?

Read: The objectives are actually dynamic, so each time you’re playing through it they’re going to change and they’re going to be different, everything from archers to catapults to defend objectives to boss enemies to handling multiple waves and hordes of different barbarians.

What’s interesting past that is that we have a custom challenge mode as well, that actually takes it further. The custom challenges allow players to go in and create a series of challenges in the menu system or in Smartglass, and allow them to share them with friends or publicly.

You mentioned Smartglass and I saw you had the Surface tablet earlier and you were using it. Can you talk about how Smartglass is working with Ryse and what you’re able to do with the technology?

Read: Smartglass previously on the Xbox 360, we had a lot of people had used it but it was very basic. You had sliders where you could interact with menus and buttons you could interact with. Past that, what we’re doing with Ryse is replicating the menu system in-game itself.

So, the menu system in-game is very robust. We’re basically recreating that on Smartglass now. Smartglass is not something you must have in order to do certain things: you can do all that stuff from the menu. But to have it on Smartglass specifically is enhancing your experience. You’ll get real-time data when you’re playing the campaign, how much you’ve completed, where your friends are at, different social elements on that front too, being able to customise your character for multiplayer, unlocking executions, social tabs, things like that.

There’s multiple things you can go through and basically replicating those menus on the Smartglass itself in providing an experience that, you know, is tied in not only locally with your system but stored on the cloud as well.

What are you able to do now that you’re working with the Xbox One that you couldn’t do when, say, you started with Crysis 2, which I think was Crytek’s first game on consoles?

Read: It’s hard to compare the two, I mean you’re talking about a seven year hardware gap. RAM, for instance, between 512mb (in the Xbox) to the 8GB of RAM we have inside the Xbox One. It’s such a huge difference and such a huge step between the two.

The coolest thing was is, coming into it, the Cryengine has always been pushing ahead of even what the current PC hardware was. So we knew coming into the Xbox One that the Cryengine was going to be ready for anything we were going to be able to throw at the Xbox One. We were sitting in a really good position with that and you can see with the visual fidelity that we’ve presented on Ryse, I think that really shows at least on the first generation and where you know that’s going to progress through as the SDKs get more powerful and the libraries start growing out.

What is Australia and New Zealand like as a market for Crytek?

Read: When we talk about Australasia in general a lot of people I’ve heard talk about it as very much an emerging market, especially when you look at some of the areas in Indonesia and Malaysia and some of those areas. Over the course of Crysis I learned that there’s a large number of individuals that play games in those regions, and they’re actually very vocal on places like Facebook and Twitter.

It’s always interesting for us to come down here, I mean, it’s remote in a lot of ways and I know that a lot of the publishers and other teams have troubles sometimes getting people to come down here and actually visit the market to really understand what goes on down here. And that’s why I think it’s really important for people like myself and people from other development teams to come down here and really understand what’s going on and understand the people and understand what’s happening.

Well, we thank for coming down and Mike, thank you very much for your time. Enjoy your beer!

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