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Homefront's Dunn: Mission Variety, Fresh Visuals In FPS Can Be Served By Story

Sean Dunn, creative director on THQ's Homefront, talks the unique challenges of marrying story and gameplay in the first-person shooter genre -- and tak
With its story of an America overrun by invading military, THQ has been clearly driving to create meaningful drama in the first-person shooter genre with Kaos Studios' upcoming Homefront. It's something of an unusual move in a category where the campaign story acts largely as an accessory to the more central multiplayer mode, but Homefront wants to bring something new to the table. That goal creates new challenges for the throughline of the single-player mode. A successful shooter has well-designed missions that have rather specific needs for environmental, visual and experiential variety -- but in the quest to provide players with complex and continually fresh experiences throughout the arc, it can be challenging to create an experience that goes beyond simply stringing missions together. Creative director Sean Dunn had priorities: "Really the narrative structure for the game came first," he tells Gamasutra, in a new in-depth feature interview on the game. "We did pay heavy attention to what players like to do, and the types of variances that you need to have in place so that players don't get fatigued." "In a shooter, you're generally doing the same thing over and over and over and again, and that's shooting people in the face," he says. "So you try to provide the variance in how you approach that, the styles and the visual style of an area, the paces of an area, the number of enemies -- different approaches, whether they're stealth, or balls-out, or things like that." "But within that is the importance of getting actual characters' arcs in correctly, and getting the acts of the story in, and making sense, and having meaning, and whatnot, so we really feel the drive to play it out," he says. And a meaningful story for Homefront has been part of the title's goal even though Dunn himself admits to not being one of those story-focused players. He says it's equally important to prize gameplay in order to make the narrative effective: "I've got a lot of opinions about it, but when I play, generally I'm used to not really caring a whole lot about the story and really putting gameplay first," he says." In that respect, the careful attention to narrative will serve, not distract from Homefront's gameplay, he asserts: "There's a lot of fun to be had and a lot of different visual settings. There's a lot of work been going into really visually styling the narrative so that you really feel like you're in the U.S.; you're in that very familiar setting." The full interview with Dunn on Homefront's development is now available at Gamasutra.

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