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Free Radical's Littlewood: Haze Focuses On Moral Complexity

As part of a larger Gamasutra interview debuting today, Free Radical creative lead Derek Littlewood explains the creative motivations behind upcoming FPS Haze,
Free Radical is entering into a new, narrative-driven era with its high profile FPS Haze, soon to be released by Ubisoft as a PlayStation 3 exclusive. Gamasutra recently published an interview with the game's writer, Rob Yescombe, and in a new in-depth interview, creative lead Derek Littlewood fills in more of the picture, explaining the motivations behind Haze: "I think the idea of trying to tell a story that is mature in the sense of not treating the player like an idiot, and of actually trying to highlight and explore the complex moral issues associated with shooting human-like characters in games, rather than simply ignoring them, was our core motivation for making Haze." Still, Littlewood disputes the assertion some have made that his team devalues more direct games with less complex themes: "There's nothing wrong with a game that's just a game -- that's something some people have misinterpreted in our comments about the game, like we're somehow saying that every game has to have a philosophical or political message. Well, of course they don't -- I can sit down and enjoy Super Stardust HD for just being a great blend of precise shooting action and pyrotechnics and nothing more -- and games like that will always exist. But at the same time, I've always felt that creative media are at their most compelling when they actually speak to the person experiencing them about their own life, and cause them to ask questions, or look at things from a different perspective, than they'd considered before. Haze certainly isn't the first game to try and do that, but it's still definitely the exception rather than the rule. I don't think we're going to cause every gamer who plays the game to look at war and violence in games in a completely different light, but I think the game will at least create a debate about those questions amongst some of the people who play it (to an extent, seeing people's reactions to some of our comments on the game, it's clear that debate is already happening), and that's an achievement enough in itself, I think." In the full feature, Gamasutra speaks to Littlewood about the origin of Haze, and also about a broad range of other key issues: video game violence, the difficulty to "communicate the core message of the game through interactive sequences", three-dimensional character design, Hideo Kojima, beta testing, Apocalypse Now, and the importance of themes.

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