Max Payne

By combining the latest in graphics and gameplay technology with a mature and intense storyline, Max Payne was one of the biggest hits of the year. The introduction of Bullet Time gameplay brought a new dimension to the genre and gave a new look to action shooter games. Recently I spoke with Petri Jarvilehto who is the Project Leader for all things Max about the past, and future of this gaming franchise.

GVK: Describe how the idea for the game came about.

PJ: Basically we wanted to create a game that would take a lot of elements from classic action movies and merge those into a package of the cinematic gunplay, cool moves and hair-raising combat. We’re all movie buffs here at Remedy and once we started throwing ideas around, we knew that we wanted to have a strong central character in the game and also that we want to tell a story during the game, which is something that a lot of action games haven’t really done properly. We wanted to evoke the player’s emotions- to make them feel happiness, sorrow, even fear and elevation… and we wanted them to be entertained.

GVK: Going into this game, what were the main objectives you wanted to achieve in regards to content and gameplay?

PJ: One of our main objectives was to build a strong central character, which could live on after the first game. We wanted to create some of the same success that 3DRealms has managed to do with Duke Nukem.

We also wanted to take 3rd person action further than what has been done before, to go closer to the action that we see in movies and to merge that into the gameplay.

GVK: What were the biggest obstacles and success stories that you encountered
when you were creating the game?

PJ: One big obstacle was to avoid any Tomb Raider references. During Max’s development Lara Croft was becoming a bigger and bigger star, and we did all that we could to separate Max from Lara (otherwise there was the danger of getting labeled as just-another-tomb-raider-clone).

This worked out really well, since we focused a lot of the gameplay around the gunplay and action elements (and almost totally avoided any jumping puzzles), we’ve managed to avoid any comparisons on that angle.

Creating our own technology from scratch was certainly another obstacle-turned-into-success during the development. Since the engine is developed in-house, it gives us a lot of advantages where we can push gameplay and visuals further and do things that generally wouldn’t be possible with a licensed engine. A good example on this is the radiosity lighting which gives all Max’s environments an extremely realistic look.

GVK: In regards to content, were there features you wished to include but were
unable to do so, and if so what were they?

PJ: There’s certainly features that we had to change and limit, since we do not have unlimited resources, but I think we managed to keep the project pretty well focused and get all the important features in there. I think the game is complete and there isn’t anything that I feel would make sense to add.

GVK: If you could change any part of the finished game, what would it be and why?

PJ: (see above ).

Actually, if I could go back, I think we should probably pay more attention to things like pacing of the game.

GVK : What new features would you like to see developed in terms of multiplay for gaming?

PJ: I’m actually very single player oriented gamer. That’s what I enjoy most, and to be honest I consider most of the multiplayer games as single player as well… you just end up playing against real people instead of bots, but more often than not, you’re still playing it alone on your PC.

GVK: How long was the development cycle of the game?

PJ: Creating the game and the technology took approx. 4 years and 6 months.… but who’s counting 

GVK: With the arrival of the new generation of gaming consoles, will Max be making the leap over anytime soon?

PJ: Max Payne for the PS2 is shipping this weekend and it is also slated for release on the X-Box on December 17th.

GVK: Will there be an add on pack or a sequel?

PJ: It is still early days to be looking at those.

GVK: What are you working on now?

PJ: Max Payne has been a fantastic character to work with, so I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him yet but that is all I can say now 🙂

GVK: There has been talk that Dimension Films is working on a Max Payne movie, what is the status on that?

PJ: At this time, it is still something that I have heard rumored, but a deal, much less casting and shooting have not been agreed upon so it is still in the discussion stage as far as I have heard

GVK: Thank you.