Lost - The Videogame22-Sep-2007 The team behind Assassin's Creed on tv's most famous island
The trailer of Lost The Game - revealed for the first time at ComicCon in July - had potential, even if it was a little creaky around the edges. With a look not that far removed from Far Cry, and a structure which seemed to borrow from Tomb Raider, it was a virtual recreation of TV's best/most frustrating show from a developer who rarely put a foot wrong. In short, seeing Lost on the Xbox 360 was palm-sweatingly exciting, even if - in traditional show fashion - we were left with more questions than answers. Until now. This month, we smash open Ubisoft's game-of-the-series, cornering the three key men at the heart of development - producer Gadi Pollack, veteran of Assassin's Creed; creative director Nicolas Eypert, who headed up Far Cry Instincts; and writer Kevin Shortt...
So, let's begin by talking about how Lost The Game came about...
Basically, we brought on Dawn Kelly, a writer on the show, and together with her, our writing team at Ubisoft came up with a story idea for the game that we then presented to the series producers. Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse (Lost's executive producers) then provided a lot of great feedback and suggestions on the story, and they were always ready to help us find that right balance when we needed to make adjustments to the gameplay. The team at ABC have been collaborative since the beginning, which isn't always the case (with television companies).
We're presuming it uses in-house technology...
Yeah. It uses the GRAW2 engine with particular modifications for terrain (such as jungle, beach). Even though the engine had a great feature set already, it was really designed for flatter urban environments. For Lost, we needed something more organic - beaches, water, and of course, lots of trees, so we've developed tools for our artists to create environments quickly and painlessly. On the engineering side, we are working very hard to optimise every bit of the engine to handle large maps full of very lifelike foliage. The island is a character in both the show and in our game, so we want players to feel that it's alive.
Can you talk a little bit about how it will play?
Well, the game's a third person adventure/survival game, but there's also a first person observation camera so that you can look for clues. There's verbal interaction with the Losties, plenty of action and, of course, mysteries and puzzles to solve. Talking with the Losties (and Others!) will be the main way to find clues and make things happen. However, the Losties won't always be (friendly) to you; sometimes they will be suspicious, threatening and possibly even violent.
Talking of computers, we've seen Locke sitting at the computer in the original Hatch - which presumably means the game takes place before the end of Season 2?
Correct. We begin our story with the plane crash of Oceanic Flight 815; the same plane crash that brought Jack, Kate and the castaways to the island. From there our game takes its own journey, but along the way players will experience many of the memorable moments from the TV show.
Of course, we've seen this kind of approach in videogames before (where you play a unique character) and at first we were hesitant to go this route, but we started to realise that - within the Lost format - it would work really well. Just like characters on the show, the player will need to explore his past (in the form of flashbacks) to understand why he's on the island and what he must do if he is to survive his time there.
So who is he?
His name is Elliott, and his number one priority is to find a way off the island. In order to do that, he must first understand his past (through flashbacks) and what brought him to the island in the first place. But, there's an added problem: his amnesia.
Tough luck. So how will the flashbacks work?
You'll need to use the playable flashbacks to solve problems on the island and to understand what happened to you before landing on the island - so some parts of our story will be happening off the island. On the TV show, flashbacks reveal events from the characters' past. It's new information to the viewers, but it's not new to the characters.
So you definitely play the flashbacks?
Absolutely. When you enter flashback locations everything will be quite vague and blurry, and things only become clear after specific actions are triggered. If you look carefully you may even spot some familiar castaways in those flashbacks...
Yeah? you going to tell us which ones then?
Players will come across some of their favourites - Jack, Kate, Hurley, Locke and Sawyer to name but a few. There will also be interaction with some of The Others as well as new characters created specifically for the video game. Plus, you never know who may pop up in the jungle to offer you some advice.
So, the Others are the enemy in the game?
No. This is Lost, so the person you think to be your friend could turn out to be an enemy. The player will have to constantly determine which path will take him home.
Given that the game is set before the start of Season 4, we're guessing we don't get to find out how the hell Jack and Kate got off the island at the end of season 3?
I'd love to say that all will be revealed in the Lost videogame, but it's probably best to let the show reveal those secrets for now. However, everything that happens to the player will add a layer to the Lost universe. This isn't a tangent from the show. It fits within the world of Kate, Jack and the rest of the Losties. The game might help fans with their theories and hypotheses about the mysteries of the island, and you'll be able to visit familiar locations on the island, explore the hatches, access the computers, search the underground caves, and survive in the jungle.
What do you feel is the most important part of the game to get right?
Overall, we felt it was vital that we kept to the rules of the TV show. The Monster has to follow the same rules as the show uses. The Dharma Initiative hatches should look as they do on the series. Anything we put in the game needs to fit with the show. Along with the producers of Lost, we agreed from the start that the game can't be viewed as a little side project that doesn't count. The game does count and things you learn in the game can be applied to fans' theories about the Lost universe.
Finally: will there be a multiplayer game?
There will be no online multi-player although we're definitely looking to provide downloadable content via Xbox Live.