Mathieu Ferland: I am Mathieu Ferland, Senior Producer of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Xbox and PC.
I am also co-producer of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six - Raven Shield. Before that, I worked on Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six - Rogue Spear - Black Thorn, Donald Duck Goin Quacker (N64, DC, PC) and F1 Racing Championship (N64).GNL: How long have you been involved in the Splinter Cell development?
MF: The project started more than 2 years ago.GNL: What was the general idea when you started developing the game and what examples (in film and games) did you find useful?
MF: Ubi Montreal always had the will to challenge the best on the ground of stealth action which is a genre where few succeeded. They knew the choice of the universe would be the key to take this gameplay to the next level. Sci-fi was first considered as you can settle new detection system apart from the classic noise and view detection (we could imagine for example detecting someone thoughts like in Phillip K Dick Minority Report). But when we acquired Red Storm and the right to develop games out of Tom Clancy properties the use of this license and hence of this highly realistic universe came as a natural choice. Tension and stress of being detected is one of the key emotions for the player and it is stronger in a realistic context.
Movie industry is of course a great source for inspiration when working on the concept of Splinter Cell, but also in its direction when dealing with cut scenes and cinematic. The concept of the game itself is the prolongation of real life inspirations: NSA initiatives to get critical information for our safety is not 100% efficient, so we thought interesting to create a new sub agency, Third Echelon, that will focus on the traditional means of investigation with a man in the field.
Sources of inspiration were coming from many different type of sources, but mostly from existing gears, games and of course movies. Games like the Thief Series have inspired us in terms of lights interaction and for the visibility gage. Games like Medal of Honor: Allied Assault for immersion and sounds.GNL: Besides the controller, what were the major differences between developing the Xbox and PC version of the game?
MF: When we started to develop the game, we had a certain idea of how the game should be and we wanted the game to come as close to the one in our minds as possible. There were different ways of doing that, but specifications featured by the Xbox were fitting the best with our expectations. That is why we developed it for Xbox. Then for PC the lighting system has been adapted in order to preserve the best result out of lower PC configurations but there definitely is no real gameplay differences between PC and Xbox versions.GNL: We've been hearing the name 'Sam Fisher' for sometime now. How real do you think he could be? (Take this question any way you like)
MF: Sam Fisher has a lot of experience. No 25 years old rookie, even if well trained could do this job, that is why we decided to represent this with a thin trace of gray hair. It brings a lot of credibility to the characters, and more seriousness to the missions. We have been inspired by other Tom Clancy's characters on the one hand and on the other hand, we imagined what a solo special ops would look like, how he would react. He would definitely be cool-headed, and if you try to be realistic, it is not because he is very strong or fast, that is because he has a lot of experience. I think this kind of guy may exist because in those times of technology, the fact is you can no longer trust a 100% sure images, electronic data and recordings, everything seems to be falsifiable. So sending a trusted man to see in person what is going on is something quite credible in the end.GNL: Because Ubi Soft is a French company, why did you choose Sam to be an American? Wouldn't it be cool if we would play Russian or European elite?
MF: Could be cool, that is for sure, but it would not have fitted the Tom Clancy universe, which is typically American…GNL: What were the biggest inspirations for the storyline of Splinter Cell?
MF: Inspirations for the storyline are multiple, of course Tom Clancy's universe was a strong basis to settle the environment, but the biggest inspiration was the true world we are living in.