At a recent hands on event in London for Saints Row IV, I was lucky enough to sit down for a chat with the lovely Kate Nelson, the game’s Associate Producer to talk about the Saints, The loss of Red Faction, and whether she’d rather fight one horse-sized duck or a hundred duck sized horses.
Saints Row IV was initially going to be an add on for Saints Row the Third, at what point did it grow too big?
Shortly after Jason Rubin came to THQ he took a look at the DLC we were making for Saints Row and said “This needs to be its own game, this is too good, you guys have so much potential we have to blow this out.”
So we were really excited to get more time and to take all the systems and ideas we were working on for the DLC and blow it out into a full game.
Has the move from THQ to Deep Silver had much of an effect on your work?
Thankfully no, we weren’t sure how we would be working when a new publisher comes in and we were really fortunate in that they took a look at us [Volition] and they took a look at our game and they said “you know what, you guys are perfect. Stay the course, we love what you’re doing.” So we were really encouraged by that relationship and we were really looking forward to all the stuff we have with them going forward.
How do you feel about losing Red Faction?
I worked a lot on the Red Faction Games, RFG (Red Faction: Guerilla) was my first, well my first huge title when I was full-time at Volition and then I worked on Red Faction Armageddon. I love that franchise, I love the destruction system and I was really… I was sad to see it go.
But I think it’s in capable hands and I’m excited to see what they do with the franchise.
Did you always intend for Saints Row to get progressively madder or did it just happen?
(laughs) I think the response we had from Saints Row the Third, a lot of our players really enjoyed the direction of that game and enjoyed the crazy content and so with four it just naturally progressed to something even bigger.
For a while the team was like “How do we go bigger than a cultural icon? How do we add more than that?” So we were like OK Super Powers and Aliens, why not? It really worked well with that direction.
The original Saints Row often gets called a GTA clone for obvious reasons, was there a conscious push to become more of a spoof to get out of that shadow.
I think it was just based on our experience of making the games, we wanted to start introducing more content that was a little bit fun and based on how the players responded we got more and more encouraged to go in that direction.
I think now there’s plenty of room for people who like GTA and people who enjoy Saints Row, they’re very different games.
Is Adult Swim Radio back?
No, not in this game. Not this time, sorry. We had a lot of fun with that before [in SR 3]. But one thing we are introducing with our music system this time around is that the game has interactive scoring as you’re travelling around the city. I think players will really enjoy it. It adds a lot.
Genki: is he coming back with more mad challenges?
Yes we have a Genki themed activity called Mind over Murder and you can see it in the build here it’s a telekinesis challenge where you pick up different people and throw them towards targets. So it’s a way to show off our super powers, it’s a way to bring like a Genki reference back and he does make an appearance but I don’t want to spoil it.
We do love Genki.
You’ve had Celebrities Saints Row, Keith David’s in Four and you had Burt Reynolds last time. Who would you love to bring into the Saints Row universe?
We do have a surprise that we have not yet talked about, someone we’re bringing in that we’re very excited about.
Me personally, who I’d want to see is anyone from Game of Thrones.
Sean Bean for five minutes before he gets killed.
(laughs) We’d have to do the proper spoof of that show if we did, to do it justice.
Saints Row IV is not coming out on the WiiU, do you find there’s a reluctance to develop for the console as there are a lot of publishers and developers who aren’t looking at it.
I think it’s more of how the technical specifications are in line with the other consoles, we can develop pretty easily for Xbox and Playstation but if we’re looking at those consoles and bringing it to the WiiU brings some technical difficulties for it. Especially with the open world nature of our city.
So we have typically mostly focused on Microsoft and Sony’s consoles. Also traditionally that’s where the audience is more geared towards.
With the PS4 and Xbox One coming out soon, what features are you most excited about and what big advances are you hoping to put into the series in the future?
We’re not 100% sure which direction we’re going in the future, but as far as those consoles go, the features I’m really excited about are kind of the features players can use after the game releases which is uploading to twitch, I thought that was neat. Being able to see our players play and their reactions I think that’s pretty exciting.
I think both consoles will allow for faster updates so, if we do get feedback from our community, we’ll be able to more quickly respond to that, and tailor content to what people want.
Obviously the specs are better so we can push on our world and features. The social aspect is really intriguing.
If you could sum up Saints Row IV as one song what would it be?
Saints Row IV as a song? Honestly the iconic song for me is that dubstep song ["Polyhymnia" - Scout McMillan] from our dubstep gun (laughs) because it’s going to become our theme song. We’ve been just dancing round the office to it.
The tracks aren’t announced yet so I can’t say but there is another song in there that I think people will really appreciate.
What have you been playing recently, that’s really caught your attention?
I’m still playing Borderlands 2, their DLC with the Dungeons and Dragons spoof and all the spoofs in there really I loved it. I didn’t know if I should be ashamed for all the references I knew and enjoyed but I’ll own it.
They do a lot of similar stuff to what we’re doing and I really enjoy all the inside jokes in it.
Would you rather fight a horse sized duck or a hundred duck sized horses?
(Laughs) I think a horse sized duck, because Peter Griffin in Family Guy manages to beat that chicken and I think it would be a similar fight.
I’d like to thank Kate for her time, patience and a fantastic interview.
Check back later in the week for our review of Saint Row IV.