: The Godfather Q&A Sessions

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The Godfather Q&A Sessions

As part of the promotion for The Godfather game, EA has been providing weekly Q&A sessions with various member's of the game's design team. Screenshots and videos are always nice, but hearing what's going on with the game straight from the developer is even better. We'll be updating this feature with each session; hopefully giving you a better idea of what The Godfather has to offer.

The Five Families
Mike Olsen - Creative Director

I think everyone has heard about The Five Families of New York. Who are they and where do they reside?
EA: The Corleone Family owns and operates in Little Italy, the lower end of Manhattan. To the North is Midtown, where the rich and powerful Barzini Family calls home. Across the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges you’ll run into the Tattaglia family, whose compound can be found in the industrial Vinegar Hill. The Cuneo Family owns Hell’s Kitchen, which many call the armpit of New York. Finally, you’ll find the merciless Stracci Family running things in New Jersey. Don’t get caught slippin’ on a late night in this territory, or you’ll find out why they’re called ‘The Butchers of Jersey’.

Most Godfather fans remember the Tattaglias from the movie. What can you tell me about these pimps and drug pushers?
EA: The Tattaglias are the weakest family in the game. Their low position forces them to work with other families to survive, and to partner with outsiders, like the poppyseed-pushing Virgil Solozzo. Run by Don Philip and his ruthless son, Bruno, the Tattaglias make most of their money as small-time pimps, although teaming with Solozzo shows they are intent on growing their influence. The struggle for power in New York City can change the fortunes of any family, and the Tattaglia’s plans to eliminate the Corleones as rivals could prove successful if done right.

Tell us about “The Butchers of Jersey”, the Straccis.
EA: The Straccis are hostile, cruel, and barbaric, but not particularly well-funded or organized. Their brute force makes them a stronger enemy than the Tattaglias, and their relative isolation in New Jersey provides them a small amount of protection, but also a smaller piece of the NY pie. The primary threat from the Straccis comes from their involvement in smuggling explosives from out-of-state. Some say Jersey isn’t worth fighting for, but don’t say that in front of a Stracci.

And the Cuneos?
EA: The Cuneos are a professional family, both in business and in warfare. As long as they aren’t crossed, the Cuneos have a reputation for honor and loyalty. However, they will fiercely defend their turf, and they control some of the oldest and most well-established rackets in New York City. The Cuneos pride themselves in their excellent marksmanship, so seek cover if the bullets start to fly. Don’t go into the Hell’s Kitchen sewers or railways without a shotgun and lots of ammo.

Finally, tell us about The Corleone Family’s biggest and most powerful enemy – The Barzinis.
EA: The Barzinis are the hardest family in the game. They are well-funded, and control some of the most lucrative businesses in the state – both legal and otherwise. The Barzinis use their influence to manipulate judges and police chiefs, which gives them the legal protection they need to run their brothels and diamond smuggling rackets. A Barzini will fight to death with his last ounce of strength. Even though Don Emilio Barzini attended the wedding of Vito Corleone’s daughter Connie, don’t believe for a second that these families are friends.

Any final tips for dealing with these families as the game progresses?
EA: Start with the Tattaglias. Despite controlling two territories (Little Italy & Brooklyn) at the beginning of the game they are still the easiest family to take on as an Outsider/Associate. Once you’ve acquired a few level 2 firearms head over to New Jersey, but be sure to have enough money on hand to purchase a Safehouse over there…it’ll serve as an armory and a hideout from the “Butchers” and keep you from having to travel too far if you are to get wounded. Once you reach a respect level in the mid-high 20’s you can start to work on the Cuneos. The Cuneos travel in packs, heavily defending their Hell’s Kitchen rackets; aside from at least one level 3 firearm make sure you have the cops on your side, bribe the chief to get the beat cops to fight with you against the boys in red. The Barzinis, hands down the toughest family in the game, shouldn’t even be dealt with until you’ve got most level 3 gun upgrades (at least the Street Sweeper) and plenty of explosives (molotovs, dynamite and time bombs) on hand. Be sure to know where the nearest FBI agents are at all times as you’re going to want to keep the vendetta levels down when battling with the Barzinis…they’re hard enough to beat when they’re not attacking you on sight. Be sure to be very proficient with a firearm too, head shots are the only way to eliminate a group of Barzini’s.

Cop Chases
Steve Szakal – Gameplay Designer – Driving

Tell us about the cop chasing mechanic – how does it work and when does it kick in?
EA: On foot and vehicle, cop presence increases and decreases according to the player’s heat level. Every time a player commits a crime, their heat level increases, which is represented by shields on the in-game display. At moderate heat levels you’ll start seeing cop patrol vehicles on the streets. And committing a crime in their sightlines or crashing into them will begin a chase. How long they’ll pursue the player is dependant upon the heat level. While the cops are in pursuit, if the player continues to commit crimes, like running over pedestrians, the cops will become more relentless. The cop’s goal during the chase is to stop your vehicle through ramming tactics and at higher heat levels they’ll open fire at the player’s vehicle.

What type of research went into cop chases in the 40s and 50s?
EA: The research involved visualizing how cop chases functioned in movies and games, both new and old, and from there we focused on creating the police behaviors that gave a visceral and intense experience.

How long will the chases last? Will they chase you into different neighborhoods?
EA: If the player is being pursued and enters a new neighborhood, the cops might stop chasing because the player’s heat level in the new neighborhood might be significantly lower. This gives the player another option of escaping the cops, but once the player re-enters the neighborhood they just left, their heat levels will still be high and the cops will be waiting.

If you know the cops will be chasing you following a bank robbery, what getaway car would you recommend?
EA: I personally like the pickup truck because its one of the most stable vehicles in the game and it can take a beating. When cops try to ram the truck it won’t get banged around nearly as much as some of the other vehicles.

Any tips on fleeing the scene unnoticed, or at the very least, alive?
EA: If there are multiple cops in pursuit then one of the best things the player can do is head for their safehouse. Once the player enters their safehouse, cops will stop pursuing and it will decrease the player’s heat by a significant amount. But sometimes they’ll be waiting outside, so be careful on the way out.

New Jersey
Steven Smith - World Designer

What makes New Jersey unique in the world of The Godfather?
EA: New Jersey is the only neighborhood in the Godfather world which has a different environmental feel to it. It’s patterned after a traditional small American town, particularly of the type found in the outer regions of Manhattan. Though most of the buildings are made of brick they are lower in height, typically two or three floors. Many of the city blocks are not populated with tenement buildings but instead they are occupied with detached houses usually with corner businesses at the end of such blocks. The most noted feature of New Jersey is the town square park located in the middle of the neighborhood, complete with a band shell structure and community type venues located around it such as a bank and a church.

New Jersey is considered by many to be the ‘armpit of the Northeast’. Does that show at all in The Godfather version of Jersey?
EA: In the Godfather world New Jersey is a neighborhood that conveys an industrial ambiance. Through no fault of its own that’s the nature of such communities circa 1945 that were located along water way transit points. It’s an outlying residential community located along the waterfront of the Hudson River, and so it’s going to have warehouses, power plants and rail yards.

What type of research went into re-creating 1945-1955 New Jersey?
EA: The starting point for research was to look at aerial photographs of New Jersey along the Hudson River region. Much of the area appears grid like and uniform, so little things such as city parks, angled streets relative to the grid layout, and rail yards in urban areas tend to stand out and identify an area that can represent a symbolic New Jersey town for the Godfather world. These elements along with the locations of the Lincoln and Holland Tunnel toll plazas to the north and south respectively really identified the general location for the New Jersey neighborhood. Other research pertains to looking at the types of buildings which are representative of many of the outlying neighborhoods of Manhattan such as the two story brick storefront and detached housing typologies.

The Stracci's are considered the Butchers of Jersey because of their ruthless ‘business’ methods. What type of trouble might you find in Jersey if you snoop around in the wrong areas?
EA: Well for one thing most nearly all the business venues in New Jersey begin as Stracci owned locations. Thus when the player begins to take over a couple of these venues and gets the attention of the Stracci’s, the player – if injured - will need to take care when trying to get to a safe house or clinic. The Stracci’s will be highly visible on many of the jersey streets. Also, snooping around the main rail yard can yield some interesting if not altogether dangerous results.

What’s your favorite area in Jersey and why?
EA: I like the area around the Stracci compound and the rail yard. I find the Stracci compound to be an interesting challenge because the entry to the compound can be approached from three directions and so the player has some choices on an attack approach. The rail yard is a big open area where it might be possible to lose or neutralize a pursuing vehicle, and its one of the approaches to the Stracci compound.

Steven Smith - World Designer

What makes Brooklyn a unique neighborhood in The Godfather?
EA: Brooklyn is a neighborhood located along the riverfront between two of New York City’s main bridges, the Brooklyn and the Manhattan. Both bridges serve as two key life lines connecting Brooklyn to the rest of New York City. Most of the Brooklyn businesses are located in this core area, which reflects a rather grungy working class neighborhood with warehouses, industrial buildings, dock sides, town house walk ups and Federal housing estates. Near the end of the Brooklyn Bridge is the Brooklyn City/Borough Hall, the civic area and an upscale pocket neighborhood reflecting Brooklyn Heights.

How is Brooklyn 'planned' differently than the others?
EA: Brooklyn in the Godfather game world context is a very stylized version of the actual neighborhood. The main area we wanted to focus upon is the industrial waterfront area. Thus the character of the river front area is emphasized for Brooklyn with attention to the Vinegar Hill and the Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass (or DUMBO as it is known) regions. The outer areas of Brooklyn are Brooklyn Heights, the Borough Hall, and a Federal Housing Estate near the old navy yard.

What key movie and game locales are found in Brooklyn?
EA: One of the key movie moments takes place in Brooklyn. You’ll have to dispose of a certain traitor to the family. In terms of general game play, Brooklyn is the neighborhood belonging to the Tattaglias, and with this family as an early adversary the player will get quite familiar with Brooklyn in the course of the game.

The Tattaglia Family was known a bunch of sleazy pimps and drug pushers. Do certain parts of Brooklyn reflect that?
EA: We had this idea very much in mind when developing the Brooklyn neighborhood. We wanted this neighborhood to project a grungy and industrial décor, and so we opted to emphasize the water front region as the setting for the neighborhood core. In the context of fifty years ago, areas such as the Brooklyn water front were not desirable places to visit due to the heavy commercial activity of loading and unloading of goods and produce. Such areas are off the main the path and not inviting to the general public. Thus it’s an ideal setting for illegal activities.

What is your favorite location in Brooklyn and why?
EA: In Brooklyn there are two areas I like. One area is around the Brooklyn Borough Hall. This building projects a grand civic appearance and has attached to it a modest city park. It’s inside that park that the player can meet up with black market sellers. The challenge however is that there are enemy gun men who like to wait in ambush in the park. The player can get a pretty good if not vicious shoot out going in this area, and it’s not guaranteed that you will make it out in one piece. The other area I like is centered around the enemy warehouse in the waterfront region. I feel that this area really reflects the Brooklyn waterfront region of the late 1940’s, with the Manhattan Bridge visible behind it to one side and a huge power plant building looming in the background. And as is the case with all enemy warehouses, it’s a location for a guaranteed and ruthless fire fight.


3/10/2006 Aaron Thomas

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