We recently had the time to sit down and talk to one of the developers behind the much anticipated Mafia 3! Check out what burning questions we had about the game here.
How long did it take to create Mafia 3?
Really, Hangar 13, the studio from 2k have been around since about May or June 2013, so it’s been a little over 3 years, so there’s also 2k Czech so we’ve brought them over in our office, they handle some art and they handle all of the cinematics. We do all the mocap, but they do it over in their offices, too!
So how big is the team?
It’s pretty big, I don’t know the exact number, but we’re huge!
So what were your goals when you set the game in 1968, how did you try to capture the feeling?
One of the things we did was look at previous Mafia games to identify what players loved about the series. We made them our franchise pillars, so we’ve taken our gifted antihero and put them in an interesting period in history, so our original protagonist from the previous games Vito was in WWII, he showed us the darker undercurrent to that period of time Post-war America against all of the optimism, he was the opposite of all that. We wanted to carry that feeling forward in our new protagonist, Lincoln Clay.
In terms of the year, 1968 is such a turbulent year in history. Lots of assassinations, race riots, the Vietnam war. It kinda made sense. New Bordeaux, our version of New Orleans was one of the first major American cities that had an Italian mafia. There were various Dons throughout the years and one named Carlos Marcello was one we particularly had an eye on.
With regard to Lincoln Clay, he’s a biracial character ,and we’re trying to replicate that time and place. We want to explore how the game world views them as a character respectfully.
How was the licenced music picked out?
It was a pretty long process because we wanted a whole lot of it. From Creedence Clearwater Revival to The Rolling stones and Johnny Cash. But New Orleans had a very large history of its own, it’s the birthplace of Jazz! When you explore through the French Quarter, there are people playing instruments on the street and there’s also the Jazz and Blues and you hear that on the radio.
What does it take to make an open-world game?
Open Worlds are huge, but we knew that there are certain elements, we wanted to keep the cinematic elements and create the first game the franchise that has an open world. So We mapped out the entire game on whiteboards over weeks. It’s not just the story, but each different area has its own rackets, which we wanted to appropriately place per area. So we have Construction and political fraud downtown, just as a quick example.
We knew what we wanted to have in terms of areas, but it also helped represent and reflect the flavour of New Orleans, like the Bayou, which is quite iconic, so it’s all about bringing those elements together into a real city that we were constructing.
How did you build the character of Lincoln Clay, considering the 60s’ turbulent political and racial turmoil?
So we brought up the city, narrative, and character together, it’s kind of a mix of what we all brought together. Lincoln himself is a veteran of the Vietnam war, so it helps inform who he is as a man and gives us some context for being good at what he does in the game, so he’s a soldier and that’s reflected with how he handles weapons in-game, too.
Do we have any returning characters from the series?
Vito from the previous games is a central character. After Lincoln is betrayed, he recruits 3 underbosses, from each of the gangs that Lincoln has brought together.
Is there any reason why you couldn’t just call it New Orleans?
A lot of it is actually creative license and recognisable buildings and straight gameplay. The late 60’s is the golden age for muscle cars! The streets in New Orleans are really narrow so it wouldn’t be ideal, like driving this amazing car down a really narrow road. We wanted to open up the world to support these areas. Like subterranean canals too, we can’t really do that if we’re trying to replicate New Orleans.
What responsibility do you feel taking over the franchise?
It’s an honor, Mafia is an adored franchise, they want to know more about the characters, and it’s something that we took very seriously, we view it as a gift, it’s not often that you get to work on something like this. You definitely feel the pressure and don’t want to let the fans down.
What has the reception to the game been like so far?
Based on this, it’s all been very positive, they love we’re very narrative and cinematic but people also love the open world and the fact that you can do whatever you want.
How does Mafia 3 stack up against other open worlds?
I think that the two things that fans are gonna like are the open world and the fact it has narrative intent with how it’s put together. As you take the 9 districts, you can assign them to your 3 underbosses! So it’s about micromanaging all that too. They’re all criminals and they’re all greedy, so one or 2 of them might betray you and that’s all driven by player choice! It’s possible to have some of your underbosses dead.
Gangster movies are huge, what did you take influence from?
I’ma fan of fiction, like The Killer inside, The Grifters. I’m a big fan of lots of different Fiction and other crime fiction, Killing Them Softly, too! It’s this crazy story, you just have to see it! To me, it was a huge inspiration and gives you the proper mindset. Of course things like Goodfellas, you know it represents this changing of the guard in terms of the mob, the golden age is over and they all turn on each other, and we wanted to represent that in the game, this changing era in terms of the mob
What was your Biggest Challenge when making the game?
Making games of this size is very very hard. To us, we really wanted authenticity with the time and place, a part of that is Lincoln as mixed race and we wanted to represent that respectfully by watching documentaries, films and screen these to the entire team to handle these themes respectfully. From my perspective, it was about capturing that authenticity.