Rainbow Six Vegas : Interview with Chadi Lebbos and Jean-Pascal Cambiotti
- Senior Producer and Multiplayer Lead Designer
November 2006

Chadi Lebbos

English version
Pour la version française, cliquez ici.

With other press members of XCN (Xbox Community Network), we have been able to ask some questions to Chadi Lebbos (Senior Producer) and Jean-Pascal Cambiotti (Multiplayer Lead Designer) from Ubisoft Montreal concerning their game : Rainbow Six Vegas.

XCN : Why did you choose to introduce new main characters in the series ?
Chadi Lebbos : There are a couple reasons behind that decision. First is the timeline of the game. The story takes place in 2010 so the characters you used to play with are starting to be a bit old to remain in active duty. Second, we felt that with the next-generation consoles, it was a good time to introduce a new team of operatives.

XCN : UbiSoft games like GRAW, Splinter Cell and Vegas look amazing on Xbox 360, but Windows versions have always surpassed what the Xbox and Xbox 360 versions offered. Does Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas redress this balance by using the characteristic graphical power of the Xbox 360?
Chadi Lebbos : Windows & 360 version will both look equally amazing, thanks to the 360's three core that allow us to simultaneously deal with rendering, physics and AI.

XCN : Online modes have been a distinctive aspect of your games. Will you improve previous modes and include new ones in Vegas?
Chadi Lebbos : Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas has 6 online adversarial game modes including Attack & Defend, which is a team-based mode with mission-based objectives. This means that depending on the map you're playing, the objective will change whether it's to recover Intel, rescue a hostage or disarm a bomb. We also have the Retrieval game mode, which has two teams racing to recover a biohazard canister. This mode can be won either by captures, or by kills. We're also bringing back our legacy modes: Team Survival, Team Sharpshooter, Survival and Sharpshooter. The team, or player, left standing wins.
Since team work is so important for us in this franchise, we have two different cooperative game modes: Terrorist Hunt and Story Mode. Both these modes are playable in Split screen, System Link and on Xbox Live. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas online is the most complete multiplayer package you can get.

XCN : Why did you choose to use Unreal Engine 3, instead of the GRAW engine, or the one used in the last Splinter Cell ? What kind of new possibilities does UE3 gave to you ?
Chadi Lebbos : Several core team members were familiar with the Unreal development suite having worked with Unreal 2 in the past, so it was a natural fit. The fact that it was equipped with the kind of networking support we needed for the game was also a big plus.

XCN : The demo released on the Marketplace is great, but not always smooth at moments; can we expect a better and constant frame rate in the final version ?
Chadi Lebbos : Without a doubt. We've had some time to improve the game's frame rate since the release of the demo. Since first showing it at E3 we knew that many people wanted to play Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas, so we wanted to get a demo out there to showcase our new game play elements and when you read the forums, it's clear that a vast majority of players enjoyed the demo.

XCN : How much community input did you read/use, during the R6 Vegas development?
Chadi Lebbos : We read the forums and listen to our community. We know that they wanted a more tactical experience and with the package we're offering in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas, I'm sure they'll be happy about it.

XCN : What do you think is the most important feature in this new title?
Chadi Lebbos : Actually, it's not a feature, it's the OPA (observe / plan / assault) concept and the global experience you'll have while playing Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas. We have a group of features that together offer a unique experience for the player. The take cover system, the snake cam, the rappelling, crashing through a window, getting your briefing live in the chopper and through the Picture in Picture, the tagging system, the team command, you name it.

XCN : How does the multiplayer game differ from the single player mode and will you be able to command your team-mates via the headset in single player?
Chadi Lebbos : The multiplayer part of the game shares all the cool features you have in the single player like the rappelling and invert-rappelling, the fast-roping, the take cover, the snake cam and the wide variety of weapons. You can even play through the entire story mode with your friends in coop.
You can issue voice commands to your team in single player using your headset. In the multiplayer, you can communicate with your team-mates to increase the team play.

XCN : Will the 3rd person view be disabled in the multiplayer game?
Chadi Lebbos : No it won't. We realize that some people are sceptical of third-person view in multiplayer, but we're convinced that it's a lot more fun and we've taken considerable time to tweak and balance the cover system just for MP. We play tested the game, played countless hours at the office with the development team. It's not an unfair advantage because everybody has it, and when you get out of cover to shoot, you expose yourself.

XCN : Do you have any plans for Add-Ons or downloadable content in the future?
Chadi Lebbos :
It's our objective to keep supporting our games once they've been released, but it's too early to give any details on this.

XCN : What kind of co-op play can we look forward to seeing online and will this include the ability to play through the single player missions with friends as past incarnations of the game allowed?
Chadi Lebbos : Two different co-op modes are available for you to play with your friends: Terrorist Hunt and Story Mode. In Terro Hunt, you can play up to four players in a variety of maps in which you have to eliminate all terrorists. In the story mode, you can go through the entire single player experience with your friends. Both coops modes can be played with the multiplayer character you created using the P.E.C. 2.0, or you can select from a bunch of pre-made characters.

XCN : Could you tell us a little more about the new cover system and how it affects the way the game plays?
Chadi Lebbos : Take cover is a new addition to the series and everyone who's played the game will say the same: it's great. Not only does it increase the observation stage of our game play by letting you see the situation, but since you can stay on cover and turn 360 degrees it's also really useful to stay in cover while you shoot at enemies that are trying to flank you.

XCN : What’s new about Rainbow Six Vegas?
J-P Cambiotti : I’ll address that in two sections – what’s new on the single-player side and what’s new on the multiplayer side. In the single-player game we have a new switch between first-person and third-person view when you’re doing certain actions. We now have a full 360 degree cover system so you can see and move in every direction while you’re in cover. If terrorists or other players try to flank your position you can now spot them and take care of the threat. We also have other third-person activities like rapelling, inverse rapelling, fast-roping. They all add an extra level of immersion into the game and they just feel right – they feel like they should have been in the game from the start.
From the multiplayer point of view we have a new system called Persistent Elite Creation which means you aren’t tied down to one specific character class. We do this by giving you a handful of character customisation options for every rank you achieve. So at Private rank you’ll only have a few, but when you reach Elite Operative you’ll be able to totally customise your appearance and skill set. We’ve got a whole bunch of new weapons, body armours, clothing and camo to unlock. You can use these to differentiate yourself as an individual, or create a unique uniform for your team.

XCN : Why Vegas, and what characteristics of the city will we see in the game?
J-P Cambiotti : Las Vegas is a great city for a videogame. It’s very rich in terms of diversity. There’s lots going on – lots of lights, lots of sounds, lots of interesting locations. It’s kind of like the adult version of Disneyland, and we thought that it’d be cool to have a game in an urban setting with so many different visual themes. But the game isn’t exclusively set in the city. In fact, the first mission is set in a Mexican border town, so we also have that contrast of this big, brash city with the isolated countryside community.

XCN : Will we be seeing the seedier side of Las Vegas?
J-P Cambiotti : Ha! Yes and no. There are certain seedy areas like underground casinos and mafia strongholds that you’ll have to explore, but for us the coolest thing was taking the action to areas where people are usually having so much fun. You’ll see the Strip, Freemont Street, and some of the biggest and flashiest casinos in town, but it’s not just about casinos. You’ll be on the street, on rooftops, underground. You’ll really have to take advantage of the new moves like rapelling to complete your objectives.

XCN : Las Vegas is being held hostage by the terrorists, so what kind of situations will Team Rainbow come up against as we play the game?
J-P Cambiotti : We have loads of interesting scenarios that put Team Rainbow right in the line of fire. They’ve been sent to Vegas to free the city from the clutches of a terrorist organisation, but I don’t want to go into too many details. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into making the storyline really engaging for the player. The plot has a lot of twists and turns and I want people to experience them for themselves. I will say that it’s definitely worth seeing how some of the characters develop later in the game…

XCN : Xbox Live play in Rainbow Six 3 was huge – do you think you’ll have the same success with Vegas?
J-P Cambiotti : We’ve certainly taken some big risks. The third-person cover system is something that people generally frown upon, but we went with our gut instinct and now when people try it they think it feels right for the game. What we did to test it was take one of the classic Rainbow Six multiplayer maps – City Street Sarge – and see if the cover system, rapelling and fast-roping worked. Luckily they fit right in! We’ve actually added the map to Vegas under a new name and with a new visual style. It’s called Mexico Streets, but it’s exactly the same layout that people know and love.

XCN : When did the idea for the face mapping come about and how easy was it to implement?
J-P Cambiotti : We’d been in talks with Microsoft for a long time about what we could do with the camera. For us, we’d always thought that playing co-op and competitive with other players was great fun, but you often want to see your friends’ faces. When Microsoft showed us the Live Vision Camera we thought we’d finally be able to do that. Getting it up and running was actually a lot easier than we thought. We’re using a third-party application called Digi-Mask from LogiTech. What it does is take a picture of your face from the front and one from the side, then creates a unique Unreal Engine mesh of your head. It’s not just taking a picture and slapping it on an existing head. It’s building a whole new head complete with bone structure and 3D features.

XCN : What do you think it will add to the Xbox Live experience?
J-P Cambiotti : It’s going to immerse you a lot more. You have much more of an attachment to your character when he looks exactly like you. If he dies, it hurts a little bit more! Add that to the deep customisation we have and you can really create a totally unique character in your own image, which is something everyone wants.

XCN : Is there a security risk that people might create an inappropriate head for their character?
J-P Cambiotti : Microsoft has restrictions that you can put in place so if you don’t want to see other characters’ custom heads you can turn them off. Or you can choose to only see your friend’s faces. You can also report inappropriate use of the face-mapping system. But we’ve taken great care to ensure it’s difficult for users to create anything inappropriate. Digi-Mask scans for eyes, nose and lips in every image so it’s tough to get anything inappropriate past the computer.

XCN : Could you scan in a picture of, say, your cat and use that as your in-game head?
J-P Cambiotti : It would be very tough to get something like that to work. The Digi-Mask software knows face geometry, like where the eyes are, how far apart they are, where the nose should be in relation to the other features, and the kinds of relative size ratios of the human face. That said, if you do manage to get something offensive past the system other players can report it and Microsoft has the power to remove it.

XCN : What support are you giving to clans and teams?
J-P Cambiotti : We’re allowing teams to create their own unique look and give themselves a three letter prefix in front of their GamerTag to identify themselves. They can then engage in team battles by using friend invites. Rainbow Six is all about team play, and in fact our new multiplayer game mode, Attack and Defend, is totally focussed on effective teamwork. That said, co-op gameplay is huge for us. I think it’s a very neglected type of gameplay, but in Vegas we have several modes where you can have loads of fun taking on the AI with your friends.

XCN : Do you have plans for DLC?
J-P Cambiotti : We haven’t announced anything at the moment, but what I can tell you is that the Rainbow Six team listens very closely to the community and what it wants from the game. So I think we can definitely expect to see something for the community on Marketplace very soon.

XCN : And what’s in the future for Team Rainbow? Where will its next assignment be?
J-P Cambiotti : It’s too early to tell. Let’s just make sure Vegas is saved from the terrorists for now!

XCN : Many thanks for your time !

Related links :

- Rainbow Six Vegas videos

- Rainbow Six Vegas official site

- Other Xbox 360 interviews

Max73, Xbox Gazette, December 6th 2006

Thanks to : Chadi Lebbos, Jean-Pascal Cambiotti, Graeme Boyd, XCN, Ubisoft