Far Cry Primal has raised the bar. It’s the result of hard and smart game development, fueled by the talent and expertise of the of the Far Cry Primal team, a team who also knew how to reach out and join forces with top experts in specific fields of study.
Throughout development, the team had to pit its assumptions about the Stone Age against the acumen of the experts they set out to work with, on a regular basis. A large amount of work was done to make sure players’ expectations of a Stone-Age setting were met, all while maintaining the era’s authenticity as much as possible, where possible.
Dr. Luc Doyon, anthropologist, McGill University
From the onset, the Far Cry Primal core team’s biggest challenge was the creation of three different tribes in the Mesolithic era. Luc Doyon, an anthropologist and professor at McGill University specialized in the Stone Age era, was one of the first consultants to give the team a hand in shaping the culture, habits and beliefs of these tribes.
When Dr. Doyon brought up his research, ideas and anecdotes to the table, it gave the team a historical sandbox to play with, one where they would be able to determine the most accurate instances of the world and its narrative.
The team also could define the grey areas where they could engage with more freedom and interpretation, especially when remnants of history from these times are pretty scarce, organic traces have vanished and basically stone and bone evidence remains the most abundant source of information.
Dr. Doyon encouraged the devs to get creative in some degree with clothing, technology and human conflict – which they did, but always starting from a realistic perspective. For instance, having the three different tribes clashing in Oros makes sense since the area in conflict is affluent in resources This type of clash would have happened and it’s realistic; the freedoms show up when you take into account that tribes would have taken a much longer period of time to settle.
“We thought it was interesting to talk about how culturally and technologically different tribes would collide so we chose to cheat time a bit to create a snapshot of human evolution in Europe,” says Jean-Sébastien Decant, Narrative Director.
Jacques Malaterre, film director
Another challenging aspect was finding the right characters to fit the Stone Age. This is where Jacques Malaterre, a film director who made four films about prehistory, shared his knowledge and vision.
Jacques gave the team tips on how to approach casting, acting and language for such a project. He advocated for a grounded approach and having performers get rid of their modern ways – which in turn strengthened the team’s budding suspicion that language would become a great challenge.
Andrew and Brenna Byrd, linguists, Kentucky University
This is when the Far Cry Primal team turned to Andrew and Brenna Byrd, linguists at Kentucky University and specialists in Proto-Indo-European language or PIE language. PIE is considered the mother of all language, existing before the European and Indo Iranian split. The Byrds and Far Cry Primal worked together to adapt PIE into the game’s Wenja language.
“The Byrds accompanied us throughout development. They helped tremendously with coaching the actors, taking an immense amount of time teaching them that very alien language and reassuring,” says David Footman, Primal’s Cinematic Director. “The result was that the actors were able to truly speak the Wenja language. They were able to go beyond recitation, and bring the right emotion tied to the meaning of these strange words.”
Terry Notary, stunt coordinator and movement coach
To reinforce further the unusual nature of Far Cry Primal’s characters, the team looked for movement coaches to follow up on Jacques Malaterre’s advice. This is how they met Terry Notary, known for creating the behaviour of creatures from Marvel, DC and the new Planet of the Apes films.
Terry’s approach combined a mix of meditation, dance, martial arts and improvisation.
In the collaborative Far Cry Primal spirit, Terry also challenged the choices regarding the tribes’ cultures and behaviours. He provided a great deal of help to our teams refining the differences between the tribes. His influence helped nail the behavioural approaches for each tribe: the Udam, are rather primitive and frontal; the Wenja are constantly aware of their surroundings; and the Izila are fully aware of themselves and the world they live in.
“The most impressive thing about Terry was observing him ‘unlocking’ the actors with exercises which sometimes felt like taming,” says David Footman. “The end result was that actors connected with their present selves and let go of their modern habits to embrace their Udam, Wenja or Izila persona.”