February 2, 2015

7 Min Read

Sample Article #1

The best research truly is that which you can do with your own eyes and ears. With that in mind, our development team has put some of our personnel into recon mode by sending them all the way from Malmö to the great New York City. It’s not all sunshine and bagels though, and having those first hand experiences (as well as taking thousands of reference photos) is unparalleled when it comes to creating a clear picture of how we should create the world of The Division.

Martin Hultberg is our resident IP Developer; schooled on military, pandemic and survival themes. Ask this man about the amount of particles it takes to get sick from various viruses and you’ll get a scarily fast and accurate response. Maybe we should be washing our hands more in the office… Anyway, we thought it would be interesting for him to share his experiences from his expedition. How would the world we’re creating apply to the city in reality? A true Swede in the Big Apple - enjoy!


Martin Hultberg: With any Tom Clancy game, a lot of work is put into research. The Division is no exception of course but it is different. New York is one of the biggest cities in the world and it isn’t just a level playfield, it has a dense verticality not many locations can compete with. To get the feeling of New York right, and to do the city justice, you have to physically go there. Walk the streets, explore the underground, check out locations and basically absorb the essence of the City that Never Sleeps.

Picture: Damien Tournaire, Massive Entertainment

On a recent trip we took the time to literally “check out Manhattan”. Over a course of several days we visited key locations, flew over the city in helicopters, talked to interesting people and did our best to go behind the scenes and discover the unknown New York. In a sense we were lucky – it was January, the weather was similar to our game and the impending Super Bowl meant security precautions were high. It almost felt like some parts of the city were under siege.

Picture: Damien Tournaire, Massive Entertainment

Picture: Damien Tournaire, Massive Entertainment

The first thing that struck me after we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge was how small you feel with the high buildings towering up around you. Now, I spent a fair number of hours thinking about disasters and how to survive them. Let me tell you, I would not want to be trapped in a modern city that is coming apart at the seams. So many places to be attacked from, so few places to hide. The straight avenues and streets offer long lines of sight, making safe movement difficult. The many cars and construction sites all over mean grid-lock is just a few moments away, even during normal times. Of all the vehicles I saw, so many were maintenance or logistics – functions required on an hourly basis to keep the city running. The lifeblood of an artificial colossus. It was easy to imagine how quickly things could deteriorate.

Picture: Damien Tournaire, Massive Entertainment

Most New Yorkers seem live with near empty fridges, almost every meal – from breakfast to dinner – is eaten in cafés, diners or restaurants. Imagine if they closed down or ran out of food?

During winter, water mains frequently break and water floods into the street. Imagine if maintenance crews weren’t around to turn it off?

There are policemen on almost every corner, directing traffic or just making their presence known. In their absence you would often see jammed intersections. Imagine if they weren’t there, at all…

Like I said, no place to be stuck in when SHTF.

Picture: Damien Tournaire, Massive Entertainment

Picture: Damien Tournaire, Massive Entertainment

Picture: Damien Tournaire, Massive Entertainment

In terms of interesting locations, there were many. Did you for example know there is an aircraft carrier permanently parked on the West side, now operating as a museum? It is also hard to actually appreciate the majestic atmosphere of places like Grand Central Station without actually being there to take it in. Central Park is another gem all in itself, a stark contrast with fantastic locals especially during winter.

Picture: Damien Tournaire, Massive Entertainment

To me, the two things of the trip that stood out were the helicopter ride over Manhattan and our exploration of one of the key faction buildings we had identified prior to going. The helicopter ride gave us a fantastic view of the city and it started with going over Governors Island (which we featured as a battlefield in World in Conflict(!)). It then swung around North, went past the Statue of Liberty and up along the west side of Manhattan. It was very, very interesting to view the city from above after having trudged around it on ground level for days. Saying it was impressive doesn’t quite give it justice. As the pilot turned in over the actual city I kind of pretended I was flying over our version of the city, trying to picture what it was like. It was easier from up here, where the details weren’t as clear. In the distance, two Black Hawks moved slowly across the sky protecting the air space in preparation for the Super Bowl. The helicopter then turned, went back South, rounded the southern tip of the island and landed at the helipad again. Now, I am a sucker for helicopters any day of the week but this was one of my better experiences in rotary wings. Exploring the faction building was very exciting too, seeing as it felt like we were sneaking in. We had no real business there and while it wasn’t a secret area by any means we were a bit worried private security would throw us out. But we managed to get in, projecting confidence and looking like we belonged no doubt, and got a first-hand glimpse of the home of a faction we had been working hard with for weeks. Very good times indeed.

Picture: Damien Tournaire, Massive Entertainment

We can only hope we do the city justice and that our visits paid off. In the end, I guess you will get to judge. Until then, stay tuned!


So, there it is. We hope you guys enjoyed this look at Martin’s research and we can’t stress enough how important it is for us to create a believable experience; even for those who know NYC like the back of their hand. As always, let us know what you think on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. Come and join in the conversation :)

Cheers,

The Division Dev Team
@aemond - Community Development Lead
@hamishbode - Communication Artist

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