So after hearing all of everyone’s questions about Belle de Nuit in The Sabotuer, Pandemic decided to grab the game’s lead designer Tom French and sit him down to answer some of your questions. Here’s some insight into the game and why they did certain stuff the way they did right from the horse’s mouth.
Bon jour, Tom French, Lead Designer of The Saboteur here. As the entire team is deep in the trenches – and finally on the home stretch – putting in final touches and closing out Sean’s adventure, I wanted to take a quick break to address a topic that has gained some attention during the past week or so. We recently released some screenshots, concept art and a video clip of the Belle de Nuit, Sean’s colorful and sexy nightclub hideout in Paris. A few people commented on the issue of women and nudity within the Belle and The Saboteur, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to provide a better understanding of what we’ve created and why.
First, try your best to imagine yourself living in the 1940s. Contrary to popular belief (or perhaps even the creative liberties we’ve taken with our own game), the world wasn’t actually black and white. It was a very different place culturally. The reputation of Paris during that era was in many ways more like one of a modern-day Las Vegas. It was a place where the everyday person could run away to, escape, hide out for a while, forget their problems, lose themselves – and probably go home with a tattoo they didn’t remember asking for. It was rowdy, it was debaucherous, and – depending on your scruples – it was glorious! Now imagine that every street corner of this seductive city is crawling with the most feared military force the world has ever seen – the Nazi army. The contrast here is really intriguing, and it forced a lot of that “Sin City” element to go underground in order to survive. It was exciting, it was sexy, and it was something that has been pretty much erased from the history books!
This is where the Belle de Nuit comes in. One part nightclub, one part brothel, all parts good times. There is a reason that places like this are famous – such as the classic Moulin Rouge – and I can guarantee it’s not because of their coffee. It’s places like the Belle that kept Paris’s fun-loving and thrill-seeking reputation alive during the occupation. And, of course, even Nazis needed a little release every now and then, so here you’ll find a healthy mix of ordinary French natives, freedom fighters plotting resistance, and even drunken Nazi soldiers. The Belle has a very simple house rule – no fighting! Other than that you can pretty much do whatever you want. Everyone respects this rule, because everyone is there for the same reason; not obeying it could lead to this seedy gem of the city closing its doors, which nobody wants to happen. During early development of The Saboteur, inspiration for the Belle’s design came from Rick’s Café Américain from the classic film Casablanca (check it out if you haven’t seen it; it’s a great flick that really sets the mood). We wanted to capture that same sense of predator and prey packing into a single sexy room, and all of the pent-up tension that comes with it.
When creating the tone and style of the Belle de Nuit, we wanted to stay as true as possible to that Las Vegas feel and beautiful ‘40s Paris décor. This doesn’t apply just to buildings, statues, cafes, and monuments – it includes every aspect of Paris, including the people that live there. So if you’re old enough to purchase a Mature-rated game, it would be like taking a step back in time to get a real sense of the excitement and danger present within the seedy underbelly of wartime Paris. So yes, absolutely, this means the Nazis are ruthlessly violent and the dancers found in the Belle de Nuit are – as was common in the era – both beautiful and, well, topless. But of course, we realize that this is not for all audiences, and so we’ve included an option for those who prefer a less risqué view of Paris that switches off the nudity
Either way you choose, we hope that everyone who steps into Sean Devlin’s shoes, wakes up in the back room of the Belle de Nuit, and strolls out into the crisp Parisian air for a smoke will get a glimpse into this magical time we’ve recreated in The Saboteur.