Posts Tagged ‘Making-Of’

Making Of: Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon

By Kieron Gillen on December 14th, 2007.

[I'm entirely unsurprised when going through this again that I used the word "Avuncular" to describe the ever-avuncular Charles Cecil. Bless him. The interview happened as he was revealing Broken Sword 4, and written in an optimistic and I don't think Sam and Max had shown their face yet.]

You really fall a lot, George.

The Adventure is dea… okay, let’s try again. The number of articles which started exclaiming the death of the most point-and-clickery of genres has gone far past saturation point. Especially because, increasingly, it’s just not true anymore. It’s arguable that Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon was a major stepping stone towards the interesting adventure mini-revival of this twelve months (Looking back at Fahrenheit, and looking forward to Dreamfall and Broken Sword 4). Brilliant, yet far from perfect, Broken Sword 3 (As it’ll be known for the rest of this feature) was an attempt to co-develop for both consoles and PCs, while trying to master the vagaries of direct controls and real 3D. There was a lot to learn for developers Revolution.
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Making Of: Hostile Waters

By Kieron Gillen on December 7th, 2007.

[Another brilliant game which should have been massive - I recall describing it as the first great game of the new millennium, which will annoy anyone who's anal over that Popular Millennium thing. In it I interview Julian Widdows, who I - when writing this - realise I haven't seen for years. Where are you, Julian Widdows? Also, reading it reminds me of one great videogame lost artifact - the Multiplayer Patch for Hostile Waters, which was finished but never released. For God's sake, someone - do the right thing and leak the bastard.]

Rage's games were all big on explosions. We miss them so.

Sometimes a game’s easy to sum up. For example… Hostile Waters: Lost Classic. There was a time, however that Hostile Waters was captured in a different way. That is, “Carrier Command for a New Millennia”, for that’s what it was. The idea of taking the ancient 80s classic, and riffing furiously off it was Rage’s Dave Percival and Andy Williams, but it was never turned out to be that simple or direct a tribute.
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Making Of: Freedom Force

By Kieron Gillen on November 30th, 2007.

[Considering Mr Levine's turned up in the rumour mill today, I thought turning an eye back at one of Irrational's other games would be a worthy endeavour. This interview with Ken was done in the run up to the second Freedom Force game.]

MAN BOT!

“We had a lot of internal arguments at the time. Some people wanted it more dark and gritty, and others preferred it in a lighter style,” recalls Irrational head-honcho Ken Levine, “I remember waking up in the middle of the night, before we shipped and going “What did I do? Why did I go and make it so it was retro? What was I thinking?””. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Making Of: Harvey Smith

By Kieron Gillen on November 23rd, 2007.

[At this point in these postmortem features, I decided to mix it up a little for PC Format. Since they were integrated into the mod-section of the magazine - with the subtext that they were inspirational things for readers thinking about becoming games developers - I thought a look at how a designer got to be a designer could be fun. Luckily, Harvey, who's previously worked on landmark games including Deus Ex and System Shock, was up for it. The interview was done after the end of Ion Storm Austin, but before he'd joined Midway to work on Blacksite.]

He doesn't always wear shades.

We all look back, in an unholy mix of nostalgia and self-analysis. It’s what this column is all about. This time, however, we’re going to take an alternate route through this terrain. Rather than follow the path of a game, and what went right and wrong, instead we’re going to follow a career. How it started, how it moved on and what was learned at each step. And, indirectly, one of the most common questions that arrive in our inbox: “How do I get into the games industry”. Here’s a case study of how one man did. The man in question? Harvey Smith, who started back in 1993 in Quality Assurance at Origin and continues to this day at Midway.
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Making Of: Rise of Nations

By Kieron Gillen on November 16th, 2007.

[Not much to say about this one, except that everyone who interviews Brian Reynolds pretty much falls love with him. He's an incredibly nice guy. Oh - embarrassing confession. Despite digging Rise of Legends, I've barely played Rise of Nations due to a really odd bug on the machine I had around the time. The game ran fine until the first blow was struck... at which point, it crashed. I suspect my PC converted to pacifism. Finally, this is a considerably expanded version from what was printed, as I had a load of transcript I've reworked in. Oh - and as the first paragraph makes clear, the interview was done circa the end of Rise of Legends.]

Redcoat Riding Hood. That makes no sense.

Sitting down with Brian Reynolds you can’t help but learn things. The cradle of Civilization? Not, as historians would argue, somewhere in Iraq but actually North Yorkshire. Well – not Civilisation, but Civilization 2 as Brian was crouched in a small rainy town in the North of England while making the venerable classic. But things change, and he’s now in a rainy, North American town at Big Huge Games putting the finishing touches to Rise of Legends. It’s the perfect time to talk about their previous triumph with Rise of Nations.
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Making Of: Laser Squad Nemesis

By Kieron Gillen on November 9th, 2007.

[This is an odd one. This was the first of these I wrote for PCF, and is really a very different format – there's a large box-out where I go through Gollop's entire history of games, for example, which I've lost here. It's also a straight transcript and – spookily – written in a much more sober style. I've had a quick kick at it to get rid of some of the stiffness, but it does sit a little oddly with its usual tone...]

lsn1

This isn’t really a post-mortem. From a development side the single most noticeable feature of Laser Squad Nemesis is that it’s constantly being updated and its development cycle is, abstractly, endless. This means that rather than an examination of something in the past, we’re cutting apart something still living: vivisection rather than post-mortem.

LSN was was Codo Technologies first game, for themselves. The Gollop brothers’ previous studio, Mythos games, closed after the ambitious Dreamlands game was cancelled. Disheartened by how they were treated by major publishers, Laser Squad Nemesis was them stepping outside the mainstream system to forge a new path. But what to do?

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Making of: Arx Fatalis

By Kieron Gillen on November 2nd, 2007.

[An unusual one this. Normally I interview the Project Lead or Lead Designer or similar. In this case, I was actually interviewing Christophe Carrier, who was Sound lead at Arkane on this Ultima Underworld-inspired RPG (Christophe, when asked for inspirations, simply stated "We wanted to make Ultima Underworld 3"). This was done when I was visiting Arkane before Dark Messiah of Might And Magic hit. And since I'm in Paris today, seems as good a time as any to repost it.]

Arx puns probably would be a good idea here.

How does a development team start? Where do they come from? How are they begat? They happen because of one thing: people decide that, actually, we’d like to do it our way for once. People coming together from different places, meeting and going forth. Arkane’s Christophe Carrier had worked in the games industry for most of the nineties, when not in bands. His first experience was in Quality Assurance (QA) “I was working for Electronic Arts as a QA person – fixing things, organising the testing, going to England to test games,” he recalls, on things like Bullfrog’s Theme Park. Then he moved into areas more relevant to his talents. That is, working primarily in the field of sonics. “I did all the sound for a game called Hexplore for Infogrames,” remembers Christophe, “Before a game for the PS1, which was where I met Raphael and we worked together.” That is, Raphael Colantonio, the future charismatic CEO of Arkane, it was the sort of fateful meeting which helps form a country. “He decided to do this game,” Cristophe says, “He created this company and I put money into it, and I worked on our first game. I made the sound and the SFX… and then got into the design”.

“This game” was a little thing called Arx Fatalis.
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The Making Of: City of Heroes

By Kieron Gillen on October 26th, 2007.

[I was rooting around my hard-drive, trying to find the Freedom Force post-mortem which I swear to God I wrote, and I hit on something else similarly spandex-clad. The interview was done with Jack Emmert towards the end of 2004, so bear that in mind for some of the comments made.]

The Class of '04

City of Heroes was the surprise Massively-Multiplayer game hit of the year. Yes, World of Warcraft dominated… but the surprise wasn’t that it was a success, but the sheer scale of it. For a game to come from a team no-one had heard of, about a topic that had oft seemed commercially unviable, and to quietly revolutionise the genre with a stripped-down action-RPG… well, that’s a twist ending. No-one saw this one coming, True Believer.

We take a few minutes to secure an audience with the public face of City of Heroes, at publisher NCSoft’s recent European launch. He’s the Statesman, the defender of truth, justice and reasonable ping. But no-one’s seen him in the same room at the time with mild-mannered Lead Designer Jack Emmert. Could these two figures be connected?

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Making Of: The Longest Journey

By Kieron Gillen on October 19th, 2007.

[While a fun one to do, it's always a little odd taking on one of someone else's Totemic Games. It's a little like having sex with someone else's wife, I guess. Anyway! Ragnar is, of course, incredibly lovely. Expect a longer interview with Ragnar in the not-too-distant future, from Mr "Future Mrs Tørnquist" Walker. Oh: The interview was done just before Dreamfall hit.]

We have both kind of gameplay. Point AND click.

The Longest Journey is now an established classic. While everyone else was wrapping up the history books of the genre, Ragnar Tørnquist and his team at Funcom were making what would prove to be the bookend of an era. Yes, the Longest Journey, from the start, it was destined to be that last great… er… Platform Game?

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Making Of: Settlers II: Veni, Vidi, Vici

By Kieron Gillen on October 12th, 2007.

[This interview was done with Thomas Hauser circa the 10 year anniversary edition of Settlers II. The interview was fairly tricky one to do, partially due to Thomas having to do it in a second language, partially by the phone line and partially, as evidenced by the following text, it was a long time ago and Thomas had forgot a load of stuff. I think that added a human quality to it. I dunno. You tell me.]

Some little people.

We’ve all played armchair designer. Sitting and playing the latest game and thinking “You know, this is pretty neat, but if I was in charge I’d have done this and this and of course THAT” before going off and getting on with our lives. Except, there was a time when if you were in the right place at the right time you could put your ideas where your idle whimsy was. Take Thomas Hauser, who has always been primarily a programmer. He certainly resists being labeled a programmer/designer. “I started as a programmer,” he argues, “I would much more say I’m a programmer than a designer. I very much like games, and game play and design problems… but I wouldn’t describe myself as a game designer.”

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Making Of: Operation Flashpoint

By Kieron Gillen on October 5th, 2007.

[Flashpoint has the dual appeal of being simultaneously one of the most realistic takes on the Soldier game the medium has ever seen and the only one where you can engage in the sport of Tractor hunting in an attack chopper. I've interviewed Marek and his brother a few times over the years, and they're one of the more gloriously eccentric and constantly enthusiastic developers I've met. Last time I was over there, talking about Armed Assault we had a lengthy discussion about how they were programming Butterflies. They develop incredibly militaristic games and they obsess over butterflies. It's hard not to love them.]

The first casulaty of war is polygon counts.

Before Bohemia released their classic Soldier-Sim, I had a chance to chat to director Marek Spanel about his life growing up as a games devotee in the Czech Republic. He described sneaking their first computer into the country after a trip to Switzerland. And then, realising there was no way to load or save data, jury-rigging cables to perform the task with their tape recorders. And then learning to program games so, finally, they could achieve their objective of playing a game.

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The Making Of: Cannon Fodder 2

By Kieron Gillen on September 28th, 2007.

[This time we're going retro, and UK-retro at that. On our blighted isle, Cannon Fodder was one of the more iconic games in a generation of software with one of the greatest theme tunes of all time. For the making of the sequel, I talk to Stuart Campbell, the designer. Stuart is better known for his games writing, where he remains the most controversial journalist the UK has ever produced. That is, a lot of people hate him, which is always a sign you're doing something right. If you like this, Stuart has gone into enormous detail on each level of the game over at his site. CF2 is also available on The Underdogs.]

I'm sorry, but this is as classic as it gets.

Cannon Fodder had everything. A pixel-perfect blend of action and strategy with a small squad of men versus intricately designed levels. The greatest game theme tune of all time in the form of the lazy skank of “War’s Never Been So Much Fun”. A splash of controversy over its use of the military poppy, with national outcry from the tabloids over its insult at the old boys. Ironic, when you consider that Cannon Fodder was one of the most anti-military wargames of all time. How do you follow all that?

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The Making Of Thief: Deadly Shadows

By Kieron Gillen on September 21st, 2007.

[This time we turn our attention to the development of the third Thief game. It's worth noting this is the first making of where the person I interviewed wasn't the effective Project Lead. This leads to a very different interview. I'm speaking to Jordan Thomas, who's got a way with a quote. I've interviewed Jordan a few times before: here's him on the Cradle and here's him on lighting in Bioshock. EDIT: When I was putting the article online, I somehow snipped a whole paragraph and a half when formatting it. It was the bit after the word "Academic", and actually one of the key sections of the whole interview. Excuse? Er... I was deeply hungover. Will that do?]

When Looking Glass shattered, your correspondent, along with the vast majority of Thief’s sizable, fanatic fanbase, got more than a little despondent. Was there any hope for a continuation of the greatest stealth game the world had ever seen? Well, yes, there was, as otherwise we wouldn’t be doing a post-mortem of Thief III and instead continuing to weep hot tears into our foaming mead. The game arrived in the hands of Ion Storm Austin, fresh from their success in making the original Deus Ex. With a new team, mixing veterans of Looking Glass and new staff, they faced the challenge of matching their forefathers.

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