Posts Tagged ‘Making-Of’

Making Of: Stronghold

[Way back when Firefly were revealing Stronghold 2, I had a chance to talk to Simon Bradbury about the genesis of their big-in-Germany management RTS and its demi-sequel, Stronghold: Crusader. As usual, this originally appeared in PC Format. All sales stats referenced are circa then.]


It’s easy to underestimate something like Stronghold. We shouldn’t. As far as a games go, it’s been an incredible success. Ask our colleagues in Germany about it and you’ll receive a voluminous response. Over there it outsold Grand Theft Auto. It did it with nothing more than be a good idea (i.e. Make a castle, defend it and knock down someone else’s), well executed. Unique enough to attract an audience yet familiar enough not to confuse, it’s no surprise that it found an expansive and devoted fanbase. However creators Firefly have a far longer history, whose lessons directly contributed to their later successes.
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Making Of: Soren Johnson On Civ 4

We're all about the arty cuts in our photos, us.
The Interview I did with designer Soren “Ex-Civ, Now Spore” Johnson in December could be roughly divided into two parts. The bits which were not about Civ 4 and not about Spore. We published these in January, where we talked about the future of the PC being Punk Rock. The second half were the bits about Civ 4, which we publish below, where Soren talks extensively about Firaxis’ desires for the project, why Civ multiplayer had never worked in the past, and the difficulties of moving the old warhorse into 3D.

The non-existent part where we talked about Spore will never be published, as it didn’t happen. Pay attention.
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The Making Of: The Conflict Series

[With Conflict: Denied Ops running jokes reaching critical mass, I thought digging out this interview with Pivotal’s Stuart Poole about the genesis and development of the series may be a good idea. It was done just before Conflct: Global Terror was released, but their mind were clearly on Next-Gen. It deals with both Desert games – which I think were neatly designed, actually – and the disappointing Vietnam.]

Men in a desert.

Pivotal rose from the ashes of Bath’s Pumpkin Studios, who made the ground-breaking Real-time strategy game Warzone 2100. Despite being the first true-3D RTS and receiving some of the best reviews of Eidos’ history, it was a commercial flop which killed the team. While being ahead of the curve can pay off handsomely, it can just as easily lead to disaster. What now?

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Making Of: The Sims

[Our Making Of series returns! Since I’m starting to run low, I’m working on another string of articles to mix in with them on Fridays. It’s a series of interviews with some of my favourite Indie-game stuff right now – basically, all the RPS favourites. However, in the meantime, here’s what I think is good one – Will Wright, on the Sims, in typically expansive and intelligent mood. This remixed version features considerably more matieral than the original which appeared back in PC Format. Oh – and I’m using a mix of Sims and Sims 2 grabs, for decoration’s sakes, though this is 100% about the original.]
Wright makes right.

In our time sitting down with Will Wright, the prime mover behind the Sims games, we talk about many things. The game’s origins, its development, its trials and tribulations and its success… but the one question that we really wanted to know remained unbroached. “So… Will,” we’d grin, “Exactly how grotesquely rich are you?”. You have to wonder. There were 29 million copies of the Sims and spin-offs sold at the time of the interview [And 70 million now – Ed], and you have to presume there’s some serious green in the man’s pockets. But not that he hasn’t had to work for it. The Sims is a game that simply wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for his faith in the project. And its gestation lies well back in the history of a much earlier game. Though probably not the one you’re thinking of…
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Making Of: Lego Star Wars

[Lego Star Wars remains one of the most quietly radical yet enormously successful games of recent years. I’ve done more than one post mortem on it too. Here’s a different one I did over at the Escapist. In fact, I think Jim’s done at least one too. Anyway, as always, this one originated back in PC Format. The interview was performed well before the second trilogy came out.]


“We didn’t have a view necessarily on Lego or Starwars… we don’t think we ever did anything that was not Lego or not Star Wars,” says Giant’s Development Director Jonathan Smith, “We were just doing Lego Star Wars. That’s what it’s it”. Sometimes these post-mortems are a story of woe, death and tears ending with an eventual bittersweet pleasure. Not so with Lego Star Wars. This is the one when everything went right.
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Making Of: Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon

[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

[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


[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.]

“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 »

The Making Of: Harvey Smith

[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

[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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