Posts Tagged ‘Making-Of’

Making Of: The Sims

By Kieron Gillen on January 18th, 2008.

[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

By Kieron Gillen on December 21st, 2007.

[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.]

LEGO!

“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

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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