Gaming Made Me: The Trespasser Demo

There there.

I’m finally handed the opportunity to write about Jurassic Park: Trespasser on RPS, but instead of hitting Isla Sorna like a sexy chaos mathematician, I instead drop into the less chaotic confines of the demo. I took some time to consider what I loved about Trespasser, a game that was widely regarded as the most disappointing release of 1998, and I realised that my fondest memories were of the demo. I still really like the game, but it was that little sandbox of dinosaurs and boxes that boiled down what I wanted from games. I managed to dig the demo up on TresCom, and installed two parts of the mods here to up the resolution and returned to that Lost World. It was there, when I was 19 and this felt like the future, that I lost dozens of hours. My inner child returned as I flapped my noodley arm around at raptors, so I did what every responsible adult would do: I interviewed him. Here is the transcript of the chat between 19 year-old me, and the handsome, witty grown-up that idiot somehow spawned.

Me: So, you have the Trespasser demo loaded and ready, yeah?

Craig: I do.

Me: So what can you see?

Craig: I’m on a platform, there are some boxes, and it feels like I’m in some sort of jungle.

Me: Right, well now you need to –

Craig: I looked down and I have boobs!

Me: Yup. That’s a feature. In order to create a more immersive experience, they removed the HUD. The character’s health bar is actually a tattoo, and when she picks up a gun she reads out a rough estimate of the leftover ammo.

Craig: I’d like to immers –

Me: I’m begging you not to finish that sentence.

Craig: When did you get so uptight?

Me: When I grew up and left Clydebank, where I met people with a worldview that extended beyond football scores and stabbing. Look, I know why you’re doing that. It’s a defence mechanism that’ll keep you safe for a few more years in that hellhole, but then you’ll leave and not have to worry about talking like everyone else. You don’t need to do it to me. Breasts are great, but they’re not a punchline. And in Trespasser it was an interesting attempt at a HUD-free environment. Anyway, if you hack the game and go into third-person mode, you’ll find out the character model is only arms and breasts. As sex-starved as you are, I refuse to believe we’d find that hot.

Craig: You sound sex-starved right now.

Me: Just play the game. Walk to the edge of the platform, head towards the boxes.

Craig: Right. Ooh, it’s quite high. There’s a couple of raptors down below, some bones, and some trees.

Me: Just watch the raptors for a bit.

Craig: The bigger one is killing the little one.

Me: That’s right, but it doesn’t always happen. It’s very rare, but sometimes the little one keeps its distance and survives. Trespasser made an attempt at an eco-system, and though it didn’t really matter, repeated playthroughs of the demo and the game did throw up one or two differences in the world and in how you’d play it. I can’t tell you how many times you’ll attempt to make it across to the second platform, grab a gun, and try and kill the big one before it kills the little one.

Craig: I will? Why?

Me: Well, Trespasser is a very early lesson in emergence for you. Right now, there aren’t that many examples of it in first-person shooters. And as broken as those dinosaurs are, you’ll discover a simple pleasure in watching those systems interact, particularly when you can affect the outcome. Trespasser was an example of the sort of games you’ll come to love before you were even aware of them yourself. You didn’t realise this in 1998 – will you stop looking at your own chest!

Craig: Sorry. Emergence, systems, whatever. What else is cool?

Me: Don’t ‘whatever’ my past. It’s really important to me, and it’s your future. You’re at the beginning of something defining. A game that will create a sense of interaction that you’ll crave for the next 15 years.

Craig: You’re 34!

Me: And a half. Hush! Now walk towards those boxes and press your right-mouse button.

Craig: Hah! I can see her arm. Wow, this is trippy. I can waggle her arm about!

Me: So, this is the major problem with Trespasser. It has a really robust physics engine. If you run up to the boxes you can knock them over and pick them up…

Craig: Wow. WOW. They tipped over and fell off the edge. Wow! They moved! How is that possible?

Me: I’ll give you another minute.

Craig: Did you see that?

Me: I did. And I shared your excitement. You’ll be glad to know I still get a kick out of it. You’d better lap it up. Enjoy every moment of Trespasser’s physics engine, even the bad bits. It was so ahead of its time that nothing will manage to come close until you’ve grown a pony tail and been to Australia and back.

Craig: You did what?

Me: Look. We’ve barely moved. Do me a favour and jump on the big boxes at the edge and then run and jump across the gap.

Craig: Or I could take the bridge?

Me: I’ve played the demo a billionty times. I know you, and I know right now you’re probably thinking that I’m wrong. Trust me: run and jump, and don’t bother with the collapsing bridge.

Craig: Done. I’m on the other side, and the plank did fall. Whatever.

Me: Right. Remember the arm thing? This is where it gets really surreal. It’s how you pick things up, and there’s a fair few puzzles in the main game that require you to do that, but for now it’s time to show you why people mock Trespasser. Walk to the boxes. They have guns on them. Extend your hand and sort of plonk it down on one. The Uzi is the best here. No look. Put your hand down. Down. No, left a bit. Down. DOWN!

Craig: I’m trying!

Me: You can also rotate your shoulder and hand and grab the gun and… wow.

Craig: Should It be pointing in this direction?

Me: Obviously not.

Craig: Can I still… hah! I can still fire it. Fear my angled-death, dino-jerks.

Me: The arm is kind of special. For everything else that’s wrong with the game, I can at least see where the ambition weighed it down. Trespasser is ahead of its time in many regards, but the arm… yeah, I got nothing. It’s the primary way you interact with the world and it’s almost entirely broken: you shoot things, you pick things up, you stab key cards at keypads with a possessed, demonic appendage. It catches on everything, and aiming weapons is its own three-dimensional puzzle. Look, let’s try that. First grab all the guns and throw them over the side so you can grab them later, but keep the Uzi. Walk to the edge and face that shack.

Craig: Done.

Me: Now try and get down.

Craig: How?

Me: I’m not going to say.

Craig: But there’s nothing. Can I jump into the trees? There’s a puddle on the other side? Will it break my fall?

Me: Nope. It’s kind of obvious. Or at least it is to me, after years and years of playing games with physics.

Craig: Ah, so it involves physics? Can I pile boxes up beneath me and jump on them?

Me: No. Well, maybe, but you’ll need a lot of patience and practice to pull that off. But think bigger.

Craig: I don’t know.

Me: I understand your confusion. FPSes aren’t like this. They don’t ask you to think of how the world will physically react, it’ll be a while before they do so again. Trespasser didn’t change anything for quite some time. That shack should have ushered in a new way to play games, but for now it’s just a big box resting on a pair of smaller boxes. Look at how the hill is sloping to the bottom end of the platform. How can you use all that to your advantage?

Craig: I shoot the shack?

Me: You shoot the shack.

Craig: It’s tumbling down. Games are brilliant!

Me: Most people will argue that the ‘brilliant’ label is probably misapplied, there. I have no recourse to that. I love Trespasser, but everything people will call it in the coming years is probably accurate. It’s a huge anomaly. It’s Heaven’s Gate, the game. At least it tried something, and most of those attempts coloured how you’ll want to experience games forever. It’s almost certainly the reason why you’ll play 50 hours of Arma 3 while avoid anything to do with Call Of Duty.

Craig: Arma isn’t a word, silly. Also, I’m on top of the shack and there are raptors surrounding it. I’ve tried to shoot them, but –

Me: The arm?

Craig: The arm.

Me: It’s a horrible system at the best of times, but I will say that its awkwardness turns combat into a an interesting dance of terror. It’s like holding an untrained snake with a gun in its mouth. It’s best to not panic, which is actually hard when a jerking, impossible-to-track raptor is bounding towards you like some sort of demon. At least you’re out of reach on the shack. Take your time and centre the arm and fire when you’re convinced it’ll hit. Yopu have to be sure. You’ll see some red pixels spew out and the dino’s movement will get even more erratic.

Craig: Aw.

Me: I know! There’s something about seeing their wobbling movement that still makes me sad. They seem confused and lost, and if they weren’t biting me I wouldn’t attack them.

Craig: Well dinosaurs and man, two species separated by 65 million years of evolution have just been suddenly thrown back into the mix together…

Me: Just shoot them. I’ll deal with the PTSD in later life. Drop to the ground and grab a few more guns. There’s not a lot of time left in the demo if you carry on how it’s supposed to be played, but I think you’ll be fine. If you look at the wooded area, there are a few buildings beyond it. Walk over to the odd stand thing.

Craig: What is it?

Me: I still don’t know, but you should turn around and shoot the raptor that’s stalking you.

Craig: Aiee! Clever girl.

Me: It’s actually just cheeky checkpointing. Trespasser sort of feels like an open-world, and the animals do react to people and predators, but it’s not quite as open as it wants you to think it is, and it tries to fool you a bit. That dinosaur spawned from behind a rock. Try and kill it without using too many bullets. Be accurate.

Craig: Take that, Barney! Okay, it’s dead. Now what?

Me: Sigh. Was I really this dim? Look around. What do you see? And what does that tell you about what you need to do?

Craig: There’s a locked gate, a pile of boxes that are a bit too big to climb on, oh. And a comms thing. I’ll bet if I open the panel and dial a number…

Me: Go on.

Craig: Nope. It dialled, but there’s a recording saying the station is busy. Did you remember it doing that way? Actually, how do you remember all of this?

Me: Because you’ll replay it over and over and over. You put more time into it than you will some full games, and it’s mostly because of this puzzle. The answer is really straight forward, but you’ll use what it shows you about the game and become obsessed with piling up boxes to –

Craig: I pile up boxes! Of course! That’s why they’re sort of all over the place… and out of reach on that stand thing.

Me: You already know what to do. It’s just like the shack.

Craig: So I shoot one or two, pile them up and climb out?

Me: Yup. And when you get over the wall there’s a T-Rex on the other side.

Craig: Gee, thanks for ruining it for me.

Me: Trust me, the T-Rex ruins it for you itself. It’s… unimpressive. And its appearance also ends the demo, and you don’t want to do that just yet.

Craig: Hey, I don’t need me to tell me what to do.

Me: It doesn’t matter. I already know what you’re thinking. You’re about to start wondering where piling up boxes can get you? You’re starting to think about the boxes you knocked off the ledge at the beginning of the game. Can you gather all them together and build something that’ll get you to the top of whatever the nearby structure is. And that thought’ll stick with you, longer than the full game will. It’s clunky: you’ll have to carry some from the starting area, but it won’t matter. You’ll do it for hours, revel in a strange freedom that’s so new and exciting and ridiculously ahead of its time. You’ll find a new form of entertainment in a broken game that’s universally derided. I honestly thought that it would birth something. A new genre? It didn’t. And though it wasn’t forgotten, it wasn’t inspirational for at least another five years. It’s remembered because it was broken, but it tried so so hard to be something new and different and forward-thinking, and it just did so a half-decade or so before games and designers were capable of realising that vision. The full game spread it around the island, but the demo gave me a perfect little sandbox to mess about with. I love it. You’ll love it, and it’ll change your gaming life.

Craig: It’s just boxes, dude.

Me: I don’t like you. Anyway, stack some more boxes. It’s time for me to return to the present, where I have games full of physics: I can set traps for zombies, build breakable spaceships, throw things at helicopters. It’s fun here. You’ll love it.


  1. SuicideKing says:

    Wow. I’m now a year older than Craig was in 1998.

    In 1998, i used to get “air sickness” when dad used to fly above virtual clouds in F/A-18 Korea. Which used to look pretty bad because we didn’t have a Voodoo graphics card.

    In fact, it still does, because apparently a GTX 560 isn’t as good as a Voodoo graphics card.

    Still one of the best combat flight sims i’ve played though.

    EDIT: Brilliantly written!

  2. JR says:

    I just want to leave this here…
    link to
    Probably the best let’s play of any game ever done. RI has some fantastic commentary of his jaunt through the forests of Trespasser. I’ve watched this thing at least once yearly since it’s first postings, and I handily recommend it to anyone who wants to see this game in action.

    • db1331 says:

      I second this. He basically retired Trespasser LPs when he made that.

    • UmmonTL says:

      I have to say Trespasser is probably best experienced in Let’s Play form. And the one by Research Indicates is probably the best, I can’t get enough of that man’s voice. Still the later LP by Depressing Drawers while less informative adds a bit more humor and moves at a quicker pace which kept me entertained a second time through. It’s also a bit easier on the eyes:

    • Syra says:

      I totally agree, I never played tresspasser but I stumbled upon this one day and had to watch the whole thing. As a gamer the ideas at work here and the things he talks about made me genuinely sad this game was released in such a poor state… it could have been the half-life2 meets STALKER meets dinosaurs we never knew we wanted, years before any of the concepts in the game were picked up and made great by others.

    • Keyrock says:

      This YouTube comment always slays me when I watch this:

      PhilMcCrack1 1 year ago
      “the developers were forced to release the game half-stable, intending to improve it later on with patches”
      holy shit it WAS ahead of its time

    • sexyresults says:

      Is that a native American accent?

  3. RedViv says:

    Brilliantly done, Craig.

    It was way ahead of its time, and Octodad is only now taking its place in wiggly appendage simulation territory.

  4. db1331 says:

    This was the first game I bought a PC for. I spent $2k on a 500Mhz Gateway so I could play Trespasser. At the time it was worth every penny. I first played it at my friend’s house. When I finally got my own PC I “borrowed” it from him and never returned it. It’s still sitting on a shelf in one of my closets, one of the few discs I didn’t toss while trying to make room in my house.

    I remember reading somewhere that it was possible to beat the entire game without firing a single bullet. I tested it out myself and got pretty far before giving up. All the way to the docks I believe. I still remember frantically running for a raptor, picking up a piece of rebar off the ground, and turning around and beating him to death with it.

    I also loved that level with the Mayan ruins, where if you carried that big ass rifle all the way through the map, you could kill the T-Rex at the end with 3 shots.

  5. cqdemal says:

    I finished this game. I was 13. I still think of it with a mixture of fondness and deep, deep disappointment.

  6. Reefpirate says:

    This was a great article and is remarkably similar to my experiences with Trespasser: I played countless hours on the demo but never bought the whole game and I was also fascinated by the close-up, upside down boobs feature.

    • Colonel Mustard says:

      Same, In the days of no income the (pc gamer?) Tresspasser demo disk would get a good seeing to.

  7. ResonanceCascade says:

    Trespasser had a complete, if flawed, physics model, fully procedural animation, real time foley mixing, bump mapping, real time lighting, state-based creature AI (that was sadly disabled on release), and a ton of other insane technical innovations. In 1998. It’s basically the wet dream of a lot of the Looking Glass people who quit the company to work on JP:T.

    I realize it was considered an abject failure at the time, but I’d pay for ten failures as ambitious and interesting as Trespasser before I’d pay for one success as dull as Battlefield 4. Since that game released, AAA game developers forgot how to aim high and dream big.


  8. analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

    Is this the one where you had to collect the coloured key cards to get into certain areas?

    If it was, I FUCKIN’ LOVED IT (and the screen shots look familiar)


    EDIT: This is the baby!! I got it from WH Smiths for about £1.89 in their barmy markdown price sales. There was a bizzare hidden level that you could get into by building a pyramid of boxes and jumping over the fence. I used to get help online, when I had a dedicated 56k phone line for the internet. Oh happy days :D Never found the white key card though :/

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      Rockin it with me Matrox!!!!!!!!!! 8mb on die and 8mb slid into the slot, OH YES, I was a 8mb slot slider!.

      Fuckin’ell….Thief!!!!!!!! Going to pop a Broadhead in a Burrick

  9. Jericho says:

    Ahhhh Trespasser… So many hours spent moving boxes around with my fiddly arm and just playing around with the zainy physics engine. I still can’t believe that it essentially took until Half-Life 2 to fully implement those box-stacking and wooden-plank-seesaw ideas into an actual working, FUN game.

    To this day, my ultimate gaming fantasy is essentially just “first person survival game on a deserted island with dinosaurs”, all just because of one waaaaaaaaaaaay ahead of its time tech demo.


  10. kevmscotland says:

    Can you say fan remake:

    link to

  11. amateurviking says:

    I’ve been looking forward to this! Not disappointed :)

    Time for a new round of Gaming Made Mes from the great and the good I say!

  12. DrScuttles says:

    The arm. THE ARM.
    There’s something admirable in what Trespasser set out to do, flawed as the end result may be. Unlike say, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, Trespasser at least had competence behind the project.

  13. analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

    If you need to avoid ISP blocking to relive the old days put this***** link to ******* in Interent Settings>Connections>LAN Settings>Automatic Config Script and it will bypass blocks. Just unselct the tick box till you need it again

  14. Sic says:

    This article was excellent. Thanks, Craig. One of the best I’ve read on the site, in fact.

    The Trespasser demo was mind blowing. I remember, as you, playing it for hours and hours. Just the sheer involvement in a world that was actually physical.

    Trespasser was something that games just aren’t today: it was simple enough so that the tactility of it worked. It permeated the entire thing. You were in a physical space in a physical body doing physical things to solve physical problems.

    Anyways, you can shoot yourself if you equip a weapon and position yourself close to something with the correct shape. I repeat, in Trespasser, you can accidentally shoot yourself in the face. Obviously, it’s the best game ever, and everyone else is wrong.

    • Jackablade says:

      Not only that, you can beat yourself to death with melee weapons. I managed to do this the first time I tried picking up an item – I went to awkwardly pick up a baseball bat, wound up with it completely around the wrong way, went to flip it over and smashed myself in the virtual chin.

      My other favourite memory of the game is walking around on the roof of a building and accidentally falling through a hole to what would have been my death had the shotgun I was carrying not gotten wedged across the gap, leaving my dangling precariously. With a little arm manipulation, I managed to swing myself to safety.

      Best game ever.

  15. John Murphy says:

    Octodad started with me and a couple of others from the team watching youtube videos (Let’s Play wasn’t part of the lexicon yet!) of Trespasser. We knew we stole the horrible arm with the idea of putting it in a new, purposefully funny context. But I never really thought about how much the emergent systems of Trespasser were compelling to begin with, and ended up coming along for the ride. It’s definitely in Octodad’s DNA (frog DNA? OCTOP-) and contributes to the appeal of the emergent comedy that we have been trying to maximize in the new game. Thanks for this!

  16. Lusketrollet says:

    19 year-old you sounds a lot more likable than present-day you.

  17. Jenks says:

    This is one of the many games I’ve never even heard of released between 96 and 99, while I obsessively played nothing but Quakeworld. I even let my PC Gamer subscription lapse, and that was during the glorious 500 page issue days.

  18. jaydee says:

    It has always annoyed me that they never tried to rerelease this on something like the Wii, PS Move, Kinect, or even Razor Hydra where the controls could actually work.

  19. Reapy says:

    I wanted to say I was too young to get interested in trespasser, but in 98 I was 18, graduating high school that year. I was firmly entrenched in warcraft 2 online, so maybe that is why I gave it a pass beyond being blown away on that tower in the demo kicking boxes around… However, my father played the living shit out of this game. I kept coming over to watch what he was doing and he’d be engaged in some box stacking, number punching, fucked up arm maneuvering around grabbing things.

    Rightfully so the game was really impressive, but I didn’t have the fortitude to stick it out myself, but I always wondered why everybody was so angry at the game that had tried and executed a lot of pretty amazing ideas. It is good to know there are other people out there that appreciate the game… will have to watch through the lets plays of it now.

  20. The Army of None says:

    Wonderful article

  21. Viroso says:

    Reminds me of Deus Ex, the new one. There was this console on a corridor at the police station and a guard walking up and down. He’d see me hacking no matter how fast I was and I didn’t want to take him down, so I took some boxes and built a wall, he couldn’t see me behind it and I could hack it. After discovering the power of boxes I used it to do a bunch of naughty things around the police station.

    That was when Deus Ex was actually enjoyable. For all of the options handed to me so I could do things my own way and whatever, it was still all very restricted. Stealth had conveniently laid out paths for it, hacking or talking to people was always a one way street.

    Boxes though, endless possibilities.

    • Jericho says:

      I’ve been recently re-playing DXHR since I picked up the director’s cut. I don’t know about the re-done boss battles, but I’m one of those jerks that LOVES listening to cast and crew commentary. After I snuck through the first intro mission (the one with the Purity First guys taking over the Sarif factory) I went back through playing and listening to the commentary. I realized it was going to take a while, so I started gathering up as many movable boxes as I could and brought them together to make Deus Ex: Box Fort Revolution!

      As it turns out, I also learned that after you finish your taunt sword fighting with the PF head honcho, the rest of the factory is full of DPD cops gathering evidence and taking crime scene photos. Who would go back through the factory after the end??!? WHY WOULD THEY TAKE TIME TO PUT IN FORENSIC INVESTIGATORS?!?!

      BOX FORTS?!?

      • karthink says:

        “Who would go back through the factory after the end??”

        Me. I traversed that whole level in reverse. When it let me do that, I knew it got Deus Ex.

  22. kevmscotland says:

    Having played this, can anyone point me towards a game of similar style (minus the crappy hand controls obviously).

    Kind of bored of the typical shooter and would like more of a adventure/exploration type game similar to this.

    • Jackablade says:

      Miasmata kinda reminds me of Trespasser in that its a big weird meandering first-person game with a bunch of interesting ideas set in a jungle. It also slightly oversteps its means, but its definitely an interesting experience.

    • Hypocee says:

      Far as I know your choices are basically Amnesia, Amnesia or Amnesia. One ring out there’s Minecraft, Portal 2, Stalker and various descendants, um.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Trespasser is most similar to Ultima Underworld and System Shock 1 if you can get past the graphics (the arm was thought up as a more immersive way to replace the cursor in those games, even though it didn’t actually work). In a lot of ways, Trespasser is the true spiritual successor to those games even more than Thief was. It involved a lot of the same people, too.

  23. LintMan says:

    A big part of the backlash against Trespasser was due to all the hype the game received before it was release.

    Here’s Old Man Murray’s anti-hypereview from 1998: link to

    (Also, irony alert: check out that bit about Sid Meir in the first big paragraph. Wow, things have changed)

  24. crinkles esq. says:

    I really don’t understand your excitement or fondness for this game. The game ran at about 2 FPS on my rather well-fitted PC at the time. The Dreamworks creators were full of hubris, but unable to deliver a game that provided the experience they promised.

  25. GiantPotato says:

    “Me: I don’t like you.”

    That’s actually where my conversation with 19-year-old me began and ended, so I’m glad you at least got a more interesting discussion out of yours.

  26. Asherie says:

    I never knew this game was a disappointment to most. I never played the demo, or heard of it. I got given the full game from a friend (he basically copied it over from the disc, which if you installed it from there, it didn’t need the disc, i know. naughty 10 years old eh). Anyway the moment I fell in love with this game was when I’d ran out of bullet, a raptor heading straight for me, I’m not sure what made me try it, but I grabbed the closest chair, 2 legs fells off, but I held down the mouse, and manually swung it at the raptors head. It connected beautifully, instantly killing the raptor. I felt like a true survivor. I felt that desperation, that rush of panic. Very few games have ever evoked that in me since. I can’t actually think of any, I’m sure there’s a few though. I think maybe this game was actually more a victim of overhype than a flawed game. I saw the ARM as a great survivor mechanic. Much like resident evil (the ones where you the camera and controls hinder you so much you genuinely do feel like a helpless human, rather than some headshot god like in todays games)

    -edit- I got the game a few years after it came out. There was a fair few patches and trescom had their level editor fully operational. That should give some sort of time-frame.

    -2nd edit- (yeah Im that big of a fan)
    The aiming took a while to get used to, but basically you would line up the gun using shift,ctrl etc to be aiming straight ahead in the centre of the screen. Then you press a button (I forget which) and it holsters it. So then you can’t accidentally drop it when you inevitably bash into things, you get it out when you intend to kill something. and you don’t manipulate the arm when you do cuz that messes up the angle of the hand/gun (thus your aim), you aim with the ‘look’ controls (the mouse, much like todays shooters). Sure it’s fiddly but again, I thought of it as a survival game, not a shooter. Think of how you are -still- limited in resident evil 5 by way of controls. Resident evil 6 has you rolling around like some sort of ninja, fun but overpowered for a survival game.

  27. Frazmataz says:

    Ah, 1998.

    I remember Battlezone and the Myth series from that time, two other groundbreaking games that I thought would birth genres for sure, but did not.

    Trespasser was more frustrating than fun, but I still have some vivid memories. One my proudest gaming moments was bopping three raptors to death with a board.

    With the popularity of QWOP and that surgery simulator game, I bet some would find actual fun in the mastery of Trespasser’s funky control system.

  28. Noise says:

    I never played the demo, but I played the full game heaps and this describes my experience with it almost exactly. The physics engine absolutely blew my mind.

  29. Mr. International says:

    psh. defense mechanism against boners? please.
    see, they can be :D

  30. bill says:

    After wanting to for years, I played Trespasser for the first time about 4 years ago.

    God it was horrible at first – the arm, getting stuck on things, being unable to shoot, etc…
    But then it became awesome. I worked out how to get around the arm (mainly point it up in the air so it doesn’t get in the way) and it actually made combat really tense (having to carefully aim your shot and plan your escape, because you couldn’t run and gun and you couldn’t survive if they got inside your reach).

    I also used a patch to increase the draw distance, and some of the levels are pretty amazing! (and crazy that they thought they could actually do that on the hardware at the time).
    they essentially have a whole full-scale mountain. And from the top you can look down and see the dinosaurs at the foot still wandering around.

    It’s a shame that I read that most of the emergent AI was actually stripped out… they couldn’t get it to work by release date, so they essentially hard-coded all the animals to “pissed-off”. Even with that it could be pretty amazing at times.
    Every flaw people write about it is true, but it also comes close to greatness.

  31. Guiscard says:

    To be fair, 1998 was such a great year in video gaming (Half-Life, StarCraft, Grim Fandango, SiN, Rainbow Six, Metal Gear Solid, Conflict: FreeSpace, Ocarina of Time & Unreal all in the space of a year!), even the worst of it was still pretty awesome in its own way. This is the way to go with over-hyped mediocre games – fail in ambitious style.

  32. Dave Tosser says:

    Around this time last year, Tom Chick did a similar piece in which he talked about X-Com and XCOM with his younger self.

    link to

    John Walker is fond of responding to his own arguments, but not enough games writers travel back in time to challenge their teenage beliefs.

  33. timbest says:

    There was a very thorough postmortem done on Trespasser a while back (1999!) which is a great read. Having just reread the first couple of paragraphs, I’d forgotten that the original team was made up of ex Looking Glass employees including Seamus Blackley! link to