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Published on June 19th, 2008 | by simeon


Aliens Vs Predator 2 Interview

Recently I had the chance to ask some questions to the design team of the hot 3D shooter Alien VS Predator 2. The designers were very kind to take time out of their busy schedules to answer the questions and they give some great insights into the game as well as future projects.

GVK: In creating the game, how much access did you have to the sound and design artwork from the film series, and how much of it did you have to create on your own?

WW – FOX was awesome about giving us access to sounds and stills from the original productions. Unfortunately, we couldn’t just drop these into the Talon game engine and expect them to work. We slaved over the material, polishing the details, and making sure that we were being true to the source.

GVK: Going into this game, what were the main objectives you wanted to achieve in regards to content and gameplay?

WW – We wanted to create three unique and yet intertwined stories that each embodied one of the species. For the Marines, we wanted to recreate the horror and tension that we felt watching Aliens. For the Predator, we wanted to capture the sadistic power and mastery of the Predator as he dismembers Arnold’s team during Predator. For the Alien, we wanted to let you become the monster – to experience the part we never saw in Aliens, where the Aliens escape from Hadley’s Hope and run amok.

GVK: What were the biggest obstacles and success stories that you encountered when you were creating the game?

WW – Wall-walking was our biggest technical obstacle, one very big bear. To offset this though, we had the game systems developed for NOLF: the cinematics, special FX, key framers, and other development tools that we now call the Talon engine. By focusing on an adventure FPS with a story, we could leverage these tools to make the most of our development time. Without the lessons, advice, and features of the past, AVP2 would never have been possible. To me, this was our greatest success – the ability of Monolith to rally behind the AVP title and to leverage our past technology.

GVK: The levels of the game are very close to the sets in the films, did the design team have to view any of the films during the games creation?

WW – Did we ever stop watching the films? We had DVD versions in constant circulation throughout the team. The multiplayer maps are largely taken from film sets, and within the single player game, each environment alluded to one of the films. Only the exteriors are a real departure from the Alien movies. Here, we wanted the feeling of Predator, except on another world.

GVK: In regards to content, where there features you wished to include but were unable to do so, and if so what were they?

WW –That’s a little like your boss asking you: what would you like to be paid: 1) a little bit more, 2) a lot more, or 3) more money than you can count? Of course, this is a trick question. If you answered #1, you just lost your next raise. If you answer #2, you’ll be given additional work since you’re obviously motivated, but also realistic and know you’ll need to prove yourself before getting more dough. If you answer #3, you’re on the fast track to the unemployment line since you clearly don’t understand money. You’re a risk to the company. Naturally, the correct answer is: “I’m feeling suddenly ill,” and then rush to the nearest bathroom.

GVK: The play balance of the game in regard to each race having strengths and weak points is amazing, how difficult was it to include this and not make one race stand out over the others?

WW – Balancing three very different races was extremely difficult especially since we included the option for class play. Class play means that humans and Predators suddenly start with excellent weapons instead of their more standard gear, but they aren’t allowed to use the full range of weapons. Adjusting for all of these is extremely tricky, and I’ll admit we can’t cover everything, especially when only two of the three species are involved.

WW – Take the situation of Predators versus Marines. In team DM games with Aliens, Predators and Marines, the Predators have to change vision modes if they want to see their enemies well and still use tracking weapons. Plus, the Aliens spot the Predators and unintentionally lead the Marines to them. Without the Aliens, the Predators can rely more heavily on thermal vision (for hunting Marines) and can cloak without fear of Aliens spotting them and exposing their position. For even the best Marine team, that puts a lot of pressure on the humans. However, that’s what makes the game fun for me. You can customize the servers to create a balanced DM game or to recreate the movies (where the Marines tend to die a lot more).

GVK: If you could change any part of the finished game, what would it be and why?

WW – If we could change any part of the finished game, we’d make the multiplayer feel smoother and add more maps for people to play. We’d also like to give people tools to make their own maps.

WW – Wait a second – that’s exactly what we are doing! Expect to hear more in December.

GVK: The multiplay offers a great selection of play styles aside from the standard Dm or team Dm. Which one of them is your favorite and what was your thought process behind having it in the game?

WW – I love Survivor and Evac. Survivor is cool because people tend to work together even though they’re not on the same team. The humans just want to stay alive so badly. Plus, when I’m that last Marine, and I know that every other player is now out to get me, that feels extremely tense. Evac appeals to me because it feels the most like the end of Aliens, when the Marines are trying to fall back as the Aliens overwhelm Hadley’s Hope. It’s that heroic moment where even Gorman proves he’s not just a toady.

GVK: Having the game engine established is always a big help, but how long was the development cycle of the game?

WW – The core team was on about twenty months (20) with the rest of the team for more than a year.

GVK: Will there be an add on pack or an AVP 3 in the future?

WW – I can’t speak for future FOX projects. Monolith is heavily into The Operative 2 right now with the new Jupiter engine. That’s the same key team members that made No One Lives Forever – PC Gamer’s Game of the Year for 2000 – only they’re creating a brand new graphics engine this time to take advantage of hardware T&L. I drool over those levels.

GVK: What projects are you working on now?

WW – Aside from drooling over The Operative 2, I spend most of my time on a secret project involving glue, toothpicks, and battery powered servos.

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