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UnrealEngine  Interview über Black 9   lara 18.09.2003
text (short)
CrashOverwrite von www.Unreal-Universer.de hatte die Ehre ein Interview mit Erik Bethke und Erin Hoffman zu Black 9 zu führen.

text (long)
CrashOverwrite: Hallo. Could you introduce yourself in a few words to the Community, becauseI am sure that not everybody knows you and your team!

Erik Bethke: I'm Erik Bethke, and I'm the CEO of Taldren and Senior Producer for Black-9. Taldren is a small development house of about thirty-five, which is double our staff size from last year. The founders, including myself, Sean Dumas, and Zachary Drummond, began working together in 1994 under The Dreamer's Guild. In later years we formed a consulting company, and in 1998 I was recruited to be Senior Producer for Starfleet Command, and the project moved from Quicksilver to Interplay. SC was our first effort as a "company", and after it shipped, we snagged the contract for independent developer of the sequel, Starfleet Command II. The rest is history.

Erin Hoffman: I'm a pretty recent hire at Taldren. I have something of a
creative writing background, and recently graduated from Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute. If you happened to catch the latest special edition
of GameDeveloper Magazine, where they talk about getting a job in the
industry - I basically did everything recommended to get into design, only without knowing for sure whether it was going to work.

CrashOverwrite: What about Black 9?

EB: Black-9 began officially in the Fall of 2000 as an idea of mine that I
thought would make a cool game and an intriguing world. It then spent a
great deal of time in pre-production as the details (history, idiosyncrasy,
primary characters) of the nine illuminati were worked out. The result is a dense, intense world sprung from the minds of some pretty hard-core sci-fi aficionados - but at the same time, something new, away from the mainstream notion of cyberpunk post-apocalyptic future scenes. Strung through the Black-9 universe is a thread of hope and, we hope, insight into what human beings are capable of.

Your opinion: Why would a normal guy buy Black 9?

EH: It might seem common to release 'yet another' "genre-breaking" game, but Black-9 was designed not with any one specific category in mind, but rather as an all-game. I think now that the game industry is reaching a sort of maturation, and acceptance as a 'valid' medium for entertainment, it's taking some of the same direction that film and literature have taken - breaking beyond boundaries and just making a game that exists for its own sake and its own world. Black-9 is like that; it creates a new and exciting future ripe for exploration, and a story that engages the mind (not to mention having plenty of action if that's your gig).

CrashOverwrite: Why the Unreal Warfare Engine and not another? What makes this Engine so interesting?

EB: We were originally looking to fill a couple of requirements. We wanted something that was cross-platform compatible, and something that would transition easily (or well, at least) from PC to X-Box. Epic impressed us with their demo for Warfare, and we knew that we liked the graphics in the Unreal games. Basically it had what we were looking for.

CrashOverwrite: Will the Karma Engine be used, too?

EB: Yes.

CrashOverwrite: Keyword Level Design: More In- or Out-door Levels?

EH: We tried to strike a balance between the two, to give a bit of variety.
The original method when the game was first conceived was to think of as many cool locations as possible - a celestial Chinese pagoda, a huge base on Mars, a craggy shuttle crash on the surface of the Moon - and then cull these down to the most exciting places. The player will be sent all over several environments, willing or not.

CrashOverwrite: The Story. Will we have to expect render videos or videos in the Engine?

EB: In order to keep the continuity of the game experience, we decided on engine-based cinematics; all breaks in gameplay will be softened by using sequences - usually brief ones - rendered out in the game's engine.

CrashOverwrite: Will it be a linear Story?

EH: Well, we couldn't tell you everything about it without ruining the
ending - but the main parts of the story is linear at core, yes, though
there is some variation depending on what character you choose.
EB: When you get right down to it most RPGs have linear plotlines, and
Black-9 is definitely story-driven, meaning that while much of our effort is going into making it look cool and play cool, an engaging story was one of our goals from the beginning.

CrashOverwrite: Your opinion: What will be the best Feature of Black 9?

EB: It's really hard to say, and it depends on what kind of approach you
take in accessing the game. If you're looking to build up a roleplaying
character, we have that; if you're looking to experience (what we consider to be) a next-generation cyberpunk universe, we have that; if you're looking to blow the heck out of a bunch of stuff, we have that too. More than anything it's the whole package that makes Black-9 stand out from other games in a similar category.

EH: A lot of thought went into the base design of the game, and into the
"why" of everything - how things work, why a player would choose to do a certain thing, why any of it would be interesting to experience. And that really shows, I think. In a piece of furniture you have little details like
polishing and engraving that show care and pride of ownership - there's that kind of heart and let's-do-it push to Black-9. That's one of the advantages to working on independent intellectual property - it feels fresh and limitless.

CrashOverwrite: What about the weapons (Type, Style and co.)?

EB: We have weapons in all categories, ranging from melee (a
nanotech-enhanced katana) to light ranged (EMP-crossbow, standard light firearms) to heavy guns (assault rifles, a radiation flux rifle) to
detonation packs and grenades. Each of these weapons has a history in the "world" of Black-9, for those interested in looking deep enough to find it.

CrashOverwrite: Will Black 9 have a Sequel if it will be successful?

EB: There is definitely that possibility, yes. We have a lot of ideas that
we'd like to implement in one way or another.

CrashOverwrite: Something you want to say to the Community?

EH: I think more than anything Black-9 is about thinking. Yeah, there's a
big action aspect, and definitely a rush when the fight music starts playing and stuff starts blowing up - but when you get right down to it there's a
ton of excitement in what makes the game 'smart'. We're hoping that the audience picks up on that.

CrashOverwrite: Thanks for this Interview

EB: You're very welcome. Thanks for your interest.

[ back to the news ]
related links:
  • Interview
  • Quelle www.Unreal-Universer.de
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