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Devastation

Platform(s): Arcade, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PC, PSOne, PSP, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360
Genre: Action

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Q&A With 'Devastation' Producer

by The Six Billion Dollar Man on Feb. 18, 2003 @ 2:03 a.m. PST

1. Who has the honor to talk to us? Give us your name, rank and occupation!

Vic DeLeon, Senior Producer, Buyer of the Pizza :/

2. What gave you the idea to create a game like Devastation?

I don’t remember exactly how it happened but we’d been wanting to develop a cyberpunk game forever. We’re all very big fans of the literary genre, which was one of our biggest inspirations. Some of my favorite games were System Shock I and II, the Fallout series, and of course Deus Ex. We played a lot of Shadowrun in our youth and that was a factor too.

3. What’s the background story, how many enemies, where are they located, and what is it going to take, to take them down?

The plot revolves around the concept of the “dark future” - a traditional cyberpunk setting much like that which you would expect from a William Gibson novel like Neuromancer. There are several storyline elements that are explored, like a clash between low-tech and hi-tech societies, experimental technologies with potential global impacts, and a Big-Brother Government inspired by the works of George Orwell and Ray Bradbury, with politics, oppressive police forces, book burnings, executions, and government conspiracy scenarios. Oh did I mention revolution? The story takes place in a time where society is living in a totalitarian regime, and we’ve carried that motif over into the visual details. Within the game levels are buried some very symbolic items with Marxist and Maoist overtones. If you paid attention in your history classes you might see them, but you have to look carefully.

You play as Flynn, the quick-tempered Disloyalist who has been involved with a secret group of conspirators trying to infiltrate and expose the questionable agenda of the Grathius Mega Corporation. Without giving away too much of the story, You go up against all kinds of baddies, everything from construction workers, security forces, wardens, guards, assassins, and other nasties. Of course there’s the PAC Squads- Para-Military Peacekeepers whose only job is to promote pacification… and to eliminate the resistance. Then there are the Super-Troopers. These helmeted goons are scary, and evil, and you will hate them. There are other enemies as well, some are mechanical in nature like Pacification Droids -half-tractor half-robot killing machines, and several kinds of automated sentry guns and smart-turrets based on powder and particle weapons systems.

As the game progresses you will meet and join forces with interesting NPC characters like weapons specialists, scientists, mercenaries, and other resistance members. They will fight alongside you throughout the game and will be at your command should you feel like upping the strategic gameplay. You’ll be stocking up an arsenal of 42 weapons and gadgets. Everything from knives and swords, to pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, heavy machine guns, explosives, even cool gadgets like electronic hacking devices, GPS systems, and the ever-popular Rat Drone.

4. What did the Unreal engine offer over all the others? For example the Lithtech engine.

It was a very solid base from which we could expand on easily. We didn’t choose against using Lithtech or Quake for that matter, we just always considered ourselves more comfortable with Unreal since we’d been working with it for so many years.

We’ve done a lot with the Unreal code. We’ve been updating and merging every single time Epic releases new versions, and as of 3 weeks ago we’re on the very latest codebase, which is the same as UT2K3’s. We’ve carried over many of our enhancements and customizations, like our OFX particle system for special effects. We've done some amazing things with this system, specifically for the weapons, explosions, liquids/blood and other special effects that are directly related to the secret stuff you find in the game. We've got a very sophisticated player animation control system with multiple blending layers, weapon-trace hitboxes and all kinds of other stuff regarding player skeleton and hit detection. We've licensed the Karma physics engine technology and developed our own techniques for physical interactivity in the world. Our ragdoll physics are far better than the stuff you’ve seen--our bodies don’t just go limp; they collapse and roll around.

5. What will Devastation offer to the mod community that hasn’t been offered by another game?

…A new thumbnail-based decoration browser for easily decorating the worlds that includes over four thousand unique prefabricated objects…Seriously, this is huge. Imagine opening up the editor for the first time and seeing all this stuff you can just drop into your maps. There’s a lot of other stuff too like physics decorations. There are over two hundred of these everyday items that all have physics enabled for you. All you need to do is drop them in. Then there’s our animation system, which uses the same basis as UT2K3 so your favorite models can intermingle in both games.

6. Will modders be required to learn anything new to create mods for this game?

Not really. If they have experience with the Unreal Engine then they should be able to pick this up without any problems. Level designers will have it the easiest as we’ve totally catered to them the most with all the tools and content we’ve created for them in mind. Animators working in Maya or 3Dmax will be using the same plugins as Unreal (ActorX) so it’s a very simple process that translates to our game.

7. Will it be easy for the mod community to port their mods over to Devastation from other Unreal engine powered games?

I believe so, but there are so many Unreal engine powered games I cannot speak for every single one. A lot of the basic tools from UnrealEd remain in our editor Ded, we’ve just added our stuff on top of it, and as long as the game they are coming from supports the same general systems and features then it should not be a problem.

8. Are you planning to have an adjustable AI level for single player?

Of course. There are four settings that reflect on the bots, Easy, Medium, Hard, and an unlockable difficulty called “Insane”. The bots don’t behave all that differently in each although some behavior differences will be seen from Easy to Hard. Overall this is complemented with their ability to be far more accurate and have higher stamina the harder the setting.

9. Will your AI Bots cheat in the form of always knowing where you are? Or will the AI actually use tactics to lure you out?

If you’re referring to the enemy ai, they can lose you if you hide well enough. They will also ambush you, or run ahead and flank you!

10. Controlling squad members can be cumbersome at times, especially if there are a lot of them. How are you planning to deal with this problem?

By making sure they never get in your way. We’ve got fail-safes that help with this, but in general they do a really good job of staying behind you, and off to your side when they are following you. If you command them to attack they will do so, and they’ll expect you not to shoot them in the back, but then again, that’s what happens if you let your teammates do all the fighting for you, you lazy bum.

11. How many orders and to what extent can you control your squad members?

This is where our game really shines. In total there are four individual and four group commands along with two equipment trading commands and a general interact command for getting status reports or clues from them. If you need help you can issue the Follow command, and have one, two, three, or perhaps all eight of them follow you, cover your back, and fight along with you as you lead them into battles. If you want to have them clear out an area in front of you, you can issue the Attack command and send them out to attack ahead of you. This is my favorite because I am a lazy bum. I like watching my teammates fight and I can sit back and enjoy the combat from a safe location, issuing orders to different teammates as I see fit, kinda like a general or something like that. The Defend command works great tactically for those times when your objectives or bases come under attack by the enemy. Issue the command and your teammate/s will take up defensive positions at the last defense point, or return to your base and protect it from attacking forces. Then there’s the Hold command, which comes in pretty handy when you want your teammates to cover doors, passages, or new objectives. It’s also good to have them hold in safer areas until you’ve done some reconnaissance. Sometimes you’ll want to go in alone, or use stealth. The hold command is great because you can have your entire team waiting for you on the outside should anything go wrong. If you need them you can issue the command to follow or attack and they will rejoin you and help you out. This works great if you’re cornered or pinned down by the enemy. It’s like calling in the cavalry!

If you need help with mission objectives you can walk up to a teammate and press your interact “E” key and see if they have any suggestions to offer up, or if you just want a general status report on what they are up to at the moment. You can also trade weapons with your teammates at any time, in the game, in real-time! Just walk up to them and press the “Give Weapon” or “Take Weapon” keys. It’s that easy and it changes the way the entire game is played. Especially once you realize how some players are better with some weapons than others, and you can equip them to better suit this. Imagine having your teammates fighting and you periodically re-equip them in mid-battle, providing them with better weapons and more gear!

12. What is it going to take to run this visually stunning FPS at max settings? What are some system requirements?

An average system with a decent video card will do the trick. A PIII 700 MHz processor is the minimum (1.0 GHz or higher Recommended), with 256 MB RAM. As for the video card, any 3D accelerated card with T&L and 32 MB is good although a bit minimal. We recommend 64MB.

13. When it comes to weapons, there seems to be a lack of originality everything has a pistol, machine gun, rocket launcher, and a super weapon. What are some of Devastations weapons? And will it offer something new?

Something new? Yes, how about this: Almost everything you come across in the game can be used as a weapon, either kicked, knocked over, dropped on, pushed into, picked up, carried and used as a shield, and THROWN of course! Chairs, boxes, buckets, gas cans, oil drums, barrels, TV’s, all kinds of crap, even trash you find in the street. So in addition to all the regular stuff, imagine throwing an explosive can of gasoline at a bad guy and having it explode in his face.

Aside from these makeshift weapons, we have 42 other “real” weapons. Some are very standard and some are exotic and completely fictional. There’s everything from standard melee weapons like knives and swords to improvised weapons. There are pistols, shotguns, rifles, SMG’s, heavy weapons, futuristic weapon prototypes, explosives, mounted weapons, drones, surveillance, and everyone will have at least a couple favorites.

14. Are you planning on any kind of ballistics? Or is it wherever you aim you hit?

We have some very cool ballistics models in the game but I really am not the best person to explain this. I know that you cannot shoot through walls, but you can shoot through cardboard boxes. We have weapon inaccuracies, and drifting, and recoil kick, and all that stuff. We have arcing projectiles, and interesting physics models that affect things that are thrown like grenades. Explosions from grenades and detpacks not only provide realistic splash damage, they affect the physics objects around them so things go flying all over the place, including body parts.

15. Are you planning to add vehicles that players can drive in?

No, this isn’t really that kind of game, and adding vehicles would have made them appear to just be an afterthought, which is contrary to what we do here. We wanted to evolve the hell out of the shooter, and this is pretty much everything we’ve ever wanted from the genre without adding such huge or drastically unrelated mechanisms. Devastation is a pure shooter, with 100% of its energy going into making it the most evolved TEAM-CENTRIC shooter of it’s kind.

16. How large will the maps be? Is it of the small corridor kind, wide open cities kind or a mix of both?

It’s a mix of both, with huge outdoor maps that have indoor areas and passages, connecting corridors, and again, lots of outdoors. This is one of the first wave of games to truly use hardware T&L, so expect to see some huge amounts of polygons in massive levels like UT2K3. There are on average 40,000 to 50,000 world polys visible at any given time, per scene, not including the particle effects and atmospherics. Thanks to T&L, entire map polygon counts, the entire map all at once, are on average of 150,000 polys, so you can get an idea of the size and detail of the environments we have created.

17. Multiplayer is a big thing these days. What option are you going to incorporate into multiplayer? What type of games? Any chance of a co-op mode?

The game has a full-featured in-game browser and server tools with lots of options on running the game. There are 4 gametypes: DM, TDM, CTF and Territories, 30+ weapons in MP, and there are fifty different players to choose from. 14 maps will ship with the game.

Let me give you some details about our brand new game style called Territories. The set up is you have two bases, yours and your enemy’s, and inside each base is a destructible spawn point. You and your team will need to coordinate attacks on the enemy base, and its defenses. In order to get into the enemy base, you’ll have to hack your way into their mainframe and get their security codes, relay the information to your team and bring down your enemy’s defenses. Of course, the enemy team will be trying to do the same thing to your base ;) Once you have infiltrated the opposing team’s base, you’ll be able to destroy their Spawner, which will prevent them from returning to the world once they die. With the spawn point destroyed, your team will then hunt down the remaining members of their team and exterminate them all to win the scenario. However, if they survive and manage to destroy your team’s Spawner, the game becomes a Last Man Standing type scenario. It can get quite intense, and smart, strategic teams will do well. Territories is a lot of fun, and we can’t wait to see how the community receives it.

Co-op would have been a great feature I admit, but unfortunately this is not something that was planned from the beginning. It is definitely something that an enterprising mod team might want to try to tackle, and I sincerely hope that someone reads this and gives it some thought. One good thing is that some of the multiplayer maps are similar in concept and theme to the maps and scenarios in the singleplayer adventure, and there is a very similar feel to some of the later missions and what you’ll be doing in multiplayer, so even though it’s not the real thing, that is the next best thing to having co-op.

18. How immersive will the sound be? Or will it be your regular run and gun sound effects?

We have a very nice and well-recorded library for the game. So many weapons use unique and interesting sounds, but some use pretty much the standards from what you’d expect. The environmental sounds are awesome; as are the explosions, and if you have a subwoofer you are going to rattle the house beams.

19. You have stated that practically everything will be able to be manipulated or destroyed. What will “not” be able to be destroyed?

You can’t dig holes into the ground or in walls like in Red Faction. As for everything else that cannot be done, well you can’t uproot trees, you can’t knock over certain items like trees, oh and bus benches- they are heavy and you can’t really knock those over either. You get the idea, if you can’t do it in real life then it’s not really possible in the game.

Using items is a whole other aspect of the game that not only works for makeshift weapons but for other elements too. You can turn everyday things on like sinks, showers, soda machines, gas pipes, fire hydrants, toilets, all kinds of stuff like that. You can mess with gadgets, telephones, computers, lab equipment, and microscopes to name a few. You can shoot through cardboard and soft things like that, but not walls. You can blow up some fences and walls, and cut through some chained barriers and barricades. You can hack into, and sabotage computer systems too, which is one of the things I like to do the most.

20. What is the current state of Devastation? When will it ship?

We are in the final stages of testing and QA. Programmers are mostly fixing bugs at this point. Everyone else is polishing and balancing. I’d keep an eye on sites like Gone Gold, Gamestop or EB Games for the current shipping date—they are usually pretty accurate.

21. Are we going to see a demo or some sort of multiplayer test prior to the game appearing on store shelves?

Yes, a multiplayer demo will be released prior to the game appearing in stores.

22. Are you planning any mission/map packs or a sequel at this point?

Possibly. We’re still not sure on this one.

23. Is there anything you would have liked to have seen in Devastation but in reality won’t make it? Some examples please …

Yes, I wanted to see more attention spent on some of the secrets in the game. It’s my opinion that you can never have enough secrets. Then again, I also wanted cockroaches and packs of rabid dogs roaming the streets. Right now all we have are rats, and even though they are a lot of fun, they are not wild dogs. I suppose I should be happy that we have marine life- all kinds of fish, and lobsters and crabs, and of course great white sharks. Still, they are not the same as rabid dogs.

24. Finally, is there anything you would like to say to the gamers out there that are obviously waiting for this title to be released?

Yes, if you want to learn more about the game please check out the official site and post in the forums. WE READ THESE! And some of the suggestions made by the posters have actually made it into the game- IMAGINE THAT!


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