About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.

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'Painkiller: Battle out of Hell' - Developer Interview

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on Nov. 2, 2004 @ 1:25 a.m. PST

Picking up right where the game’s story left off, Battle out of Hell includes an additional single-player chapter with 10 levels, as well as new multiplayer modes, maps and models. Last week, we participated in an IRC chat with People Can Fly's project leader and Dreamcatcher's marketing manager. Read more to check out the chat transcript ...

<Treed> Hey everyone! Thanks for coming to the chat. Adrian, Project Leader from People Can Fly is here, as is Brian Gladman, Product Manager. Andrew should be joining us shortly, but let's get started.

<bglad[DC]> So, let's start the first question by Andrew from Filefront.

<FileFront|AndrewD> Thanks very much. Glad that you could be here tonight. Here is a question for you: We all saw the outstanding physics in Painkiller. Will this show through in the expansion pack, and if so, have there been any improvements made to the existing physics?

<PCFAdrian> Now that the physics become a normal expected thing in games, what's needed is creative use of such a tool. I do believe we did come up with a trick or two in BooH, things that are not a rehash of PK ideas. An example is, a zombie falls down from the roof of a very tall building and SPLAT, but because it's, you know, a really evil magical zombie, all his body parts come back together after a while and he's back in business. It's all based on real-time calculations, physical simulation - not prerendered animation.

<FileFront|AndrewD> Since adding the additional shaders and such into the newest patch, does the expansion pack have any levels or settings that take advantage of these new graphic capibilities?

<PCFAdrian> Yes, we had to redesign the main menu because we've added a couple of new graphics options. Actually, all BooH levels use new stuff, e.g., new water, reflective glass, specular maps, etc. To clear up this issue, patch 1.35 has no new effects. That latest Military Base demo had some, but the effects will be seen in their full glory only in BooH.

<bglad[DC]>Cool... thanks, Andrew. GamersHell/Kurt?

<TheVirus-GamersHell> Thanks. With the arrival of Doom3 and the imminent release of HL2, how do you feel you will do in comparison? Do you think you will fare well in sales, keep your fan base, etc.?

<PCFAdrian> I don't think we're able to compare in sales, not with behemoths like D3 and especially HL2, I am not deluded. It's clear to me these games will sell a lot better than PK.

<bglad[DC]> That's absolutely true... there's no way we could match the hype of those monster games with years of franchise experience.

<PCFAdrian> The thing is, it's really hard to compare PK to anything because basically there are no other arcade action shooters on the market. We have tactical FPS, stealth FPS, etc., but after Serious Sam, there was only PK, and after PK, it seems it'll be SS2. As for the fan base, after half a year after the game was released, it's still very strong - our forums are the best proof - and I am still amazed by the fans' support. I think they are here to stay no matter what other games are out there. But, you know, it's not like you cannot worship two or three or a dozen games at ocne - and if HL2 is all it seems to be, then I hope every PK player will play it and have a great time. I haven't played HL2 yet, of course, so I cannot compare the gameplay and general quality.

<TheVirus-GamersHell> Have you established any new marketing techniques you plan to use, how will you be advertising the game, the standard routines?

<bglad[DC]> We've done a lot of the traditional marketing stuff (online ads, magazine ads), and our partnership with the CPL is pretty key.

<TheVirus-GamersHell> Thank you :)

<bglad[DC]> Next up is Anthony from WorthPlaying

<OUberLord> Thank you :) My first question is: One of the bigger complaints with Painkiller was with the multiplayer experience, which patches helped fix but complaints are still heard here and there. Has the multiplayer aspect undergone any upgrades for BooH?

<bglad[DC]> PCFAdrian will have a great answer for that question when he gets back, but I can tell you a couple things. (1) Due to demand, there is going to be a CTF mode, (2) we are hoping to squeeze at least two new MP DM maps as well, and (3) the PCF guys are currenltly working on some voodoo to make latency even less of an issue. I mean, right now, it's totally a non-issue on LAN, and on regional servers, it's not much of an issue either. I understand that for competitive play, we've got to be as tight as possible

<PCFAdrian> The code is completely new now. It's not updated, it's not upgraded - it's a brand new multiplayer code. It's so good, that I wanna run around naked screaming it owz0rz, but some more rational people asking not to get anyone's hopes too high. ;) So, as I try to play it casual, let me just say I only expect good things from the new MP code. I really hope it'll be it. I am not saying this new MP code is the second coming, butit is completely new code, and we all worked hard to make sure all complaints are addressed and fixed.

<OUberLord> Just one more; Are there any particular reasons as to why a BooH demo hasn't yet been announced/planned?

<PCFAdrian> On our side (PCF) the only reason is that we simply do not have the time to make one. We'd love to release the demo anytime, we have so much to show - but we are on a deadline for BooH GM and just don't have the time.

<bglad[DC]> We've already released about 4 or 5 levels via demo so if you haven't had the chance to figure out if you like the game yet .... Next up is Louis from GameZone.

<CasaDeJoey> From where do you draw your inspiration? You made comparisons to Doom and Half-Life regarding sales figures, but Painkiller is much different from those games. Did any outside source (things other than video games) help to inspire the game at all?

<PCFAdrian> There's almost no thing that does not inspire us. Michal (our lead animator) and I are fans of Asian horror, which is so different from Western horror that it really helps jumpstart our creativity engines. I could name thousand thing that inspire us, but in general, I think what really helps us make a better game is something I call the Japanese school of design. To me, it's simple: they make the best games, games we play to death for inspiration and fun.

<CasaDeJoey> Which games in particular served as inspiration for Painkiller? Also, a lot of Asian horror flicks are being turned into Western horror flicks. Ever thought about turning an Asian horror flick into a game?

<PCFAdrian> Ok, in order you asked: 1. Silent Hill series, Devil May Cry, Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy and dozens of other Japanese videogames that understand what it means and how to sacrifice reality for playability and fun. 2. Yes. No idea how to do that. We need more enemies that one long-haired girl with black eyes. Seriously though, the thing is that there's not much action in Asian horror, which is why they are so different. So it's hard to make the game out of that.

<CasaDeJoey> How does developing an expansion pack compare to developing an entire game? Is it any less stressful or less time-consuming?

<PCFAdrian> One may think it's "less stressful or less time-consuming," but that's only if you are not as devoted to quality as we are. It's exactly as stressful (we set the bar high for ourselves) and time-consuming as it gets (hey, I am here at work at 3.30 am). We put a lot of work into BooH. For example, some levels are twice as big as the biggest PK levels, and being experienced with the engine and its capabilities, we squeezed every last ounce of power out of it. Plus, we have added tons of new stuff. We also had around 50 different monsters in 24 levels of PK, but now we have nearly 40 different kinds of monsters in 10 levels of BooH. ;)

<bglad[DC]> Sorry, Richard. ;-) You're up!

<PCGameworld> Our readers would like to know, what is the 'coolest' new feature in your opinion, be it a weapon, map design, technology or something else, that owners of the original will notice and go "Wow that's really innovative!" ? Also, will the game come on a DVD, or CDs, and if so, how many CDs?

<PCFAdrian> I think it'll be 2 CDs. Let me elaborate a bit on those 2 other questions... 1. I think the best thing about BooH are the new monsters. We went all the way and created some really, I mean really weird enemies. I think people will have a lot of fun dismembering these. Of course we have new visual effects, new maps, new weapons, etc., but monsters own. Plus I kinda like the sniper rifle, apparently I am getting old (I said there never would be such a camper-friendly weapon in PK - but we felt we need that for BooH). 2. Having said that, "Wow that's really innovative!" is not something we necessarily aim for. I think we have bucketloads of innovative stuff in PK, but our main goal was always to make sure the players have fun, not to admire our creativity ... though that's always nice. ;)

<bglad[DC]> So, ActionTrip... who do we have here?

<SmapActionTrip> Thank you. The coolest thing for me when I first played that Painkiller beta build so long ago was how you had two weapons in one gun. I was death with feet with that rocket launcher-minigun. What spawned that idea?

<PCFAdrian> We thought of that because we believe PC games are overcomplicated and forcing players to remember 243 different keys for the game is evil. We tried to find the way for a quick weapon change in multiplayer, and we came up with this simple idea of having 5x2 (5 keys) weapons instead of 10x1 (10 keys). But... it's not that simple. We were also trying to figure out the most spectacular ways to kill your enemies, and we recalled our Quakeworld experience, when you threw your enemy up in the air with a Rocket Launcher and finished him with Lighting Gun. That's how the combo idea was born. There's more to it, but I don't want to bore you. Generally, I think it's an interesting question because it exemplifies our attention to detail and the fact there is nearly nothing that is in PK without reason. We spent many hours discussing even the smallest gameplay features, and we don't put things in the game "just" because they are cool - they need to support the gameplay too.

<bglad[DC]> I think that covers everyone. Did you guys have any follow ups?

<TheVirus-GamersHell> Is Dreamcatcher going to expand to Canada? Production houses and such.

<bglad[DC]> That's not really a PK question for Adrian, and not really one I can answer. Our office is already in Toronto. Andrew, did you have a followup?

<FileFront|AndrewD> First, I want to say thank you for being here tonight. It's an honor being able to ask you these questions. Here is my follow up: How can game developers create games that convey feeling and story to better envolve the player in the game world? If possible, could you give an example of such a concept that may be found in your latest expansion pack?

<PCFAdrian> The hot topic of the day is "emotional engagement." Visit any developers' convention, and you will see all they talk about is that. There is a reason why games like Mario have stories. One may think they don't need that, being pure arcade and all, but it makes a difference whether you're jumping on mushrooms just because, or because you need to rescue a princess. We tried that with Painkiller, so people who say PK has no story were apparently not really interested in it in the first place, because that game has a story, and it's really not the worst one in the world. But - and this is a big "but" - in order to make the player immersed, playing a cutscene between the levels no longer cuts it so Painkiller will never succeed in this field. It has great arcade-style gameplay and tons of stuff to make sure you have fun, but it's our good-bye to the world of "abstract" games. IMHO, the next generation of games will have gameplay and storylines interwoven really closely to make sure you're really engaged in the experience.

<bglad[DC]> ... and I'm sure we'll see the example of that on Nov. 16th. ;-)

<PCFAdrian> And I think the best example of that is upcoming HL2 (my opinion is based on reviews only, though).

<SmapActionTrip> How far along are you with Battle out of Hell, and how are the Xbox plans coming along?

<PCFAdrian> We have a solid beta, and we will have GM very soon. As for Xbox, we have most of the engine already ported, and we'll return to that right after BooH's GM.

<bglad[DC]> And with that.... I think we need to let Adrian get some sleep. I know there are a lot of fan questions, but I'm hoping to have another IRC chat with fan questions later, after we put BooH to bed.

<PCFAdrian> Actually, I am not going to sleep - I am getting back to work, finishing ammo placement on Lab level. :-) Cheers everyone, and thanks for the questions, that was fun!

<bglad[DC]> For now, check in on the forums at www.painkillergame.com, lots of great discussion there, and you'll get the early scoop on all the news.
Thanks again everyone... and thanks to Chris and Tara for arranging this. I now return your channel to your normal operation. ;)

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