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Interview With 'X10' Project Leader

by Rainier on July 25, 2002 @ 7:13 p.m. PDT

Today we snuck up on Hal Sandbach Project Leader over at Warthog in charge of their recently announced X10 title. X10 is a first person shooter for PC, Xbox, GameCube and PlayStation2. X10 places a gamer as a soldier, who, under strict instructions, must explore the world of X10 and tackle anything the environment throws at them, including political intrigue, military factions and deadly predators. Included are 6 early screens...

What is x10?

x10 is an action-orientated first-person game with the player struggling to survive in a hostile environment. Featuring revolutionary ecosystem emulation, it takes the FPS into a new and exciting direction. The player will have to fight against indigenous creatures, marines and special forces, the Hollow and hostile settlers, in addition to the elements and fatigue. Set for the most part in sumptuous outdoor environments, everything is tailored to the player's sense of immersion without being bogged down in boring simulation.

What does x10 mean?

Without giving too much away, the player and the rest of their squad are sent to investigate why there is a lack of communications from a particular research station. Twelve such research stations exist, although the player only gets to see one. The one the player is sent to is the tenth, hence x10.

Halo has become the console FPS benchmark, what sets x10 apart from this game?

Like practically everyone else, we've looked at Halo quite a bit. However we're not setting out to be just "another Halo". Indeed, by the time we release x10, I expect Halo2 to have been on the shelves for at least a couple of months. Basically, x10 is going to be less linear than Halo - the player is going to be travelling all over the place. Another difference is that in Halo, the player knew they were a super-soldier, with better abilities than the rank and file troops. x10 places the player as one of the rank and file - they cannot rely on just being bigger, faster and stronger to overcome the tasks ahead. That's where the survival aspect comes into it - the player will have to use their head quite a bit. Although it's not that x10 is going to be slow and boring, far from it! I suppose the biggest difference is that although Halo had some external levels, the player was still quite contained. Our technology allows us to have large, and by that I mean huge, exterior environments that the player can travel freely over.

What can you tell us about the storyline for the game?

It's futuristic, set on the surface of another planet. The player is a soldier and has to cope with a number of interesting situations. Essentially the plot revolves around a dispute between various factions, but there are several "layers" and different points of view that the player will have to uncover. We have hired a professional writer to write the script, the dialogue - all that sort of thing. We want to get a really polished feel to the game to give the player the most immersive, exciting and interesting experience possible.

What kind of environments will people discover in x10?

We have developed an excellent engine that enables us to create a large, vivid world. With that in mind we will be taking the player across the surface of the planet, incorporating cold, harsh environments down to more lush areas as well as others in-between. The vast majority of the game is set outside. This was a deliberate decision we took early on - we want to get away from the corridor-based games as much as we can. Some elements of the game do involve the player entering massive buildings, but even then we want to make them original and striking.

Tell us a bit more about the weapons, items and random stuff?

Lots. There are some staple favourites - things like a sniper rifle are expected these days. We're not so naive as to believe that just because we want to take the game in a new direction that we have to ignore everything that people like and enjoy. Having said that, we do have some really cool weapons - ones that can give the player more alternatives with regards to how they approach various tasks in the game. The same goes for the items the player can find. Some items may initially appear pretty useless but later on they can really give the player an edge. This comes back to the player's choices - they won't be able to carry everything at once so there will be a constant decision-making process going on. A lot of this may be fairly basic, such as "I know I'll want some way to replenish my health, so I'll take this with me" so the player may not even realise they are making these important decisions. But some items will stand out as being important or different, but their function or use is not immediately apparent.

Will there be different vehicles in the game? If so, can you give us some idea as to what?

Oh yes, we have vehicles. In fact, the player starts the game in a vehicle. The player will be able to drive various buggies, boats and so on. Not all the vehicles are under the player's direct control - things like trains obviously have a set route. And yes, the player will be able to pilot a flying vehicle. We're planning on using a complex physics engine for the vehicles - full suspension feedback and so on. We're able to do this by re-using the physics modules from games that were developed in-house, with the suitable adjustments of course.

What kind of creatures will the players encounter?

That's really the crux of the game, so I'm not going to tell you much. What I can say is that we've got various human factions, a heck of a lot of alien creatures and some other nasties thrown in for good measure. A nice mixture of things that would like to have the player for breakfast. Some will prove useful to the player too - it's up to the player to figure out which ones are useful and which ones are best avoided.

Are you developing your own engine for the game or are you licensing the engine?

We have excellent in-house technology at Warthog. We are using the "TUSK" engine, which is constantly being developed. TUSK engine allows for relatively pain-free cross-platform development, so we can play to each platform's strengths. The core game will remain the same because our philosophy is that just because one person has an Xbox and another has a PS2, the gameplay should be as similar as possible if they both buy the same title.

Will the game have multiplayer modes?

We do plan to have multiplayer. For PC we will go for Internet and LAN games, but we'll probably stick to split screen for the consoles. We talked for a long time about a cooperative multiplayer mode, but the way we're using the technology prohibits that unfortunately.

Finally, is there anything else you wish to say about x10 at this point?

The genre is a bit staid at the moment, with notable exceptions like Deus Ex, Halo, and Mace Griffin Bounty Hunter. It's too easy to make a game that looks fantastic but offers little new to the player. I expect x10 will stretch the player. There is obviously the instant enjoyment of action; but the plot, the characters, the actions the player will have to perform, the strategies they will have to formulate and so on will add more depth to the game. We want x10 to be talked about after being played, rather than being played and forgotten.

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