E3 2000 - 'Voyager: Elite Force' - Rob Gee InterviewBy Jeff 'Koganuts' Koga
Posted at July 7, 2000 - 10:52 PM GMT
RG - "Rob Gee."
TN - "And what is your position?"
RG - "I'm an animator and a character modeler."
TN - "Did you get to work on any of the main characters at all in terms of character modeling?"
RG - "Yeah. All of the male crewmember models share the same body. And there's three different level of details for each one of them, so we can have a multiple... like maybe a dozen on-screen at once and not really hurt the engine at all. And we do the same thing for the female crewmembers where they share the same female model, except for Seven. And I got to model her highest level of detailed bodies. And Les Dorscheid, our art director, did all the heads. And then we had a lot of tweaking here and there in the resolutions of skins, to get the right kind of profiles, and the right kinds of face features."
TN - "Did you model any of these characters after yourself?"
RG - "Yeah, actually, there are a couple of heads that sport Raven likenesses. I'm in the game. There are a couple of [Raven] people in the game [who are] support characters."
TN - "Is [Project Leader/Director] Brian Pelletier in the game as well?"
RG - "Brian Pelletier is in the game. Let me show him to you."
TN - "I was impressed by the in-game cinematics too."
RG - "That was done by Create, the studio in Russia, and they did a lot of work on 'Heretic II.' So we liked them a lot and you can see the quality is just gorgeous."
TN - "Are there any Easter eggs that you guys threw in?"
RG - "No comment."
RG - "And then, of course, we have a lot of new creatures. But we have the typical ones, like the Borg, Malon, Klingons, [and] Hirogen. And then we have some new ones that we made and Paramount loved so we're really happy with that, because we weren't sure what they would respond to. And all the aliens we've come up with so far, they've really enjoyed. And that was one of the best parts for me because I really got to express this new personality of monsters."
TN - "Do you know how long it took for all the dialogue to get recorded? I mean, did it take a couple of weeks?"
RG - "It took a long period of time, the schedule was interspersed over a few weeks. Laird Malamed did a lot of work with the casting director. All I know for sure is that there's over 700 pages of dialogue that was recorded, and there [are] 50-plus cut scenes in the game that use those voices, so I'm sure it took a long time. And a lot of the actors came in from the show and nailed their lines on the first try, so we had their whole commitment behind us and it was really nice."
RG - "I'm going to find Pelletier's head here for you. No promises though."
RG - "This is B'Elanna's voice."
TN - "Did you work on her as well?"
RG - "Yes."
TN - "Did any of the actors get to see their game likenesses at all?"
RG - "In fact, yeah. When we first started working on the game, the first guy we modeled was Tim Russ, because [Tuvok] is very important to the story, [since] he's in charge of the Hazard team. So we worked real hard with making [him] look good. And he had never seen a 3D model game, like a first-person shooter before, and he was very impressed. He was like, 'Oh, it's me, you know?!' Now, of course, we have his voice, it's really weird, because we're so intimate with the models, but then meeting the real-life actors, it's very surreal."
TN - "Are you a 'Star Trek' fan at all?"
RG - "Yeah. More 'The Original Series' because I love '[Star Trek II: The] Wrath of Khan' so much."
TN - "Oh, absolutely."
TN - "You mentioned Tim Russ. Did any of the other actors come in and see themselves on-screen?"
RG - "Yes. As I understand it pretty much everybody had to approve their characters as part of their contract. Kate Mulgrew saw her character and asked us to fix a few things. And I'm not sure about Robert Duncan [McNeill], if he saw [his likeness] or not. But I know that Tim Russ did and I know that Kate Mulgrew did. Everybody else I'm not too sure on."
TN - "So I know Kate Mulgrew is going will be here tomorrow. Is she going to be signing or just making an appearance?"
RG - "I'm not sure. I believe she's going to be signing for awhile. Obviously we're going to get to meet her and talk to her a little bit about ['Elite Force' and] demo the game for her because she hasn't seen it in quite awhile."
TN - "Oh, okay."
RG - "Yeah. Looking forward to that because it really is four episodes in one game and we're looking forward to really showing her that. If you're going to emulate 'Star Trek,' I think you really have to emulate an actual episode. So we've done that and I'm really happy with it."
TN - "Well, yeah, if you're going to have 'Captain Janeway' here tomorrow you'll hopefully get her 'seal of approval.' That'll be cool."
RG - "Yeah."
RG - "What else can I show you?"
TN - "Well I've seen scenes inside the Borg cube, Voyager, and the Etherian ship. Is there a Klingon level that you can show me?"
RG - "Yeah. I'll show that to you."
TN - "What is the release date?"
RG - "Summertime. I not sure exactly when it's going to be released. No comment. We have some PR people you might want to talk to who can give you a much better picture than I can. But as far as I know it's going to be a summer release."
TN - "And Macintosh support is an iffy issue, with a 'No comment' response, correct?"
RG - "Yeah, pretty much. Jake Simpson is a programmer [who has] a Holo-match Deathmatch working on Macs. So he announced it on his finger [.plan] so it's common knowledge. But as far as single player I'm not really sure what's going on there. And I literally just keep my nose to the grindstone and work on the animation."
RG - "This is a good mission because [you're] doing one task, you have Telsia, who's your best friend, [who] has another task to take care of, and you have a named Godell[sp?] who has a third task. So you get a lot of radio contact between the three of them updating each other on the status of what they're doing. And you come aboard this amalgam of different ships. There's a Klingon Bird of Prey part, there's what appears to be a classic Federation ship part, [and] some Malon cruiser parts. And they're all working together, as a hodge-podge group of survivors. We call them 'The Scavengers.' And they've [gone] aboard Voyager and [taken] some stuff you need, [and they have] a great power source called 'Isodesium,' which you have to go to [their ship] and get, to help [replenish] Voyager's energy supply. So it's basically a stealth mission. With all the noise [around the 'Elite Force' booth] obviously we're not going to get that effect here but I'll be real careful not to wake anybody up, because if [the Klingon sleeping in a captain's chair on a Klingon bridge] wakes up, [and] sounds the alert -- if you mess up, [and] make a lot of noise in this level -- you're endangering your other two teammates. So it depends on how you play the level and how efficiently you do it..."
TN - "So there's a level of branching that's going on."
RG - "Oh yeah. If I go through with guns blazing, I will finish the level if I'm skilled enough, but someone might die. [If you pursue that course of action you can] always guarantee one of your characters will die and then that'll complicate the mission. And you won't get a good rating either, because you're always being rated on your performance."
RG - "So hopefully true 'Trek' fans will like this."
TN - "Well I think they will. And I think the casual gamer will like this game as well."
RG - "Right, because they do want to branch out with this title and really hopefully garner some interest in 'Trek' in general because we get a lot of message board feedback, positive and negative about 'Voyager,' and I don't think people really give 'Voyager' a chance. I think it's a great series. There's a few bad episodes here and there, but that doesn't mean they're bad for everybody."
TN - "I like that effect right there."
RG - "Yeah, this level shows off quite a bit of stuff for 'Quake III' if you're into 'Quake III.'"
RG - "He's in a patrol. Okay, I'm just going to kill him."
TN - "So you do have a sniper mode."
RG - "Yeah."
[Alien dies in agony, and the disintegrating effect is similar to a phaser set to kill as seen in 'The Wrath of Khan'...]
TN - "That was really nice too."
RG - "That's a welcome addition. That came late in the project. We knew we were going to do it. We just didn't know when."
TN - "It's more reminiscent of the feature films, like 'The Wrath of Khan.'"
RG - "That's actually where that sound effect comes from, because Paramount gave us full access to all their video library and their audio library to pull from. It's really nice to have all that."
[Transporter effect, complete with the visual and sound effects...]
RG - "Okay here we've got some Klingons having dinner [and] talking. You've got to sneak around and not get busted."
TN - "How long has the game been in beta-testing?"
RG - "It's been in beta mode... I don't know! I don't know how to answer that one. I'm not sure."
RG - "Every ship that we have so far we try to have... a generic power source... and so they're on these ships. We also have a health generator which is typical for games [to] keep you healthy."
TN - "Oh, nice! What kind of weapon is that?"
RG - "This is a Scavenger rifle. All the Scavengers -- which are, like I said before, Hirogen, Malon, some humans, and some Klingons -- have over the course of their stay here, gathered all these pieces together and created their own kind of weapons supply."
TN - "How many different weapons do you have in this game?"
RG - "We have nine weapons, all of which [have] alt-fire. Let me show them to you here."
RG - "First off, [the] basic phaser. You have your typical beam. You also have an alt-fire, which is much more intense, goes through the weapon's supply faster, [and] it's a broader beam. Then we have [the] standard phaser [rifle, and] alt-fire [uses] the scope. [Its fire] totally disrupts everybody, [and] disintegrates them. [Then we have] the traditional I-Mod that Seven of Nine made for us. That's the Borg-killer. Two shots of this is equivalent to one [alt-fire] shot there. If you're trying to spare your ammo you might just be using this real carefully [so you don't] waste ammo. Then we have [the] Scavenger rifle, [and] like [mentioned] before it's kind of a hodge-podge. It looks thrown-together. It's like [a] basic machine gun as well as an energy grenade launcher. Then we have... this is from the stasis ship. It's basically a living weapon. [Its] regular fire [has] the equivalent [of] a wide spread that's along the horizontal plane. Alt-fire is almost like the sniper rifle, but it's much wider. Then we [have a] newly-designed Federation grenade launcher. You can get a couple [of grenades] off at a time. It's a really good defensive weapon. The alt-fire for this is a proximity mine, which is also timed. That way, you can... just backpedal and drop it. You also have... a tetryon disperser. You get this from a Hirogen. This is... like a super-rapid-fire machine gun with energy pellets. You can spray a large area. The alt-fire... is very dangerous and very efficient. It basically rebounds up a trajectory coming in all around the area. So if there is somebody hard to get, I can get him that way. This is basically a mini-photon gun... called a quantum burst. With these, in any Quake match, you go, 'Oh, that's the rocket launcher.' But with alt-fire, those actually home in on you. If there's an enemy target there and I shoot, and he moves, they'll careen towards him. And the last weapon is the arc-welder which you get on the Dreadnaught levels."
TN - "Sounds like that's towards the end of the game."
RG - RG - "Yeah, it's near the end, more the halfway mark, but it's very useful. That's the regular mode [of] fire, which does an immense amount of damage, but you have to keep it on somebody. So it's difficult to use that way but the payoff is worth it once you get used to it. And the alt-fire is more like a bolt. So pretty much every alt-fire for every weapon is much more condensed, much more powerful, and costly in your ammunition. So that's about it for the weapons."
Special thanks to Rob Gee for the interview!
Read our other two 'Voyager: Elite Force' articles:
Jeff 'Koganuts' Koga is a regular contributor to the Trek Nation, as well as webmaster of unofficial fan sites for John Woo, Chow Yun-Fat, and Garrett Wang.
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