E3 2000 - 'Voyager: Elite Force' - Steve Elwell InterviewBy Jeff 'Koganuts' Koga
Posted at July 7, 2000 - 10:23 PM GMT
Steve Elwell - "Sure, I'm Steve Elwell, associate producer for Activision and all the Raven stuff, basically."
TN - "And can you tell me a little bit about this game?"
SE - "This is 'Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force.' It's using the 'Quake III' engine, heavily modified by Raven Software, who is just coming off their big hit 'Soldier of Fortune.' So this is their follow-up and the game's looking fantastic. You'll have 30-plus single player levels, plus 10-15 multiplayer levels, with hopefully one type of unique multiplayer game, called 'Assimilation,' where it's Borg against Federation, Borg against Klingon, etc., etc., where if you die they add a bot to their team so their numbers will just keep growing if you keep losing."
SE - "This game has a 700-page script so it's a huge single player game, which is quite a bit different from 'Quake III' in its origins. But the basic story behind it all is that you're on Voyager, you're still in the Delta Quadrant, seven years away from home, when you respond to a distress signal. You respond, and they fire upon you, and you're engulfed in an energy sphere, which takes you to this ship graveyard. And there you try to find your way out, [and] the mysterious force that's holding all these ships here."
SE - "And this is actually the first ship that you visit, [which] is basically alive. It's Etherian. So if you destroy anything, you have these little 'fireflies' that'll come and fix them, which makes for some really clever puzzle stuff later on. You can use them in the puzzles."
SE - "Those are the Etherians. I need more firepower for them. This is the Etherian weapon, the stasis weapon that you actually get on this level a little bit later."
TN - "How much of the game has been completed?"
SE - "We're beta right now. It's basically all complete. We just need to put some polish on it, [and] work on the N.P.C. command system. Because you'll be able to tell your teammates to fall back or stay forward or proceed or whatever. And that's mainly what we're going to be working on."
TN - "Multiplayer is all set then?"
SE - "Multiplayer is basically all set. We need to do the new game type, 'Assimilation,' we need to do a little programming for that, but besides that, it's just polishing this one, and then localizing it for all the other versions and stuff."
TN - "I was here at E3 last year, and this game has obviously progressed quite a bit from where you were before."
SE - "Yeah, well it's a huge game, absolutely. Besides just the 30 levels we have all that dialogue that goes with it. The voiceover was a huge job by itself, so we're really happy with the way it came out though, because with a game with this much dialogue the audio had better be good or the game is just going to be so annoying by the time you're five minutes into it."
TN - "So I was hearing that in terms of voiceovers you have all the cast except Seven of Nine."
SE - "That's true."
TN - "Why couldn't you get Jeri Ryan?"
SE - "She was not available."
TN - "Yeah, I had heard something about that. Anyways, obviously all the sound effects are there."
SE - "Yeah."
TN - "How much of the 'Quake' engine has been modified? What percentage would you say?"
SE - "Just because we have scripted events now basically, I'd say probably a good 40-50% has been modified... Just modifying the save game alone is a huge programming task when you think about what 'Quake III' really needs to save as compared to a game like this. They've also added a skeletal system to the game, which allows this many models to be running around in 1024 and 32-bit with the textures all the way up. So they've modified it quite heavily actually. They're redoing the A.I. too because all this N.P.C.-pathing is new. I mean because there was basically no pathing for 'Quake III.' You had bot logic but not N.P.C.-pathing."
SE - "[The curved surfaces are] an amazing feat right there. It's almost all curved surfaces, [and there] aren't any levels like that in 'Quake III.' You have them here and there but nothing like this where it's tied in."
TN - "How long has the game been in development now?"
SE - "Closing in on two [years], which is not unusual at all for a game this size anymore. That's what it takes, [if not] longer. If you want a AAA title you're going to have to keep it [going], so... and we've made that commitment though, which I'm very happy about... to give this the chance and now we have it."
Special thanks to Steve Elwell 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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