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By JCal - 8·1·2000

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DarkNova continues his unofficial AOL-CPL Coverage in Part 2, found only at Stomped.


Alright folks, put on your super-hero capes, don your wacky-assed spandex super-hero costume, and head to the top floor of the skyscrapers folks! In Gotham, a city-based map by dur, you get to fight it out in the city and leap over tall building! Check it out!



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Interview with Craig Hubbard and Bill Vandervoort

July 21, 2000
By John Callaham

For Stomped's final installment in our series of interviews with the No One Lives Forever development team, we speak with not one but two Monolith team members, lead level designer Bill Vandervoort and game design leader Craig Hubbard, with a small guess appearance from Monolith PR head Dan Miller.

Bill Vandervoot

Stomped: Even though No One Lives Forever is an original game, you must get inspiration from others sources to create the levels. What references have you and the level design team used to help create the settings in the game?

Vandervoot: A lot of the reference material used by the artists and level designers comes from 60's spy flicks. There are some obvious choices we made when determining what movies we wanted to use as inspiration, but we found out that there's a lot of stuff from that era that's either been forgotten or lives on only in cult status... kitschy material that was perfect for what we wanted to achieve. The game's not all light-hearted though, there are many scenes that are actually very dramatic. In that sense we tried to create the kind of drama you'd find in a 60's spy flick... exotic locations, heroic conflict between the good guys and the bad guys, plots of world domination, psychedelic seediness, and sometimes even the oppressive overtones of the cold war. For all of these concepts, there's plenty of reference out there in the way of photos, movies and books.

Stomped: What kinds of settings will the player find themselves in when they play the single player adventure and how many levels will there be in total?

Vandervoot: You're looking at around forty to fifty individual levels spread across fifteen to twenty missions. each mission takes place in a different location... the slums of Marrakech, the holds of a sunken freighter, a tropical island, and the snowy alps to name a few. there are, of course, more than a few surprises along the way.

Stomped: Since NOLF will be the first game released to use the LithTech 2.5 engine, can we expect to see vast open areas and other level design features that have been demonstrated in the demos for the engine?

Vandervoot: Definitely.

Stomped: What are the features of the LithTech level editor and how does it compare to other level editors such as UnrealEd, QERadiant, and Worldcraft?

Vandervoot: The LithTech editor easily stacks up to the editors in question. geometry creation and manipulation is simple but flexible, allowing us to rapidly create the shapes, angles and curves we want. Lighting can be viewed in the editor, so we don't need to start up the engine to get a sense for how the lighting's turning out. There are a number of handy features that let us optimize the levels, and the processor which actually creates the bsp and performs the vis is the fastest it's ever been. The editor has a node tree view which lets us keep the geometry and objects really organized, which is a must when you have a bunch of designers, artists and sound engineers passing the levels around. There's also the terrain system, which lets us handle those big outdoor areas and indoor locations simultaneously and seamlessly. there's likely a bunch more I'm forgetting... stuff that's taken for granted! Over the past few years the editor has been continually tweaked and refined to make the process of level design as quick and easy as possible, not just for designers but for anyone involved in the creation and placement of content.

Stomped: Any plans to release the LithTech level editor in the box or after the release of NOLF with documentation?

Dan Miller: This will be up to our publisher, Fox Interactive.

Stomped: What is your personal favorite moment in the game?

Vandervoot: "Please be full of hay! Please be full of hay!" You'll have to play the game to get the context of that line for yourself... ;)

Craig Hubbard

Stomped: What is the current status of completion No One Lives Forever and how much work is still involved for completion of the game?

Hubbard: We're wrapping up the remaining items on our feature list, balancing gameplay, tweaking artwork and animations, fixing bugs, hooking up all the dialogue, adding secrets and rewards, and polishing everything as much as possible. The game is completely playable, minus the cinematics.

Stomped: The game has changed quite a bit when it was first announced at E3 1999, not the least of which is a change of gender for the main character. What was the reason from changing the character from male to female?

Hubbard: Everybody was confusing NOLF for a James Bond game, which was not what we wanted at all. Changing the protagonist to a woman not only separated us from Bond, it also presented more interesting dramatic possibilities. It seemed likely that a female operative in the '60s would have endured a great deal of scrutiny and even outright hostility from the good old boys who'd inherited the world's secret services after WWII. I liked the idea of a competent hero pitted not only against over-the-top villains, but also against the constant second guessing of her own agency.

Art direction was also an important factor. Frankly, it’s tough designing a ‘60s-era male spy who doesn’t look like a lot of other ‘60s-era male spies, as they all tend to favor similar clothes and hairstyles. Women’s fashion is significantly more diverse. Likewise, our list of gadgets got a lot more visually interesting when we switched to a female lead.

Stomped: Being a game where you are a super-spy conjures all sorts of ideas in people's heads based mostly on movies. What kinds of elements are you taking from that film genre?

Hubbard: Well, the game is essentially an attempt to make players feel like the hero of a ‘60s spy movie. The situations, villains, weapons, gadgets, story, dialogue, and scope are inspired by sources as diverse as Our Man Flint, various Bond films, Where Eagles Dare, Charade, The Avengers, Man From U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible, Get Smart, Danger Diabolik, Modesty Blaise, and countless other shows, films, and novels from the era, as well as numerous historical references. That said, we’ve certainly attempted to give NOLF a personality of its own by tweaking the cliches rather than merely rehashing them.

Like any game, NOLF requires you to overcome various obstacles in order to achieve your objectives. We tailored these obstacles to the spy/commando genre--things like security cameras, guard dogs, mines, alarm systems, and, of course, lots of bad guys. Basically, we relied on the sorts of nuisances heroes invariably contend with in spy stories and came up with a list of suitable weapons and gadgets with which to meet these challenges.

In general, you can overcome obstacles in multiple ways, but you have to be prepared to deal with the consequences. For example, if you come across a security camera, you can either avoid it or shoot it out. Avoiding it requires patience and maybe even a little luck, especially if enemies are patrolling the area. If you shoot a camera, though, your gunshots are likely to bring bad guys running. Likewise, an alarm will probably sound as soon as the camera goes out. At the very least, guards will come to investigate. Later in the game, you’ll have access to gadgets that neutralize cameras without arousing suspicion.

Stomped: What is the plot of the single player game in NOLF?

Hubbard: I don’t want to give away any surprises. I’d like to think that part of the fun will come from unraveling the story. I’ll just say that it’s appropriately convoluted--and while it’s not a spoof like Austin Powers, it’ s definitely laced with levity.

Stomped: What kinds of multiplayer modes can players expect in the game?

Hubbard: Our focus is on team-based, Good Guys vs. Bad Guys gameplay. Each team will have objectives to complete and obstacles to overcome. Many of the elements of the singleplayer game, such as the gadgets, security cameras, and so on, will factor in. There will also be standard deathmatch, of course.

Stomped: Any plans for additional content to be released on the net following the release of the game (new levels, character models, etc.)?

Hubbard: It’s hard to say at this point. We’re just concentrating on completing the game.

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