3 Short Interviews
PlanetShogo had interviews with Jason Hall, Kevin Stephens and Mike Dussault about Shogo - Mobile Armor Division. You'll surely find some interesting info on Shogo, as well as some general stuff. Read on!

Interview with Jason Hall
Interview with Kevin Stephens
Interview with Mike Dussault

Interview with Jason Hall, CEO at Monolith Productions, Inc.
1. Although a lot of people know about Shogo now, it might be interesting to hear a bit of the history of
Monolith Software. What were Monolith's beginnings?

This is a huge, huge, huge, "little story" and one day I may write a book about it. But the quick answer to your question is that Monolith was started by myself and 5 friends. We were really into Windows (3.1 - before people thought Windows was good for games) and maxing out what you can do with it graphically. Our efforts eventually led us to work with Microsoft. They gave us our first contract. (The Microsoft contact who ultimately gave us a shot was named Alex St. John...) From there, things grew...

2. Monolith, in a very daring move (and now an arguably quite fortuitous one), decided to take Shogo back from Microsoft after an undisclosed dispute. If it's been long enough, would you care to give a more specific description of what happened?

It hasn't been long enough... :-)

3. Looking at the past 2 years of development on Shogo and LithTech, would you say that you guys achieved the goals you were working towards?

No. We all would have liked to have completed those projects much sooner. I don't know if that was possible, but our goal was to have them done by now. Other than the time it took, I would say that we are hitting the vast majority of our goals in development these days. This has been a major achievement for us. Getting game production into a somewhat controlled
process is not easy by any stretch. One bad decision in this area and you could wind up making very UN-FUN games that are completed on time. Once you lose your ability to make a fun game, I think you are in a very bad situation. The idea is to try to make FUN games that are completed ON TIME and ON BUDGET. It is the Holy Grail of game production I think... The company that masters that process, will have a distinct advantage! Just my opinion...

4. Do you, at this time, have any great plans for the future regarding Shogo, and do you think it's likely that there will be a sequel?

Shogo is a franchise. You can count on more games coming from this universe. Anything from a straight sequel, to a Top-Down Strategy game you can expect to see. Our goal is to constantly grow and extrapolate the Shogo universe in as many ways as possible. We will be announcing new Shogo stuff soon.

5. Can you tell us where (countries/places) and by whom Shogo is going to be published?

Shogo is going to be sold worldwide. There are a few places that we are working on (South America for example) but most areas are covered. I'm not going to list all of the Publishers/Distributors here (as some of them haven't announced yet), but I can at least say that Monolith will be publishing it in North America!

6. From your perspective, being an experienced death match player, how would you compare death match (over the Internet) in Shogo with titles like Quake 2?

The deathmatching in Shogo is much more visceral than Quake 2. There's a lot more body parts flying around, blood spraying, etc. If you are into "Saving Private Ryan-Type-Carnage" then Shogo Deathmatch is for you no doubt. A lot of the action has to do with the ANIME type weapons. They are just so over the top, that guts spraying all over the place is the end-result.
As far as the Internet Play goes, we will have to wait and see. Internet play on the level of Quake 2 is a very tricky thing to pull off correctly (that is why NO ONE has done it flawlessly right out of the box), and we are doing our best to provide the best play experience we can. Realistically, I think we are going to have to get a lot of feedback and patch Shogo accordingly. This is why we have people scheduled to work on Shogo even after it ships. You can expect Monolith to have the same kind of dedication to improving Shogo's internet play, that id software had to improving Quake 2's internet play. It took them a few patches to make it great, but they did it, and so shall we.
Trust me, we are BIG DM players and you know that Shogo has to be "just right..." :-)
Generally speaking though, the networking is solid, (drop in, drop out, client, server, etc.) and there are people testing it all the time. There have been modem-to-modem deathmatches, LAN deathmatches, and low PING Deathmatches, and they worked great, so we are on the right track.

7. Can you give us some reasons why the decision was made to ship Shogo with all source code included?

Actually, the source code won't be in the box. It will be up on our website along with the tools and such. The decision was made to do this because we know that there are a lot of people out there who want to really make heavy modifications to games! With the flexibility of the LithTech engine, and all the source to Shogo (with tools) people will really be able to extend Shogo to their hearts content. The end user will have everything that we had to make Shogo (except the engine source, but that is not needed), so they will have the control over their game if they want it. We are also going to do this with Blood 2. People will really be able to mix and match parts between both products! It will be interesting to see! I can't wait to play...

8. Any chance that y'all will ever take Kevin Stephens's game ideas seriously?:)

No. Not a chance. He can forget about it. :-)

9. Finally, do you have anything you would like to say to the Shogo fans or that you would like to add to this interview?

Yes. Shogo is the end result and culmination of a lot of people's time, effort, vision, ideas, and dedication. The whole goal of the project was to create a fun experience for people to play and have a good time with. We are not trying to make the Second Coming of Jesus. We are not trying to tell anyone that "our AI would make the HAL 2001 supercomputer look stupid..." We are not trying to sprinkle any big breasts or drugs into our game to catch your interest. All we are trying to do is create some good, solid, GAMEPLAY, that keeps you coming back for more. The bottom line in a FPS is that when you press a button a shoot something, that act alone needs to be fun. If the fundamental "Shoot - then see what happens" act is not satisfyingly fun, then you need to take your "S" out of your "FPS..." :-) Because everything else is filler! Always have the fundamentals! In any case, we hope that people enjoy Shogo, and we would like to thank everybody for the support and encouragement that they have given to us so far. It is very much appreciated!

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Interview with Kevin Stephens, Lead Engineer on Shogo.
1. How have you experienced the 2 years of working on a kick-ass game (apart from mental disorders)?

Well, actually, I've only been on the Shogo project for just over a year. The past year was well...It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...it was game development. It has been a lot of work, a lot of late nights, and a lot of really strange twisted humor (that will show up in Shogo, but nobody will get :)

2. If the shipping date would be moved to a later date, and you had time to improve some in-game features, what are the things you would work on?

Shhh! Somebody might hear you! :) There are a ton of features that we wanted to get into the game, but just didn't have the time to implement. However, most of the stuff that I'd like to spend more time on is stuff that makes the level designer's lives easier. For one, I'd like to simplify our trigger system (how game objects tell each other what to do) which currently is very generic, but complicated.

3. With the source code shipping with Shogo people can basically modify the whole game. Maybe they could even
modify it so that they never get killed when playing a death match. How possible do you think this would be?

Very unlikely. All of the damage calculations are on the server as is the data representing how much damage each weapon does. Really, everything to do with damage / death is done on the server.

4. Will there be any cheat codes in the game, and if so, will we be able to find them in the source code? Or will they just be kept secret?

Oh yeah! What would a game be without cheat codes?!? :). There is really no way for us to keep them secret (for very long) since you'll have the source that processes them. They are encrypted, but that won't stop people :)

5. On the forum you recently talked about bullet holes that stay on the walls very long, something that's hard to find in other games. Are there more such features in Shogo that other games don't have, and could you give us some examples?

How about Mecha, Anime, Huuuuuuge weapons, special fx out the ass! ;) There are a lot of things in Shogo that have never been seen in a FPS before. If you've seen the Shogo Intro movie, you've seen some of those things for yourself :)

6. Are there certain things regarding the game play in Shogo that are really unique or more advanced compared to other FPS's?

One thing I think a lot of people overlook about Shogo is that it is really TWO FPS's in one. The on-foot levels play VERY different than the Mecha levels (different enemys to fight, different weapons, different objectives). When you're on-foot one shot often kills (both you and the enemy!). However, in Mecha levels you can take a lot more damage (and dish out a ton more :) before you go down. Another thing that really sets us apart from other FPS is our in-game (i.e., rendered using the game engine) cinematics. We probably have about 20 or 30 minutes worth of in-game cinematics which helps us to develop the characters and drive the story in a way that has never been done in a FPS before.

7. If there will be a sequel to Shogo, can you tell us what the features are that you'll want to include or improve?

Well...Most of the things we've talked about are a bit of a departure from Shogo (and are thus confidential at this time :). One thing I can tell you for sure...we do not believe that we have come anywhere close to exhausting the potential of the Shogo/Anime universe.

8. What do you personally like most about Shogo?

Probably the weapons. No matter what weapon you have (even your knife), you know you can take somebody down. With most of the weapons you know you can take just about EVERYBODY down :)

9. Could you possibly think of some reasons why they don't take your game ideas seriously at Monolith?:)

Probably because everybody at Monolith hates me. Hehe. Actually, I could not imagine a game company that shares the ownership of products more than Monolith. Everybody on the Shogo team has influenced the design of Shogo in many ways. In fact everybody at Monolith that has played the game, commented on it in the lunch room, or just sent an email to somebody on the Shogo team has contributed greatly (especially the Blood 2 team! :). Also, the Shogo forum has been an endless supply of great ideas (many of which people will recognize when they play Shogo :)As for my own personal game ideas...well, I don't know if EVEN Monolith is really ready for those...yet :)

10. Is there anything you would like to add or say to your personal fans? (hehehe).

Yeah...Mom, sorry I forgot mother's day. See you at Christmas, Love ya! :)

11. Would you like to say something to the Shogo fans now?:)

Yeah...Thanks for the support! Without you I'd get a lot more work...I mean, Shogo wouldn't be half the game it is! :)

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Interview with Mike Dussault, Lead Engineer on LithTech.
1. Being the Lead Programmer on LithTech, what can you tell us about the 2 years of development that went by?

Development was really slow in the beginning. We started with absolutely nothing and pieced together a beam-tree renderer for a demo for Microsoft. At that point we were importing 3D Studio files for the world. In order to accomodate players so they could make their own maps, we started working on DEdit which, in its first incarnation, had a really 'raw' interface. Then each piece of Lithtech sort of came together in stages: Implement DScript, implement networking, implement physics, start
writing real game code, trash DScript, implement sound, test various 3D cards. It's been a very iterative process and we learned everything the hard way but it was always fun.. most of the time anything we were working on had a very tangible benefit and itwas cool to see everything coming together. I was thinking about writing a paper about the experience sometime and was jotting down chapter and top headers and I scribbled down 4 pages worth in about 15 minutes!

2. LithTech will continue to grow, and you already have plans for LithTech 2. Can you tell us what the big differences will be between LithTech 1 and LithTech 2 and what the most important features are that will be included in LithTech 2?

For starters, all the obvious stuff like annoying API nuances (like the enormous interfaces in there) and DEdit's UI will get a big upgrade. We have a hugelist of all the things we want to get into Lithtech 2, but the two highest priority things are large landscape support and adjacent servers. We want players tobe able to run around on enormous maps spotted with indoor areas you can go into and come out of, and not need to worry what server you're on. I don't want to go into too much detail because it's all subject to change :)

3. Could you tell us about your plans for the future regarding LithTech?

I'd personally like it to become something like a 'game internet' browser.. have all kinds of cool servers people have made and jump around playing in each one. Sort of like a 3D Ultima Online, but the world has no boundaries as long as people keeplinking new servers into it.

4. What feature do you like most in LithTech that other engines don't have?

I like our landscapes. We have some pretty uuuge areas in Shogo that make it feel pretty unique.

5. Do you think LithTech will be able to compete against other engines currently in development, like maybe the Trinity engine?

I hope so, or there's no reason for us to be making one :) I don't know what everyone else is planning on doing, but I think each engine will start to distinguish itself from others more and more as CPUs and hardware get faster and faster.

6. What do you personally think about Kevin Stephens's game ideas?:)

I think too many people obsess about them!

7. Are there any other comments you would like to add?

Yes

 

That's all folks! Hope you enjoyed them!
We would like to thank Jace, Kevin and Mike for doing this interview with us!
Interviewed by
The Joker®©™.

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