interviews with Jason
Hall, Kevin Stephens and Mike Dussault about Shogo - Mobile
You'll surely find some interesting info on
Shogo, as well as some general stuff. Read on!
with Jason Hall
with Kevin Stephens
with Mike Dussault
with Jason Hall, CEO at Monolith Productions,
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?
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
8. Any chance
that y'all will ever take Kevin Stephens's game ideas
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?
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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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)?
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
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?
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
3. With the
source code shipping with Shogo people can
basically modify the whole game. Maybe they could
modify it so that they never get killed when
playing a death match. How possible do you think
this would be?
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?
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
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
6. Are there
certain things regarding the game play in Shogo that are really
unique or more advanced compared to other FPS's?
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?
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?
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?:)
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
10. Is there
anything you would like to add or say to your
personal fans? (hehehe).
sorry I forgot mother's day. See you at
Christmas, Love ya! :)
11. Would you
like to say something to the Shogo fans now?:)
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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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
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,
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?
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
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
4. What feature
do you like most in LithTech that other
engines don't have?
like our landscapes. We have some pretty
uuuge areas in Shogo that make it feel pretty
5. Do you think LithTech will be able to
compete against other engines currently in
development, like maybe the Trinity engine?
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
6. What do you
personally think about Kevin Stephens's game ideas?:)
think too many people obsess about them!
7. Are there any
other comments you would like to add?
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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