June 20, 2000
Stomped recently got Peter Mack of Rogue Entertainment, to speak to us about his work on the upcoming Quake 3 engine powered third person action game American McGee's Alice.
Stomped: Could you please introduce yourself, and also tell us of your role at Rogue?
Mack: I'm the lead programmer on Alice. I've been in charge of all things technical at Rogue for the last four years. In addition to programming, I keep our other programmers on target, I oversee ordering hardware, administer our network, etc.
Stomped: What is it like working with the Q3 engine?
Mack: It's really great. For one, I'm glad to be working with only one rendering engine. The Quake II technology, where we had to support both software and OpenGL was a little frustrating. We'd be able to make a cool effect in one renderer, but not the other and then had to find something that would work on both.
We've got a lot of really great technology behind Alice, and it's both fun and challenging using it to bring Wonderland to life.
Stomped: What part of developing a game do you enjoy the most, and why?
Mack: Working with the artists and designers to create amazing environments and characters. It's just cool to see our designs come to life.
Stomped: What is the atmosphere like in the Rogue office's?
Mack: A balance between focused and laid-back. We have a lot of really talented people who can keep their imaginations running full steam while staying within our organization and deadlines.
Stomped: How do the Rogue employee's prefer to wind down after a long hard day at work?
Mack: The dreamcast here has been getting a workout lately. We've got a separate area set up with a big TV and a few consoles. It's nice to be able to get away from the work and have some fun, without having to worry about disturbing anybody.
Stomped: What work have you done in the past?
Mack: Before working at Rogue, I did Windows programming and software testing for various companies.
Stomped: How did you get into the industry?
Mack: I saw a job posting that Rogue put up a few years ago, and got my start on Strife.
Stomped: What sort of mods do you expect will come out for Alice?
Mack: It's too early to tell.
Stomped: The game, being set around a story book, would have to have a deep plot, correct?
Mack: That's the plan. We spent weeks at the beginning of the project doing nothing but working out the story flow. Hopefully, all the time we've put into making a detailed story will really show through in the final product.
Stomped: What can we expect from Alice in the way of cut-scenes?
Mack: We're going to make extensive use of cutscenes.
Stomped: You do realise your working on a game set around a fairy tale?! Isnt your masculininty threatened?
Mack:Not in the least. The original texts for a lot of classic works, like Alice in Wonderland or Grimm's fairy tales, were very dark and twisted. Sterilizing these stories so as not to frighten or offend people is a relatively recent trend.
I think we're really going to challenge some people's perceptions of fairy tales with Alice by bringing back the original spirit of the story.
Stomped: Is music playing a large role in Alice?
Mack: We will be using music throughout the game, to establish and maintain the atmosphere of the game as well as to highlight certain dramatic moments in the story. The soundtrack will be top notch, and more details on the musical talent
behind it will be released soon.
Stomped: What music do you enjoy listening to while playing?
Mack: I've been listening to heavier music, stuff to keep my energy levels up. Lots of New Model Army, Pixies, Levellers, Blue Oyster Cult, and a little Metallica.
Stomped: Besides Alice, what other games do you enjoy playing?
Mack: I'm really into adventure games lately. I really liked Ultima IX despite it's problems, the Zork games. On the Dreamcast, I've been playing mostly racing games, like Speed Devils and Crazy Taxi. They're great because you can pick them up, play for a few minutes, and go back to what you were doing.
Stomped: What has been the biggest challenge for you so far in developing Alice?
Mack: Finding all the changes to the tech that John Carmack did between Quake II and Quake III. Each time we've gotten new technology from id, there's always a learning curve to see how everything has been changed.
Stomped: And finally, I already had this dispute with Raven's Bob Love, who is finer, Salma Hayek, or Brittney Spears?
Mack: Salma Hayek. No question.