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Thursday, July 08, 2004

THE SECOND LIFE OF HARVEY SMITH, PART V

... continued from yesterday.

Audience Q&A: Harvey on breaking into the industry
(sans parachute), the future of VR, writing a game
proposal that sells, and some of his favorite games.

Foster Virgo: Whats the word in the Industy right now regarding Virtual Reality and game design for a home based market in respect to VR?

Harvey Smith: System Shock supported two VR headsets, the Cybermaxx and the (what was it called) VR1, mostly because Doug Church and James Flemming were so psyched about it. It was cool testing the game wearing those, even if the tech was not ready for prime time.

One time a friend was testing with one of those and I smelled something burning. I looked over, saw him driving around like Stevie Wonder, seriously, with his head rolling around, and I saw smoke. I yelled, "JOHN, IT'S ON FIRE!", and he threw this five thousand dollar headset into the wall, crushing it. Anyway... [an] anecdote. So I hope something like a replacement for the monitor comes in the next 15 years.

Cybin Monde: What does a proposal need to consist of? (I.E., [a] 20 page game proposal.)

HS: I would recommend finding a sample game pitch THAT ACTUALLY GOT ACCEPTED. Basically, a high concept premise that is powerful and "recognizable" first off. Then cover all the technical development bases, a strong team profile, and for the game, some info about story, game systems, interface, etc.

Cybin Monde: Are there places where I can view entire documents like that?

HS: Check with Gamasutra.com.

Adam Zaius: Why was the Software Developer Kit for Deus Ex 2 cancelled? Also, your prior work has always been in single-player oriented games, would you ever consider producing a MMO of some description?

Harvey Smith: Two questions, two answers. Second question, Fireteam was multiplayer only, and Technosaur was a multiplayer real time strategy [game] (that got cancelled), so the notion of me being opposed to multiplayer is inaccurate. I'd love to work on some multiplayer (soon), [though] maybe not an MMO-- I am into the more intimate experiences.

First question: We really want to do an SDK for DX2, but trust me, our tools were jacked, and we didn't have time or budget to clean them up, and we had no support from above on such a release. We only even got to do it for DX1 because the game sold so damn well. Remember, we didn't release the [Deus Ex level building] tools at first, only six months later

AZ: "From above"-- was this the result of Eidos' influence? (I have noted they are very non-supportive of user modification.)

HS: I can't blame Eidos... they approved the SDK for DX1, so under different circumstances, they would have approved it for DX2. It's much, much more convoluted than that. Making games is hard. Many factors.

CrystalShard Foo: Do you see cellphones as one of the possible future platforms for SL-type enviroments in the future?

HS: Not on my donkey little Nokia, for sure. "Donkey" is a word we use a lot in the Ion Storm game design culture... As in, "this pizza is donkey".

Mickey Valentino: I heard you mention you played Shadowrun. Did you get the chance to play the two different games under that license on SNES or Sega? Have you considered resurrecting the license from the now defunct Data East?

HS: I'd love it if SOMEONE ELSE did that. I want to work on unique new stuff.

Mickey Valentino sighs.

Zindorf Yossarian: I'd like to ask: What types of games are your favorites? (Role playing game, real time strategy, first person shooter, etc.)

HS: I love games that immerse me in a simulation, RPGs and some strategy games. Like I said, right now I am playing City of Heroes-- yay Cryptic [Studios], call me if you can hook me up with cheats. But XCom is one of my all-time favorite games.

Silva Anansi: My question is "What is your take on Far Cry, Doom 3, and Half Life 2?"

HS: I think Far Cry has awesome island rendering. I want Doom 3 because I am a horror/atmosphere buff, and I think Half Life 2 is going change the world.

Hamlet Linden: How come, with Half Life 2?

HS: Humanistic character animation and expression, plus Valve has put a lot of effort into dramatic impact.

WackyChris Dawn: If you have ever heard of Neverwinter Nights, do you like that people can make and monitor their own modules and have other people on multiplayer play on it?

HS: I love NWN. I love Bioware. I've played all their games, and I even spent some time playing with their editor for NWN... Mostly to make myself powerful.

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Comments

Small point: I'm pretty sure FASA Studios (of Mechwarrior fame) at Microsoft owns the license to Shadowrun, not Data East.

Posted by: cranky murdock at Jul 9, 2004 3:14:45 PM

Correction. Wizkids owns the licensing and Topps owns Wizkids :)

Posted by: Buck Blanc at Jul 16, 2004 3:37:24 PM