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Not Just a Passing Wind

Vol. 2, Issue 13
February 22, 2000


Let's move on to a couple of things I came across on the web. Jeff, you took a screenwriting course?

Mills: I studied film at Texas Christian University.

Were you planning to get into screenwriting eventually?

Mills: Film. Somehow into film. That was my intention.

Obviously it helps when you're writing the script for your games, like Nocturne or Blair Witch, but what are some of the other ways it helps you during the design process?

click to enlarge!

Your guess is as good as mine (92k).

Mills: Nocturne and consequently Blair Witch, are such cinematic games that having a background in film helped a lot. To establish scenes, with not only the story itself but also how the cameras are set up, which is another aspect that I took initial control over, and we actually brought in a professional cinematographer, from here in Dallas, and he helped put our final cameras in. He's like our director of photography.

So it also helps you with the direction –

Smith: With the visual presentation. You have a better idea ahead of time going in –

Mills: For what it should look like at the end. It helps us get started.

Smith: It's so much better where you want to be at Step X, when you're on Step A, then being right in the middle of it all and saying, “Oh so this is how it's going to look!

Mills: Yeah we've been very fortunate to be able to build Blair Witch from the beginning. That's the best spot to come in at, at the very beginning. Usually I come in at the middle of the project and have to save it from destruction.

Can you talk about that for a second? I read somewhere that for the Blair Witch, you designed the whole thing from start to finish before you actually started development on the game. Can you talk about that and how it's helped in the process?

Mills: Normally game development, at least the games I've worked on: somebody comes up with the idea for a game and they say, “Cool” and they give him some artists and some programmers but they have no idea what the final project will be or even how they're going to achieve their goals. For Blair Witch I went in and I wrote the schedule, figured out how much time it should take to create the assets, came up with a list of assets, and I came up with a story, and all of that tied together during the design process where we have to figure out, ok, how much of a story can I tell? How many sets do I need to tell the story? How much time do I have to build those sets. It rolls around on itself for a month or two until we have the total layout from start to finish. So we know what everything in the game is going to be, and we know what the art assets we will need and what engineering has to give you to achieve it.

So you're all working from the same point right from the beginning.

Mills: Yeah so we don't have to redo anything. We don't suddenly realize, “Oh wait a second, we can't have that many polygons on the Dreamcast” so we have to start over from scratch.


click to enlarge!

Ditto (105k).

Mills: We're not building Blair Witch for Dreamcast.

I was going to say!

Mills: We're hoping to get more into consoles.

Smith: And Jeff was talking about it, we develop technology here. Like Mark Randel made the Nocturne engine, he made the Photex engine, and with Dreamcast and Playstation 2 and Dolphin coming out, trying to figure out how our code would port over to that platform. We're always working on trying to find what's best, because Mark is such a hardcore console gamer, I think that he would love to see Nocturne or one of our stories like that taken to a console.



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Credits: Illustration © 2000 Rowan Crawford. This interview is © 2000 Russell "RadPipe" Lauzon, Jeff Smith, and Jeff Mills. All other content is © 2000 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. So don't do it, or we'll scare the bejesus out of you.