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2, Issue 1
November 8, 1999
the Looking Glass
interview by Russell "RadPipe"
like myself remember American McGee for his beautiful words of
wisdom concerning llamas (and their care), but it was at id Software
that he really earned a name for himself. His mapping work can
be found on some of the all-time great First Person Shooters including
Doom2, Quake, and Quake2. Some of his best levels are still routinely
played on DM servers across the Net.
McGee left id Software in the spring of 1998 with a cryptic message
about a plan to start an online gambling adventure. But clearly
gaming was in his blood, for not long after McGee was back in
the game and working for Maxis. But he wasn't there long. An opportunity
arose at Electronic Arts to work on a game, a new game following
the most unlikely of children's stories, "Alice in Wonderland".
you to leave id Software?
id Software after finishing Quake II. I think that after so many
years it was just time, and I'm actually very thankful to the
id guys for the chance they gave me and for the time I spent there.
it true you did a stint at Maxis before settling into EA? What
did you work on there?
start out with EA at Maxis. I spent some time there while
deciding what I wanted to work on. The opportunity to work
on Alice came up at EA and I grabbed it. One project I spent
some time on at Maxis is still in development so I can't talk
you do any level designing in your spare time, or was it purely
a dry period after your departure from id?
my departure from id I've worked on a number of DM maps purely
for fun and exercise. Just recently I completed a Quake III map
called "The Gibhole". I'll release that to the net as soon as
Quake III is out.
you left, you mentioned that you were going to go work for an
online gambling company. What happened there? Is this something
you'd like to return to someday, or are your plans for the future
purely in video games?
is a pretty long story. The short of it was that I thought I wanted
to get away from the gaming industry and try something new. A
few friends and I took a stab at starting a company based on online
and on location based gambling. After a while I realized that
I was missing video games. I looked around at where the industry
was, saw an opportunity to work with some really great people
inside EA and took it.
Alice? Is this an idea you've been working on for awhile?
was conceived during the course of work last summer. It came out
of discussions with friends and separate game ideas that I was
working on at the time. A lot of credit goes to the brilliant
people I was surrounded by at the time.
sort of liberties are you taking with the source material?
a lot actually. A person could create many different types of
games using the characters and spaces in Wonderland. Anything
from a children's game to a full-on death and destruction fest.
The real challenge is to stylize Alice in such a way that the
existing 1st/3rd person market really gets into it. I'm trying
to go for more of a 'Nightmare Before Christmas' type feeling
with my version of Alice and so far it's working out really well.
Alice ever conceived as purely a first person game, or was third
person the idea from the start?
been wanting to work on a 3rd person game for some time now. Alice
has lent itself beautifully to being in 3rd person. First person
is great, and it will be available in multiplayer, but single
player is going to be 3rd person only. I think that the Alice
design called for 1st person for about a week. Then I realized
that the Alice character and the Wonderland environment were much
better served by a 3rd person perspective.
Entertainment has always been a company that's spoken softly yet
carried a big stick. In other words, they say very little
but consistently produce great work. How did they get involved
in the Alice project? Was it your experience with them in
previous projects (such as mission packs for Quake and Quake II)
that led you to them?
know the guys over at Rogue since my first days at id. The fact
that they are now working on this product is one of the nicest
examples of serendipity I've ever seen.
Using the Q3A engine
for Alice seems like an obvious choice considering both your and
Rogue's experience with id-engine games, but since its focus is
on multiplayer play, how do you see it as a development tool for
single-player? Are there any obvious enhancements you're
planning to make that you can talk about now?
already made enhancements to allow us to immediately start single
player development, but we're not ready to go into it yet.
variations of multi-player play are you considering?
But we're not going to go into it yet.
multiplayer game is from a first person view, while the single
player is played from a third person view. Can you explain why
you made this decision?
this comes mostly from talking with various people in the industry,
the players, and online community, and from my own personal preference.
It just doesn't seem that a proper DOOM/Quake style deathmatch
can take place in 3rd person. This does not mean that you won't
be able to run a 3rd person server, but multiplayer will default
to 1st person.
the weapons be identical in both the single and multiplayer games?
How will the difference in perspective change them, if at all?
weapons will be identical. You can see how the 1st/3rd person
switch works in the current version of Q3.
the game is based on the Alice books (which are fairly tame),
who will you be fighting against? Will the game's emphasis be
on pure action, or exploration?
hoping that we can recapture the action adventure feel of the
original DOOM. The characters you will be fighting against are
a mixture of original characters (Mad Hatter, Tweedledee, etc)
and new characters that we've designed just for the game.
prompted the decision to have two geographically separate teams
to work on the single-player and multi-player aspects of the game?
What challenges do you foresee in communication and shared development?
decision was based on the fact that this solution offers us the
best chance at creating a solid product on time and on budget.
The Rogue guys have Quake-based game development down to an art.
We also have internal support from large group of very talented
people at EA who are focusing an amazing amount of creative energy
on this product.
you're the Game Designer, how do you plan on communicating your
vision to the troops (friendly people at Rogue) when you live
in a different city? Will you be sending anyone from EA to Rogue
to help? How much time are you spending at Rogue's office?
is one of the best parts about working with Rogue. Since we've
all known each other for so long the communication issue is almost
non-existent. The vision was communicated a while back when I
spent a week in Dallas working with the Rogue guys. They are as
much a part of the creative process as I am, and we've really
come together on the design of this product.
will your role at EA entail in addition to Game Design?
Will you also fill the slot as Lead Level Designer? How
about Project Manager?
moment my official title is "Creative Director". Under that guise
I find myself doing everything from game design to level design
to project management. Again, I'm also surrounded by a great group
of people here at EA who are constantly helping with every facet
the best thing that you learned at id Software that you've carried
over to EA?
that's a really difficult one. id taught me so much about games,
work, and life in general. I think the most important lesson I
learned there is the one that I take with me even when I'm not
at work: "Never take yourself too seriously."
the work environment at EA like?
amazing. And speaking of which... I need to get back at it now
Lauzon is currently exhausting all his free time researching
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