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Pendragon Interviews Neoshock
hl2c_articles - Pendragon's Interview with Neoshock's PinFX and Jason Boesch. | Posted by Pendragon on Jan 31st 04 01:01 PM
Pendragon, of course, is me, PinFX is the Neoshock Team Lead, and Jason is Jason Boesch, the Neoshock Concept Art Lead.

Pendragon: With such a diverse range of species/teams, what sort of visual theme are trying to achieve? Do you have any particular inspirations for the characters?

Jason: I wasn't really thinking about the themes when drawing the picture. I try to draw things that are both interesting and that make sense.

Pendragon: Naturally each team has a drastically different gameplay base, so how are you trying to visually reflect that in your characters?

Jason: Gameplay doesn't have much do to with character design, we don't really relate the two. However, an alien is going to look different and move differently from a cyborg no matter what, which will affect the gameplay.

Pendragon: Can you tell us a bit about the process you go through when you are creating your concepts--do you start with an "order" from PinFX or do you work on whatever comes to you at that point? Further, do you have an image in your head when you start out, or does the piece evolve as you create?

Jason: Pin gives me a explanation of the creature, vehicle, or robot. While he explains I think of what it could look like in my head before I draw it. Then as I start to draw the picture I continually get ideas about what I could add to make it look better. Sometimes these ideas don't coincide with Pin’s explanation. We make an agreement on the change. I usually win.

Pendragon: Since the game features three different races, the infantry combat is obviously going to be quite frenetic, can you tell me how a match might play out from the human perspective?

PinFX: The gameplay from the human perspective will definitely be frenetic. At all times a player will have to be alert and ready for ambushes, traps and enemies. There will be enemies and dangers in the sky, in the distance, crawling on the ground and the ceiling, breaking through walls, coming out of the ground. But the trick from an infantry perspective is to work together as a team, constantly covering each others backs and focusing fire the right way. Voice communication will be even more important, and these communications can be intercepted or scrambled. When a game starts one team will not be able to communicate with another, and you can't communicate with your team mates without shouting or using the radio (mic required). Finally, the human factions are not all infantry based, in fact infantry based factions are probably minority. I think there are more vehicles, mechs, and ninja fighting than infantry play.

Pendragon: How about from the Cyborg and Alien perspectives?

PinFX: As an alien you are always evolving. Over time you get more and more powerful, so the human team is always pressured to go on the offensive, but at the same time watching out for traps. From a cyborg perspective its all about shooter skill. You have a lot of firepower and so do the humans, you will have to employ guerilla tactics in order to use fully your abilities of resource processing and energy use.

Pendragon: So the humans will be the strongest at the beginning of the match, followed by the Cyborgs and then the Aliens at the endgame?

PinFX: Not necessarily, the alien team doesn't get stronger over time because they get many bonuses, instead they get powerful by changing strategy with different evolution strings.

Pendragon: You've also mentioned a "not-so singleplayer version" before. Can you tell us more about that?

PinFX: That information is confidential.

Pendragon: On the website you describe the Cyborg team as having "A variety of classes with a long range of playing styles." What new styles do you intend to implement beyond the already diverse styles of the three teams, and do they fit into the rest of the game?

PinFX: Depending on a specific game, and what classes are in the game the Cyborg team will have different playing styles. For instance, if the cyborgs have a manufacturing class unit, then playing style will be more straightforward, with players taking losses to go on the offensive. On the other hand, if there are just two or three medium class units (like the Archon) then smart play will be required.

Pendragon: How will the amounts of different classes be determined? Will it be on a per-map basis or user-selectable?

PinFX: On a per-map basis, and also selected by the players sometimes. Each team will get a certain amount of points and from there players get a lot of choice in terms of customization and the equipment/classes they want.

Pendragon: Can you tell us about the evolution pattern of the Alien team?

PinFX: There are two levels of evolutions—Global evolutions and individual soldier evolutions. Global evolutions include strategies, which direct the way soldiers move and attack and also evolutions to the overlords themselves which can increase the amount of soldiers he can control and things he can do with them. At any point in time you have a certain amount of "evo slots", and with these slots you can select certain evolutions, sometimes sacrificing others at the same time. Over a period of time (1-5 minutes) this evolution will complete. Individual soldier evolutions include things such as wings, improved strength/speed, improved armor, and extra biological features, which includes weapons such as blades, spikes and projectiles.

Pendragon: You mentioned enemies that are capable of "crawling on the ground and the ceiling, breaking through walls, coming out of the ground." How will controls for things like this work out?

PinFX: If you've played Aliens vs. Predator then you can get an idea of how crawling on walls/ceilings will work. As for breaking through walls and coming out of the ground we leave it up to the Source Engine, which Valve tells me it will be capable of.

Pendragon: So you will be employing gameplay mechanics (in terms of terrain) like those in Red Faction, correct?

PinFX: Except better.

How long do you expect one match to be?

PinFX: 10 – 30 minutes.

Pendragon: You’ve said before that the background for the Cyborgs and Aliens will be revealed later. Can you tell us some more about the story now? What happens 30 years after “the greatest war in Earth’s history?”

PinFX: There is a top-secret military project going on in Briggs Security company. The purpose of this project is information gathering over the net (which has evolved quite a bit). Under pressure from the government and high level company management, the artificial intelligence department develops a "learning" software program which gathers massives amounts of information from the net and from this information draws certain conclusions. The aliens come in to the story later on, everything will be revealed in the campaign.

Pendragon: That piece of the story seems to bear a resemblance to SkyNet (from the Terminator movies), is that intentional? If so, will there be any other similarities?

PinFX: No; there won't be any other similarities. Honestly we had the idea without knowing about Terminator's SKYNET, but in terms of purpose, philosophy, and the way the AI acts the differences far exceed the similarities. We have, however, been influenced by various other media such as Anime (Ghost in the Shell, Lain) and the Matrix.

Pendragon: Any messages for our readers at HL2C?

PinFX: Yes, sign up in our forums: they are funtastic.

Pendragon: We'll be sure to. Thanks again for stopping by.

PinFX: Our pleasure.

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