If you are like me, you've been chomping at the bits of any morsel for info on how the game plays. While attending a hands-on demo event for Aliens vs Predator recently in San Francisco, I got the chance to sit down and get an exclusive Q&A with Tim Jones. Tim heads up art and design over at Rebellion, the developers of the game. Interestingly enough, Tim worked on the original 1999 PC Aliens Versus Predator which was a reassurance to long time fans. Tim shares with us info on the new melee combat system, the tricky balancing act between the three species, and why this is the most accurate AvP game to date. In addition, take a look at our posts regarding our hands-on impressions for the multiplayer aspect of the game, as well as our experience with the truly unique gameplay styles for each species.
kgHapa: The Aliens vs. Predator Universe can really be seen as the power of fans, as it’s the merging of two completely different IPs into one crazy universe. How much would you say the fan community, suggestions, and input played into design choices in this latest Aliens vs. Predator game?
Tim: We really believe a big part of our choices were governed by listening to and talking with fans and community. To be honest, we at Rebellion are all obsessive fans ourselves. A lot of the things you’ll see in the game are things that we thought up of in the typical “wouldn’t it be cool if…” type scenario. One of the twists in the opening cinematic for the Aliens campaign was something we came up with which was OK'ed by the studios and Aliens experts, so I still get excited watching it. It is an amazing privilege to be able to work in the AvP universe.
K: What would you say the biggest challenge so far was when designing Aliens vs. Predator?
T: Definitely the issue of balance. We constantly were tweaking and working to make sure that each race had its pros and cons, but ultimately were all equal footed in a deathmatch.
K: Were any of the species weakened or nerfed compared to earlier installments of the game?
T: While I don’t like thinking that any of the species were “nerfed,” I would say the closest we came to really “weakening” a species would be the Predator. We initially toyed with the idea of trying to balance the game by making killing a Predator in multiplayer worth more points, but eventually decided that each race truly had to be equal to one another. Compared to earlier games, the Predator definitely has less health and toughness, but now has a multitude of other abilities like a leaping jump and lunge attacks.
K: Surprisingly, melee is clearly a big focus of the game. What were your main concerns designing it and what games inspired your choices?
T: We knew right away that for Predators and Aliens melee would be a huge factor, and we needed a more complex system than just rapid clicking. We tried ALL kinds of melee systems and basically landed at the final one through vigorous play testing and user responses. We needed to make sure that lag wouldn’t be a big problem, so we really wanted to focus on a simple and responsive system that wouldn’t get bogged down by bandwidth issues. We definitely looked for inspiration in SEGA's own Condemned series as well as the Riddick games and Dark Messiah, but ultimately ended up coming up with our own melee system.
K: With the recent revitalized interest in the AvP universe, has anything changed in the development of the game from when you started?
T: To be honest this is definitely the most accurate video game, capturing many of the elements from the Aliens or Predator movies. This is the first time we’ve had access to all the authentic sound clips, footage, CG models, etc. thanks to the film production studios, so when you hear the “bleep” of your motion tracker or the shriek of an Alien, it is the EXACT same as film. In fact, the director of the first AvP film even approached us and said he was really inspired by our first game. That really meant a lot to us.
K: Finally, as a big fan of the Aliens and Predator canon yourself and as somebody who has spent countless hours working on this game, what are you most excited for your audience regarding this game?
T: Wow, that’s tough. Well, I could list tons of things, but I think most importantly is the attention to detail we put in. For example, having the exact movie sound effects or the way your pulse rifle muzzle will glow red after firing too long. There are countless little details we worked tirelessly on that both general gamers and AvP fans alike will get excited about.
If you haven't checked it out already, take a look at our in-depth analysis of the multiplayer gameplay, AvP species' abilities/controls, and Sega Nerds' campaign mode impressions. I got a chance to put in 3 hours of playtime, and so far, I'm truly impressed how each race plays so differently, yet fits together so well into one explosive package. God I really want to cloak myself and rip out a clueless marine’s spine right now, two weeks is too long...