I want to thank Alex for taking time out of his busy schedule to give us an exclusive interview for his next modification called "Spatial Fear".
Brad: Tell us a little about yourself.
Alex: My name is Alex Hammond and I’m the Project Lead/Creative Designer for Spatial Fear. I was the Project Lead/Creative Designer for Spatial Fear: Prologue as well. Before that, I had helped out with other (failed) projects. I’ve been messing around with editors since the Duke 3D engine, but never really committed myself to anything. SF: P was my first “real” project that was completed and released.
Brad: What gave you the inspiration to do Spatial Fear: Prologue? What inspired you to make Spatial Fear for Half-Life 2?
Alex: I think the case with many mod makers is they look at other mods and say to themselves, “I can do that, or do better.” This was the case for me. Back when Half-Life was released, there was a mod/TC called Gunmen Chronicles. I remember seeing the screenshots and thinking they were doing some really cool stuff. It was later picked up and released as a retail product. So I downloaded the demo and was very disappointed.
I don’t want to get too down of those guys because it’s quite an accomplishment to complete and release a mod, but that game really sucked IMO. I told myself that I could do better. However, the question was, Could I do better? I had to put my money where my mouth was. It’s easy to criticize another mod, but it’s hard to actually make and release one, especially a single-player mod.
While that served as the motivation to start my own, inspiration came from different places. It would come from music (William Orbit, soundtracks, etc.), films (Blade Runner), books (Iain M. Banks, Stephen Baxter), and of course, other team members. Working with others and getting their input is invaluable.
Much of the same things served as an inspiration for Spatial Fear for HL2. The only real difference is the Source engine will allow us to do things we could not do with the UT engine.
Brad: What was your original plan for the Spatial Fear series?
Alex: Our original plan was to make a full-fledged mod, a Total Conversion. Once we got started though, we realized the project was much too big for a first-time team. So I decided to trim it down and just make the first part and call it a prologue. This would serve as sort of an introduction to the game and we would then release the second part later.
That all went out the window after we started and I realized how inexperienced I was. A lot was changed and shortened and scaled down. By the time we released SF: P, the UT engine was phased out. We would have to switch to the UT2k3 engine, but that proved to be tough because it doesn’t naturally support SP mods and gameplay.
Brad: What do you plan to add to Spatial Fear that you didn’t add in the original Spatial Fear: Prologue?
Alex: Wow, where do I begin? We want a fully realized inventory system, not the basic one we had; total interaction with the environment and characters; we’re taking the drone and it’s remote to a new level; we’re getting rid of cut-scenes and anything else that stops gameplay; adding vehicles; adding all the locations and environments we originally planned; adding a new thing we came up with called Random Dynamic Encounters; and of course using all the features the Source engine gives us.
Brad: Will Spatial Fear be a continuation of SF: Prologue?
Alex: No. Spatial Fear will be a re-telling of Prologue the way we originally intended, plus adding the rest of the story. It will be a complete game from start to finish.
Brad: What goal do you have for Spatial Fear this time?
Alex: My first and foremost goal is better planning. That was my downfall on the previous game. I did not plan things out very well and the team suffered for it. When we finally released the game, we got slammed for having weak looking aliens, wimpy sounding weapons, and a couple other things. This was mainly my fault for not having a set of guidelines ready before work began. I can’t stress enough to other mod teams the need for a Design Document and clear goals before work starts.
Our other big goal is to deliver a unique gaming experience. We are doing our best to provide a quality game. One thing that helps motivate us to do this is want to eventually get funding and release it as a retail product. It’s easy to look at something we’ve done and say it’s good. But can we say it’s “retail worthy?” The question we ask ourselves is, Would someone pay money for this? We hope so…
Brad: Do you plan to have any vehicles this time around?
Alex: Yes. We’re planning on incorporating 3 different vehicles. I can’t give much away at this point, but the vehicles will be a part of gameplay, not just a gimmick.
Brad: I can see you like Pink Bunnies. Is this true?
Alex: While I have nothing against pink bunnies, I don’t know what gave you that idea…
Brad: Sorry for such a random question. Anyways, Are you in need of any help? As in 3d modeling, mapping, etc.
Alex: Definitely! We’re always looking for help. I’ve lost 3 team members who’ve gone on to work in the gaming industry. We’ve had a lot of talent pass through here. Right now, we’re looking for:
1 more programmer
1 concept/texture artist
2 3d modeler/animators
2 level designers
Brad: Do you have any last words before we wrap up this interview?
Alex: When you do a search for mods on ModDb.com, there are thousands of them, all competing for your time and attention. So we want to thank everyone for supporting our previous game and hope you guys support Spatial Fear. We really do appreciate it!
It has been a real pleasure getting some awesome and useful information on Spatial Fear. This mod proves to be quite different and deserves to be up against the top Half-Life 2 mods.
Oh yes, I also had the pleasure of recieving a nice piece of concept art for our viewers to check out. Enjoy!