X-COM Enforcer Interview

by on 17th Apr 2001

This section will bring you all the latest top quality Enforcer info from the team making the game!!

Official Team Interview at X-COM Tactical Command!!

Interview Panel
From left to right, we have: Martin DeRiso, Will Gee, Kevin Boehm, Joe Romano, Dave Thompson, Chris Esko, Charlie Shenton, Gary Spinrad (back), Chad Steingraber (fore).
Amazed as I was today (18th April 2001) that someone was sending me a 1.55mb e-mail, imagine my surprise when it turned out to be my Interview from Martin DeRiso, complete with pictures and "exclusive" written all over it!! Anyway, enough of my babble... to the Interview!!

Click on any of the section headings below to skip to that section (surprisingly!!)

General Questions | Graphics | Sound | Multiplayer

Interviewer: Pete

General Questions



Pete: First of, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what your involvement is with Enforcer? 

  • Martin DeRiso: X-COM Enforcer producer.
  • Will Gee: I'm the lead programmer and lead designer.
  • David Thompson: I'm the lead artist on the project.
  • Joe Romano: I am a programmer on Enforcer.
  • Chris Esko: I'm one of the programmers. I worked on most of the creature and boss AI.
  • Chad Steingraber: level artist/3d artist.
  • Charlie Shenton: I do what Dave tells me to do, I'm a level builder.
  • Kevin Boehm: I'm one of the level builders for the game.
  • Gary Spinrad: Sound.

Pete: For the fans, once again, could you explain a little about the storyline and game concept? What is Enforcer and what's it all about?

Will: Enforcer is set during the first alien war (X-COM UFO Defense timeframe). Aliens are invading Earth at a rate too great for even X-COM to contend with. An ex- X-COM scientist takes it upon himself to create a solution, and that solution comes in the form of the Enforcer, a self contained alien fighting machine. You take control of the Enforcer, and with the help of the Scientist, you fight for Earth against huge swarms of alien soldiers.

Pete: Have you been under much pressure, what with peoples' expectations of what an X-COM game should be all about, and the fact that you've taken the X-COM Universe down a whole different path this time out with the creation of an action game?

Will: There has definitely been a lot of pressure, as well as some very vocal detractors, since the day Enforcer was announced. We're not trying to take the X-COM universe down a new path per-se, but rather we are simply making a different style of game within that universe. In doing so, we are hoping to bring a lot of new people into the X-COM universe. People that enjoy blasting tons of different enemies with really cool weapons will like this game - if that sort of thing's not for you, fine, you probably won't like Enforcer.

Pete: What inspired you whilst creating Enforcer? Obviously someone wanted you to make it, but which games out there really influenced how the game was developed?

Will: Lots: Smash TV, Gauntlet, Doom, Duke, Rise of the Triad, Quake, UT, etc... We really tried to encapsulate the parts of games like these that would translate well into a classic arcade-style shooter.

Chad: Smash TV, all the way. I went back and played Smash TV for many hours, I wanted to get that same feel, but in a 3D world.

Joe: I was definitely influenced by the games I played when I was younger. I think you can see little bits of games like Robotron, Gauntlet, StarFox, Megaman and Smash TV all around Enforcer. Serious Sam was a big boost for me too since it’s a similar styled shooter that was received so positively.


Pete: How many levels can we expect to see in the game?

Chad: I believe there are a total of 36 playable single player maps, 5 bonus maps, and at least 15 death match maps (not including the ones on our webpage).

Pete: How big is your average level comparing it to similar games? Will they be smaller "Tomb-Raider" or massive "Half-Life" size?

Charlie: The levels are medium sized (with a whole lot of mayhem!).

 
Pete: How do these levels fit in with the storyline, or is the storyline really just a backdrop to the action?

Kevin: The level locations don't really have a huge impact of the story, we just kinda thought, "what would be some fun locations?" and put them into an order that made sense, then built them. A few of the levels are there for specific reasons but it’s mostly about the action.

Martin: Yeah, blasting stuff is priority one, no question - the who, what, when, where, and why just keep the alien killing goodness flowing.


Pete: Can we expect a dramatic climax to the game in the final few missions, as the story gets wound up?

Will: Definitely (but you won’t see it playing on Easy difficulty!).

Pete: What kind of levels can we expect to see in Enforcer?

Chad: We picked three main types of areas, and tried to focus our efforts on those: urban city, farm country, and Arctic-ish. Of course there are several maps that take you through other places, like a shipyard, canyons, stadiums, and even a little outer space…

Pete: What kind of puzzles can we expect to see in the game, if any?

Kevin: There aren't a whole lot of brain-teasing puzzles; Enforcer’s more about exploration, finding pick-ups and blasting lots of aliens..!

Pete: If you could express action and scary atmosphere as a ratio in this game, would there be more action than scares, or are we talking about 50/50 here?

Charlie: I think this game is 75/25 Action over Scary, maybe more.

Pete: Do you actually get to go on board a UFO in the game - small OR big?

Kevin: Yes, there are a few alien ships and other alien constructions scattered throughout the game.

Pete: We've seen some pretty big bad guys in this game so far, especially on the video footage - are some of these Aliens actually end-of-level bad guys which we all loved so much from arcade games of the past?

Dave: Yes, we have some aliens reserved as bosses and/or sub-bosses. We wanted to make a game that was very arcadey, with bosses every few levels to give players some hurdles to overcome. We actually have 7 boss levels, including the final end boss, the High Ethereal. But beware – just because you beat a boss doesn’t mean you won’t be seeing him again!

Chris: Games these days seem to have lost some of that focus on the big bad guys. We were inspired by the bosses in games like Smash TV and the original Doom. Each boss in Enforcer has its own AI and multiple attack modes.

Pete: Do you have any add-ons in mind, or will you be leaving the map-making to the gamers?

Martin: We’ll have some maps available from our website at launch, but we’re not working on any add-ons just yet. We really hope to build a community, and if one flourishes, who can say..?

Pete: Do you have any plans to make this game easy to customise for the gamers in terms of level design, skins etc?

Will: Since Enforcer is based on the UT engine, these types of modifications are relatively easy to do. We even ship with our modified version of the Unreal Editor, so people can start making maps from day one...

Pete: What kind of weapons can we expect to see in the game from times past, and are there any new ones you can tell us about?

Will: The Laser Rifle and the Auto-Cannon are back, beyond that, we have 12 all new weapons. Some of them are based on our favorite weapons from old games (ROTT's drunk missiles, Duke3d's Freeze Gun, Smash TV's Grenade Sprayer) and some are our own creations, like the "Psi-Cannon" and a sort of "Bladed Boomerang" Gun.

Pete: Do you get to level buildings with that big Nuker weapon?

Will: Not buildings themselves, but you can do a lot of damage: cars, signs, fire-hydrants, phone booths, statues, etc... can all be blown to bits.

Pete: Do you have a release date in mind for the official website? (or is this classified info!!)

Martin: March 21st. (you can see how long it’s taken us to do this interview..!

Pete: When can we expect to see this game hit the shelves?


Martin: You can order it through the webpage, but it’ll be exclusively at Babbages and EB retail stores from [now] until June.

Graphics 

Pete: Have you made many enhancements to the Unreal graphics engine in the development of the game?

Will: We've added a few engine niceties: cut scenes, freeze effects, lightning, camera controls, etc... but the bulk of our programming time was directed at game content rather than technology.

Pete: Are there any "in-game" style cut scenes or "movie" style cut scenes in the game?

Dave: Yes, we handle all our cut scenes in-game. We wanted to stay away from rendered cinematics because they take a while to create and sometimes tend to break the flow of games.

Chad: They help progress the game and inform you what to do next, so you're not wandering around lost with no direction.


Pete: Does this game have much blood in it? If so, what kind of age group is it aimed at?

Martin: Oh sure, lots of alien blood (and giblets and chum and etc.), but no human blood, we don’t let you hurt the humans in Enforcer. We wanted to deliver some really satisfying splats, but didn’t want to make Soldier of Fortune – we just wanted to make it fun and rewarding for the player. The age range is pretty open, it’s really for anyone who enjoys arcadey action games. And as long as parents aren’t aliens in disguise, they shouldn’t be offended.

Pete: How smooth are the animations of both the Enforcer and the other characters in the game?

Dave: Since you see the Enforcer all the time, we took great care in making sure his animations looked really good. His animations are a little more in depth than the other creatures, which resulted in the Enforcer having about 3 times as many animations.

Sound 

Pete: Being a big robot, this is possibly a bit of a daft question, but does Enforcer actually speak?

Gary: Well, I think it would be kind of quiet if he didn't speak. We're doing a robot voice on him that gives some tactical information and, since this IS an arcade style game, he'll be mouthing off too. That's actually my voice processed and filtered and mutilated.

Pete: Will background action music play a large part in the game, as it does in so many action oriented games?

Joe: Our music composer (Roland Rizzo) put together some awesome techno tracks for Enforcer. The music definitely adds to the atmosphere of the game.

Pete: Are there likely to be any quiet, eerie bits in this game, or is it pure 100% blood-rushing action?

Joe: I wouldn't use the word "quiet" to describe Enforcer… :) There are definitely some eerie environments though, and our audio team (Roland and Gary) did a great job of bringing that out with both the music and the ambient sounds.

Pete: Can we expect to hear Aliens scream as they recoil from your blasts, and screech loudly and scarily as they bite the dust? (as the latter was a feature in previous games)

Gary: Once again, I think that a big part of gaming in general is hearing your work rewarded with a kill sound. Every character has a sound set specific to its type, and they'll all be stacking up as you rack up the gibs.

Multiplayer

Pete: What kind of multiplayer options are there likely to be in the finished product?

Joe: Our first priority was cooperative multiplayer since playing through the single player game with some friends can be a lot of fun. Our weapons are pretty over the top so we didn't know how DeathMatch would work at first; we had always focused more on the single player stuff. Once we got into DM it turned out to be really cool though, and our level guys had already cranked out some DM maps, so it went in.

Pete: Cooperative game play seems to be one of your multiplayer features. How have you incorporated this game play style into the single player levels? Are there more Aliens, harder to kill Aliens, or do you and your buddies just get killed easier to balance it out?

Chris: For each player that joins the game, each alien becomes harder to kill and inflicts more damage. The cool thing is that it's adjusted dynamically, so that if a bunch of players disconnect from your game, the difficulty gets lowered immediately.

Pete: Okay, thanks guys, you've been great and we all appreciate your effort in making this fine game!!