1) Hi Tim, it was great meeting with you during the European leg of 3D Realms/Human Head Studios press trip; from what the press has seen of Prey so far, what is the overall impression members of the press have walked away with?
Overall the press response we’ve received has been tremendous. Usually press play things pretty close to the vest when showing a game, but every time we demo Prey fro the press, we get lots of responses during and afterwards. During our recent multiplayer demonstrations, there were many instances where we had to pretty much kill the servers to get them to stop playing for the next group, and even then we’d have to intervene in a few cases to get the journalists moving on. That’s pretty high praise and humbling to us.
2) Can you tell us how the whole concept of Prey came about? And is Prey the longest game ever to be in development?
First off, I’ve seen several articles claiming that we’ve been working on the game for ten years, and that’s not really true. 3D Realms had been working on Prey during the late 1990s but shelved it in 1998. When Human Head began production late in 2001 we were working pretty much from a clean slate, so you can’t really say that the game we’re about to release is the same game as was begun a decade ago. Though they share the same name and some of the original features you can’t really say they are the same game or that it was one continuous production.
That said, I think 3D Realms other game, Duke Nukem Forever, is probably the longest game in continuous development in the history of video games, and Prey is probably not far behind.
3) We played the multiplayer aspect of Prey for as much as we could during the European press presentation and we’re blown away with the amount of fun that can be had with Prey’s multiplayer - how did 3D Realms/Human Head Studios define such a unique aspect of LAN/online play?
Our multiplayer was a gamble of sorts. Despite the amount of time we’ve worked on the game, our resources aren’t limitless, so we made the calculated decision to concentrate on DeathMatch as the primary mode of play from multiplayer, but to really do it right by bringing each of the single player features into multiplayer and focus on designing fun environments in which to play them.
I was honestly quite sceptical that even a killer DeathMatch experience would be enough to make our multiplayer catch the eyes of jaded gamers. I was concerned that with all the innovative elements we were concentrating on for single player that the multiplayer would just seem like a tacked on experience. I’m happy to say I was quite wrong in that. By concentrating on playing to the strengths of our single player features in multiplayer we ended up with an experience that really seems to reinvigorate the DeathMatch game. Several of the testers and press who have played told me that it ‘makes DeathMatch fun again’ and one journalist even told me that it reawakened something he hadn’t felt since he played the original Doom multiplayer. That’s high praise to me.
4) How many weapons are available to players? And are these weapons upgradeable during the single player game?
Technically we have 8 weapons in Prey, though the final weapon, the Leech Gun has four completely different fire modes based on how you choose to power it up, so it’s really 4 completely different weapons in one. None of the weapons ‘power up’ but most feature an alternate fire mode and almost all have some kind of bio-organic component to them. Each of the weapons has its own unique feel to them and you need to learn the best way to use them in each situation.
We’ve worked hard to balance them, so you can win with most weapons, including the wrench (though admittedly you have to get in close with that one, which isn’t so easy).
5) 3D Realms/Human Head Studios, your company is renowned for having a release date for a game of “when it’s done” will we see Prey before the British Summer?
3D Realms are the kings of ‘when it’s done’ and part of working with them is understanding what that really means. Therefore all I can say is that the game is nearly done and we’re working hard on making sure you have something to do on those summer days when it rains, and something to make you really long to do when on those days it doesn’t.
6) Once Prey is released, will Prey have downloadable content via Xbox Live? If so, will this include new maps and new game modes?
Absolutely we’ll have downloadable content. The extent of it really depends on how the game does, but we have plans to support the game with new characters, maps, skins and more. If the game does well, we definitely want to add new multiplayer modes.
7) Is it easy to program on the Xbox 360, compared to the PC or PS3? And which is your preferred platform to work with/on?
This generation of consoles really does make you stop and think about the best way to approach programming. It reminds me in some ways of the evolution from 16-bit to true 32-bit object oriented programming in terms of how you need to change old habits about code. So I guess in summary I’d say it’s not necessarily easier or harder, just different.
Would it be fair to say, if you had the Doom 3 engine and mixed it up with a modified Unreal 2 Engine you would get something similar to Prey?
If you did that you’d have a mess. ? We’ve worked in both engines and they are quite different in most approaches. Doom3 really compares more favourably with the Unreal 3 engine in terms of how it goes about things, but even then they are different animals. Both engines have their strengths and weaknesses in terms of tools, content creation and feature additions. However, we feel we took the best experiences we had developing in each engine and came up with something uniquely our own.
9) We noticed from early builds of Prey; that there was an option for ‘mods’ to be created/upload into the PC version of Prey - could this be reflected within the Xbox 360 version? And/or will there be a Map Editor?
Yes, we’re releasing the sdk and editor (Preditor) for Prey PC and will be actively supporting the mod community. However, to really make mod materials, you’d need a full keyboard and mouse set up, so the majority of the mods are developed for PC.
However, we’ve discussed the concept with 2K that we’d like to promote mods for the 360 community by selecting high end mods and sponsoring their conversion for the 360 and they were really receptive to that. There’s a fair number of details to work out before we can commit to that, but if we can make it happen, we really want to. We feel that promoting mods on Live would really expand the console gamer experience.
10) Would you like to take the opportunity to reveal any exclusive details on Prey and your upcoming titles? And finally what are your thoughts on Xbox Live Tournaments?
There will be a demo on PC and 360, though dates have not yet been confirmed. We’ve not announced our next game yet, but the reaction to Prey had led to some very unique opportunities for us. We would love to see Xbox Live Tournaments for Prey and support them in general. I’d like to have a nice spectator lounge, though, with cocktails. ?
Thanks for taking the time out to chat with us today Tim; we wish you every success with Prey!
Thank you. We hope that our efforts will find a home with the gaming community at large. We’ve worked hard to create something unique and entertaining and we hope that gamers judge us successful in those goals.