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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:26 pm 
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Sorry to revive a long dead thread but may be relevant,not sure if this is re-post of youtube audio interview and transcript of Austin Grossman talking about games he worked on,including briefly trespasser..



youtube audio here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9eIqUsfn0c

transcript here http://www.binarydrift.com/LookingGlass/AustinGrossman.html

Edit: mixed up the name there randomly thought this interview was releated,I guess they were part of same teams though so sort of is.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:10 pm 
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Forum Admin To The Rescue! Do doot do DO! Splitting this off as it's own topic. Here's what I believe is all of the relevant Trespasser discussion. They do mention Trespasser a few times other than this but this is the part specifically about it:

Matthew Weise Oh, I would agree. Anyway, I just want to give a shout out to this one, 'cause I think it was pretty phenomenal, and I guess not a lot of people actually made it to the end. So that's really cool. I don't know if it makes sense to go through a few more games. I know you worked on a lot of stuff. Notable for me was Trespasser, and I'm wondering if we could talk about that a little bit or if you'd be willing to talk about that.

Austin Grossman I have no problem talking about that.

Matthew Weise Okay. So for people who don't know, after you left Looking Glass, how did the Dreamworks stuff actually come about?

Austin Grossman Dreamworks was starting up its studio right about 1995 or so. It was a big deal, because they were starting up a music studio and a film studio at the same time, and it had an interactive wing which Microsoft owned half of, so it was a crazy big deal. Seamus Blackley was going out there, and it was kind of his idea, that he'd made the connection out there. And just he'd done Flight Unlimited, and had done some physics programming for System Shock and Terra Nova. He'd had the idea that we were going to go out there. The idea was that it was going to be a creativity driven place, and they would kind of give us all the rope we needed to hang ourselves, and that dream came true.

[laughter]

Matthew Weise Just to give you perspective, as a gamer I first heard about Trespasser as the crazy game with the hand. And I remember reading about it and saying “oh wow, that can't be that crazy, can it?” And then I remember playing it and being really blown away. When Andrew came into interview, did we mention it?

Andrew Grant Oh, yeah.

Matthew Weise When, in the interview? And you were like “Oh my God.” And we were like “no, no, no, it's really interesting.” We found it to be a very interesting experiment.

Austin Grossman There were a great many good ideas that went into it. [pause] Well, I don't know how much you want to break this down.

Matthew Weise I guess what I'm interested in about the game is: how do you see the game fitting into that kind of design trajectory that you talked about, the reducing of cognitive dissonance, right-

Austin Grossman Sure, sure.

Matthew Weise -coming from System Shock, and where does the game fit into that, in terms of what you were trying to do versus what was created.

Austin Grossman We did a great many of the same things we did in System Shock, narratively. We had an island that was de-populated, that had left traces of the people who had lived on it. The second film of “Jurassic Park”, “The Lost World:”, did a lot of messing with the “Jurassic Park” canon, which is something that no one cares about. [laughter] Anyway, we did a lot of the same things, there were a lot of writings left by different inhabitants. There was a central presence on the island, which was John Hammond, the guy who ran the company that had originally cloned the dinosaurs, so his history was encoded there. So we did lot of the same tricks. We did a new thing by giving the protagonist a voice as well, which is something we didn't do in System Shock.

Matthew Weise I see you got your female protagonist in that game as well.

Austin Grossman I did. I did.

Andrew Grant Also, for the UI, we went in the same direction as well. You go from Underworld to System Shock, the UI is a little more seamless. It feels like part of the world. Trespasser we did the same thing by removing the UI entirely.

Austin Grossman There were many purisms that happened in Trespasser, and one was no HUD. Like System Shock, we had targeting that was independent of your movement. That is to say, we didn't just have a targeting cursor locked at the center of the screen. You could target independently of movement.

Matthew Weise It wasn't mouselook, you were actually moving...I mean, you were using a mouse, but you were moving a reticle.

Austin Grossman Yes.

Matthew Weise So I know that the Trespasser story is a long one in terms of how the game sort of ended up the way it is. There's all sorts of stuff you can say about what you were trying to do with the physics and all this kind of stuff. But one of interesting things that Andrew has said in the past is that, some of the interesting unrealized ideas is that...It was very much more of an open-world kind of place, right? It's just like “I'm just exploring this haunted island and there's dinosaurs,” right? I remember you said at one point that the dinosaur population has this kind of ecosystem aspect to it?

Andrew Grant The AI was designed to have ecosystem aspect to it, but it's unrealized because of the development problems. We never got to take advantage of that fact.

Matthew Weise Well, you said it's basically commented out, or kind of just shut off, basically. What was it supposed to do?

Andrew Grant Well, theoretically the dinosaurs were supposed to act kind of like animals rather than game adversaries. So you'd have your dinosaur, T-rex maybe, and maybe he'd be hungry and maybe he wouldn't be hungry. And as time went on, he might get more hungry. So if you were to waste too much time in an area, he might start thinking “you know what, you look kind of yummy.” So if you could maybe lead him off to another dinosaur, maybe he'd eat that instead, because he thought it was less dangerous. If you shot him a couple times, he'd think “Well, hey, you're...I'll eat that brontosaur instead.”

Austin Grossman We definitely wanted to reproduce some of the moments we liked in other videogames. We thought it was always cool when monsters turned on one another. When there was the sense that you weren't the only interesting presence in the world, and that you could have some unpredictable effects out of monsters turning on one another. That was something that actually happened in DOOM. If you could get creatures in DOOM to shoot one another, they'd start to fight one another. And that was one of those cool things where you could manipulate the world in an interesting way, and you could make a cool plan that you could carry out, that wasn't designer-driven. That was one of the kinds of moments we wanted to happen in Trespasser as well. We innovated on many, many fronts. We had many, many ideas that we stuffed into the thing, which was one of the big difficulties with making it work.

Matthew Weise The game's sort of famous for a lot of it's unrealized ideas, and some of the awkwardness of the interface. Would you agree with that...or...how would you characterize how the game turned out?

Austin Grossman Oh, I don't know. It didn't really work out, did it?

[laughter]

Matthew Weise That's its reputation. I'm just wondering, given some of the design ideals you were talking about before...what do you feel the legacy of the game is, in that sense? What do you think the game achieved, do you feel like it achieved anything other games learned from, sort of came along later and sort of successfully did?

Austin Grossman It did a lot of things other games tried to do later. It was a shooter, but it was outdoors, in a fairly open environment. It had a female protoganist. It combined physics gameplay with shooter gameplay. When I actually went to see Jay Stelly talk about using physics in Half-Life 2, they had run into so many of the same problems we did that it was kind of uncanny. We kind of ran headlong into some of the problems that other people had with physics later. And even now physics feels a little underutilized in 3D gaming, because the design problems it poses are actually really, really hard. Even when you have very stable physics middleware like Havok.

Andrew Grant It's not just physics. In a whole bunch of areas, the rendering of outdoor scenes, it's easy to say “yes, FPS and outdoor scene,” but that was a gigantic rendering challenge that-

Austin Grossman Oh yeah, and hearking back to System Shock, we again straddled a big technological transition point, which was dedicated graphics cards.

Andrew Grant Right, right.

Austin Grossman We had an initial renderer written without those things, and we never quite adapted , if I understand it correctly.

Andrew Grant Yeah, yeah.

Austin Grossman So that was another crossing a technology line in course of development, that kind of handicapped the final product.

Matthew Weise So just to give a little bit of my own experience with the game, just as a player: Each summer here when we have the students come, and we talk about game design and they all make games, we have this night where we talk about UI, and games with different UI issues so we usually show Trespasser. And the first summer, we were showing Trespasser. We actually had a really great experience showing the game to a bunch of kids, and it was one moment where I feel like the elements of the game came together, perhaps the way they were intended. I remember I had a gun, and I had dropped it and there was a dinosaur. It was a roomful of kids watching the game and the audience response to the game was pretty phenomenal. Everybody was like “Oh my God, pick up the gun.” Because that hand is so awkward, you really got this feeling of like “I'm reaching for it but there's all these other things affecting my behavior, and I'm really trying to aim it,” and everything like that and at that moment it didn't feel like a game that didn't work, it felt like I was a clumsy human being having this confrontation with this really powerful animal.

Austin Grossman You could have, every once in a while, cool moments like that. The downloadable demo for Trespasser actually plays much better than the shipping game, 'cause we did it after the shipping game-

Matthew Weise Oh really, wow.

Austin Grossman -yeah, we learned how to leverage some of those things. We had a really great tech demo. Which goes to show you that when you have a technology, and you leverage it properly and constrain it properly you can do great things, which is something we didn't really manage to do in Trespasser. If you hang around and just shoot raptors and see their cool skeletons deform, and see them react...isolated moments were really great. It was one of the things tricked us into thinking we had a really great product.

Andrew Grant That's the thing about Trespasser: its lows are really low, but its highs are really high. When things are just working and it's going quite well, it's remarkable. But you have to wait a long time and slog through a lot of not so great really bad stuff, before you can get to one of those moments.

Austin Grossman I was at GDC a couple years ago, I think during one of the rant sessions. And Chris Hecker as he likes to do, brought up Trespasser, 'cause he and Seamus have a back and forth thing. And Chris, I think, said the important thing about it which was that like “yeah it was a mess, but they could have done a cookie-cutter shooter at that point, and banged it out, and no one would remember it, but they tried a bunch of different things and it didn't work, and wouldn't you rather developers did that, by and large?”

Andrew Grant Well, if you're a buyer, perhaps. If you're a corporate entity, perhaps not.

Matthew Weise I've been spreading the word about Trespasser. There was a guy I talked, and I was like “have you heard about this game?” And he was like “no, what is that?” And I sort of described it to him, and he like “I gotta see that, that sounds crazy.

Austin Grossman I still get e-mailed about it. We're probably lucky that six months after it came out, Daikatana came out. So that kind of wiped the memory.

Matthew Weise Oh my God.

Austin Grossman People don't remember Daikatana either, do they?

Matthew Weise I remember Daikatana. They were selling it at MicroCenter for four or five bucks and they had like fifty copies or something, [unintelligible] went and bought half of them. He was like “Oh my god, they're selling Daikatana I bought twenty of them.” I'm probably exaggerating. He bought more than one.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:30 pm 
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I'm always curious to see if any of those guys drop by TresCom and check out our work. I wonder what they would think of the wide diversity of projects and levels we've been able to work on.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 4:36 pm 
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Andrew Grant was another programmer from the team, right?

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 5:11 pm 
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Yeah, one of the main programmers, I think.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 6:24 pm 
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Slugger wrote:
I'm always curious to see if any of those guys drop by TresCom and check out our work. I wonder what they would think of the wide diversity of projects and levels we've been able to work on.


I concur with that.

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