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Mercenary's menu Interview


[Dave] - Eric Peterson (Vicious Cycle)
[Yurg] - Yuri Bushin (Freelancer)

[Yurg] Eric, please tell our readers a bit about yourself. Where did you work before VC and how's VC is going now.

[Dave] Well Yurg, as you may already know from visiting our website, I am the President of Vicious Cycle Software, Inc. and my partners and I (Wayne Harvey and Marc Racine) started this company due to some unfortunate circumstances that occurred the other year when most of our team at Hasbro Interactive/MicroProse Software was laid off. We had a few choices, we could have either gone our separate ways or we could have tried to create opportunities for ourselves and our fellow team members (basically, by starting our own game company). Obviously, we opted for the latter. As far as how things are going now, well they couldn't be better. Everyone is hard at work on our new project and we are currently looking to expand our possibilities to a second project.

[Yurg] Eric, tell us about VC's proprietary engine. How many revisions did it go through during the last year? What is it capable of now? Is your engine cross-platform? Will be there any difference between, say, PSX2 or Xbox versions (if any exist)? Is it capable of using platform-specific features?

[Eric] Over the last year our engine has gone through three stages of enhancements. We have added many new features that really allow an artist/designer/level designer to make the most of their experience while using our editor/engine. Many features are developed and included within our technology to create great gameplay, as well as, visually stunning graphics. For example, one of the latest features added earlier this year was the terrain engine. Originally, we did not need such technology, but due to a specific requirement, we created it. Other enhancements are platform dependent and will take advantage of different aspects of next generation hardware. We also added an in-game cinematic editor that will allow us to lead the player through the game's missions and objectives, as well as, the storyline. The features go on and on. We are constantly adding to the technology when a new need arises. Eventually, our engine will run on all consoles. Our plans are to support our engine on the Gamecube, PS2 and Xbox. Our development also occurs on the PC, but we currently do not plan to make games for the PC market.

[Yurg] What level of landscape complexity the engine boasts? I mean, if one would create a city using your engine, will it live in real-time? Is it capable of rendering complex buildings?

[Eric] Well right now our landscape it quite large in scale and covers many miles. So, if one were walking at human scale, then it would take a long time to actual cover an entire map. Basically, it could allow for many hours of gameplay if the level was packed with things to do. Can we create a city? Yes. Can we create complex buildings? Yes. Will it live in real-time? Only if we tell it to :) I assume that you mean can there be a living, breathing city. If we spend the time or had the need, we could make it seem quite active and alive. However, at this time everything is being placed in the world as if it had a purpose. And the AI is built to support the game. After all, we aren't making simulations anymore. We are concentrating our efforts on making great action-oriented games. Games that are fun and entertaining, yet not realistic and management oriented like a sim.

[Yurg] Does the engine include physics laws imitation (deformable landscape/buildings, g-force, complex optic effects and many other features everybody is so fond of)? Are there any unique, never-before done features?

[Eric] Currently our engine is capable of simple physics modeling - specifically for player and non-player characters. However, we are in the process of adding physics to non-player entities while trying not to overburden the game with more maths than is necessary to achieve an enjoyable gameplay experience. Destruction is very important for our current project, so we are working on elaborate destruction systems for such things as large buildings and, of course, the characters in the game. Our character animation engine is quite impressive - capable of blending a number of animations to achieve the desired motion (all driven by the physics engine). As to never-before done features... Mum's the word :)

[Yurg] GeForce 3 opened a whole new playfield for engine creators. Does your engine support GF3-specific features? Or, for that matter, ATI Technologies' mythical RADEON 2?

[Eric] Since, we plan on supporting the Xbox, we have done what many developers have done, and are using the GeForce 3 as our prototype card. As for the Radeon 2, no we haven't thought about supporting that card specifically. But let me reiterate that we are not currently making PC titles, so the need to utilize specifics from PC cards is low on our priority list right now. We will however continue to work with ATI technology as we eventually segue to the Gamecube.

[Yurg] Eric, what kind of project you'd love to create were it your will to choose? Maybe recreate something like recently killed X-COM Genesis (not Genesis itself, but something that's spiritually close).

[Eric] To be honest, most of us here at Vicious Cycle Software, Inc. want to take a long needed break from the strategy market. So, I don't see us returning to such products as X-Com or any other simulated turn-based or real-time games any time soon. We are concentrating on action and fun gameplay that translates into a great console experience. This is partly due to the fact that the strategy/simulation market has become an even more niche market than it was before. I think that a first party developer or an internal development studio for a company could afford to take such a risk on a product, but since we are a third party developer, it behooves us to create games that appeal to larger audiences. The one thing I want to make perfectly clear is that we still want to make great games!

[Yurg] Are there any projects based on this engine? Could you briefly describe these projects (if any... oh well :)?

[Eric] The only thing I can clue anyone in on right now is what we are doing. Currently we are working on next generation console versions of Robotech. You can read more about it from the press release that was issued from TDK Mediactive, our publisher. This press release can be viewed either on our site, our publisher's site or Robotech's official site On that note, just keep an eye out for more news as it is released.

[Yurg] Are you going to (already done) license your engine to other companies?

[Eric] At this time, no. This engine and editor are for in-house use only.

[Yurg] Thank you very much for interesting conversation. I wish great successes to you and your colleagues!

[Eric] Thank you!


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