Interview exclusive du développeur d'Alien versus Predator (Andrew Whittaker) réalisée par Pocket_mag (Yaronet). 03/02/2004


Pocket : Hi Andrew ! Thank you for taking your time to answer this interview.
Andrew Wittaker : No problem, it's always a pleasure.

I/ Alien versus Predator

Pocket : Can you explain us what was you work, with Alien versus Predator at Rebellion and Atari ?
AW : Ok, well firstly, I worked for atari and not rebellion and atari hired me to work with Rebellion on the product.

Pocket : Interesting. So let's talk about your work. The artificial intelligence is really impressive in AVP. How did tou code it ?
AW : All done on the 68000, all of the gameplay logic is done on the 68000.the AI was the most complicated part of the entire game, with over 256 strategies for each creature. The 68000 was ideal for that as obviously the GPU is really suited to graphics processing whilst the instruction set of the 68k lends itself nicely to AI.

Pocket : It is said that you slowed down the game to add "pressure" on the player. Is it true ?
AW : Quite true yes, although not pressure on the player, although that helps. But actually to give more atmosphere and force the player to use strategy. The idea is not to be a fast action FPS, but a game where you must think carefully and move strategically.

Pocket : I think AVP did it really well !
AW : Thank you sir. I didnt want people rushing around shooting all the time, the game is about planning. This isn't Quake, in Quake the creaturesonly "come alive" when you get near them, in AVP they hunt you and the more you move, the more noise you make, they can home in on that. The creatures work together. Sometimes an alien that looks stupid may lead you into a trap of other aliens for example. They plot and plan different ways of capturing the player, and if you dash around you will die. Its a game of stealth really, I call the game "Alien Chess" because of the way they think many moves ahead and work together as a team.

Pocket : What was Atari's power of decision ? Could you really do what you wanted with the game ?
AW : Atari and Sam Tramiel especially were very supportive, they let me make the game I wanted to make. I even used the Atari office at night to practice Ai strategies, by using Atari staff as aliens and me as the player and trying different ideas in their building with real people.

Pocket : You had all the time you wanted to finish the game ?
AW : Oh yes, even though it was delayed due to me spending some time in hospital.

Pocket : I played the beta, many things changed in the final version.
AW : Yes, to me the beta was the first draft, when I saw what I had and if it was how I wanted it. Even after beta I made a lot of changes because I was allowed to do so, many of the wargames with real people happened after beta and I included what we found out.

Pocket : How do you consider the final game ?
I enjoy it, but there are still things I would change, some graphics here and there.

Pocket : What for example ? Just graphic parts ?
AW : Yes minor graphic tweaks, and maybe another couple of predator AI skills, but all in all I was happyand people seem to enjoy the game which is good

Pocket : Do you know how many copies of AVP were produced and how many were sold ?
AW : 300,000 or thereabouts, sold.


II/ The Jaguar

Pocket : How did you consider the Jaguar at this time ? Interesting to develop for ?
AW : It was wonderful to develop for, a lot of fun.

Pocket : What were, for you, the strongest and weakest points of the system ?
AW : Weakest was some of the graphics bottlenecks, strongest really was the fact the 68000 could get on with gameplay logic whilst the GPU was doing graphics, giving a form of multitasking.

Pocket : Back ten years ago, how did you judge the Jaguar ? Atari's politic ?
AW : I think the jaguar was a great machine, wonderful machine, let down by marketing.

Pocket : What are your favorite games on Jaguar ?
AW : T2k, Iron Soldier and thats about all I play.

Pocket : And you think the Jaguar potential has been fully exploited today ? Or better games can be done ?
AW : On any system games can be improved, even if its just gameplay. Technicaly speaking, the Jaguar was maxed out.

Pocket : Did you code on it later, for fun ?
AW : Yes, nothing commercial though. I did a scrolling shootemup, a few technical things.

Pocket : Do you still have it ?
AW : No unfortunately not, I lost it a while ago in a house move.

Pocket : And did you never though coding again, for fun, on jaguar ?
AW : Always wanted to, never had the time with work projects. This is the problem when projects take all your time in this industry.

Pocket : Did you look at the latest developments of the Jaguar community these past few years ?
AW : Yes, and I have and offered unofficial advice and support wherever I could. I feel right at home in the community, more than any other it has made me welcome.


III/ Life after Alien versus Predator ?

Pocket : After AVP, what happened to you ? did you work on another Jaguar game ?
AW : No that was my one and only Jaguar game, I went from there to MGM Studios

Pocket : So you weren't involved in Checkered Flag ?
AW : No, that was Rob Dibley, I offered hardware advice on coding the hardware but that is it, none of my code in there at all, no creative involvement. And immediately before AVP was darkseed with HR Giger, hence the link to the alien. Before that, well ST games such as the Midwinter series in partnership with my friend Mike Singleton, Rainbow Islands, Ranarama.

Pocket : What did you do at MGM Studios ?
AW : Vice President - Creative and director of development. Working both on software and the movies themselves. The biggest hit game from that time were the james bond games, especially Goldeneye for the n64.

Pocket : Great game ! It really pushed the N64.
AW : Thank you Its my aim to push every system I work with, be it the sinclair spectrum, n64, jaguar or PC, as I believe in giving people as much quality game for their money as I can

Pocket : What did you do exactly on Goldeneye ?
AW : A lot of the AI routines from AvP found their way there, and of course I was heavily involved creatively, as my job was to manage exact how James Bond was used in games.

Pocket : What did you do on PC ?
AW : I left MGM for Electronic Arts, so got involved in a whole load of titles there, Dungeon Keeper, Theme park, Indestructibles, etc.

Pocket : Did you work on the first PC sequel of AVP too ?
AW : Yes I did, although most of the avp algorithms I put into goldeneye on the N64.

Pocket : Interesting ! Did you work at Rare later ?
AW : I was attached to Rare when I worked at MGM who owns the James Bond licence. I did all my AVP coding either from home or at the atari office in sunnyvale, I only visited Rebellion once. Rebellion originally provided the artwork. If you look in the AVP credits you will see that only some people are from Rebellion. Its a common misconception people have.

Pocket : Again Andrew, thank you for your time !


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