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An Interview with Rob Elam

Part 2

11. OMF:BG is set to use motion captured animations. Have you/are you planning on hiring professional martial artists? How are you planning on solving the issue of inhuman motion, a la Flail or Gargoyle?

Well, we've had several local actors do sessions with us, and much of the acting I've done. We'd like to get some more martial artists with more varied styles, but we haven't had much time to search lately. As explained above, we solved the problem with Flail by chickening out :). We're pretty confident we can do Gargoyle with a human actor, even though his body structure is not really human. If you're cute about joint placement, you can attach motion capture data to some freaky looking creatures.

12. Please describe your development machine, and why you chose it as such.

Umm, well, right now I'm using an Athlon Thunderbird 800, with a TNT2 and 256meg ram, and 2 stripped IBM Deskstars. I chose it because it was about the best I could afford at the time :). I do have a GeForce2 that I had to give to another team member because the motherboard doesn't seem to like it. I chose the Athlon because I'd used AMD chips in the past and they were good and I wanted to see if they were back in the game. I wish I'd stuck with Intel, but that's life (BTW, AMD processor is great, it's the motherboards that I think are not quite ripe yet). Choosing an NVidia based video card is a no-brainer, the other guys seem to think drivers aren't important. NVidia may not be perfect, but they're WAY ahead of everyone else, IMHO.

13. What APIs is OMF:BG set to support? Direct3D, OpenGL or perhaps even Glide?

Direct3D and OpenGL, that's likely it. No freaking way will we do Glide, Glide is dead, real dead, so dead it can't move.

14. Is OMF:BG expected to come out for any platform other than the PC (for example, Microsoft's upcoming X-Box)?

Actually, the X-Box is the platform we're most interested in, even more so than the PC. One of the biggest reasons developers don't like the PC is the vastly different configurations you can have and the compatibility issues they inevitably cause, the X-Box promises to eliminate, or at least alleviate, that issue while still retaining what makes PC development so cool (cheap development systems, highly evolved information and tool base, and Microsoft Visual C++). And to top it off, the X-Box ships with a game pad! For us the X-Box is an absolute dream come true.

15. Some additional topics. What games are you current favorites?

I play Quake 3 quite a bit (yea, that puts me in a minority, right :)). Actually, Quake 3 Fortress is what I likely play the most. Surprisingly, there's not a fighting game out right now that's worth my time, I used to play them a lot but now they just bore me. I'm looking forward to Tribes 2, but I have a sneaking suspicion they won't fix the things that were truly wrong with it.

16. What kind of game would you create if you had an infinite budget? Or infinite development time? Or both?

Hehe, well, I think I'd really enjoy making an action/adventure game that's not super long. One where a huge amount of detail can be given to each environment and character rather than just a bunch of levels. I'd love to create something that is unforgettable and short (about 4 hours or so), something that people can play, love, and then leave.

17. If you could have three things while stranded on a desert island (WITHOUT any 'net connections), what would they be?

Michelle Pfeiffer, an endless supply of Michelina's frozen meals (that'd come with a microwave, right?), and a beach ball (well, I've got food and Pfeiffer, what more could a man want?).

18. If you weren't a computer game designer, what profession would you be in?

Hmm, well, I'd either still be delivering pizza, working some typical programming job, or construction.

19. What kind of advice would you give someone who wants to get involved in the game development industry?

Start small, start small, and whatever you do, start small. Beyond that, know this is what you want to do, it's a lot of work and no matter how much you end up getting paid, there's likely someone else out there that'd do it for free. It's a highly sought after job, and as such, people will sacrifice to get it, you've got to do the same.

20. Any final comments?

Ehh, I think I’ve spewed enough wisdom for today :).

Well that's it! A million and seventy-six thanks must go to Rob Elam for taking the time to answer these questions. Thanks also go to Judy Elam for providing me with the opportunity to do this interview, and to Jim for helping out.

Tomer Gabel is a long-time contributor to MobyGames, having been one of the most prolific contributors almost from our inception.

The Fine Print: Copyright 2000 MobyGames. The use of this article in print, online, or any other media or medium is prohibited without the express written permission of the author.

Table of Contents: An Interview with Rob Elam