Rebellion Studio Visit: Interview

Posted by Corporal Hicks on January 9, 2010 (Updated: 23-Jun-2015)

After playing the game, I had the chance to interview various members of Rebellion: Paul Mackman (Producer), Tim Jones (Project Lead), Alex Moore (Lead Designer), Phil Gresley (Multiplayer Designer) and lastly but not leastly Martin Kennedy (animator).

Corporal Hicks – Now, more than ever, multiplayer is key to a game’s lifespan. Given the competition out there in games such as Halo3 and Modern Warfare, how have Rebellion ensured AvP is going to stand out amongst the crowd?

Phil Gresley – Well they’ve all got distinctive systems of mechanics for gameplay. We’ve brought the combat right into the players face. A lot of modern games, especially Call of Duty, you’re very detached from the action. There’s an opponent, a target, on the other side of the level. You pull you’re trigger, they drop down. What we’ve tried to do, even as the marine, is to bring everything together so the action is always in the immediate space, very up close, very intense. So you know the Alien is going to be lurking around the next corner, you know the Predator is gonna be sitting in the next tree you walk underneath. You’ve always got the tension and the fear as a marine that something unpleasant can happen to you at any moment.

Again, it helps the Aliens and the Predators as we’re trying to promote the melee combat and force everybody into really small areas so you get a very intense combat experience. And because the ranges are very short it gives you the opportunity to get very up close and personal with your targets and take great satisfaction in your kills.

Alex Moore – I think it also induces the most swearing I’ve heard during any multiplayer game played in the office.

 Rebellion Studio Visit: Interview

Corporal Hicks – Martin, what exactly is your role as animator?

Martin Kennedy – If something moves on the screen we did it. We’ve gotta go through and produce a suite of animations for every character. If people are going into cover we gotta make sure all the animations for that are sorted out, gotta do the in game cinematic. There’s no sort of separate divisions here, there’s just a bunch of animators who do the in game content. We just crack on, man. As soon as they come in we just try and get them back out again. Simple as that.

Alex Moore – So basically anything that moves has gone through the animators. Now with the humanoids, yeah there’s been some motion capture there that’s been worked up. You’ll get things where you’ve got people are in a certain cycle with the gun and then the actor won’t get the gun in quite the same place each time that he starts the next animation. So these guys have to tighten it all up and sync it up. But it’s really fucking hard to mark up an Alien…

Martin Kennedy – [laughs] So for that you’ve gotta actually do some hand animation. Personally I was mostly doing the humanoid side of animation like the marines and civilians. A massive amount of my job was taking mo-cap, tidying it up, making sure the poses match and they all seamlessly went into the next bit of animation.

The lead animator got, obviously being the lead animator got to choice his species so he took the Alien and then the guy with the next most experience took the Predator so that left me with the marine because I was the new guy at the time. But you gotta earn your stripes, gotta pay your dues. [laughs] I wanna do something else beside the marines now.

Alex Moore – And this is next gen now. You don’t just basically swap a weapon model out like you did with Quake 3 and bang it’s in the hand. You change the pose, you change the stance. You change the whole Goddamn shebang.

Martin Kennedy – I’ve been working with one of the main tech animators, he’s only just left actually, but Ken Turner, awesome guy. He helped to implement a whole new animation system so instead of seeing guys, you know how you see in some games, guys that just walk up to a spot and entirely rotate. We’ve got a really, really nice blended animation system so people will be looking at them until they reach their natural extreme and the rest of their body will adjust. It just makes them all that more believable. It’s really good.

Corporal Hicks – At the EuroGamer Expo I was informed that you would implementing a leaderboard system. How will this work? Based on XP like Call of Duty or based on skill like with Halo?

Phil Gresley – We have a number of different leaderboards depending on the game modes that you’re playing. The main ranked match system is an XP system, the more you play the more XP you gain for killing, assisting in kills, damaging your opponents. Trying to promote good gameplay in the game modes, you’ve got a variation with… capture the flag. If you work well and defend your capture points they’ll be rewards for that which’ll let you unlock skins as you work through.

So we’ve got an XP based leaderboard, we’ve got leaderboards for the number of matches you play and where you’ve done in each of those. Also a kills leaderboard so you can see how many people you’ve killed as an Alien, as a marine, as a Predator and of course, you’re overall standing in the global rankings.

On top of that, each of the Survivor levels has its own unique leaderboard. After you’ve played that you’re score will get uploaded so you can see how well you’re doing against your friends. So we’ve got the XP system there, full leaderboards but they only worked for the ranked matches. Survivor matches aren’t ranked but each level has its own leaderboard.

Corporal Hicks – Following the recent reveal of the pre-order skins and confirmation of DLC, fans are eager to know if we’ll be seeing any maps based off locations from the films? And I understand it’d depend on whether you were authorized to use their likeness or not but what about skins based on the characters like Hudson or Hicks?

Alex Moore – You’re not going to get anything directly based on the movies…

Corporal Hicks – …Likeness issues?

Alex Moore – Yeah. That’s more the Colonial Marines territory than the Aliens or Predator territory. So no, you’re not gonna get any of that. But DLC, any big games have DLC integrated, making sure people hang onto the game rather than trading it back in. To get through submission these days you need to have a DLC pack ready for the release point so it can come out on time. Anything further into the future than that we’re still negotiating. Fingers crossed.

 Rebellion Studio Visit: Interview

Corporal Hicks – And another one for Martin. Which would do you prefer working on? In-game or cinematic animation. Is there much difference, is one harder than the other?

Martin Kennedy – Well again, because it’s quicker, a lot of the stuff comes to us motion captured. A lot of cut scenes are motion captured and we just have to tidy them up and make them fit round our environments. Personally I prefer cut scene work because I like the theatrical side of animation. It gives you a chance to do some proper character animation. It’s all got its challenges, all got its good points and its bits that make you wanna kill yourself.

Alex Moore – That’s interesting because I asked Ken that exact same question. He said that he loves in-game, because to have your character move in-game, you’ve got hundreds of very small animations that are all linked together and I asked “how do you not go completely insane doing that?”. And he said the buzz of seeing that work in game makes it worth it…

Corporal Hicks – …It’s all worth the effort.

Martin Kennedy – Absolutely, yeah. There’s a lot of grey areas, it’s not just all in-game stuff but when you’ve got set pieces in the game that are essentially tiny little cut scenes that you just happen to walking through. I do enjoy doing the atmospheric stuff, just the little things that set the scene, giving you those little things to look at as you’re wandering through the levels. I like getting my teeth into a big chunk of theatrical animation.

Alex Moore – We’re really trying to show off the full body rig as much as possible. That sort of thing is really cool. The first time you see your hand pulling the levers…

Martin Kennedy – Even things as advanced as Modern Warfare 2, it’s a fantastic game but when you go to pick up the Intel, you hold X and it just disappears. And it works, it’s fairly obvious you’ve picked it up…

Alex Moore – Not really survival-horror though.

Martin Kennedy – I know, but just to have this experience of seeing an actual arm do something for you, it’s cool.

Alex Moore – We want you to connect to the world and you can start feeling scared when the world comes against you.

Corporal Hicks – It’s something you’ve really put effort into with this; the immersion effect. Especially compared to the first one when you essentially had 3 mini-games and no story.

Alex Moore – Games have moved forward a lot in the level of entertainment they deliver than they did ten, fifteen years ago. The budgets have really come in where you are getting some really good actors who come in and delivery really good performances. You get a full orchestra. The expectations from people as well… Bioshock, Half-Life 2. They’ve really raised the bar for what people can expect a game to deliver. We really wanted to pull people into the universe and re-create the films as best as possible.

Corporal Hicks – The violence of the game is something you guys are dead-set on. To the point where you refuse to censor it. Now the game has been banned in Germany and Australia. Do these bannings concern you or Sega in anyway?

Martin Kennedy – I don’t think so. I mean Jason put it out there in a press release about it saying we weren’t going to water the game down. Ultimately he’s dead right. It’s just red-tape standing in the way. There’s no logical reason why Australia couldn’t have an 18 rating. People who want the game will get imported, it’s not going to hurt us. If anything it’s been a bit of decent publicity.

Alex Moore – We’re not going to water down the game for countries that can’t treat adults like adults. Germany’s always one of those places that we’ve known it was going to be difficult because the first one got banned in Germany as well. I think the first AvP was one of the first games to get banned in Germany.

The one thing that the German board hate is the suggestion of torture and that counts as anyone screaming if they’re on fire. Interacting with corpses so everything’s gotta be static. You can’t go into ragdoll, you can’t take their arms off, you can’t headbite them. It’s our decision and Sega said it’s fine.

 Rebellion Studio Visit: Interview

Corporal Hicks – Who wrote the script for the game?

Alex Moore – The script has been a collaboration between many different people. It’s very difficult to just name one person.

Paul Mackman – One of my many roles as a producer was managing the story and the cinematic pieces from a story continuity and narrative point of view. It was really done by external two writers. Gordon Rennie who’s done a lot of work with Rebellion in the past for 2000AD and James Worrall who has worked on a lot of the GTA titles. Two quite talented and qualified writers there.

Tim Jones – As we’ve got through development many of the members of the team, designers in particular, have contributed to the place holder script in many places. The kind of things that need to be said like “What’s happening here?” That kind of stuff.

Paul Mackman – The story originated with the development team and was fleshed out by the writers. As Tim says, the majority of the dialogue in the game is in-mission dialogue and that was written by the designers in the first instance and the writers tend to take that, polish it up, make it more presentable.

Tim Jones – … Make sure it matches the IP [Intellectual Properity] as best it can.

Paul Mackman – That goes off back to us and then off to Sega and Fox and we get their input and tweak it about. Fox have been very involved in the process.

Tim Jones – In the vast majority of cases they’ve been very supportive of what we’ve put forward. And they’ve got a very strong sense that we care about the IP as much as, if not more than they do. They know it’s in safe hands.

Paul Mackman – If you work in this industry it’s almost guaranteed you’re gonna be a fan of these films. We know the licenses off the back of our hands. We’re giving our best to do it justice.

Corporal Hicks – Had you been looking outside the films for inspiration? The Royal Jelly award…that’s something from the comics.

Paul Mackman – We take inspiration from the entire universe really….

Tim Jones – There’s just so much material…

Paul Mackman – The comic books, the games, the films. And all the films, not just the classic films. We take what is useful to us, what we think is appropriate and we do our best with it. When you play the campaigns and the multiplayer you’ll see that we have added a little bit here and there to the universe.

Tim Jones – We’ve added some pretty challenging stuff in there that’s going to get the AvPGalaxy forums alight.

Paul Mackman – We expanded the universe for all three species as well as working with Lance Henriksen to tie them all together as he bridges both Aliens and AvP.

 Rebellion Studio Visit: Interview

Corporal Hicks – Designing maps around three distinctive species and three distinctive gameplay systems. Was that difficult for you?

Phil Gresley – It has been quite a challenge. I did an awful lot of work on the single player before I started multiplayer so I had a lot of opportunities to play on different geometry styles and work out what worked well for the mechanics and then take that experience and put it into the multiplayer.

We’ve been very careful with the way the multiplayer levels are built and constructed to give each species are much freedom as we possibly can. And given the rules we have to work from for the mechanics of the background to work well and it’s been a helluva challenge. Although I can understand the rules, trying to get that information out to the rest of the art team and to make sure they follow the rules has been quite a struggle.

At the end we’ve got a selection of very good maps that work and play well. As you run around it’s going to be a very fluid experience. So the hardest part of doing all that was so to keep it as each species can move around the environment in their unique way. Always allowing Predator the space to jump around the environment, giving Aliens the routes so they can move through the shadows and have open areas to jump into the battles and then back out again to a safe area. It took a lot of revision but what we’ve ended up with is something that works really well. I think people are gonna like that.

Martin Kennedy – I went quite a long time without playing the game at all because I’ve spent so long working on it. When I actually got round to playing the multiplayer after a long hiatus I was pleasantly surprised at how balanced everything was. It was a real worry. It worked out really nicely and it’s really good fun to play.

Corporal Hicks – And what about outfits for your avatars on Xbox Live or PS Network? Will we be seeing any cool marine armor or Predator masks?

Tim Jones – We do have some pretty exciting stuff in development which is currently going through the process of submissions and approvals. There’s nothing I can confirm yet but hopefully they’ll be some stuff that people will be excited about it both of those forums.

Corporal Hicks – In chronological order, how would you place the campaigns?

Alex Moore – They interweave. The Alien starts first, the Alien player is partly responsible for everything going to shit – although it could be Weyland’s tinkering that to blame. After that all interweave and it gets a bit muddy.

Corporal Hicks – So no particular order on how you’d recommend people to play through the campaigns?

Alex Moore – Play it how you want to play it. Just have fun with it.

Corporal Hicks – You guys have talked a lot about how you’ve gone back to the originals to be faithful but you haven’t said much about the influence the AvP movies have had on the game. It’s obvious through the story, the look of the Alien vision for the Predator and of course, in your Predalien design. How important would you say the recent movies have been for you?

Alex Moore – The pyramid, definitely that side of it. And Anderson bringing in a lot more of Weyland-Yutani as a corporation having a slightly fanatical obsession with Predators and wanting to find out more about them. We’ve certainly taken that but for the mood, the setting and the feel we really stuck with the first two Aliens and the first Predator movie.

We’re all fans of the franchise, we all lap up pretty much everything that comes at us. But our heart lies with those first movies.

Corporal Hicks – And because I know our members would kill me if I didn’t ask: When will we be seeing a demo?

Alex Moore – There will be a demo…That’s all we can say. [laughs]

 Rebellion Studio Visit: Interview

Corporal Hicks – AvP2 has been kept alive all these years by fans creating their own media for the game. There’s no denying it, mods improve a games lifespan. So where do you guys stand on it? It was recently announced you’d be supporting dedicated servers like the fans were shouting for but what about modding? Will we be seeing any fan-made maps?

Alex Moore – It’s one of the things we did look at, it was on the wishlist. We just looked at the cost of it…and the fact that yes, this is a sequel…there’s not one line of code, not one bit of art that is from the original game. This is a new game, from scratch. We just couldn’t justify it at the time, we didn’t have the resources.

Martin Kennedy – It is a shame though, I’m a big fan of community mods. It gives people a chance to tweak things around and modify them as they like.

Alex Moore – I came from the community. I made Quake maps and that’s where I came from. I do know how valuable it is and how much people love it. But unfortunately we weren’t at a position where we could implement it. But never say never…maybe some future project.

Corporal Hicks – And I know this one’ll probably be on a lot of gamers’ minds. Achievements and Trophies. Can you give us any examples of what we can expect in the game?

Alex Moore – If you play through the game on normal you’ll unlock an amount of achievements, the rest are there to find, to play through on the harder difficulty modes. You’ve got various other things to find. The Royal Jelly containers, the audio diaries and the Predator’s got hunters belts as well. We award that that. We’ve got a few that are…[to Phil] Are they tied to multiplayer or tied to Survivor?

Phil Gresley – We’ve got some that are specific to Survivor. Most of the multiplayer ones it is possible to unlock in the single player campaign although it will be significantly easier to get them in multiplayer.

Martin Kennedy – One thing to note though is they’ve all got badass names. I think we managed to get it down so that every single achievement is from one of the films.

Alex Moore – More or less. Fox asked us to distribute quotes from all of the films. I think we probably had most of them from Aliens.

Corporal Hicks – You guys have often spoken about how technological improvements have been vital in creating Aliens vs Predator. What improvements in particular, like tessellation and dynamic shadowing?

Alex Moore – The tech side of it, the first AvP was very atmospheric in the lighting in that it was fully dynamic therefore we couldn’t do a AvP game with static lighting. So making sure we could push that forwards, getting shadows in there, getting all the materials on the characters, on the environments, to create the Hive. It does look pretty damn close to the film.

The vision modes and the DSPs ( that are going on with the sound effects…You get a better idea of special awareness. It just helps bring you in. If you’ve got a decent sound kit at home…It’s that kinda advancements that help.

The characters have got an IK [inverse kinematics] solution. So what that means is that these guys’ll animate to a certain threshold and then the code will then put the feet down onto the actual ground and orientate it. So that allows us to have simple geometry underneath. For the Alien to get around you got to have very specific rules and a lot more complicated detail geometry like steps and the characters will step on them properly instead of just floating.

For mega-techno wordy stuff, the Alien tail uses a semi-rigid ragdoll IK solution. In layman’s terms there are animations on the Alien tail that set the rough position, but once the Alien is moving it’s then under code control, which means that if the Alien quickly changes direction (which it does a lot) the tail naturally glides towards the new position. It looks amazing

It’s all about connectivity, connecting with the world and really making it feel like it exists.

 Rebellion Studio Visit: Interview

Corporal Hicks – From what I understand, none of the platforms are ports? All were developed from the ground up independently? How does that work?

Alex Moore – Asura, our in house engine, is cross platform. It’s developed on PC, therefore it works on a PC. Then we aim at the consoles as much as possible. We knew from the offset this was a 360 and PS3 title because that’s where the money is, that’s where the big sales are. Call of Duty was selling 6 million in the first month. You can’t laugh at those numbers. Even Assassin’s Creed is getting to 2 million. Those sort of numbers is where the funding for projects this size come from. So we aim at that, making sure it well on the consoles, getting the control schemes working and I think we’ve done a really good job of that.

And then the PC. We all come from PC backgrounds. The PC is still dear to our heart and with DX11, we really wanna push it forward because there is a lot of interest there and that’s where a lot of fanboy generation started but primarily it’s more focused on the consoles.

Corporal Hicks – The weaponry in the game that didn’t come from the movies, where did you go for inspiration for the designs? Did you use the Colonial Marines Technical Manual at all?

Tim Jones – Indeed. The guy who actually wrote the Marines Technical Manual originally worked at Rebellion. He’d left before I started. We certainly take inspiration from there and that’s filtered into the general wider expanded universe. A little bit has come from the needs of the game and the mechanics that we thought we needed to expand the toolsets of each species. We were keen to retain the iconic weaponry that people love from the movies and the games. The smartgun, flame-thrower, shotgun, the pistol. They’re all well represented in the game.

Paul Mackman – It’s fair to say the motherload of our main staple of weapons for the marines are routed in Aliens.

Tim Jones – We’ve added the scoped rifle to that which is a fairly traditional kind of mechanic for a first person game. We endevoured to make sure that it was asthetically constistant with the rest of the universe. It gave us a different mechanic, a different kind of weapon to the others…

Corporal Hicks – Even the little bits as well, like the name of the pistol…The one in the film was the VP70 and the one is this is the VP78…

Paul Mackman – We took base names and advanced them which names sense as we’re about 30 years on.

Tim Jones – It’s nice to have those little touches in there. It might just be a name or serial numbers on a gun but it’s nice to be able to nod to those kinds of things for those kinds of people that really notice that stuff and obsess about it as much as we do. It should bring a little smile to their faces, knowing that we care about it.

Corporal Hicks – Now we’re seen that you’ve including extras for players to go around the campaigns and find… the audio files for example. Could you give us some detail about those?

Alex Moore – Audio diaries are hallmarks of the AvP license. They were on the Jaguar version. It’s one of those nice ways of getting the background to how things were before the player got there, adding character thoughts, giving more dimension to what’s in the game. They work really well. The Alien has got more standing collectables to find in each mission and to destroy…Weyland has been experimenting on Royal Jelly doing whatever Weyland does…Maybe he’s using it as a off-world drug, maybe it’s a halucagenic…maybe it makes you see giant holo-strippers [laughs]. And the Predator has things to collect as well. You get gamer points for finding everything. It’s a very common thing done in games to get the completists to find everything.

 Rebellion Studio Visit: Interview

Corporal Hicks – What would you say has been the most challenging aspect of developing this game?

Martin Kennnedy – All of it. This is my first industry job. I’ve been here about 2 and a half years now. I came straight from university, everything was just in at the deep end, hit the floor running…so for me it’s been a consistent challenge. That’s good. It allows you to get better, you learn and makes you better prepared to go onto future projects.

I honestly can’t say what the single biggest challenge was for animation. I think trying to make sure we encapsulated the real characteristics of each of them. If you watch…take the Predator campaign. I can’t take credit for this as it wasn’t really my realm but if you watch the cut scenes, the way the Predator handles things. It’s very similar to watching a bloke with a big latex glove on. Going back to the film and watching how the fingers don’t bend properly ’cause it is a bloke in a big latex glove. It’s trying to get that feeling. The biggest challenge is just trying to make sure you nail the reference material. But that’s true of any game if you wanna do it properly. Nail your reference material, make sure you respectful.

Phil Gresley – Probably the challenges of getting the navigation sorted and making that work in environments. The rules don’t lend themselves to a detailed, realistic environment but we managed to find ways round those problems. And creating environments which are visually interesting but we can still move round them as all three species. So getting that nailed on the head and getting that working right took many months.

Alex Moore – The fact that next gen development…things take a lot longer than they ever did.   A decent character model on a PS1, you could knock it out in a day and a half, two days. PS2…a couple of weeks. This gen…three months. Suddenly you need so many more people to get the same amount of content. And then managing that. That’ been a massive challenge.

Martin Kennedy – I think it’s worth noting as well that were we switched publisher and obviously certain people will have different ideas of what should and shouldn’t be happening. The amount of effect that’s gone in, all across the team. Although it’s been noted we’ve been in development for X amount of time the game as it stands now hasn’t been made in as long as you think it has. So the amount of effort that people have put in and to get all this content…Like Alex says it takes so much longer to do stuff on this generation. For a team this size to bang out this much content was a remarkable effort from everyone. It really has been balls-to-the-walls hard work.

Alex Moore – That side of it mixed with keeping actually keeping perspective on what you’re actually doing and what it looks like to a fresh pair of eyes. It’s phenomenally difficult when you’re just bogged down in the detail. The sheer scale of it…I think we all underestimated just how bloody big this game is. It’s turned out really well, we’re all really proud of it. Fingers crossed it will be liked and loved and played.

 Rebellion Studio Visit: Interview

Corporal Hicks – There’s a lot of focus on this from the mainstream media…

Martin Kennedy – That brings a lot of pressure. When there’s a lot of hype and really good build up…I mean, especially in a country like this where we have this tabloid culture of building them up just to knock them down. It’s really hard. If anything it’s an impetus to make sure you knuckle down  and do as well as you can with it because you just want to silence people and not give them a bad thing to say.

Tim Jones – To be frank it is the fact that we are delivering the three rapidly different perspectives in the game. Just the sheer quantity of game mechanics, different approaches to things and delivery…It’s a lot more ambition than a lot of games are doing. We’re delivering three campaigns and sets of mechanics for those species. Particularly for the Predator and Alien which haven’t been very well represented in most first person shooters out there. Adding new stuff to that. Treading on the territory but at the same time increasing the amount of workload we have by three-fold.

Paul Mackman – Which is probably the biggest strength of the game. It’s what makes the game unique is what makes it such a big, big package of content. While that has caused us a degree of challenge it is also rewarding and will be a big part in the success of the game.

Tim Jones – And naturally that ties into the multiplayer side of things where it’s a big thing to have three radically different species and balancing that and making sure the mechanics of the melee combat work in single player and multiplayer…making sure the timings and reaction times of the characters are going to be very different than going up against an AI who’s designed to give you the most satisfaction and fun feedback in the middle of you attacking them is a different matter going up against a human being who has different ideas of how they feel they ought to play the game and to ensure it’s consistent between the two. And that they’re both equally fun from both points of view.

It’s been a challenge but the multiplayer team in particular have been sweating blood and tears over that for a long time. They’re very passionate about making sure it’s everything it can be. I’m very pleased about the way it’s turned out and how people are responding to it. I’ve seen people playing the multiplayer and I just can’t get them off it.

Paul Mackman – I think it’s fair to say though that all of our passion for the game is a big part of what drives you to make it as good as you can, drives you put a helluva lot of blood sweat and tears into it. I mean Lance Henriksen, in the interview, he says “these guys wouldn’t do it if they weren’t passionate”. It is a huge amount of work and because it is this license, one we all care about…It is a big milestone in history for Rebellion and we’re very keen for it to be successful. We have gone the extra mile.

 Rebellion Studio Visit: Interview

Corporal Hicks – Speaking of Lance, how did you end up with him in the game? How did that come in fruition?

Tim Jones – It was very much right from our initial discussions about the game and how it would be set. It was always there…we really wanted to involve Lance Henriksen as Weyland. He was the obvious touchstone having been in Aliens and AvP.

Paul Mackman – And Alien3. In terms of appearance he is the most consistent character…

Corporal Hicks – After Sigourney and Ripley…

Paul Mackman – Of course.

Tim Jones – You know we were really keen to involve the character but we had backup plans in case we weren’t able to secure his attention for the game. Fortunately everything worked out exactly as we hoped and he’s delivered us a great performance and has been really enthusiastic.

Paul Mackman – I think when it comes to video games where you deal with voice acting primarily and Lance Henriksen is quite a voice…

Corporal Hicks – He’s done a lot of video game work…

Paul Mackman – He’s done a fair bit and he has a very distinctive voice, a very powerful voice. In terms of voice casting it was a no-brainer really. He was very cool, very into it. He liked what we’d done with the character and how we’d drawn references from his character in AvP, in Alien 3 and in Aliens. He was really digging parts of the script and I was surprised at just how into it he was and how keen he was.

Tim Jones – It was a real thrill…especially someone like that, someone that iconic and a hero to us as fans and to for him to have the reveal of respect he’s expressed for computer games is unusual in a lot of cases, particularly with someone from the older generations. The fact that he seems to really see the value in what we’re trying to do as an entertainment medium. Obviously we’ve grown up with the movies, we love the movies but certainly as far as I’m concerned it’s great to explore the universe in whatever medium. It was a real thrill to hear Lance himself understand why it’s so cool, why movies aren’t better than games and it’s the way forward; Interactive media is here to stay. It’s really exciting to be able to explore those things.

Paul Mackman – I think it’s good for people who have come to the game from a movie background. Whether they’re slightly younger and probably come to it from the AvP films or the older generation and they’re into Aliens…They’re gonna come to this and they’re gonna have a touch stone. They’re gonna have a character they recognize.

Corporal Hicks – Now…these backup plans?

Tim Jones – Without going into too much detail or revealing to much I think the Weyland-Yutani Corporation has two sides to it. There’s the Weyland side and then there’s the Yutani side…That’s something we could have explored. As it happens we were lucky enough to go the full on Weyland route and that leaves the Yutani side of things open for exploration in the future.

 Rebellion Studio Visit: Interview

Corporal Hicks – And finally. Can you tell us, in your opinion, what makes this game the one that all the AvP fans out there should pick up?

Martin Kennedy – That’s a tough one man and again because we’re so involved in it it’s hard to be objective. Genuinely I hadn’t played the Survivor mode at all until the other day and I played it for the first time and I’ve seen every model that has gone into the game, every animation, every location …and playing that game mode…I physically jumped. It made me proper brick it. It’s got good atmosphere. I think it’s been worth the wait. You guys have been clamoring for a sequel for what? 10 years? This is pretty close to being the game everyone wanted. It’s as close as we can get it. We really did pull the stops out on this one.

Alex Moore – It’s the experience. The single player campaign is something we’re really proud of but it’s the multiplayer…You know, buy it to go rip your friend’s head off and laugh at them as you do it.

Martin Kennedy – Exactly! Let me change my answer: Trophy kills! That why you should buy it! If you wanna see what a headless bloke looks like gasping his last breaths this is the game for you.

Alex Moore – It’s the sheer satisfaction of getting one up on some guy who has a big fucking gun and getting behind him and ripping their head off.

Phil Gresley – I’m gonna have to say the multiplayer. It does add a very good experience. This is the first game I’ve worked on where I still enjoy playing it. I’ve played the game modes, I’ve played the Survivor modes literally hundreds of times and I still enjoy going back and playing all of it again. I’m not that good at it but I still enjoy playing it. Normally after you’ve spent so long working on a project you just lose interest and it’s difficult to be kind about it. This is the one game I’ve worked on where it hasn’t. Even after seeing it so many times…there’s a lot of replay value in it. People will enjoy it.

Paul Mackman – I think you have to return to the three species. You really do get three very different experiences. It’s one of the few games where you do get to see through the eyes of the monster and you find yourself as the Alien…you find yourself sympathizing with his objectives and to see the Queen as your master. As the Predator, you get into it. You’re the hunter now. And as the marine you just doing your very best to survive. I think it’s those three different perspectives that draw on different aspects of the characters…

Tim Jones – The other thing is it’s not just a retread of things people love about the franchise. We make sure we deliver that stuff but we’re delivering new stuff here. If your an AvP fan you care about either of those creatures or the marines…You want to experience that universe. We’re revealing new stuff…

Paul Mackman – You’ll learn more about the Company, about the Predator history… You’re gonna learn about the Aliens.

Tim Jones – I like to think this is the ultimate AvP experience if you like.

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Sega and Rebellion for helping sort this out, especially Alex and Martin. I had a fantastic time down there. I hope the community enjoys this interview and you can all look forward to my detailed gameplay review in the next few weeks.

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