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Monday 4th December 2000


GameSpot UK - Designer Diary Part One Day One
Posted: Monday, 04 December 2000 11:17am GMT

    GameSpot UK have started their Designer’s Diary for Z: Steel Soldiers.  The first part will run for the next five days and hopefully again in a month’s and two month’s time.

    Z: Steel Soldiers (PC) Week Day One - The godfathers of gaming, Mike Montgomery and John Kershaw, talk us through the latest developments. Let Them Speak
    Plus: Z: Steel Soldiers Designer Diary Gallery & Video Clip (pages have been moved).
    Forum: Strategy Games

    The Interview

    Bitmaps' Mike Montgomery and John Kershaw talk us through the latest news on the title

    GameSpot UK:
    What's the story behind the name change?


    Bitmap Brothers:
    MM: Well, basically we didn't really like the name Z2. It was something that we've been using for the past four years on the game and we always knew that it really wasn't going to be the title, especially after we'd signed with Eon. We had to make a very conscious effort to change the name and probably we should have done it a little bit earlier.

    We asked everyone involved from both the Bitmaps and Eon and drew up a list of names and then chose the ones we thought were good. I think we narrowed it down to about five, but a couple of those had already been used or had some legal problems surrounding them and Steel Soldiers was the one that was picked and we decided to go with that. It represents the game to a certain extent in that we've got robots in there, they're made of metal and they're soldiers so it fits the game as well.

    GameSpot UK:
    What are some of the other names you considered?


    Bitmap Brothers:
    MM: Some of the silly ones or just the ones that didn't make it? Well Rust in Pieces but we thought that was a bit too comical even though there is quite a lot of humour in the game. What else? The Art of War, which I really liked but that's the title of a book and we found we couldn't use it.

    JK: What else? There was a massive list, and they were floating around for weeks, but I can hardly remember any of them now.

    MM: What we actually did was go out and buy a lot of books and looked at lots of military terms which was actually quite an eye opener in itself because you find out all sorts of strange things, like the real reason for the term 'Brass Monkeys' when they used to sit on top of a pile of cannonballs.

    GameSpot UK:
    What stage is Steel Soldiers at now and what are your aims for the next couple of months?


    Bitmap Brothers:
    MM: Well we're actually at a stage between Alpha and Beta, which means that the code's complete, and by that I mean the whole thing not just the programming side and beta is the point where you've narrowed everything down. We're at the stage where there are a few things that we're nailing down and there are a few bugs and stuff like that to iron out. Each department is at a slightly different stage heading towards that beta and the plan over the next 6-8 weeks is to finish the game which involves some of the more serious working hours to come. We're also at a point where we've started the FMVs with Audio Motion. We've got Martin Pond, who's done the script, and we've done all the recording for the FMVs now and we're using the same guys who did the characters in Z to keep continuity there and it sounds really good.

    JK: The FMVs are being carried out by Audio Motion up in Banbury and we approached them because knowing the size of the task involved we don't actually have the resources here to do it and the cost involved is just through the roof now. Audio Motion has a great reputation and we decided that we'd rather go down that route. In-game characters are being created there - guys that are an inch high on screen, there's actually no great detail, but the main focus for the characters is still really from the original title. You know Brad Allen and we're developing them with the guys up there so they'll look really cool, ready for marketing and everything else as well. Storyboards are being constructed up there as well and we're pretty much final on the storyboards, so we starting to look at the locations and getting ready to begin the motion capture for all the characters and the scenes. We'll be creating between 12 and 15 minutes of FMV sequences and it's quite a lot of involved work.

    MM: What we're actually doing is using a mix of FMV and in-game shots. You've got the intro and the outro and I think five other pieces of FMV throughout and then on each level there'll be in-game sequences that set the scene for the mission and outline your objectives.

    GameSpot UK:
    So what are you working on in-house art wise?


    Bitmap Brothers:

    JK: Now we're actually doing what we call Gold Plating. Going over everything we've done and making sure it looks just right and making sure nothing is missing. It's a cleaning up process, making sure it's ready and consistent with the various environments and giving it a final polish. It's an exciting time for the art department because we're nearly at the stage of completion and putting the whole project to bed.

    MM: One thing that we've just revised is the status display, which we were unhappy with. That's been totally re-drawn at the moment and it's going to be a bit of a departure from what it looked like before. We won't know for another fortnight how it's going to end up. I wouldn't say it's experimental because we're quite determined about what we want to do. The programmers want a button here or a button there but the Art department just go off and do exactly what they want to do anyway and then we have to come back and say hang on a minute! We're hoping to end up with something that a little sleeker than what we've got at the moment and blends well with what we've got. To be fair I think it's about the fourth time we've actually changed it since the game began.

Taken from GameSpot UK

GameSpot UK

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