Brian Pelletier
Raven | Project Leader | May 23, 2003, 14:57:50 (ET) |

Name: Brian Pelletier
Description: Project Leader/Art Director
Project: XMen

reason number 2 for why Elite Force is shorter to play than we wanted it
to be.

The levels couldn't be as big as QII levels:

The wonderful thing about the Quake III engine is that you can have many
more polygons in the view at one time, allowing for more detailed levels,
rooms and of course curves. Without this engine we wouldn't have been able
to create such accurate looking Voyager rooms and locations. When we started
building levels, we made them like we did using Quake I & II technology. We
had big expansive levels that looked awesome and showed off what the Quake
III engine can do. Then, somewhere near the middle of our development we
realized that the file size of most of our levels were huge, around 11 to
15 Meg a piece where they should be about 6meg. The levels were the normal
game-world size of a Quake II level, so what was the problem? The cause of
the problem was the high poly (or triangle count) used to create a much
more intricate and detailed environment. We realized that although Quake III
can handle more polygons in the view at one time, the file size for the level
has not increased much from a Quake II level. We had a dilemma; we can bring
the file size down by taking out all of the detail that makes the Quake III
engine superior and keep the physical size, or we cut the size of the level
down making it smaller yet highly detailed. Since we are making a world that
can be compared to a TV show, we opted to keep the detailed environments of
the Star Trek universe and cut the level down in size. It was one or the
other; we couldn't have our cake and eat it too. For the most part, we were
able to cut the levels in half and make two separate levels out of them but
now all the level designers had twice the levels to work on from when they
started and this could cause some major scheduling problems. Unfortunately,
to keep up with the schedule, big parts of the levels were deleted and
redesigned, which resulted in much smaller levels that could be traversed
quicker and ultimately made for a shorter game to play for some gamers.

Brian Pelletier
- Project Leader: Star Trek Voyager Elite Force



Here is a question I got from a German magazine and I thought it would
be interesting to share.

(German mag) Most of the Elite Force consumers say that the game was
a bit to short. What do you think about this? Why is the game so short?
Are there any concrete reasons?

(Me) In my opinion, there are two possible reasons, and here is the
first one:
Most of the consumers you're hearing from are hard-core FPS players
and most of them are playing on Normal difficulty, which wasn't suppose
to be the desired difficulty setting for them. This setting is actually
the easy mode with challenging being the medium difficulty and what
experienced players were intended to play. There is a HUGE difference in
difficulty between Normal and Challenging. This is our fault in our use
of terminology, as we originally only had 3 difficulties (Normal,
Challenging and Hard, easy to figure out that Challenging is medium since
there are only 3) and then we added the easy difficulty in the last month of
the game development, which was basically an effortless difficulty mode.
We left the terminology the same assuming most experienced players would
play a game in a mode called challenging, but in hindsight if I saw a
game that had a mode called normal, that's what I would play. This again
is our fault for trying to be cleaver with our naming and also make the
inexperienced gamer Star Trek fan (who wanted to play the game) feel like
a "normal" game player.
From my experience with the game testers we had come into Raven, along with
our internal testing and feedback we get from other average game players is
that it will take well over 15 hours to play the single player storyline
game for a casual gamer. The hard core FPS gamer takes a lot shorter to play
because of the nature of how they play shooter games, which is fast, furious
and running through the levels to get to the next. Average gamers are much
slower and not as good, and since we are also creating a game for the average
player and Star Trek fan, we didn't want to make it too hard for them. So
because the game is a little easier to play for hardcore players on top of
the fact that they are playing on easy difficulty, made for one of the
reasons why I believe the game was short for those types of gamers.

I'll post reason number 2 on Monday which is more of a development and
technical issue and in my opinion the real reason of why it is shorter
to play than we wanted it to be.




About Elite Force's teammates.

We all know everyone has their own opinions and we have heard that
Elite Force's teammates are revolutionary and surpass any teammates
done for other games and we also heard that the teammates were nothing
new and they had problems and didn't really work that great. I would
have to disagree with the later and say that the teammates could have
easily been a hindrance to the gameplay and now I know why no other
company has ever tried to make a FPS game with up to five teammates
Working alongside you at one time. At one point in the final stages of
developing the teammates, I wasn't sure if they were going to work out,
they just had so many problems and every time we would fix something
another problem would crop up. Just getting them to follow you was not
an easy task and something we tweaked with all the way up to the final
days. Sure we could get them to follow you but the game took place in
tight hallways and small rooms so you would be bumping into them, they
wouldn't get out of your way, they would constantly get stuck on each
other and they followed the player like a heard of sheep. Also making
them always follow the player everywhere caused problems with them
feeling like real intelligent characters so sometime we had to have
them stand their ground or take up a position while the player went
exploring. Then we had the consistent problems of the team not even
following you and you might need one of them to open a door for you to
later on and when we did get it to work someone eventually found a new
way to break a level with a teammate. Plus with elevators and teleporters
there were always problems with how a teammate could get left behind.
It was getting to a point where we weren't even certain if we could get
them to walk through an entire level and we might have to do something
drastic. Luckily it never came to that and we were able to get them
working in the levels. They may have ran funny to catch up to the player
or jumped down long elevator shafts to stay in formation, but at least
they stayed with the player through the whole level no matter what kinds
of crazy stuff they player was doing. Then came the problem of trying
to balance the combat with the teammates. We started getting our enemies
in the levels and the teammates were so good they killed most of the
enemies leaving not much for the player to do. So we didn't have them
shoot as often but then THEY were constantly being attacked instead of
the player, and the game combat became shoot the aliens attacking your
teammates, which was not fun. So we had to balance the combat so the
player still felt threatened by enemies attacking them and teammates
helped but not to the point where they did all the work and eventually
we got something that felt really fun for the player. It's funny now
when I hear people say that the teammates were stupid because they hardly
killed any enemies or that the enemies always attacked the player but
hardly the teammates; If they only knew how not fun the gameplay would
have been had we not balanced it out the way we did.

Brian Pelletier
- Project Leader: Star Trek Voyager Elite Force

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