Article by Gareth of Galaxy News
Recently I had the chance to chat with Paul Pawlicki, associate producer, at Fox Interactive about following up the smash hit Aliens VS Predator 2 with the new add on Primal Hunt.
Describe how the idea for the add-on came about.
We wanted to expand on the single player story in Aliens versus Predator 2 because it was so rich and detailed. We approached Third Law interactive and they went back through AvP2 and took very detailed notes on every aspect of the game. The locations, character and timelines were thoroughly documented. They then went off and did some thinking and came up with 5 different proposals. One took place after the events in AvP2, some took place concurrently and one was a prequel. We reviewed them all and thought that the idea of a prequel was the most appealing.
What is the back story of the game and it's setting?
The focal point of all three stories is an ancient Artifact that exerts some power over the Aliens and repels them from its sphere of influence. The Predators want it so they can set up a permanent base inside the Hive. The humans want it so they can learn to control the Aliens and satisfy their desire for power and greed. The Aliens are after it to destroy it and who could blame them. Primal Hunt takes place on the same planet as AvP2 but the Predator and Alien stories begin some 500 years earlier while the humans missions are set right before the events that transpired in AvP2. Eventually, all three species end up in the same timeframe and in the same location, which leads to carnage and mayhem, as one would expect.
How much continuity is there from AVP 2?
Lots. As I mentioned, Third Law did their homework and we reverse engineered the design of Primal Hunt to fit perfectly with the original story in AvP2.
What sort of new weapons and locales are featured in this game?
This time around the Alien is no longer a Drone in the single player campaign but a Predalien. That's the result of a Facehugger selecting a Predator as its victim instead of a human. Predaliens are still capable of walking on walls and pouncing huge distances but they are also stronger and faster than a standard Drone. They also have a modified version of the deadly headbite that is very cool. The Predator gets a new rapid-fire weapon called an Energy Flechette. It's very useful in fending off attacks from hordes of Aliens. He also has the ability to use a self-destruct weapon in multiplayer when his health gets very low allowing him to take out enemies with him in a last ditch suicidal rampage. The Corporate Mercenaries get an upgraded 360 degree motion tracker that lets you view enemies behind you as well as in front. The down side is that its range limited when compared to the previous 180 degree model that the Marines used. Mercenaries also get dual pistols, the ability to use stationary turret guns, and deployable Sentry Guns that can be picked up and dropped anywhere in a level.
Has the game graphics or AI been tweaked in any way since the original? What changes have you added to the code this time out?
We are using the same version of the LithTech engine that we used in AvP2, which was dubbed the Talon engine. We have, however, incorporated all of the code updates that have been released since AvP2 hit the shelves. Like most expansion packs, we've focused on supplying more content rather than making drastic changes to the engine.
What features are being included for multiplay, any chance for co-op missions?
We designed 4 new multiplayer maps that are exclusive to Primal Hunt. We have also included all of the original AvP2 maps that were created by Monolith so you can play your old favorites or you can make your own maps with the editing tools, which are also included. Multiplayer has use of all the new weapons that were previously mentioned including the deployable Sentry Guns. One other notable change is the addition of the weapons and character class restrictions menus. These menus allow the players to decide which weapons and character types are allowed in any one game. If you don't want the Predator to have the Disc available then just check the appropriate box. If you decide you don't even want Predators in the game then you can do that too. It allows the balancing to be modified by the people playing the game. We added a lot but we did not include any co-op missions this time around.
How long was the development cycle for the game? What new creatures and abilities will players encounter?
We started development at the tail end 2001.
We have created some new creatures to help make the planet feel more alive. We also wanted to explain where all the hosts for the Aliens were coming from and these creatures do just that. There is a quadruped called a Bhulag that is kind of a bull-like creature with nasty horns for ramming you. There is a biped creature that we called a Sloth. I don't think it ever had an official name. These guys are camouflaged like a chameleon when they are in their rest state taking on the colors of their background. When they are startled they will leap out and take a swipe at you with their long arms. There are also rock worms, which sense you footsteps and come out underneath you to attack.
What new locales will players see and are vehicles part of the plan?
All the levels in the expansion pack have been created from scratch. We revisit some of the same locations like the human laboratories but we try to take you to new areas such as the morgue and the labs power core, which were never seen in AvP2. Because the Alien and Predator missions start so far back in time it allowed us to create some levels that are entirely unique, not only to the expansion pack but to the AvP series in general. We have created levels that are based on predator technology, as it would have existed a few hundred years ago. The look of these levels is beautiful while the design makes them extremely fun to play.
How did you get into the industry and what projects have the design team worked on previously?
I work at Fox Interactive and Fox contracted Third Law Interactive to do the expansion pack. My degree is in marketing and my background is in low-level television production. I also worked as an assistant to a sports agent. With all of that experience I was able to get into the industry as a game tester some eight years ago. I've been an associate producer for just over three years now and have worked on such games as Croc 2, AvP Mac, AvP2, AvP2: Primal Hunt and some Gameboy Color titles.
Third Law Interactive is a talented group of individuals that are mostly derived from Ion Storm. They were working on Daikatana and didn't like the direction that game or the company was taking at the time so they broke away to form their own business. Among Third Laws credits are Kiss: Psycho Circus and No One Live Forever: Game of the Year Edition.
How much work has been done on AVP 3 now?
Sorry, but there's really nothing that I can report on at this time