Interviewed by by Safwat "Helium02"
It is a hard job for all developers and publishers around the world to attract gamers to their games. But I have to admit that "The Westerner", developed by Revistronic, appealed to me right when I saw its screenshots. What makes it unique? Well, it is a "Toy-story" style game, a cartoon one, highly detailed with fantastic graphics (all thanks to the new graphics engine). Sounds interesting? Read this interview with Hernan Castillo to know more about it.
Hello, please introduce yourself and the company you work for to our readers. Tell us about past works and games.
Well, Revistronic was founded in 1995. We were then making a game called Three Skulls of the Toltecs, an adventure game protagonized by the same Fenimore Fillmore, the one who leads The Westerner. We sold that first game to Warner Interactive, and it was published in 1996. That was a "classic" type adventure, with 2-D cartoons. From then on, we developed 3-D games. In first place, we started with racing cars games. In five years, we have published three games in 3-D, two in cartoon style, called Toyland Racing and Tooncar, both with cars, and another called Grouch, with a little more serious but also cartoonish style, in which the hero has to fight monsters with his sword, sorting a lot of perils in many stages in order to rescue his girlfriend. Well a sort of barbarian, you know.
Before writing this interview, I took a look at the screenshots. And I must mention that I liked the way they look. Tell us about the new engine standing behind all this and its "unique" performances.
Our new generation engine, called "PICTuRE", is a graphic and physics engine, with power to manage millions of polygons creating a scene in real time similar to the cinema. Also, it can manage the facial expressions of the characters, giving emotions to them. Last, but not least, the engine also can manage the illuminations and shades giving to the graphic artists the possibility to create any ambiance without any restriction. And physics wise, the engine manages without problems any element in order to make the scene a part of the whole.
What's the story behind this game? How did you come to a decision to develop such a game? Are there a background story and a story-line for it?
Yes of course. First of all the plot, the background history,was written by my brother Rodrigo, who also wrote the screenplay of Three Skulls of the Toltecs, about four years ago. The story is about a cowboy, or a gunman, Fenimore Fillmore, a wandering man in the Far West, who reaches a lonesome farm one day. The farmers have problems with the powerful cattle raiser of the place, and Fenimore decides, or, better to say, he is almost obliged to help them.
How will the characters look like? How can the gamer handle them? Are they skill-based (can be developed by gaining experience)?
Easy to play, that┬┬┤s the idea. You┬┬┤ll have an inventory, but not a commands bar. You just need to pass the pointer of the mouse about the screen and click it when you find something of interest. Fenimore will tell you something about the screen objects, like in the classic adventures, but, if someone is near, he will respond funny things, like "Yes, is a bottle, but not of whiskey, my boy, but of gin". And everybody will comment, when Fenimore goes to some place many times, looking at everything, picking things and talking to himself, that┬┬┤s when the player will know that he is a strange boy, a little mad and very curious. The chats with the characters will be very funny but not totally useless; not intricate but direct, in order to help you to advance in the game. The camera will move following Fenimore, and, when it will be required, like in the cinema films, there will be shortcuts, zooms, travels and panoramics.
What range of time does this game deal with? Is it the modern west? Besides, where does it take place? Will I see cowboys like in Clint Eastwood movies?
Well, the western is the western, not modern not oldie. The exact place of the action is unknown, but must be some place around Colorado or Wyoming, and the date will be about 1870. The first part, Three Skulls of the Toltecs, was in Arizona, 1866. The characters will be farmers and cowboys, and there will be a little town with general store, train station, sheriff's office, bank, etc. There are a doctor, naturally always drunk, a black maid, in the way of that of Scarlett O'Hara, a fat cowboy, always eating, and very bad looking cowboys, with very hard voices and walk in the style of George Bush Jr. Also, there┬┬┤s a fabulous girl, and some very stupid characters, like the sheriff. The children will be very... very childish. The time you must need to finish the game will be some hours, perhaps days, like many other adventure games.
Let's say I've installed the game already, and I ran it. What will I see? Is there going to be a campaign? What about missions and submissions? Give us an example of one mission.
Well, your first mission, after the intro, will be to find your gun, that Billy, the kid of the farmer family that has invited you expend the night, have stolen from you and carried to the school. Of course, you can, before the school, go to any other place, like the neighbor's farm, that must be devastated by the cowboys' gang, or the town, also full of evil cowboys. If you go to the school, you will fall in love with the beautiful teacher, a girl called Rhiannon, who, also, is the niece of the evil rancher. Anyway, before going to anyplace, you need to saddle your horse.
About future plans. Are you planning to develop/release a version of "The westerner" for other consoles? If yes, what will it be and how will it differ than the PC version?
We┬┬┤re studying the possibility, and, yes, we┬┬┤ll likely to adapt the game to consoles. Right now we┬┬┤re talking with Microsoft and Sony.
Tell the readers about how the game goes. What will they have to do? Is it a "Cow-boy" typical game? Like taking a gun and starting shooting everyone who comes into sight range?
Not at all. Is an adventure game. Of course, you always have your gun, or almost always, and you can use it everywhere, but it will not work, you know, if you use it, for example, to get some object from someone. You must play doing the things well, and not to kill, or intent to kill, everyone you see. Nor in the real west nobody goes with the gun all day shooting everybody. You must talk, look and think, find the right way to solve one or another problem.
Does this game offer an on-line gaming option? If yes, how will it be played and what is the maximum number of players for a single game? If not, does this game offer other gaming options to make it up for on-line gamers?
No. The adventure games are impossible, to the date, to play on-line. One Fenimore is enough. Imagine two of them in the game, rummaging everything and all that. Poor other characters.
When the game is scheduled to be released? Where will it hit first, European or US market? Will these two versions differ?
We hope that The Westerner will be published at the same time in USA and Europe. Right now we have not an agreement with any American publishers, but we think that we┬┬┤ll reach some agreement soon. For Europe, the date of launch will be between June and October 2003.
And as a usual question in my interviews, what are the minimum requirements of hardware and software needed to run the game properly? What do you recommend as an "extra" for having this game unforgettable?
The minimum will be PIII, 256Mb, 1 Giga HD, Graphic Acelerator 3D at 32Mb. We recommend PIII 1Ghz, 256Mb, 1Giga HD and Gforce3 or ATI Radeon.
Concluding. Is there anything else you would like to add?
We┬┬┤ll like to thank everybody in advance for buying this particular game, and remember, that piracy is not legal. Or at least is not legal in the West. If you do it you can be lynched and hanged, man. Or shot, or at least they will put you in tar and feathers. And the Indians will cut your head off its hair, or bury you in a swarming. And you will lose all your money in a poker game. You know the West is a dangerous but very funny place, man.
Thank you for your time,