Available: Q1 2003
By:Silverback Entertainment / Dreamcatcher

Interviewed by by Tomislav Lovrekovic

Please introduce yourself and Silverback Entertainment.

My name is Andy Muir and I’m lead programmer at Silverback Entertainment, a small game development house in Tucson, Arizona. We’re currently working on our first title: Harbinger.

Harbinger seems like an interesting science fiction action. Can you tell us something more about it?

The game begins on a giant warship named, not coincidentally, Harbinger. As this ship tours the universe plundering and destroying worlds, the player joins in as a member of one of the underground communities that spring up from time to time within its walls. Throughout the course of the game, the player will uncover the ship’s many secrets, its origins, and its true purpose.

Will we see some special moves like in Matrix? Which special abilities do the characters have? Will you make any RPG elements?

Each character class has its own strengths, weaknesses and special abilities. For instance, the robotic Gladiator character is the only one who can control helper robots. These range in purpose from simple observer robots to self-detonating camerakazis.

In addition to item use, you can also customize your character through the allocation of skill points. Like many RPGs, you receive experience points for killing enemies, uncovering secret areas and completing missions. Once enough experience points are accrued, the character levels-up and is rewarded with a number of skill points for the player to distribute.

What about social changes in underground community. Can we expect changing of “underground governments” and their politics (some crazy dictator which want to produce nuke and destroy the world or some “take-it-easy” guy which trade with drugs & weapons), revolutions, elections?

Outside of the expected disagreements between individuals, there is not a lot of internal strife within the communities. With enemies on all sides, the only way for the communities to survive is by generally cooperating with each other. The threats from without tend to overshadow the threats from within.

Can we play on other side too? You know, few special agents undercover in underground society, ready to destroy it.

This is a great question. We went back and forth on this while designing the game. In our early documents, we had the player working with a number of enemy factions to overthrow the Overlord and his minions. It sure made quest design a lot easier than it is with the current story.

In the end, it came down to a question of character motivation. When you’re dealing with human characters, it’s pretty easy to write a character that is sympathetic to enemy causes. He could agree with the enemy’s principles, or he could be tempted by greed or love or whatever.

When those enemies are alien, the motivation becomes a lot harder to buy. There have been a number of stories that have tried this, but few that have convincingly pulled it off. In Harbinger, there are enemies you are sympathetic to; there are factions that are really just making the best of a bad situation, but none that you really want to see succeed.

Give us something hot and super-exclusive!

Well, our level designer Shane has an infected ingrown hair on his neck that’s swollen to the size of a golf ball. It looks like his neck is giving birth to a second head (only this one is a little smaller, a little redder, and mildly more pleasant to look at). So buy our game because Shane needs medical insurance.

What is the greatest thing in Harbinger?

I don’t know what the greatest thing in Harbinger is, but I think probably the most visually wow-ing thing in the game is our enemy spawn animations. Our animators have put together some really elaborate spawning sequences (especially for the bosses) that are just jaw dropping.

Can you tell us something more about other games that will be released soon (or later)?

Currently we’re focused on finishing Harbinger. Our next project is still very early in its design phase and talking about it now would be premature.

Anything to add?

This game has exceeded all of our expectations here at Silverback and I’m very proud of how it’s finishing. I have the feeling a lot of people are going to be very surprised once they fire this one up.

Thank you, it was really nice to talk with you.

It was nice talking to you too.

In front of Gamer's Hell, I wish you great success, lots of money, lots of girls and lots of good games in next year. So, what’s your New Year's resolution?

Sleep. Lots and lots of sleep.