Interview with Scott Alden

Bok: Tell us about yourself and what you do at Ritual Entertainment?

I'm a former 3Dfx employee, and I worked in the Developer Support group. I joined Ritual on December 1st 1997. Mark Dochtermann, Jim Dose' and I make up the Sin programming team.

Bok: Is anyone at Ritual working on the Uber Engine or is that on hold or scrapped?

We've really been focusing on Sin, so I'm not really sure what's going on with UberEngine. That doesn't mean the UberEngine is dead, it's just on hold.

Bok: How does the interactive part with scripting change from a usual shoot em up?

In most FPS you find keys and open doors to find a goal at the end of a level. In Sin, you find keys, open doors, hack computers, disarm bombs, control robots, disable security systems, interact with your partner JC, and operate heavy machinery to get to the end of a level.

Bok: How does using the Quake2 Engine compare to past work?

It's the biggest project I've ever worked on. Previously I had been working in the Developer Support group at 3Dfx. It was pretty much helping developers get Glide in their games and getting Glide support up an running on the Macintosh.

I really like working with the Q2 code, and it's very challenging to figure out other people's code and then getting it to do what you want :-) I've also been learning quite a lot about game programming. I didn't realize there was so much that goes into the game besides 3D graphics.

Bok: Do you feel in the future most games are going to be hardware dependent?

Yes. I've never had to implement a software renderer before, so I don't know all of the bonuses. But I do know that based on other people's comments on working with software renderers that they'll be glad when software is dead :-)

I don't think that software renderers will be phased out completely. Two of my favorite games - Total Annihilation and StarCraft don't have a shred of 3D hardware support in them.

Bok: I heard a rumor that people call you "Grandpa" is it true?

True, but I'm not going to explain it ;-)

Bok: How does Ritual differ from 3Dfx and Nortel?

Ritual is a tightly focused group. There's only 20 employees and most of us are working on Sin. Nortel and 3Dfx are much more diverse and corporate with the 1000's of employees at Nortel and the 100's at 3Dfx. We're just a bunch of hardcore gamers here at Ritual.

I enjoyed working at all of those different places, but I prefer the laid back environment here at Ritual the most.

Bok: What new features will be in the final release that didn't make the demo?

More in-game cutscenes and more dialog will be added to the bank. You really don't know who the hell this Mancini guy is and why is he robbing a bank? Unless you read the README, then you you have no idea where he comes from. We'll be exploring his character a lot more.

Bok: When is Sin being released? Does this mean after the demo, its not crunch time or will crunch continue onto to final release?

Sin will be released when we're done with it, but if I had to fathom a guess it would be in October. Yes, we are still in crunch time.

Bok: Can you name the new feature in Sin AI?

Thanks to Jim's behavior code, we can implement all kinds of different behaviors and assign them to models. I was working on Rat(TM) behavior just the other day :-)

Bok: Will all the new graphics hurt the Multiplayer?

It will definitely have an impact, but we do have some trimmed down maps that are just rooms and hallways so you can frag at top speed :-)

Bok: When I work on a project it is always fast food all the time, is it the same at Ritual as your rushing to get done with the game?

I try not to eat fast food too often, but with the choice of restaurants here in the west end it's kind of hard to eat healthy. I'm addicted to "On the Border" fajitas so that's where I like to go. During the week before the demo, we ordered out pretty much everyday.

Bok: After Sin, will you be working on F.A.K.K.2 or Sin2?

I'm not sure yet, but I think I'm going to be working on Sin2.

Bok: With a 28.8 modem can a person use multiplayer?

Yes.

Bok: Anything else you would like to add?

I'm floored by the response of the internet community reaction and things that have been done with the demo, and I can't wait to see those reactions from the full game!