Interview with Joe "Skeme" Selinske, SiN Project Manager

First of all can you introduce yourself, please?

I am a tree, large and unbending. Oh no sorry. That was for improvisational acting class. I'm Joe Selinske, Project Manager for Sin. I'm the guy who keeps track of everything going on for the project, organize ideas, cracks the whip (oh hurt me!), deal with the press, and generally anything else that you can think of to help out on the project.

Second.. can you tell us a bit about how Ritual started?

Ritual started in August of '96 when the founding members decided that they wanted the challenge of running their own business and controlling their own future. When you work for someone else, it is really hard to accomplish your own goals and ideas and that free expression of creativity is what sparks us all onwards. They ventured out and created Ritual (formerly Hipnotic ), we changed the name since it was too close to another company's besides we like Ritual better now. :-)

Third.. what's it take to get a job at Ritual with you guys?

First someone here has to die. No, that's the monarchy. Sorry. My confusion. We are always looking for talented and ambitious people but we're pretty close to full capacity at this time. You have to be able to demonstrate your talents. If you specialize in level design, art, or programming, you have to show that you know your stuff. When it comes time to find new blood we usually turn towards whom we know first. If one of the people that we know in the industry is looking for a job we think about how they might fit in here and then see if they want to join the tribe. If we can't find anyone like that we then post a general call to arms to see what other people out there are doing. In this industry, just like in Hollywood, it's a lot about who you know or the name that you've created for yourself that helps increase your chances of getting hired.

Can you tell us about the changes you've made to the Quake/2 engine?

We've started with Q2 as our solid base foundation and we've added a multitude of new systems on top of this. We've added in our own enhanced character AI system, 16 bit renderer, a cool new sound engine (mood music baby), a massively elaborate scripting language, Action Based Outcomes (ABO's) and a plethora (good word) of other items.

Since you seem to have changed the engine around a bit will you be releasing the source code and/or licensing it to other people/parties (as id did with the Quake2 engine)?

No we can't do that. We're licensing their (id's) technology base and we can't distribute own tech on top of theirs. That's not a very fair thing to do.

Are you going to have software rendering?

Yes, we will have a 16/8 bit software rendering modes available.

As for hardware what Voodoo card(s) do you recommend for best play on SiN? What Voodoo2 card(s)?

Quote ripped from Mark Dochtermann, "Sin will support all 3D cards that are capable of running Sin. (Sounds pretty straight forward eh?) Sin will also run well on a Voodoo Rush card." Basically the 3Dfx/Voodoo/Monstar 3D cards seem to be the most popular ones and work quite well. The future cards all look pretty cool and the Voodoo2's that we have make SIN a SCREAMING game. Just the other day I saw Scott Alden, programmer extraordinaire, testing the capabilities of the Voodoo2. He placed somewhere in the neighborhood of about 80 animating models in one plain room and the frame rate was still pretty good, I think at about 30-45 fps. It was the funniest thing to watch as all of these guys just sat there in their dying animations. Way Cool. These future cards are going to be truly awesome when SIN is released.

What kind of a reputation do you think/hope SiN would give Ritual?

We hope that everyone out there will play and enjoy our games. We want to create a reputation of putting out top quality games such as Quake Mission Pack #1: Scourge of Armagon. We've garnered lots of awards for the first product we ever created as a team here and we're proud of that. With Sin and future products we hope to push the action genre ahead with new game play paradigms and inventive game play. We really want Sin to do well and this will show that we're on the right track in the type of games that need to be created. Our reputation will only continue to grow as we put out such top quality products.

Will SiN ship with tons of bugs like Quake 2 did?

OUCH! Unload that shotgun please. No one wants to ship a game with ANY bugs in it. I'm sure id did not want to ship Q2 that way. Sometimes bugs slip through the cracks and sometimes developers are forced to ship even though they know their product is not ready. I seen and heard about other projects that were very close to bug free, but there is always some system out there that will find a way to invert something and screw you up. NOW, I'm not trying to skirt the issue and say that we won't strive for as bug free of a product as possible. We are. We will work our asses off to make sure that we don't miss anything but we're all human and something might slip by, but we'll try hard not to let that happen.

When will the shareware/demo be released? And what about a beta version?

We're not in the habit here of putting out a beta version of anything. We feel that at this point it would hurt us more than help us so we'll wait until we have a solid (as bug free as possible) version of the game done and ready to go. At that point we will consider putting out a few demo levels for people to get a flavor for the game itself.

Will GameSpy work with SiN multiplayer? And will SiN have a Unix/Linux version of the server daemon?

We're sure hoping so. We'll be waiting until everything is nailed down and then start coordinating with other people to make sure they can easily work with Sin. We're trying very hard from the start to think of easy ways to incorporate multi-player changes and new ideas in so that the public can go crazy with them.

What sort of weapons will we see in the game?

Ah, our most often asked question and I'm afraid our most tight-lipped answer. We feel that telling all about everything in the game before it is released hurts the game. You never get to see anything exciting if you know the whole story ahead of time, see everything, know everything. But, we'll have a variety of weapons that truly fit the game. Your standard issue L2-357 Magnum with Silencer, Sniper Rifle, and quite a few others but that's classified information. Hey! SECURITY! SECURITY! Check this mans ID.

Are there any surprises you'd like to leak out to the public about the game? (such as in yesterday's Valve/Half-Life interview we were told that Cockroach AI will be an important factor in the game.. and that roaches will have an attitude.)

Hum! That's a tough one to beat. ;-) We don't want to spoil any surprises about the game if we can avoid it. We want you to be blown away by the game. After you've finished it, we want you to freak out about all of the other cool things that we decided to put in the game.

Can you tell us a bit about what you have planned for SiN 2 and what you have done already?

We've worked out the story arc into Sin 2 and have done some preliminary design work, sketches, and stories. We were thinking of using the current Sin engine again in Sin 2, but we're not quite sure about that. We'll most likely use our own in house tech, ‹berEngine, for that game. Nothing is written in stone about that yet.

Tell us some more about the ‹berEngine and what you have planned for it also.

‹berEngine technology will be a next generation, hardware only, engine. We want this engine to push the 3D accelerators to their limits. With indoor/outdoor environments and levels of detail we really hope to be able to offer a true world for the gamers to explore. Technical stuff will be talked about later on in the year, but right now we're still in "Hush, Hush" mode.

How do you think SiN will compare to Duke4ever, Half-Life, and Unreal?

We're really excited about Sin and how it will compare to the other games. Competition is the driving force behind innovation in game play and design and we will be pushing the boundaries with Sin. I really think that each game has its own unique flare and I look forward to playing each and every one of them. But, we're grinning here as we prepare to unleash Sin onto the gaming world and blow everyone else minds with what we can create. We all have our little hidden design secrets and ideas and it will be interesting to see what everyone will devise in their games.

Will a complete Windows version of SinEd ship with SiN?

We've talked about this a lot. There are some logistical issues and support issues that might cause us not to ship the editor in the box. That's not to say that we won't release the editor. We'll definitely release it on-line and will try to get it in the box, but one way or another people will be creating their own Sin levels very soon after release.

How easy will it be for people to make TCs for SiN? And what will they make them with?

Very easy. We've spent a lot of time making the tools as easy to use as possible. Easy tools mean faster work out of our level designers. Faster work means an earlier release. Woo Hoo! Anyone, even me, will be able to sit down and use these tools and get up to speed making levels quickly. What we're really excited about is seeing what kind of new and innovative ways people can use the scripting language and what magic comes from them. There is a tons of art work, design ideas, scripting challenges that we won't even have time to explore and it will be the public that will surprise us with what they come up with. That's so cool!

Is there anything else planned to ship with SiN?

Just buttered toast. Don't worry that's an inside joke. Right off hand nothing more that I know of now. Man isn't this enough for you. OK, we'll throw in the "salad shooter" for an additional $9.99. BUT WAIT there's more. Uh I'm just kidding you know. Don't you? :-)

Is the game 'SiN', 'sIn' or 'Sin'?

The original idea was "SiN", but we finally decided that it would be "Sin". Sin by any other name would only pale compared to all of the Sin you'll create playing our game. Yick! Scratch out that last sentence. Sheesh!

How is the normal day at Ritual like? Do you just go to work every morning, sit in-front of a computer, and do nothing but work?

HEY! I go to the bathroom at least once in there. <Snicker> A normal work day has never really happened. Normal means that everything in under control and there are no problems/issues/new ideas/press to deal with. OK, a little overly dramatic but it does have a bit of a routine. Personally I start off by checking my email, answering the "must do" ones right away. Spend about 15 minutes checking the news of the net and then I go into "what must be done today" mode and I'm off and running. I run around and see if there are any issues that the team needs to resolve and work on those. Coordination of problems, ideas, and the press are my main focus on top of the overall design schedule that we try to maintain. I work for my team to make sure that they can keep focused and on track, so I sometimes get pulled in ten different directions. Just call me "Taffy". Overall it can be hard, but I find the challenge to be very fulfilling and fun most of the time. When you watch Rob stick grapes up his nose and shoot them across the office, I just bust a gut. Oh wait! I guess I shouldn't have told you that one. <Snicker>

Do people from id, Ritual, Ion Storm, and 3D Realms ever visit each other at work?

Oh yeah! We get together with many of the other companies and we also go out to dinner, catch movies, party, etc. There is some fierce competition between the companies but overall we all enjoy each others company and get along really well. Everyone still keeps their poker faces on when it comes to inside secret stuff but that's to be expected. You can't spill all the beans to the competition or you might lose that edge that you need. We all work and play hard when we're not putting in long hours and we also try to avoid talking about work when we're outside the office. It helps us stay sane.

We at Ritualistic would like to thank Joe Selinske for taking the time to answer our questions. We all really appreciate it. :-)