bittah : In regards to the previous interview you conducted with Tribalwar (link) you mentioned,
“This is one possibility we are heavily considering at this time.”, in regards to creating a game out of the “tech demo”.
Many former Dynamix employee’s are working with (and founded) GarageGames – What are their thoughts on another Tribes like game? Do they still have an interest in such a game with its game play, or have they since long moved on from wanting to work on anything like it?
Tim Aste : Everyone here is about making games. The idea of creating a successor to a Tribes like game isn’t a new thought really. There have always been factors (as there are now) which can
complicate any decision to move forward with any sort of game of that scale, but motivation or want has never been one of those factors.
bittah : When you originally posted in the Tribes Talk forum with a video link of old test footage, what was the motivation behind this? Just too good of an opportunity to pass, or were you preparing to announce something soon anyway? Also, has Mark killed you yet? (link)
Tim Aste : Our motivation was just to get people to raise their heads up a bit for what we will be demoing at GDC this year.
bittah : In reference to the quote “Wait til our new project comes out….big leagues stuff. I hope you guys liked tribes.”(link).
So is GarageGames working on a full (non-tech demo) Tribes style game? This comment seems to indicate something thats more than a tech demo is being made, you did say a short time ago in the TW interview however that its just a tech demo.
Tim Aste : Can’t comment on this right now, sorry.
bittah : In any multiplayer game, networking code is very important for a positive game play experience.
In my own experience, the Tribes game series had very good net code. How far has it come with the work on the Torque engine, what new concepts have you implemented?
Tim Aste : Our Torque Networking Library is so good we sell it off as it’s own commercial high-end product to outside studios. It’s powering a lot of commercial products right now actually,
everything from big-name MMORPGS to Government Training Networks, and it gets better all the time.
bittah : What do you think of other games net code such as the Unreal Engine (which many games are based off, like Tribes: Vengeance) and the Quake 3 engine (Enemy Territory for example). Have you borrowed any concepts from these engines? Have they taken on any of your concepts that you know of? What comparisons can you make?
Tim Aste : I can’t really get into the nitty gritty of the tech as it’s not my specialty or field, however I can say with our next-gen and rigid body physics, we can still do an insane amount of players on a single server with no lag. We have written some unique and
interesting code from our own concepts, so I can’t really say we’ve taken a ton of influence from other mainstream engines out there.
bittah : What sort of stuff will the tech demo have in at GDC? Such as a weapon (or more?), flags, inventory/kit stations, etc – Heck, what Tribes like stuff will (or you plan) on having in the tech demo at GDC? What are you trying to show off there?
Tim Aste : I can’t give details right now until the demo launches other than then that the demo will be a preview of the tech demo we are releasing later on. It will be fully-playable at GDC (depending on how many machines we have to play it on really!). When it’s idle and not being interacted with, it will slip back into GDC Demo mode to demonstrate tech.
bittah : Where is the art inspiration coming from for the demo? Is it based off any particular theme or past games?
Tim Aste : Can’t release this information yet, partially because we are still hammering out some really innovative fresh stuff and don’t want to spill the beans too early. It will appeal
to a large amount of people however. I will say one thing to a rumor I see floating around the Internet, there are no wings.
bittah : The in-game server browser, player/team search, clan system, buddy system and email/news and even forums were very neat (to some of us!) in Tribes 2. Is there ever any plan to incorporate similar “community features” in any other GarageGames made games? Would you change anything from the Tribes 2 implementation? Its surprising that even Counter-Strike does not have some form of team management system, and its the #1 game played in competitions.
Tim Aste : Community building, ease of use, and back end style stuff is an important part of any multiplayer game if you ask me. I don’t know how much of this will be included in a tech demo, but you can bet we are aware of this sort of thing.
bittah : When will we next hear something about the tech demo? Any more news to come before the conference?
Tim Aste : Probably a bit right before the conference, and then a bunch more during the conference.
bittah : Will the tech demo be available shortly after GDC? Is there an intention to release it shortly after, or is it only a showcase demo for GDC?
Tim Aste : Can’t really say, we won’t release anything until it’s in the best possible shape it can be in. With that said, I don’t see it taking very long.
In addition to that, it really depends on where we decide to take the project at that point too.
bittah : How old were the video’s posted with the skiing in them by you? Several days (since their posting) or several months?
Tim Aste : Trying to think of which videos are out there, the black and white one I saw was several months old, the latest shaky cam one was about five weeks old.
bittah : How much progress has been made on the tech demo since the videos were taken?
Tim Aste : The engine grows better everyday we work on it. Some of those videos are quite old, we have done some significant improvements since then.
bittah : Is this tech demo a priority at the moment in GarageGames, in order to get it ready for GDC, or more of a side thing that “would be nice” if it were ready in time?
Tim Aste : This is one of our high-priority projects.
bittah : What other things do you hope to show off at GDC?
Tim Aste : We will be showing off tons of stuff, one of our other big projects is our Torque Game Builder, which is pretty freaking awesome if you ask me.
bittah : How many players are you trying to support with the tech demo? The internal limit (from what I have read, can be changed) for the Torque engine is 128 maximum players – Are you going to be advertising the net code can scale up to this amount of players fine, or a lower number of 64 players at GDC?
Tim Aste : Too much changes with the engine to promise a player amount. At GDC we will be limited to amount of machines available to play the demo really. If we only have 2-3 comps available from our booths and partners booths, that’s all we can do.
bittah : What is the purpose of the tech demo? A combined demonstration of the Atlas terrain engine and the multiplayer network code?
Tim Aste : The purpose of the tech demo will be to demonstrate our Torque Shader Engine. It’s our hope that people who are new to the engine can see this demonstration and become interested in using it. We might be trying to feel out an interest in following up with a game project as well…
bittah : Will there be vehicles in the tech demo, or any plan for them?
Tim Aste : Our engine supports networked vehicle and rigid body physics very well, so we will have some sort of vehicle ready to be dropped in to demonstrate.
bittah : Will the tech demo be playable in booth’s at the conference?
Tim Aste : Yes, but the amount of systems we have available to play on will be extremely limited, as we have only three PC’s at our booth. Each PC needs to display a separate product as well, which is why we have only trying to label this as a “preview” of what will be the released tech demo. It’s hard to really enjoy a multiplayer game you have to play by yourself, or with one other person.
bittah : How are you going to use the tech demo at the conference, a few players walking around having a mock game, or just a solo player exploring the world?
Tim Aste : Well, we only have so many systems in which we can demo at our booth and various partners booths as well. The TSE tech demo is fully playable and interactive however anyone who walks up to the booth and starts playing with it won’t have much in competition. We also have many other things to show off in our suite of technology, products and services. You can bet our next-gen stuff will be a forerunner in that, but how we are showing it off really depends on the time of day and situation in which you catch us. Our TSE technology demo is fully playable, and it also has features built in so when no one is interacting with the demo it will slip into a demonstration mode to showcase new tech.
bittah : Will the tech demo support dedicated servers? I assume this will somewhat be native to the engine, and require very little work if any to run.
Tim Aste : It’s still a bit too early to give technical details out, but you can assume whatever functionality is already in our engine, will make it back into any tech demo we release.
bittah : What was Mark doing in France!?
Tim Aste : Mark was in France for business and pleasure. He wasn’t at VUG. On that note, the nice people who manage the Tribes IP are actually located in Los Angeles.
bittah : What was the general response at GarageGames about the way Tribalwar (and I guess the Aussie side of the world) reacted to your initial posts about a new Tribes game? The Tribes 4 design document on the white board was great (link)
Tim Aste : We’re a unique company in which we are still fairly small in comparison to many other industry players, we provide middle ware, we work with the high-end non-gaming systems (military, government, other), we publish Indie titles and provide a segway for indies to get into the industry, and we are a full-fledged game studio on top of that. Because of our unique culture and how we approach things, we have a little leeway in having a little bit of fun now and then. Our initial reaction was one of surprise, as we didn’t expect to wake up the next day after a little forum comment and see headline news. When people starting calling, showing up at our office, and calling our personal phones, then we decided to have a little bit of fun.
bittah : What other new things are planned for the Torque Engine, what area’s are you still wanting to improve?
Tim Aste : Which one? We are constantly developing for all three engines in the Torque Platform, making them the best they can possibly be at extremely low licensing prices. In regards to TSE, the engine we are showing off with our ‘tech demo’, we’ve just wrapped up Marble Blast Ultra for the Xbox 360 using the engine. We are now in the process
of bringing all the rendering improvements we’ve made for that game back into the main TSE Dev pipeline, and are wrapping up a bunch of other things in order to begin work
on the final milestone before we leave the early adopter phase of the engine. We’ve also been making a lot of little “bling” improvements to the engine as well, some of which will be shown off at GDC. Our net code and other features are still top-notch in the industry and are still currently being used in tons of titles.
bittah : What do you and GarageGames think about the other Tribes inspired games in development that are using the Torque Engine such as Legends, Starsiege 2845 (link), and another one in development titled Volitant Assault (link).
Tim Aste : I think anyone using the Torque Engine for indie game development has made a smart decision, and I love to follow the development these guys make along with
all our other community development studios. I think each of these games has it’s own distinct flavor, and each are equally as fun. The guys who are developing are
top-notch community talent and if anyone can get it done, it’s them. In fact, we’ve actually hired some people who were formerly on the Legends Dev team to
be full-time employees here at GarageGames, so we definitely keep an eye on the projects within our community.
bittah : Can we expect a new video recording or screenshots sometime soon?
Tim Aste : Can’t really say, most of the video stuff we do is for internal use only and is used for archives, showing people specific features or bugs, etc.
Occasionally we have one we let slip if it’s really cool though, but it’s never planned.
bittah : Anything else you care to add?
Tim Aste : Keep watching us, we full of cool stuff coming out this year. We will be demoing a bunch of other cool stuff non-related to TSE as well. Our Torque Game Builder will be making a huge show, as will Torque Constructor, and GG Press. There are some other major things which may end up being announced, but we are waiting on lawyers to get back to us to be sure we can talk about them at GDC!