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Ninja
02-25-2002, 01:53 PM
INTERVIEW: YAGER BOYS GET LASER TREATMENT

Sci-fi shooting gets hotter later this year as Germany-based Yager developments finally gets its futuristic blaster out

15:50 The Xbox version of Yager was shown for the first time in London last week, showing that the sci-fi flight shooter has come a very long way since first shots were seen last year. A PC outing is also on the way, but the console version get precedence; Xbox owners will be blasting their way through the mission-based title this May.
Yager casts the player as Magnus Tide, a freelance pilot taking on various forces in a gung-ho adventure for all those that love to live their lives in the future.

The Yager boys - art and design director Uwe Beneke and project manager Timo Ullman - come from the bedroom, where 11 years ago they first started tinkering with 3D engines and dreaming of a future in the games industry. They got their wish. THQ signed the title in the dying stages of the 20th Century and all the signs are that Ullman and Beneke are about to become well-known names. And more power to them.

We took to the bench with Uwe and Timo to get the latest on what's hot in the world of blasting the bad guys with huge lasers.

Is this the first time you've shown the game in public?

Yager Development - For Xbox it is. We showed it at E3 last year, but that was on PC. We hadn't got the Xbox version quite right then.

You've been working on the game for a very long time now; isn't it 11 years?

Yager Development - [laughs] Back then it was a just spare time project, tinkering around with 3D engines, and we had some ideas for an action game. Later on some friends joined in, and it really kicked off at the end of 1999 when we signed the deal with THQ.

When are you planning to release the Xbox version?

Yager Development - This summer.

And when for PC?

Yager Development - Late 2002.

And you're going to have full multi-play features for the PC version and not for the Xbox version?

Yager Development - That's right. For the Xbox version we'll be concentrating on the single-player experience, but for PC we are providing multi-player modes.

Will you have both deathmatch and co-operative play?

Yager Development - We have a couple of ideas. You can imagine having all these different types of craft, small ships and bigger ships; we'd really like to exploit that. We'll put them into deathmatch mode of course, but we also want to include different scenarios to make use of tactical variants. Groups of players playing against each other and having big ships, small ships and stationary guns on the ground – it's what we can make of it.

Where have you taken your influences from?

Yager Development - We're into a large catalogue of action games and action films, so we wanted to make a 3D action game.

What games did you start off playing? What did you play where you said, "I'd like to make that" or, "I'd like to make something better than that?"

Yager Development - It evolved from those early ideas, with the two of us sitting together. 3D graphics emmersion was the stuff we liked on home computers, 3D shoot-'em-ups and side-scrollers. We all sat together and developed a vision. Of course, all the different games that came out influenced us. Wing Commander was a milestone with the character development and action. We are compared to Wing Commander on the ground sometimes. The plot is always present, and we have the main character commenting on the game, telling you what's happening.

Are you going to include other characters as well as the main character?

Yager Development - There are about 20 characters you'll meet with varying degrees of presence and importance.

How many missions are in the game in total?

Yager Development - More than 20.

There's a story-line that runs through the entire game on Xbox; is the same true for the PC version?

Yager Development - Yes.

So basically the PC game is just the Xbox game with multi-player as well?

Yager Development - If you like, yes.

Will the missions be linear or will the plot take you off at different tangents?

Yager Development - There's no branching structure to the missions, but there's a certain degree of flexibility and freedom within each mission. The goal is to experience a continuous flow of events, of course. From a development point of view, you have to arrive at some point where different variants come together, which results in a cut-scene.

Will all the missions be based around the island landscape?

Yager Development - No. There will be six very large areas accessible that will make up three completely different settings. The plot will lead you into different situations. It's only in the beginning that you stay in the island zone. Later on you move on, but you return later.

Why did you choose Xbox specifically? Are you planning a PlayStation 2 version?

Yager Development - We are not capable of doing another console version at the moment. We wanted to go for the most powerful console out there, and that's Xbox.

Would you plan on supporting other consoles in the future?

Yager Development - Maybe, but not for Yager. That has to be decided. It's working on Xbox, but there has to be too many changes, for instance to take it to PS2. Xbox has 64Mb of V-RAM, which is quite generous, but we're exploiting it to its last bit. To squeeze that into a PS2 would be quite a challenge. You'd have to drop the resolution of the textures.

What are you planning to do after Yager?

Yager Development - We have loads of ideas, but we can't go into too much detail about that. Throughout Yager's development we've also building the Yager world: this is just a fraction of what's happening there.

You'd like to turn Yager into a franchise?

Yager Development - Yes. From the ideas and characters we have, there's plenty of material to cover other games; still action but different genres.

Do you think the game works better on PC or Xbox?

Yager Development - Right now, Xbox. We like the easy access approach to the game. It was good for the game to simplify it to a certain degree. It might work better because console gamers are more used to that approach.

Do you think you have the depth of play to keep modern PC gamers happy?

Yager Development - We hope so; we come from a PC background. I think so yes. We don't really think making the distinction between a PC and a console game is about depth. Take Quake: where's the depth in it? It's a very successful game on PC. The same could go for any kind of game. If it's a good game and it works then it could work on lots of platforms. Strategy games are probably the only exception, because of the mouse, console and screen resolution, but otherwise I wouldn't make the distinction between console and PC just because of the controller or the different kind of visual quality between a TV and a monitor. If the game's great you can play it anywhere.

What have you got that's new?

Yager Development - For the genre we're very heavy on plot and characters. We have a great deal of immersion in the surrounding world for an action game.

There seems to be a great deal of pushing character-driven stories into action games. Do you think this is the way forward for action games as a whole?

Yager Development - Not necessarily. As we mentioned before, take Quake. It's a sports game, and you don't really need character development in a game like that, as it's so competitive. But when we add characters it adds a new dimension of experience. It's also quite expensive in terms of development, as we're experiencing [laughs].

Are you using the Xbox hard drive for anything?

Yager Development - A lot of character interaction is streamed from the hard drive. We also use it for save games.

What spec PC will you need to run Yager?

Yager Development - It's still to be decided, but you won't have to have a very high specced PC. We have it running at home on a PIII 500 with a GeForce card.

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