Warren Spector Explains Origin's Origins
BootStrike has archived a neat Warren Spector interview from GameBytes magazine. It was conducted in 1993 when he was executive producer of Ultima VII, Part II: Serpent Isle. Although that game is the focus on the interview, a few neat Wing Commander answers slipped by. Some of his answers provide a good look into Origin game design in the early 1990s. You can check out the full interview here or here.
This one was spotted by AD.
GB: Will you ever write Windows versions of these games?
These answers pertain to Origin in general. It's interesting to note that the SVGA and multiplayer Wing Commander games arrived the next year.
WS: Almost certainly not. The problem is speed. Doing a Windows version
of an Ultima or Wing Commander game would just be bog-slow. So what we're
talking about now is doing games that are designed to run under windows
from the start, the stuff that doesn't need high-speed animation.
GB: When is an enhanced CD version of this game going to come out?
WS: Ultima 7 does not lend itself to CD's as they exist right now. That's
because we hit the hard drive ALL the time. The engine hits the hard
drive constantly. It would just be painfully slow playing off a CD. We
prefer doing Wing Commander games, for example, because you can play them
from the CD. When are we going to go CD-happy? It can't happen too soon.
I would kill to be able to ship the 21 Mb intro to SI that some people saw
at the trade shows. I would love to a whole game that does that.
GB: The screenshots of the intro reminded me of the KQ6 intro. Is
the 3D modelled animation done at Origin?
WS: That's in house. Our entire art department is the best in the
business. I'm absolutely convinced of that, and no one is going to sway
me. Our senior artist, Denis Loubet, is brilliant. He can do things on a
PC that the guys at SIGGRAPH with their Suns and SGI's say can't be done.
He does it routinely. He's immensely talented. We do storyboards. He
routinely trashes them and makes them better. In Wing Commander, I did
the original shot breakdowns. Chris Roberts, Jeff George, Denis Loubet,
and I sat on that balcony right there and went over the storyboard stuff,
and I might as well have just thrown mine away. Denis just started
sketching and I'm going, "Oh yeah. Oh yeah."
GB: When will we see SVGA games?
Famous last words.
WS: There are proposals on the table now for 640x480x256 colors. Frankly,
games that don't use SVGA in the years to come aren't going to make it.
GB: What about multiplayer games?
WS: Doubt it for the near future, but some proposals on the desk have to
have it. I'd say next year at the earliest.
GB: Has EA had any involvement in the planning, development, or
approval of Origin games?
WS: Not so far. They've left us pretty much to our own devices.