Update: Interview Transcript

Here's a text transcript for those who don't want to download the entire 135 megabyte AMNTV Interview (if you missed skipped update, check it out; the video alone is worth the download time). There's a lot of exciting information here -- in the thrill of finding out new ship types, we missed the best news of all... Sean talks about a late June release date! Here's the text:
AMNTV: Hey guys {someone} here for AMNTV. I'm here with Sean Penney. We're playing Wing Commander ARena at the EA Summer Preview in San Francisco. So tell us a little bit more about, maybe a synopsis for the game for those who don't know what Wing Commander Arena is all about.

Sean: Well, this is a 16-player online multiplayer dogfighting game that also has single player modes. That's what I'm playing right now is a little single player mode. And it's all about getting together with your friends and doing a little team battle, doing a little single player, getting on the leaderboards and, you know, playing a beloved and favorite franchise from years past. It's a brand new, it's a brand new way to play it, it's a brand new look. I'm playing a Kilrathi ship right here, we've got nine of those you can play, that's a first.

AMNTV: What type of main features stand out from a graphical and gameplay standpoint?

Sean: What, you mean compared to other arcade games? Well, I think right off the bat a lot of people don't even realize it's an arcade game. When they look at it they don't, they, you know, they're surprised when they find out it's a fifty meg download. I personally, I think the graphics, the gameplay itself, the depth of play, the, all the different ways that you can play. So online you can go play a eight versus eight capital ship versus capital ship battle. This is amazing, you've got sixteen guys together, you got two massive capital ships doing, throwing broadsides at each other, blowing. It's, it's just amazing to look at, it's absolutely gorgeous.

AMNTV: So just looking at this, I mean level wise, how do you get, the scope of the game. How big is each level?

Sean: Well, so this is a pretty typical environment. Lets see if I can give you a look of it here. So this is a pretty typical sized environment. This one's maybe a little smaller than most just it's enclosed. It's, it really depends on, you know, what we need to do on the envornmnent. One of the things we've done is you'll notice that we're in a two dimensional, we're in, you're on a 2D plane, you can't actually go up or down other than to do things like loops or barrel roles or to get, pardon me, you know, and you can do Immelman turns and 180s. But really, we keep you on a 2D plane, and one of the reasons we do that is in an arcade title you are somewhat limited, you know in memory limitations and things like that. And in a sixteen player game you don't need guys coming at you from top and from bottom and left and right and all over the place. It would just be nothing but death, death, death, death, death. So the envornments, really what we do is we, we keep the envornments to a size that's most useful to the actual mode that you're playing. So capital ship versus capital ship you've got these two huge spaceships circling around eachother, going around, this is a really large environment. So you've got sixteen people with a lot of place, with a lot of space to play in. We have another environment, it's a one on one environment, it's called Duel. This is a much smaller environment. That's lots of stuff you can hide around and do, but arguably you don't need a whole bunch of space if it's just one on one. So the environments tend to be as big as they need to be. Some of them are quite large, others are small. We have everything in between.

AMNTV: Seems like you got a lot of cool weapons over there. Can you showcase some of your main missiles or main weapon arsenal?

Sean: Sure! If you look on the lower left hand screen you can see there's an iconic display. I've got, when I fire my weapons you can see the bar going down there on the left. So I've got energy weapons. Two types of energy weapons, this particular ship has two types of energy weapons. It also has four Dumb Fire missiles, I can drop mines, and if I turn around here you'll notice that the mines fade away, they're cloaked. But I can use my sonar ping to make, to bring them up again. So, use the sonar ping to show up cloaked ships and cloaked mines and things like that. So I've got missiles and, this guy has missiles and mines and two types of energy energy weapons, and he can also cloak himself if I have enough energy. There we go, and I can cloak myself now other people can't see me. If I fire my weapons I, I, I uncloak. Every ship has different weapon combinations. There are some similarities, the the Confederation ships have the same types of heat seeking missiles, the image recognition missiles, Vampire missiles. But some of the races have unique... there's a Vampire missile there, it's draining all my energy. You see it coming down there. Soon as I'm out of energy, it drops off. So the, the different weapon combinations are what makes the game a lot of fun and makes it really unique. If you're playing a heavy bomber, here let me die here... so that somebody will kill me. If you're playing a heavy bomber, there we go, I'll show you some of the different ships. So odd the way, I'm down to the Terran here. We start with the light Arrow, the Arrow Scout, right. We move on to the Arrow Eclipse, right. This is a slightly larger ship, it's still an Arrow but its got more armor and it's got, it's got a gun battery, cloak and flares as opposed to this one has an engine power core, flares and sonar. So they all have different abilities and devices. This is the Arrow Guardian, this is the largest Arrow that we have, but you can see it's got a whole bunch of different stuff it can do. And we can go all the way up to the heaviest bomber, the Broadsword Behemoth. And that's all, that's, you know, that what, that baby's packing, so...

AMNTV: About how many ships and how many total levels are we talking about?

Sean: So, in total, all the ships, there are eighteen total. You start, there's four ships that you start with. Two Terran ships, two Kilrathi ships and what you do is, depending on what mode, actually it doesn't matter what mode you play, you'll unlock ships. Right, any mode you play you start unlocking ships. We got four single player modes, we have eight online modes. A combination of free for all modes, team modes, one on one modes and a really special mode that we call the Bearpit. And in the Bearpit what happens is it's a large environment with an arena within it and two people go into the arena and only one comes out. And then somebody else from the environment goes into the arena. It's all about winning streaks. What's cool is the guys outside of the arena can dogfight, play mini-games and sometimes even shoot inside at the arena. It's very fun.

AMNTV: So you said there's also some online leaderboards for those hardcore enough to really get into the nice competitive mode for Wing Commander Arena?

Sean: Oh yeah, no, absolutely. The the online leader, the online leaderboards track both single player and multiplayer. So if you're playing, if you're playing, you know, if you're, if you're the best at the Proving Grounds or the best at melee your score is going to get online and people are going to see that. And these are true online style single player modes, there's no end to them, they just keep on going, right. Online multiplayer we use Microsoft Arcade's trueskill, so, it's, you know, there's ranked games and player games and there's ways of, of calculating your skill level based on how, your kills and how well you do. But we also track things like frags and points and how many times you die and stuff like that.

AMNTV: So when are we expecting the game to be on Xbox Live?

Sean: Well, we should see it real soon. Some time in June, late June. We're, you know, we're driving for beta right now. You see the game looks pretty good, it plays pretty well. You know, it's a lot of fun, it looks great. What we, we're hoping to get it out near the end, the end of June. And I expect then we'll see a billion people playing it.

AMNTV: Thanks a lot, it all looks very promising.

Sean: My pleasure. Thank you.

--
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