The Junkyard: Please tell us a little bit about yourself, your position, and background at Max Gaming.
Adrian Wright: My name is Adrian Wright, I founded Max Gaming in 1998, with the vision of bringing online 3D worlds to players that we had serviced through our gaming leagues and our text based MUDs. I spent a lot of time since 1989 involved in MUD development, running of online leagues for Battlespire and the Mechwarrior series of games, I always would say to the staff, man if we could just make a game where the resources where built into it. With Lore we have our first level metaverse, with much more exciting stuff to come.
tJY: How did you get involved with Dark Horizons: Lore?
AW: Dark Horizons: Lore is really the first chapter in the Dark Horizons Saga which besides being our core universe for our PC games, it will find its way to the tabletop sometime in 2005. We basically want to build a complex universe for players to enjoy themselves in, and since Dark Horizons was original written to build a text based game around in the mid nineties, we have plenty of vision for this series.
tJY: How did you decide that the Torque engine was the right choice for Lore? How heavily have you modified the code?
AW: We actually designed Lore around the core of the Torque Game Engine, which sports not only an excellent network code base, but also is an excellent engine for games that focus on large outdoor environments. The main places that we have currently heavily modified torque in adding a player class for our MAVs, specific weapons additions, and some custom gui and server listing code. With that said the core of the lore engine is pretty much up to date with the latest TGE head, one of the reason we chose TGE was the fact that we didn't want to write a whole engine, just the parts we needed custom for our game.
tJY: Tell us a little bit about the Mechanized Assault Vehicles (MAVs) that are present in the game. Do they differ at all from other HERCs / Mechs that we've seen in other games?
AW: The main difference between a MAV and HERCS/Mechs is that MAVs are not physically piloted by humans. The pilots in the game are actually linked in via a core implant and remotely pilot the MAVs. The original need for this type of technology is based on the fact the area's the MAVs operate in where and still some are heavily radiated areas. Other differences are around the speed and handling of the MAVs, since there is no pilot they are much smaller then a HERC or Mech, which allows them to be faster and more agile.
tJY: How much of an influence have other mech games, such as Starsiege and Mech Warrior, had on the development of Lore? What do you think sets Lore apart from games like these?
AW: Our influences actually came from the early Mechwarrior games, some console Mech games and for me, Starsiege. Our goal from the start of the game was to make a mecha based game that was easy to learn for general First Person Shooter players, yet have enough mecha feel to attract the older hardcore mecha fans.
Lore isn't a traditional Mecha sim, which was totally intentional; it leans heavily toward a First Person feel, which combined with the Faction war aspect of the game gives it a nice attraction for those looking for their clan to make a stake in the universe.
tJY: Can you tell us a little bit about how scoring and game statistics are handled in Lore?
AW: Scoring in Lore is really heavily weighted toward accomplishing objectives on Maps, for example kills are always worth 1 point, but destroying a generator or truck could be worth up to 50 points depending on the difficulty of the mission. The idea is to focus players on playing more as a team and use their particular MAVs strategically.
tJY: One of Lore's coolest features is its dynamic universe where new content is added to the game on an ongoing basis. Is it difficult to continually balance new weapons, MAVs, and maps with existing items in the game?
AW: We actually actively test new features with current Lore owners, so normally we can catch any unbalances before we release into an official patch. Even with that, yeah, it is hard to find balance, and when we find imbalances in released material we are able to fix it in the next patch.
tJY: What sort of community features does Lore have? Have you taken any steps to ensure that these features do not get abused by the public (re: Tribes 2)?
AW: Our main community features all focus on Faction and squad play (i.e. joining factions, creating and managing squads) The statistical features of Lore are the driver behind the online virtual Faction war, and we control the reporting server by having server admins apply to be able to report stats. From there our master server only allows reports in from those pure servers.
tJY: How much of an impact does community input play in the development of Lore?
AW: Community input means everything to Lore; we continually change things in the game that fit in the direction we want to go. I have said it many times, but without the players the game means nothing. We do have to balance out what we can put in the game and the many wish lists we get, but where players ideas fit we do everything we can to incorporate them into the game.
tJY: At the moment, Lore is still in its Early Adopters Release where what is available now is only the first retail release of the game. What plans do you have for the future of Lore?
AW: Lore is available through our online publisher GarageGames at www.garagegames.com. We are a couple months from the next major release, which will sport some things players really will be excited about, including: Single Player Campaign, Multiplayer Bots, Transports, New Lighting backbone (pretty stuff), and between now and that release, we will be introducing several new maps and arena play. Past that we are looking at adding in an infantry component into the game, but we can save that for another chat
tJY: What are your plans for infantry in Lore?
AW: There are plans for infantry, even though I can't go into great detail here it will be the perfect marriage of mecha mayhem and infantry play.
tJY: We've heard that Lore was played on the Phantom "console" at this year's E3. How did it run? Might Lore lend itself better to being a console game in the future?
AW: Nothing was more exciting at E3 this year for me, then to see Lore played on a plasma screen TV, it just looked beautiful and played nice and smooth on the Phantom. We believe Lore would lend itself very well to a console, based on its gameplay and the ever growing online console gaming community. Lore was designed to play like a console game and we would like nothing better then to take it there, as well as the PC, in the future.
tJY: What are your thoughts on the Phantom as an integrated PC / console machine?
AW: The phantom was very cool; I remember originally reading about the phantom long ago and to actually see it, see its innovative design and controls was a very cool experience. It's definitely a machine build for the gamer, and we hope it does well.
tJY: Do you have anything else you'd like to add?
AW: Just that this last year and a half has been great, there is nothing better then seeing people play and enjoy something you have created and knowing that the best is yet to come makes it even more rewarding. Who said a bunch of guys with no money couldn't make a quality game, I just hope that if anything that this shows people wanted to get into game development that it can be done.
Oh, and check out the MavLympics, your readers will have a chance to compete with MAVs to win prizes from ATI and Sennheiser.
We want to thank Adrian Wright for taking the time to answer our questions on Lore. Unfortunately, parts of this interview were slated to be released a couple of months ago, so we apologize for any discrepancies in information stated here, and that which is currently available.