Unreal: Interview with the devs
On the E3 exposition, we've met our compatriot working on one of the most expected games -- UNREAL. We've questioned him.
SECRET SERVICE: What can you tell us about yourself?
ARTUR BIAŁAS: My name is Artur Białas, I'm 25 years old. I live in Canada, in the city of Kitchener-Waterloo. I have fantastic parents, a younger brother Daniel and a girlfriend Stephanie that comes from Columbia. I work in DIGITAL EXTREMES that is developing UNREAL in cooperation with EPIC MEGAGAMES.
SS: It seems you've lived in Poland before...
AB: I arrived to Canada in December 1986. Previously I lived in Opoczno, a city famous for tiles. I hope that when UNREAL is released, I'll be rich enough to afford visiting Poland and my hometown.
SS: What were your past experiences before ending up in the UNREAL development team?
AB: Well... I am a crazy artist. I always loved drawing and sculpting. I used to love such artists like MichelAngelo, El Greco, Goya, Rodin, Gaudi. Currently, I am most impressed by the works of Magdalena Abakanowicz, Beksiński, H.R. Giger and Kiefer.
SS: We're interested in how you got into the UNREAL team. Was it difficult to get the job?
AB: After I graduated from Waterloo University, I planned on studying their version of Arts faculty, I was planning to become a starving painter artist. I needed money to continue studying though... While surfing along the Internet I found a job offer for a sculptor. The offer was local, so I applied for the interview. As you can see, I got the job!
SS: You got lucky then?
AB: A bit, but it was mostly thanks to my broad area of interests related to arts... I was already experienced in painting, sculpting, architecture and computer graphics. I presented a part of my portfolio during the interview and I made it! I am enjoying my job so much that for now I've postponed further studying to a later date.
SS: Let's proceed to the questions related to your job. Can you tell what your role is on the team and what kind of hardware and software you are using?
AB: I am one of the concept artists working for the UNREAL project. My taks is to prepare concept arts, textures, plasticine- and digital models of monsters and other items. When the game is finally released, I'm gonna work on additional levels. I'm working on a PENTIUM 150 PC with 80 MB RAM. The software I'm using is PhotoShop, Kai's Power Tools, Light Wave, Fractal Design Painter and UNREAL EDITOR. At the moment I am working in the DIGITAL EXTREMES office, but later on I'm going to be able to do this at home.
SS: Can you reveal the process of how the levels are made step by step to our raders, or how many people are working on UNREAL?
AB: The entire process starts from a brainstorm. We are thinking on how to make a level in essence good by itself and at the same time, to make it coherent with others. The artists draw preliminary sketches which allow us to better imagine the levels' looks. When the ideas are agreed upon, works begin on preparing the textures and at the same time, a three-dimensional level model is prepared. When the textures are ready, they are being applied to the level -- the level designers cooperate with texture artists here. Another step is monster, weapon and item placement. That's the simple version, of course programmers, graphic artists, musicians, animators and other artists need to cooperate at all times. All those parts must really be coherent with each other. The most important part is that the entire process is so fun and exciting! Our team consists of 14 people.
SS: Actually, almost every upcoming game is advertised as revolutionary and one-of-a-kind. Let's leave the marketing campaign for a moment. Tell us what you personally like most in UNREAL.
AB: Outstanding graphics. Depending on the rig you run it on, the graphics can be displayed in 16 bits or more. UNREAL's story is revealed gradually and it's enticing without the need of hectolitres of blood on screen. Let us not forget about the enemies' intelligence, gorgeous animations and totally new Multiplayer protocols. A great asset is UNREAL EDITOR included with the game, it'll enable players to quickly create complex levels. People trying to take on UNREALED will quickly learn how to apply lights and use various tricks. UNREAL EDITOR is good enough to compete with commercial 3D modelling software such as 3D STUDIO and LIGHTWAVE. There's much more to that, but to see it for yourselves, you're gonna have to wait for the game's release. I can promise you though that the final effect is going to be marvellous!
SS: QUAKE 2 developer, ID SOFTWARE is talking just the same about new multiplayer protocols and monsters' intelligence in order to make their game look good.
AB: I liked QUAKE and I am awaiting QUAKE 2's release. The statement that a game is better than another seems immature to me. Both QUAKE 2 and UNREAL will introduce new and exciting elements and will lead the way for games that follow. Although both have many things in common, each will address the player in a different way. One thing I am sure of and that is that UNREAL will be a hit!
SS: UNREAL has been in development for a long time now, so can you tell us when is the game going to be finally released?!
AB: UNREAL should be released in September, however even if not, it's gonna be released by the end of the year for 100%. Now as opposed to many other games, UNREAL's engine is being made from the ground-up. We want UNREAL to be one-of-a-kind and full of small details and that takes time. We continue to discover new features of our 3D engine.
SS: What games have attracted you to spend entire nights in front of the monitor?
AB: I play all kinds of games, actually, but my best memories come from WARCRAFT 2, RED ALERT, DIABLO, QUAKE and naturally, UNREAL!
SS: Will you visit our offices if you ever come to Poland?
AB: With pleasure!
SS: Thanks for the interview.