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Bill Dugan - From Wasteland To Spiderman 2

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the long-time-comin' dept.

Classic Games (Games) 21

jvm writes "Curmudgeon Gamer has posted an interview with Bill Dugan of Treyarch, producer of the new Spider-Man 2 console game, due to launch alongside the movie of the same name this summer. But, that's really just his latest project in an 18 year career in the video game business. During that time he has designed maps (for classic PC RPG Wasteland), programmed (Out of this World), designed a manual (Dragon Wars), voice acted (Stonekeep), and been the producer for several games (No One Lives Forever 2, Descent 3). In this interview he discusses the precise role of a game producer, the history of Wasteland, and perhaps most interestingly, why the game industry is making better games today than it was twenty years ago, despite the complaints of the nostalgic to the contrary."

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21 comments

First Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9070348)

Bitch ass mods better not mod this down.

In related news... (1)

Golgafrinchan (777313) | more than 10 years ago | (#9070390)

Well, related to Spiderman 2, anyway. Major League Baseball sells its soul to the devil (and Spiderman): http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/sportsbusiness/news /story?id=1795742

Re:In related news... (1)

jeremywjones.com (776876) | more than 10 years ago | (#9070452)

What a joke about baseball putting the spiderman logo on the bases. And people said baseball would never recover after the strike.

Defending modern games (4, Interesting)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 10 years ago | (#9070410)

why the game industry is making better games today than it was twenty years ago, despite the complaints of the nostalgic to the contrary.
Yeah, that's not actually what was said. He said:
  • "The ratio of gems to crap then was probably about the same as the ratio is now."
To which I, as a collector of old video games, agree.
  • "On the bright side, video games today are way, way more polished than they ever have been, and the production values are sky high."
This, I do not agree with. Many modern games are cookie-cutter crap with the same lack of attention to detail as ever. 3D models passing through walls and other 3D models is a good example. Production values were probably highest just before the Playstation was released.
  • "Multiplayer games of all kinds are much more fun now than they were 20 years ago."
If you want to go back 20 years that might be the case, but I was playing Populous over a null-modem cable 15 years ago and it was just as fun as many multiplayer games are now. My current multiplayer fav is Diablo II -- four years old in a month. Give me a good few rounds of hunt [netbsd.org] over any FPS any day.

Re:Defending modern games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9071686)

Ah, good old hunt. Yes, there were multi-player online third-person shooters back in the 80s, kids, albeit one whose heroes were angle bracket characters. I'd love to see a modern update on it; perhaps only some neato graphics are needed. Hunt and Nethack... halcyon (and exam-failing) days... P.

Re:Defending modern games (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 10 years ago | (#9074070)

This, I do not agree with. Many modern games are cookie-cutter crap with the same lack of attention to detail as ever. 3D models passing through walls and other 3D models is a good example. Production values were probably highest just before the Playstation was released.

Umm, I dunno. 3D engines are just difficult problems...it's much easier to consistent polished results in a 2D world than a 3D world.

I think the presentation is a big part of it. One interesting example is the GBA, which is a good way of comparing what happens these days with what happened in the early 90s without worrying about 3D graphics. "Advanced Wars 2" had much higher production values than I remember seeing on the SNES, but it was nothing that couldn't've been done at that system, it's just attention to detail. (Actually, one of the first games that really impressed me with production values was the first "You Don't Know Jack"...nothing tht couldn't be done w/ Flash, but it just seemed so polished...)

If you want to go back 20 years that might be the case, but I was playing Populous over a null-modem cable 15 years ago and it was just as fun as many multiplayer games are now

I see what he's saying though. Nintendo has been especially good, bringing back 4 controller ports to the console. A lot of today's multiplayer games have old school simplicity in a new school tasty graphical wrapper.

And obviously, true classics will always stand the test of time and individual standout titles will always seem "better than this crap out today". I haven't seen head to head action that rocked my world like Star Control 2 melee, for example.

good/bad game ratio (4, Insightful)

baylorhawk (650925) | more than 10 years ago | (#9070426)

He makes a good point about the quality of games today versus classic games. I would disagree that the ratio of good to bad games is the same today as then, however. It's probably higher today.
These days, games have to go through a great deal of tweaking and whatnot just to work, much less be playable and fun. So for a game to even be released, there has to be a huge time investment for the corporation.
Bad games back in the day had major bugs, some of which made the games almost impossible to play.

Re:good/bad game ratio (1)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 10 years ago | (#9073173)

But on the other hand, today's 3D games have exponentially more stuff to be tweaked. Nor am I convinced they actually spend more time tweaking gameplay than in the past--the precise timing of a characters jump doesn't show up well on box art. Console games today are certainly buggy than they were in the 80s/early 90s (Enter the Matrix comes to mind as an infamous one...) Still, the real question is: why should gamers give a crap about the ratio of good to bad games? All I care about is the raw number of good games--in fact, all I REALLY care about is the raw number of GREAT games, since those are the only ones I'm actually going to plunk down dollars for and start wasting time on. I can see why a games producer cares about the ratio--a producer who turns out consistently good games will get yelled at a whole lot less than a producer who produces both GREAT games and fair games. The Bell Curve of gaming is much narrower than it used to be--and for those of us who only have time to play the outliers (which is probably most people who play games) this is not a good thing.

Re:good/bad game ratio (1)

baylorhawk (650925) | more than 10 years ago | (#9073549)

First of all, they must spend more time tweaking - the sheer complexity of games is much higher today. Think about a huge RPG or RTS. There is a lot of balancing that goes on there between unit types, items, etc., not to mention the graphics.
The reason that gamers should care about the ratio is the health of the industry. The ratio of quality games is going up, which means that producers making good, non-buggy games are being rewarded with high sales. There are, of course, exceptions...you mentioned some Keanu Reeves game or something...? Anyway, it's a sign that the industry is becoming more efficient at churning out games that we will want to play.

Re:good/bad game ratio (1)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 10 years ago | (#9077773)

RTS, yes, there's lots of tweaking there.

RPG, yes, there SHOULD be lots of tweaking there, but it's been a long time since I've felt I've played a well-tweaked one...

In any event, that was actually my point--today's gaming experiences are rarely quite as fluid and precise as they were in the past, just because the problem of making games is so fantastically more complex.

I don't deny that they may be more efficient (I DO deny that they're less buggy, especially on the console.) But I still claim the ratio is only going up just because companies are becoming more risk-averse--and therefore the ratio I care about--the great/ordinary ratio--is taking a nose dive. Making a game is now more about corporate politics than programming.

It's not that people working on games today aren't as smart as their 80s counterparts--but they're prohibited from taking the same kinds of risks because so many more dollars are on the line.

Downtown Needles (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9071122)

Bill talks about his Needles map in Wasteland:

In Downtown Needles, then, the howitzer blew up building walls, but in the end, doing this was not terribly meaningful to progress in the game. I think the only real reason to fire it was to get a little loot that was exposed when you blew up one wall over to the west. In retrospect the whole map should have revolved around the howitzer.

I'm glad it didn't. The howlitzer was one of the highlights of the game, because it didn't have anything to do with the overall story... it made the Wasteland game world more realistic and added to the "anything can happen" mentality.

As I recall you could blow up half the Hobo Dogs stand, permanently. That's so cool.

Re:Downtown Needles (3, Funny)

bckrispi (725257) | more than 10 years ago | (#9071637)

As I recall you could blow up half the Hobo Dogs stand, permanently. That's so cool.

Ahh, yes... The Hobo Dogs clerk looks at you, and with his dying breath says, "Would you...like...fries with your...order??"

Re:Downtown Needles (1)

mahdi13 (660205) | more than 10 years ago | (#9072709)

Hobo Dogs stand
"It's people. Hobo Dogs are made out of people!"

Re:Downtown Needles (1)

identity0 (77976) | more than 10 years ago | (#9075779)

I've never played it, but I have a really old copy of Wasteland, in a tattered box with the manuals and stuff. It's got a set of 5" diskettes.

Question is, do you think it would be worth the time to get an old computer to play it on, or would it be better to play it on some emulator? I'm sort of afraid the disks might get corrupted and stuff if I tried to use them, but I wonder if using vintage equipment would get the "feel" of the game much better.

memory lane in Needles (1)

rhettoric (772376) | more than 10 years ago | (#9073265)

man, that really takes me back. I still remember having a great time playing Wasteland on my Apple 2. Anyone else remember the URABUTLN puzzle?

Re:memory lane in Needles (1)

zoward (188110) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087298)

LOL - URAQT2!

WASTELAND (1)

Quinn (4474) | more than 10 years ago | (#9073893)

Great to see some new insight into how Wasteland was made, although somewhat disappointing to hear most of it was a bytecode scripting language. I guess we'll never see leaked source code for this old gem and port it to Linux. (But that would be so awesome my brain would explode like a blood sausage.)

Wasteland and cheat editors (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 10 years ago | (#9075761)

Wasteland was great, but towards the end, someone gave me a character editor. I ruined the ending for myself as I gave my guys powerful weapons and didn't finish it correctly. (Good ole RedRider BB Gun)

It was one of my favorite games for the c64, for RPG's go, I really enjoyed the skill based, non-magic game. Which we had more of these today in RPG's.

I played that what game 17 years ago? Wow.

Re:Wasteland and cheat editors (1)

rbanzai (596355) | more than 10 years ago | (#9076702)

Are you mixing up Wasteland with Fallout? I played wasteland on my C64 back in the old days and don't remember that, but they definitely had it in Fallout.

Re:Wasteland and cheat editors (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 10 years ago | (#9077126)

Nope, good ole c64, the editor hex edited the 5¼ inch player floppy, and I didn't copy my play disk before I modified my characters. (lesson learned)

Also, I didn't like fallout, just wasn't the same game.

Re:Wasteland and cheat editors (1)

rbanzai (596355) | more than 10 years ago | (#9078487)

Got it. I also did some hex editing when a character go stuck in the radiation pit near the end of the game.
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