A lot of video game developers dream about making really cinematic shooters. Often something has to be sacrificed for that. However, it is much less common, when a title isn’t only inspired by a famous movie, but when it, actually, plans to develop film’s story further on.
At the Russian IgroMir 2011 Expo in October all the visitors could get their hands on the biggest last premieres of this year, but also it was nice to make a sneak preview of more great titles planned to appear in 2012. In the Shooters genre we crowned Aliens: Colonial Marines as the best in class of that particular show floor. This game is developed by the team at Gearbox Software, which has also been working on some other notable games like Borderlands 2 (2012).
The visceral action at the presentation of this «Best FPS» game of the show not only finished with an enthusiastic crescendo of applause, but it really felt like the famous Aliens (1986) movie from the directorial genius of James Cameron inspired many game design choices for the upcoming title. Here in the dark hallways the hungry Aliens are lurking in search for more Colonial Marines, which will even visit a well-known space ship and the LV-426 planet. We learnt a lot of cool things about their unit’s survival from Matt Powers producing the game at SEGA, who promised us to make a great FPS-title out of this idea.
- Greetings! Please, introduce yourself.
- Privet! My name is Matt Powers, and I am the Senior Producer at SEGA for Aliens: Colonial Marines.
- How do you find Russia?
- It was my first time in Russia, and it was wonderful! Moscow is a beautiful city with beautiful people.
- Give us some background about your career in the game industry.
- I started creating video games in 1993 as a programmer making SEGA Genesis games. So I’ve made a lot of games for SEGA Genesis (1988), Super Nintendo (1990), Atari Jaguar (1993) and 3DO (1993) including popular Slave Zero (1999). Then I did a lot of Unreal games like Unreal Tournament 2003 (2002), Unreal II: The Awakening (2003). After that, I worked at Electronic Arts with many Medal of Honor (1999-2010) games, and I took part in the creation of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2007) at Activision. Now I’m with SEGA working on Aliens: Colonial Marines.
- What do you think about IgroMir 2011 Russian Expo?
- I was not here last year, so I can’t compare it with similar events in previous years, but for me this time it was wonderful.
- Could you compare IgroMir to Gamescom?
- At Gamescom I stayed in the meeting room the whole time, so I did not go to the show floor, and I heard it was very crowded there. IgroMir also gets a lot of visitors, and Russians like video games a lot, which is great. We hope they will like Aliens: Colonial Marines as well.
- How do you interact with Gearbox Software developing Aliens: Colonial Marines?
- I work for SEGA, so I work closely with Gearbox. However, I am really focused just on our new title, and my job is to make sure that it is a very awesome game.
- What is the most challenging in working with such a famous universe as Aliens?
- This year I was at E3, Gamescom, Pax and IgroMir, where we were talking about Aliens. One of the things that I found out was that everyone all around the world loves Aliens. I like Aliens, Gearbox loves Aliens, and everyone expressed excitement about it saying: «Don’t mess it up!». It is a big responsibility, because it is such a great movie, and people love the franchise.
We want to do it right with a lot of Action, a lot of tension, and presenting in Aliens: Colonial Marines a scary atmosphere with Aliens moving correctly and hiding in the shadows. You will use a lot of weapons including the Pulse Rifle and many others. Besides a Single-player mode, there is a Co-op and Multiplayer, so these are a lot of pieces, and the number one thing is not to mess it up.
- We were impressed with Aliens: Colonial Marines presentation showed at IgroMir 2011. Thank you for it!
- It is good that you liked it!
- An exciting movie could be made based on your ideas for…
- That would be great!
- How long has Aliens: Colonial Marines been in the development?
- We announced it many years ago, but we have started working on it around 1,5 years ago. Before that we had spend time developing the game’s design and its story. Later on we moved on to the specifics in creating the required assets. Aliens: Colonial Marines will be out next year after being in 2 years of solid development from beginning to end.
- Have you had a chance to collaborate with any cast and crew of the well-known Aliens movie franchise?
- Yes, it is very important, because Aliens (1986) – it is such a popular movie! We want to be its spiritual successor, the sequel to its events, to go back to LV-426 to see, what could happen there. The team at Gearbox is a huge fan of this film, and they talked to Ridley Scott, who was the Director of the first Alien (1979) movie. The developers briefly discussed with him a vision for the Xenos.
For Aliens: Colonial Marines we work very closely with 20th Century Fox. They have been greatly helping us with the story and with the design of some new Aliens. We have entered into a wonderful partnership with a visual futurist named Syd Mead, who created the worlds of Blade Runner (1982) and Tron (1982). He was working on the designs for the upcoming title. We want to make sure that our game matches the Aliens universe. You will feel like going back to these movies, and this time not only watching, but also playing our video game.
- What’s the starting point of the plot for Aliens: Colonial Marines?
- If you remember in the movie Ripley asked for how long they could expect a rescue finding out that it could take 17 days. Then Hudson said: «Seventeen days? We’re not gonna last seventeen hours!». It even took longer that that. You are in a team of Colonial Marines traveling on a ship named «Sephora». It’s been sent to LV-426 for rescue and investigate mission.
In the meantime, in Aliens: Colonial Marines the evil corporation Weyland-Yutani comes back to the planet bringing the locals and doing more work there. So you are following up to find out what happened to «Sulaco», what is going on at the planet, getting right into the centre of new chaos.
- You will play as one of the Marines on your way getting the chance to upgrade your character, use new weapons and share them between the available modes. Of course, other Marines will accompany you. One of the greatest things in the movie is the difference between its characters like between Corporal Hicks and Private Vasquez. Your comrades will fight with you taking part in the story showing their various personalities. The game here is really capturing the mood of the Aliens movie.
- What enemy types will we encounter in Aliens: Colonial Marines?
- Certainly, you will meet the classics. In our video you could see the Queen, the Warriors, some Facehuggers. We will also be introducing some new Aliens, which you haven’t seen before. In the Aliens: Colonial Marines Demo the Charger is a big and a really cool opponent. I can’t give you more details about this now, but there will be many different enemies.
- How do opponents fight in groups?
- Aliens are very smart creatures. Sometimes they might hide down in a vent and try to distract you, while other ones will try to attack you from behind. It is very important to stay fully aware at all times.
- What are the dangers of encountering Aliens? Can a Marine be killed instantly in Aliens: Colonial Marines?
- I think this is important. Instant kills are not fun for players. We do incorporate strategic thinking. So most Aliens are effective, when they come up closer. What they do in Aliens: Colonial Marines is hiding in the shadows. When you walk down a hallway it is dark and shadowy, you will not see anything, but your Motion Sensor will be beeping.
You will look at it getting more and more louder starting to worry: «Where is it?!». They can come off a ceiling space and use their advantages. They use their tale swipes, and if they get too close, it will be difficult to survive, so you will surely want to keep a distance from them.
- Are there many Quick Time Events (QTE) in the game?
- We do not have a lot of QTE-events in Aliens: Colonial Marines, but there are some such moments. If you remember in the video, when you are attacked by a Facehugger, there is a sort of minigame, where you have to do certain things to be able to defeat it. Quick Time Events remove a player from the action. We do not want to put a lot of those in, and will include just the right amount.
- Let’s speak about the in-game weapons in Aliens: Colonial Marines.
- Wow! First of all, there are classical choices like the M41 Pulse Rifle and M56 Smart Gun. You will also use Pistols, Shotguns, Rocket launchers, various Grenades and different types of ammunition. You can also connect attachments to turn your rifle into a shotgun or Grenade Launcher. There is much variety amongst the available weapons with everything you could expect a Marine to have.
- What was the developers’ approach to Level Design?
- There is a couple of important things here for Aliens: Colonial Marines. We want the game to be really authentic to make you feel like you a playing a new movie – the sequel. Also the variety in everything plays a great role: the variety of environments and the variety of enemies. You will not only fight Aliens, but will also have to battle the Weyland-Utani forces.
Some of the environments you could already see in the Demo. You can visit the «Sulaco» and fight aboard this ship. Then you go down to the planet and explore colony’s hub. One of the cool things that we have done is that the game takes place where the film’s story was unfolding. You will go and see very familiar locations. For example, you will find an air duct, where Vasquez blew herself up. You will come closer and see her Dog Tags lying on the ground.
However, you will not only visit the same places. Weyland-Utani was there too and created some other locations along with the Research facility and other new areas in Aliens: Colonial Marines. Of course, you will be able to explore the planet itself too! We definitely try to have a variety of environments and feature some the fans of the Aliens franchise expect to see.
- We have already seen a machine gun on the ground to fend off the attackers in Aliens: Colonial Marines…
- A sentry gun, yes.
- So what are the other possible ways to interact with the surroundings?
- Sentry Gun is the critical thing here. You do not get to see it in the original movie, but it is in the Director’s Cut, so it is still from the franchise. You can manage and use it in Multiplayer as well as in the Co-op mode. One of the players in Aliens: Colonial Marines can set it up to guard a particular area, and then it fires at enemies automatically. We have not talked much about other features here yet, so you will have to wait for them to be announced.
- How much is the Teamwork important in Aliens: Colonial Marines?
- Very much, especially, in Co-Op. We want to let you feel yourself being a member of the team, so you can divide tasks and send someone guard that way, while staying to secure this way. Players can defend each other, while their mates are hacking doors. It becomes very important, when you play together.
- Your game does not utilize many HUD elements on screen. Is it a new tendency for the FPS-games to make them more realistic and challenging?
- Well, the choice is different between various games. For us in Aliens: Colonial Marines again it was important to make you feel like being a Marine. So we reduced the HUD elements. I don’t think that you have to do that everywhere, if it works for us. Someone else might do something different, and that might be ok too.
- We have already seen the Motion Tracker in action, it is very intuitive and comfortable, but still our readers will be curious, how to find out the health condition and the amount of ammo left for a Marine with the reduced HUD approach in Aliens: Colonial Marines?
- Even though heartbeat will be helping you, it is important to help the players get all the necessary information, so we introduced a special warning for the low health status and about the ammunition. We still feature this indicators, but instead of making them big, we do them small.
- What will be in store of the Multiplayer portion of the game?
- There will definitely be Competitive multiplayer in Aliens: Colonial Marines. We haven’t yet discussed the modes yet. However, I can already say at this time that it will be really awesome!
- Well, I’m not an engineer, but I know that we are using a new Renderer. One of the greatest things about that is the chance to get more lightning and shadow effects. Again, these are very important to create the tension and the mood. That is the key, actually.
In the Aliens: Colonial Marines Demo you could see a lot of action, but also there are many moody elements, where you are walking down a hallway, notice all the lights and shadows not knowing, where the Xenos are hiding. It is kind of scary! Then they come out, and you get more action, after which it can get quiet again. Gearbox is doing a great job here.
- Audio effects can also be very contributing to such an atmosphere…
- Have you used any sounds in Aliens: Colonial Marines from the official Aliens franchise audio library?
- Of course, we have taken that into account. I mean, everyone knows how a Pulse Rifle, a Smart Gun or a Flame Thrower sound. I will not say that we used these effects from the official library directly, but we did everything in order to replicate them as close to the original sounds as possible.
- What will the soundtrack of the game be like?
- We haven’t announced the composer of the in-game soundtrack yet. Music is very important as one the key things, which are setting the proper mood of the movie. In Aliens: Colonial Marines you will hear something similar. That is also another our goal to make it dynamically change depending on your current gameplay situation.
- What are the release dates for Aliens: Colonial Marines?
- Definitely, it will be some time next year. The game will be released on PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii U. Russian audience is very important for us, since we know that many of your gamers love the Aliens franchise, and we will try to release the Russian version at the same date with all the others. When I can buy it in California, you will be able to buy Aliens: Colonial Marines in Russia! We want to make sure that the Russian fans get the game at the same time as everybody else.
- Now it’s time for our short survey. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Making Aliens: Colonial Marines 3!
- What picture do you have on your desktop?
- On my desktop I, actually, use the default Windows wallpaper named Flowers! [Smiles].
- What Aliens movie do you like the most?
- My favorite movie in the franchise is Aliens, but I like Alien as well. They are very different. One if more scaring, and the other one features more action, but I will still pick Aliens, because I like it and we are making a video game inspired by it.
- What are your favorite video games of all time?
- That is really difficult! I can tell you about the ones I have played recently. I do play a lot of Call of Duty (2003-2011) games, also I spent some time with Gears of War 3 (2011), Renegade Ops (2011), which is a great title as well. My favorite game of all time is Slave Zero – one of the games I made. I would also pick the original Duke Nukem (1991), Half-Life (1998), Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (2000). I worked on the Medal of Honor games, so I like this franchise too. The most I play action and shooter games.
- Best game of this year for you.
- I think very notable releases for me this year are Rage (2011), Batman: Arkham City (2011) and Sonic Generations (2011) for all the Sonic fans around the world. I would also play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011).
- What would you like to see changed in the First-Person Shooters genre (FPS) in future?
- That is a tough question, because I started making FPS-games back at the times of Unreal. I remember, we were doing an alternative for Dreamcast and another one for PlayStation 2 (PS2). At that time everyone was saying: «No, you can’t do a First-Person Shooter on a controller without usage of a keyboard and a mouse!». Nowadays a lot of people play with controllers.
Now there are new things we are making for the Wii U version, and it is very interesting to use its controller, and see, how it works in First-Person Shooters. Overall, I think the FPS-genre is only getting better with more good titles coming out. Hopefully, Aliens: Colonial Marines will also be the game everyone plays. I don’t know, what the future will bring, though it is very exciting, and I think I will be making video games for a long time.
- What will you remember Moscow for?
- Beautiful women, beautiful women, beautiful women. I would say, I spent in Moscow just a few days, but I could already meet very nice people and very pretty women.
- Some things to bring back home from Russia.
- More beautiful women? [Smiles]. Seriously, anything with a Russian text on it. Your language is looking really good and neat. Probably, also some T-shirts and Vodka.
- Thanks, Matt!
- Thank you for your interest in our game!
Greetings from Matthew Powers (SEGA)
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Aliens: Colonial Marines:
An FPS-game inspired by the classic Aliens (1986) movie, where you will be put against the deadliest killers in the galaxy, while spending another glorious day in the corps. Created by Gearbox, the critically acclaimed and fan-favorite developers of such games as Brothers In Arms (2005-2010) and Borderlands (2009), this first-person shooter is steeped in the eerie, claustrophobic and memorable terrifying atmosphere, which made the Aliens films successful worldwide. You and your friends will become the US Colonial Marines. It’s down to you to not just survive, but to wipe out the Xeno infestation as well.
The developers of Aliens: Colonial Marines have collaborated with a famous visual futurist, Syd Mead, and with the 20th Century Fox film production company, while discussing the look and feel of the newest Aliens. Besides enemy types diversity, here the challenges come in various forms letting you stick to your role in the squad and use a wide array of deadly weapons along with famous special gadgets. The game world is going to guide you through some well-known places from the movie and present many new areas.
Key Game Features:
- Enlist in the Marine Corps. Bringing you a true sequel to James Cameron’s classic Aliens, get tooled up with all the classic Marine weapons including Pulse rifles, Motion trackers and Flamethrowers;
- The most authentic Aliens experience ever. Using authentic environments inspired by the film series including Hadley’s Hope, the Sulaco and LV-426, you will be immersed in an eerie, atmospheric world where any moment could bring your death;
- Loadouts and upgrades. Create your perfect killing machine – an extensive upgrade system in Aliens: Colonial Marines allows players to customize their characters to play the way they want. Earn experience to get perks, new weapons and new looks for your squad;
- Drop-in & Drop-out Co-Op Gameplay. The masters of Co-op bring their expertise to the Aliens universe. Xenos getting too tough? Call up your buddies so they can drop in with extra firepower. The whole campaign can be played with a squad of up to four players, dropping in and out as necessary through self-contained missions within an over-arching narrative.