Q&A: Gears 2 dev Pete Hayes

Epic Games' "squeamish" senior artist talks about modeling gore, weapons, and vehicles for Microsoft's Xbox 360-exclusive shooter series.

When curb-stomping Locusts in Gears of War or cutting a swath through their torsos with the chainsaw-equipped Lancer rifle, it's easy to overlook the fact that some talented developer had to craft every last gory giblet of the ensuing carnage in three dimensions. For Gears of War and its upcoming sequel, that developer is Epic Games senior artist Pete Hayes.

Hayes, who also models the franchise's vehicles and weapons, recently sat down with GameSpot to talk about his work on the series, what he wanted to change for Gears of War 2, and what he thought about seeing his work replicated in the real-world with the Amazon.com exclusive life-size Lancer promotion.

GameSpot: So how does one model gore?

Pete Hayes: Basically, I don't use reference because I don't like real-life violence. I'm actually kinda squeamish. I grew up on horror movies like the Evil Dead series, sci-fi action like Starship Troopers. So I'm more into the friendly violence, the fun violence, stuff like Bad Taste or Dead Alive. Campy kind of movies like that.

I basically create a little stockpile of chunks of meat and bones and things along those lines. Then I figure out where the character has to be chopped up or blown apart for gameplay purposes. Obviously, with a chainsaw, you have to have cuts in certain places. Then I just try to make it look cool. It's not anatomically correct by any means whatsoever. There's lots of "mystery meat" in there.

The goal is not to gross people out or have super-uber-realistic gore. It's more just for the type of action game that we are and [to have] that over-the-top exclamation point, much like profanity would add an exclamation point to certain comedy routines. It serves that purpose.

GS: Now in Bad Taste or Dead Alive, the audience reaction to the gore is laughter. In Gears of War, is that the same reaction you're going for?

PH: Oh, absolutely. It's not some kind of sinister, premeditated, creepy sawing your head off or whatever. It's just very action-packed. It's like the smack-talking you do with your friends, or serendipity when something happens like a headshot where the skull flies up and lands on somebody else's head. It's Three Stooges, ridiculous, over-the-top. At least that's the way I envision it; that's the response. It's not scary or done in a weird, malicious way. It's just fun and part of the action.

GS: Do you ever hear from people who missed the point or took it a little more seriously?

PH: I don't think so. I personally haven't. I've read forums where people are like, "More gore, more gore, more!" And I think we got enough and maybe they should seek counseling... But at least from my exposure, it's one small part of the equation; it doesn't define Gears.

GS: How do you explain to your family what you do?

PH: My family's actually fairly eclectic. They follow what I do and enjoy it. I've got a 17-year-old son who's a superhardcore gamer, and I think the only way he could be any more proud of me is if I worked for Blizzard because he's a huge fan of theirs. But he's a Gears fan as well.

GS: You also modeled weapons and vehicles for the second game. Haven't some of these already been modeled once, like the Lancer?

PH: Yeah, absolutely. The Lancer's a good example that's been revamped. It was actually the very first model I did for Gears 1... I got the concept art, and when we started Gears 1, we didn't know what kind of poly count we had to work with. And my skill level five years ago wasn't close to what it is today. So I went back and remodeled [it]. It's actually three times the amount of polygons that the Gears 1 Lancer was. We refined the scope slightly, but there was a very conscious decision that we didn't want to mess with the design too much because that's the iconic Gears gun.

Some of the other weapons are straight over from Gears 1. They work; they're good enough. We've improved the game in so many areas we didn't feel the need to go back and remodel every single asset. We focused on doing the new weapons, like the mortar, the mulcher Gatling gun that you can mow people in half with.

GS: How about the vehicles you can talk about?

PH: There's the centaur tank, which I modeled. The directive from [lead designer] Cliff [Bleszinski] was "I want a cross between a monster truck and a tank." That's the kind of vibe we wanted. I did the Junker from Gears 1, and I was critical, as were some other people, about that vehicle sequence in Gears 1. So we [knew we had to] do something good because people were a bit grumbly about that.

GS: When it came time to do Gears of War 2, what was the most appealing part of doing the sequel?

PH: The biggest thing for me was knowing that we had the solid foundation and people out there liked it. Gears 2 was very liberating for me. I didn't feel any pressure, I was just like, "Sweet! We know we've got this part that works. Now let's do all the other stuff we want to do with more variety, even more over-the-top, cooler weapons, bigger weapons..." I was just chomping at the bit to get back on it.

Redoing the Lancer was a huge part [of the second game's appeal]. That was something that was a thorn in my side for the entire game because I thought my skills weren't near what they are. And it was probably the lowest-polygon [count] model in the game when probably it should be the highest-poly weapon in the game.

GS: How much did you work with NECA on the toys and life-size Lancer replica?

PH: I'm basically the biggest resident toy freak at Epic. I'm a huge comic fan, toy fan, genre fan... I collect it all. So I got to give feedback on what I thought was good build quality, what I liked about previous lines, what I thought would be good articulation. As far as their translations of the weapons, I thought all their stuff was dead-on. They had incredible attention to detail, not only with the toys but with the life-size Lancer. It's dead-on, down to the bolts. I haven't seen the finished product but I saw the prototypes, and they nailed it. I preordered six of them on the spot.

Written By

Want the latest news about Gears of War 2?

Gears of War 2

Gears of War 2

Follow

Discussion

177 comments
sac9
sac9

You guys are ediots! Even if gears 1 multiplayer was a last minute add on it was still amazing. It was even mlg. It even took over halo 2 as the most played online game. go play some more halo u halo fanboys

DukeBallin08
DukeBallin08

yo i got a question for anyone who knows a little about multiplayer. Is it gonna be hard to play ranked with friends like it was in the first Gears or will you be able to party up as a team this time like they do in Halo 3?

NND1
NND1

just reserved it ... YVES!!

598gh
598gh

im sure that gears 2 its gonna be the best game in the next gen iam soooooooooooooo happy so rock on dudes

creamynuts
creamynuts

i bought a new 360 just to play gow2.. rrod ftl

zapp747
zapp747

what backroom deal was made with games for windows.why is gow 2 not been released for the pc.epic how much do u get for every new 360 sold with gow2

Blizz99
Blizz99

Anyone know how to get rich quick? Cause I can't afford all the awesome games coming out on PS3 and 360 :'( lol

Blizz99
Blizz99

Anyone know how to get rich quick? Cause I can't afford all the awesome games coming out on PS3 and 360 :'( lol

maaly81
maaly81

I am gonna be on this game all november. I aint got to work, and the wife may divorce me over it, but hey, its gears 2. just dont come with no delays epic.

kickassname
kickassname

They do have a lobby system like Halo

kickassname
kickassname

They do have a lobby system like Halo

BorkaBonum
BorkaBonum

(quote)-"jaredrichards3 Posted Sep 13, 2008 3:23 am PT how about improving the multiplayer and lobby system so gears of war 2 can be more than just a single player game like the original who's online system was more of a cheap last minute add on? halo 3 should be your inspiration epic!!! "(end quote) Jar, I guess you've been sleeping for the past six months - you've missed basicly everything about Gears of War 2.

shaun_mcwayne
shaun_mcwayne

defo gonna get this, still playing first gears. i have 2 xboxes white and black so if i get a rrod on one i can just boot up the other. yee haa.

erkin17
erkin17

can't wait till this game kums out best game ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SgT_P3pr
SgT_P3pr

The go watch the gameplay trailers. GoW2 is gonna be awesome

Stevie_Q
Stevie_Q

Want to see the new lancer ingame now!

slipper_1
slipper_1

cant wait for this game its goimg to be the best!

-Roflcopter2-
-Roflcopter2-

Lol i got the rrod...well a red light..i sent it off to get repaired...currently stuck in the dark ages......playing a..ps3 but if i don't get it back in time for playing this ...im going to steal my brothers..so its all good Oh and btw ... they will never fix the rrod...there will be always that one xbox what will have a failure even if they improve the problem

jets78
jets78

THE ONLY NEGATIVE THING ABOUT THE 360 I HAVE IS THAT IT HAS THAT FAMOUSE RED RING I HAD A 360 3 TIME IN ONE YEAR IT KEPT GETTING THAT STUPID RED RING I HATE THAT CRAP ARE THEY EVER GOING TO FIX THAT SOME BODY EMAIL ME AT L.CAEZ78@YAHOO.COM IF U KNOW IF THEY ARE CAUSE I WILL TRADE IN MY PS3 IF I HAVE 2 SO I CAN PLAY GEARS 2

jets78
jets78

I CANT WAIT TO PLAY THIS GAME AND I DONT HAVE A 360 BUT I PLAN ON ROBBING SOMEBODY,S HOUSE FOR ONE SOON LOL!!!

sgt-hawkins
sgt-hawkins

well this is the game i am buying a 360 for i hope it rocks

jaredrichards3
jaredrichards3

how about improving the multiplayer and lobby system so gears of war 2 can be more than just a single player game like the original who's online system was more of a cheap last minute add on? halo 3 should be your inspiration epic!!!

mj30269
mj30269

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

leemcx
leemcx

Has GOW1 been released for PS3? Is it being released for PS3? I think we all know the answer to that! There is nothing wrong with MS wanting to make money, any company that doesn't needs new management! And thats a fact. But they've been loyal with GOW and it boils down to good old logical sense that GOW was released on PC! Bashing MS cause they cant play it on their very own 360 just cause they own a PS3 is just petty.. I owned a PS2 for years and love games like the God of War series.. and I'm sure God of War 3 will shine on PS3.. but give Gears of War 2 the respect it deserves.. its going to be awesome!

TooQuickStix
TooQuickStix

I am pumped for this game. I just hope they dont mess with the original formula too much, amazing how they balanced such different crazy weapons so well. Havent heard anything about them keeping annex mode, they had better, by FAR the best muliplayer mode in any game. Glad they only added 1 more slot per team, with so many games adding more people good for them to realize the best part is knowing your opponent, so much better than killing 30 random indistinguishable people. Game should be sick.

necronaux
necronaux

I was hoping for an over the top doom-environment-like gore fest. I'm kinda dissapointed to hear he's gong for the midnight-B-movie comic-gore.

Sanguis_Malus
Sanguis_Malus

The first game was very fun to play and this sequel is looking fantastic. Us gears fans are excited. As for peoples negative comments, don't buy the game, we shall enjoy it though.

mattwbrad
mattwbrad

I got the first one for PC and was extremely disappointed with it. The game trys to be a badass, but it's so damn cheesy!

vivendidoom
vivendidoom

(AKILLER92) sorry man you have no room to judge, games not out yet, and if it were to be an epic failer, i dont think this many people would have sighned their asses on the document that reads pre-order gears of war 2 in january...now too human? that was a definate epic failer.

vivendidoom
vivendidoom

(AKILLER92) sorry man you have no room to judge, games not out yet, and if it were to be an epic failer, i dont think this many people would have sighned their asses on the document that reads pre-order gears of war 2 in january...now too human? that was a definate epic failer.

funkyrandom
funkyrandom

you get a special cod if u preorder the limited edition

AKiller92
AKiller92

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

gamer-clemm
gamer-clemm

Gears 2 is gonna be one freaking awesome game, dudes!!!

bikedirt
bikedirt

this game is going to be amazing, i pre-ordered the special edition so i can pwn the noobs with my gold lancer

creamynuts
creamynuts

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

creamynuts
creamynuts

it'll be longer the cliff man said so!!!!!!

NeoNavarro
NeoNavarro

This game is going to be unbelievable! I just can't wait any longer!

skullflower
skullflower

After recently going through the first game again after over a year of not playing it, I can safely say I'm really looking forward to the sequel. I forgot how many genuinely good gaming moments the first game had. Playing the game on Co-Op is just pure fun - I do have XBL, but I hope the second game supports splitscreen Co-Op. Love the look of the new enemies, especially the mace wielding fellow. Love the new shield you can hold and then plant into the ground to use as cover. I'd like to see a grenade launcher attachment on the chainsaw gun. Though I don't know if they could fit it on!

clearwaterslick
clearwaterslick

· *rolls need on GOW2 God, I just hope that I can beat Fable 2 and Fallout 3 before the GOW2 release date. All 3 are games that I won't be able to put down and have been waiting for years (admittedly, some longer than others, stupid Black Isle.) Some may say, "why don't you take your time and hold off on buying GOW2?" My answer, of course, is "Are you crazy? I need to get on and hone my skills so that the stupid, racist, homophobic 12 year olds with touretes and max volume mics don't pwn me.

shenron43
shenron43

games gonna be great, really looking forward to getting my hands on it.

godofwarfan1
godofwarfan1

i already reserved the limited edition gears of war 2 with the life size lancer on amazon.com. this game is going to be insane!!!