Q&A: Sega on Aliens vs. Predator

We chat to Tim Jones, head of art and design at Rebellion about its upcoming science fiction first-person shooter.

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Something about human nature really loves seeing one badass take on another, whether it is in the boxing ring or in an intergalactic fight among three species. For our money, it's harder to find better entertainment value than with two of science fiction's scariest foes: aliens and predators. We caught up with the head of art and design at Rebellion, Tim Jones, to ask him about how balancing out the three factions works, details on multilayer, and to see what sort of hybrid foes the company will be bringing to the table in its upcoming game.

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GameSpot AU : What challenges have you faced while balancing the three factions in the game? How have you addressed the issues?

Tim Jones: Balancing for this game is vital, especially when you’re working with three species that control in such completely different ways and provide their own unique gameplay experience. How do you balance an alien (who has no guns, but deadly melee attacks) against a Marine (who has heavy firepower, but is otherwise vulnerable) against a predator (stealthy and agile, but has no rapid-fire weapons)? The answer is to make the most of each character’s strengths and weaknesses, and play them off against each other.

We are spending a lot of time to ensure that we get the balance right in both our single and multiplayer gameplay, and the results so far are working out really well.

GS AU: We haven’t heard much about the multiplayer component of AVP. What can players expect from it?

TJ: Our multiplayer reveal will be happening later this year. Suffice to say that you will able to play as all three species, and there are some great game modes that make the most of each of their special abilities. It is sometimes hard to get the team to stop playing the multiplayer in the office and do some work!

GS AU: The class system in AVP2 multiplayer was criticised by the community as being overly complicated and imbalanced. How have you taken these concerns on board for this title?

TJ: We’ve looked very carefully at what has worked well and proven popular in previous games--and what has not--and we are focusing on making each species work as best as it can without complicating things further with class systems. There is a beautiful purity to the three-species combat we have!

GS AU: We’ve heard the game will feature some kind of trophy collection system when playing as a predator? Will the humans and aliens have a similar reward system?

TJ: We’re keeping some of the specific details of the game mechanics under wraps while they are still in development. What I can confirm, though, is that the alien player has its own spectacularly gruesome kill moves you can perform on your prey, which give the predator’s “trophy” kill moves a run for their money!

GS AU: One example we saw when playing as the predator was to cut the power to a marine base to let the xenomorphs in to deal with the Marines. Will you be able to do similar things with the other factions? And, how open ended will the puzzle-solving element be?

TJ: Each faction has its own way to interact with the environment. You can expect opportunities to cut the power and take out the lights as an alien. This definitely gives you the advantage in close encounters. The Marines will be the ones desperately trying to find ways to light up dark areas as they move through them!

GS AU: We’ve heard that the predalien will be making an appearance in the game. Will it always be the same enemy, or are there multiple types of predaliens that you'll have to deal with?

TJ: I can confirm that you’ll face a predalien in the game, and being the deadly mix of alien and predator that it is, you will not be in a hurry to meet another one!

GS AU: Given that it sounds like there'll be quite a few situations where all three factions will be fighting it out at the same time on the one map, what kind of scale are you able to achieve with the engine?

TJ: Rebellion’s Asura engine is the underlying technology behind AVP, and it is capable of both atmospherically claustrophobic spaces and much larger breathtaking scenes. We will be making use of all kinds of environments in the game, and there will be interspecies battles taking place in all of them.

GS AU: Will each of the three campaigns be of similar length? Is there a single overarching storyline? Does each have its own ending?

TJ: The three campaigns are all comparable in length and all portray different perspectives on the same series of events, though each species naturally gets parts of the overall story and events that the others don’t get to see. But I’d be spoiling it if I told you how it was going to end!

GS AU: Because the game isn’t based on the film franchise, are you giving any nods to the series?

TJ: The game has been very much inspired by the movies, particularly Alien, Aliens vs. Predator, and of course the Dark Horse comic books. We’re all huge fans of the Aliens and Predator universe, and while we’re steering clear of obvious direct quotes from the movies, the game features a number of references that other fans should delight in spotting--though they certainly won’t distract from the experience for the uninitiated.

GS AU: Besides predaliens, do you have plans to create any other hybrids from the universe?

TJ: That would be telling! I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait and see what we’ve got planned. Fans can definitely expect to see some previously unseen aspects of both aliens and predators.

GS AU: Tim Jones, thanks for your time.

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