State of Emergency Designer Diary #4
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Entry #4 - 2/07/02
By Jamie King
Director of Development, Rockstar Games NYC
Everyone at Rockstar and Vis knew we were making something special with State of Emergency, because everyone on the team couldn't get enough of the game. It helped that we were working with something new--you just can't match up SOE with any other game out there. After working on it for so long, we still enjoyed playing it, even to the extent of taking it home over the weekends and holidays. At Vis' office they had a widescreen TV with a couch in front of it set up in the middle of the team room, and they had a crate of beer going to the person who got the best times in chaos mode. Word on the street is that one person, who shall remain unnamed, has yet to pay up!
The most enjoyable part of the tail end of SOE was the buzz going around the Internet, especially the gaming forums. While resisting the temptation to post messages ourselves, we couldn't stop reading the forums religiously. Many of the forums were filled with great ideas that we tried our hardest to incorporate into the game. With so many screenshots and movies around, the game fans were brimming over with things that they would have loved to see in SOE. Unfortunately, publicity tends to start once the game content has been completed and we're in bug-fixing mode--even so, we managed to get some changes in, mainly with the arcade-style chaos mode. Putting the cheats in was fun, although we wish we'd been able to get some of the more outlandish ones in--chicken riot anyone? Chargrilled perhaps? I'm sure we would have upset the chicken-farming lobby.
E3 was a real rush. We knew we'd made something special but wondered whether anyone would notice in the madness of the expo. We had great positioning on the stands and really enthusiastic demos. Even so, even the most optimistic of us were taken aback by the positive response. One "problem" did arise from E3--the Rockstar Rocket incident. Despite warnings on the pack, a couple of the guys nearly lost their eyes courtesy of Jonny-San and his elastic-propelled projectile.[insert
In the run up to final submission, things always get tense, particularly when you mix an arcade-style riot game with a caffeine-fueled development team. The lead artist and one of the programmers at Vis did develop a strange love/hate relationship--destined to end in murder or marriage, it's still not resolved. At least the in-game collision works now. There's always a last-minute submission nightmare, and ours was the mistaken replacement of a debug file in the submission build. Panic all around when none of the DVDs would run on the test stations: "Noooooooooooo!!" One confession later (awarded by the now-traditional SOE team beating) and things were back to their normal, stable best.
SOE's development had its fair share of ups and downs, but despite all the usual project-closing headaches, the last few months have been a blast. It's not often you get to work on a game that you all want to play, and the fact that so many other people seem to want to play it too makes it even better.