TresCom is delighted to present you all with this very exciting, very exclusive, new interview with Brian Moore. Brian was a Lead 3D Artist on Trespasser, working at DreamWorks for a little over a year. Following the release of Trespasser (in which, I am sure we can all agree, he did some fantastic work), he moved on, subsequently working for companies such as Disney and Real Sports. He’s been currently working for Treyarch on a variety of console-games and is now the Art Director at EA Sports. The soon to be released “Madden 2006” and “NCAA Football 2007” are among his most keenly awaited titles. On behalf of TresCom.org and the whole community, I’d like to extend my thanks to Brian for giving up some of his valuable time to this interview.
TresCom: For several weeks now, all of us have been very exited at the prospect of an interview with one of the original Trespasser team members, Brian Moore. Brian has graciously agreed to answer questions about his role in the game’s development. So, without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce Brian Moore. Brian, we are honored to have you with us!
Brian: Thanks, it’s a pleasure to be here, to answer all your questions about Trespasser. It was a great project that was clearly way ahead of it’s time technologically.
TresCom: First of all, you are presently involved with a gaming project that is in beta. What can you tell us about it ?
Brian: Sure, I’m currently an Art Director at EA sports at Tiburon in Orlando, Florida. We just wrapped Madden06 for PS2, XBOX and GameCube, I art directed the project. It’s due out in early August. I’m currently moving onto a Next Gen title for the XBOX360, production started a few weeks ago.
Brian: I got involved in the games business in 1993 for an educational games publisher called Davidson and Associates. After working for them for a year I worked for a small start up in Santa Monica that was making PC games when video games were first moving to CD-rom. There, I art directed three titles and produced one, however they never had any distribution channels so the company went belly up and they never published any of the titles I worked on. I moved over to a contract position working on animations for the Video game version of the game of Life (a board game). During the midst of that production, the opportunity came up to work at DreamWorks and help create Steven Spielberg’s PC version of the Lost World, affectionately known as Trespasser. Since DreamWorks was hiring traditional artists with gaming experience (my background is illustration, I worked as a comic book artist for Marvel in the 80’s) They reviewed my work and offered me the position. I was thrilled, it was a great opportunity.
TresCom: An artist for Marvel Comics? How fascinating! What titles did you work on while at Marvel?
Brian: I worked as a background Inker for Mike Esposito when Ross Andru was the penciller for Spiderman, so I inked backgrounds for Mike, painted a Conan the Barbarian cover # 25 (I think, I was 18 when I did that) for the Black and white publications and worked on special projects and TV licenses.
TresCom: Was your work at Marvel influenced at all by the old masters?
Brian: My work for Marvel was influenced a lot by John Romita, Ross Andru, Gill Kane, Gene Colan and of course [Jack] Kirby.
TresCom: For those of us who are Marvel Comics fans, what other titles should we look for in our collections that you worked on?
Brian: You’ll find my name on the cover of the Conan the Barbarian issue I painted, Crazy magazine, I was a regular artist for a while, and an issue of Science Fiction, a black and white publication. All the work I did for Mike Esposito was as a ghost inker. Since Mike loved the ponies and I was able to do his work while he ran to the track to bet the daily double. Thanks Mike I owe ya… 🙂
TresCom: How was concept art on Trespasser handled. What type of discussion went forth before modeling actually began?
Brian: There usually was a concept drawing for all the buildings, props or any structures that were created for the game, either movie reference or photographic reference was supplied. Detail was extremely important to the designers.
Oiginal Trespasser Concept Art
TresCom: We have heard that during development, there were times when relationships between the different departments and individuals became very strained. Why do you think that was?
Brian: Lol… thats a nice way of putting it. There were times when there were flat out screaming matches from very emotional team members, since the project was creating things that were never done, there were a lot of very diverse opinions on how to proceed. Also with such an ambitious undertaking, the project was not properly scheduled and we missed important deadlines and deliverables.
TresCom: How closely did the artists, modelers and programmers work together?
Brian: Very close, there was constant communication with designers and programmers during the production.
TresCom: Were levels like the Lab and the Town based on actual places? Rich Wyckoff, for instance, has said that the geothermal plant in Pine Valley was heavily modeled on a real working plant.
Brian: Yes, a lot of the structures were based from real working facilities. The town level, which I laid out and built a lot of props to tie it together, was not based on a real town. We were just trying to make it look cool.
Brian: There was a lot of room for creativity with that project. The designers would say make it look like its been deserted for 10 years, but make sure it looks real down to the last detail, so every piece of wood, blade of grass, rock, car and truck should look like it belonged to that Island.
TresCom: Did you read the Jurassic Park books to glean information for the project?
Brian: No, just watched the movie about 50 times.
TresCom: Did you ever get a chance to actually play the game?
Brian: Sorry to say, no. I tried but I wasn’t able to get very far into the world I helped create.
TresCom: Was that due to problems you experienced with the game itself and how it ran on your computer? Or was it because the raptors kept getting you?
Brian: The reason was mostly the game kept crashing on me and I was having problems on my computer getting it not to crash.
TresCom: Were there any alternate routes in the game that had to be scrapped?
Brian: Not sure. I know they planned several easter eggs in that game, with the tight schedule at the end, I have no idea what made it in and what didn’t.
TresCom: What did you like most about the project?
Brian: I think what I liked the most, aside from the art, was the technology. It was far ahead of its time, and it paved the way for many of the programmers to move on to great career opportunities with Microsoft. The biggest problem with the game was the animation was created by the programmers, because they wanted the animals to react with a programmed artificial intelligence. They should have let us animate the dinosaurs, the game would have looked and felt more real.
TresCom: You mentioned a fellow team member and friend of yours [Phil Salas] who worked on the Pine Valley Level. What was his role? Did the two of you work together on Pine Valley at all?
Brian: His role was similar to mine at the time. We were both lead artists in charge of designing, populating and creating complete game levels. No, he worked on Pine Valley, I worked on the Jungle Road level and the Town, and another one, but I think they cut it, we didn’t have time to finish it.
Brian: It looked beautiful, it was very dense with forest, very hilly and with a lot of foliage throughout. It had a great atmosphere and clearly a lot of detail went into it. I think they cut a lot of it down, mostly because the game couldn’t make frame rate in several areas because it was too dense.
TresCom: Did you ever have the opportunity to meet Sir Richard or Minnie Driver, or were they too removed from the type of work you were doing?
Brian: No they never came down to DreamWorks. Steven Spielberg would just show up unannounced with his kid to see the game.
TresCom: Many of us had a fascination with dinosaurs when we were kids, and that interest has remained. Was that the case with you, and did it play any part in your being chosen for the project?
Brian: Yes, I did have a fascination with dinosaurs when i was a kid, I think most kids do… but no that wasn’t the case why I was chosen. At the time I interviewed with DreamWorks, they were one of the first companies that were looking for people that had traditional art backgrounds with computer experience. Since I was an illustrator and painter before getting into 3D, that was the deciding factor that made a difference for me and every one else who worked on the project. Traditional painting skills were a must for Trespasser since every texture was hand painted, for the most part.
TresCom: Some of our senior TresCom members have created mod levels of Trespasser where the raptors are able to leap into the air. Do you know whether any dinos were able to do this at any point in the games development?
Brian: No, the only dinosaurs that were able to leap were the raptors, all the other dinosaurs were either walking or running, if the frame rate permitted.
Screenshot of TresCom’s Trespasser mod
TresCom: It has been recently discovered that back in 1998, a now defunct magazine called “Next Generation” obtained concept art of Anne. Sadly, the community has not been able to recover any of these. Did you ever see any of these rare images of Anne? If so, what can you tell us about her appearance?
Brian: LOL… actually Anne was intended to be 3rd person at one point, but that idea went out the window since time restraints and technical problems made that impossible. Also, Anne was supposed to have use of both arms, but since the interface was physics based, the programmers couldn’t get her other arm functional so they went with the one arm interface. The entire front end lead into the game was written and put together so this oversight would make sense. Yes, I did see those sketches. She looked a little like Tomb Raider physically, at least that’s all I can remember from back then.
TresCom: Going back to the town level, we have had long discussions about the age of Burroughs within the context of the game. Some feel the town was built during Isla Sorna’s plantation days, and the church, saloon and plantation house date to this period. Others believe everything was built by InGen, and these structures were simply built to look old. Did you have any thoughts about this while working on the town?
Brian: We never got any back story, from what I recall about the town. When I was designing the town, I wanted to make it look like it was developed while InGen occupied the island but not specifically built by InGen. It was intended to be a community of its own.
TresCom: When Half Life 2 came out, the development team revealed they were greatly influenced by the work done on Trespasser. It seems only now that the game’s worth is being recognized. You must be proud it is at last getting some good press, being perhaps the earliest, bravest, example of this physics trend which is becoming more widespread now.
Brian: Yes, it’s nice to finally get some praise for that game. It was a beautiful game and very rich in detail down to every stone and plant on that Island. I would love to see it resurrected. With the advances in the physics engines and the speed of the computers and the graphics cards, it would be an awesome game if they would redevelop it again. I would love to work on that.
TresCom: Looking back on the Trespasser experience as a whole, what were your particular highlights? Did you find it a fulfilling experience?
Brian: Designing the Town and the Jungle road levels were my particular professional highlights, both creatively and for my career. The relationships with the people I worked with was also a great highlight, so many extremely talented people working together to create a common vision. It was a a lot of fun.
TresCom: What does the future hold for you? What project are on your horizon?
Brian: I’m currently starting on NCAA07 football for the XBOX360 and then the PS3. It’s fun to do since creating a franchise is years of development and not just one development cycle. As far as what else will come, well I never know what’s on the horizon.
TresCom: To see Brian’s past and present work, please visit his website at brian-moore.net. Brian, thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to talk with us. I’m sure I speak for the entire TresCom community in saying we appreciate the work you did on Trespasser, and thank you for sharing your experiences with us!
Brian: Well thank you, its been my pleasure to talk with you and the TresCom Community. It’s nice to see that all that hard work is appreciated. Speaking for the Trespasser team, I thank you for giving Trespasser the love and devotion we all gave it when creating it. If I come across some of the gems that were never put in that game, I will be sure to share them with all of you.