Q: Is there any Trailer or even Demos of the game that you might still have?
A: I remember having one short trailer of a greenish T-Rex, but I can’t seem to find it any more… You may already have that one.
Q: What was it like knowing that the technology that you most needed to accomplish your dream game didn’t exist or was limited at the time you were working on Trespasser?
A: At the time I believed the technology did exist to achieve what we were aiming for, or at least close to it. In fact when I first interviewed and art director Terry Izumi showed me their render targets of this dense, beautifully lit redwood forest I remember being skeptical but nevertheless intrigued, since I knew they had such an impressive team involved and with the budget and resources of a company like DreamWorks, I had a feeling they might know what they were talking about. Certainly as time went on during the project, our demos got closer and closer to realizing the ambitious dream that Trespasser was, until of course the reality of a release date began to loom…
Q: What is your opinion on most of the reviews and bad press Trespasser got? Do you think they were right considering trespasser ate the time was a very demanding game? Or do you think the game deserved more credit?
A: I think the reviews were pretty fair, the truth is the game just wasn’t well received by the audience in general. We had a lot of next-day returns by disappointed customers. Personally I think certain reviews of Resistance: Fall of Man are much more undeservingly critical, it’s a game that I worked on which shares certain similar aspects – and team members!
Questions by hppav
Q: What originally went in the space between the Lab and Ascent 1?
A: Sorry, I can’t remember.
Q: What kind of tools were a part of the original development kit (GUIApp, MaxScripts, etc)?
A: 3DStudio Max, the GUIapp, and yes, a lot of really good Max plug-ins, such as scripts to populate large areas with vegetation etc, tools to conform the bottoms of trees to fit the terrain and to orient objects like boulders to lie flat against the ground, and many others.
Q: Is it true that the maximum texture resolution was lessened to decrease loading times and increase framerate?
A: Absolutely. It wasn’t the first time it happened on a game I’ve worked on and wouldn’t be the last…
Q: Which puzzle do you think was the best and most fun to program?
A: I didn’t program. 🙂
Q: What’s the true story behind the dam and Harold Greenwood?
A: I have no idea, sorry!
Q: How many times did you hear cussing from the programmers?
A: Well one of our key programmers was a good friend of mine Rob Wyatt, who’s also from England. He pretty much made up for the entire team in that department, on a daily basis. We had open topped offices so sound traversed the entire length of the studio quite well…
Q: Which one was it that pushed for the 1998 release, DreamWorks, Universal, or Spielberg himself (I’ve heard all three)?
A: I don’t know, but it would make sense that all three would have wanted it since was tied in with the whole marketing campaign and release of the Lost World, not to mention the amount of money that was disappearing down into the dark bottomless pit of Trespasser…
Q: What’s your favorite level?
A: I don’t really have one, but I do remember liking the mood and colour of the Lab Ascent.
Q: If the project were to be picked up by another game corporation, would you work on it again?
A: I would say that’s pretty unlikely at this point.
Q: Was there supposed to be a puzzle on stealing data from the computers in the Lab level?
A: I can’t remember, sorry.
Questions by Machf
Q: How did you end up working on Trespasser at DreamWorks Interactive?
A: I was at a trade show in England called ECTS, the UK equivalent to E3. They were recruiting, I showed them my portfolio, and I flew myself over for an interview. I took one look at the Trespasser stuff they had been working on and thought this is such an ambitious project, it has Spielberg’s involvement, and I like dinosaurs… I have to work on this, even if it doesn’t manage to achieve everything they were aiming for.
Q: As a 3D artist, what were you tasked with on the Trespasser Team?
A: Modeling and texturing environments and props. I also did a bit of work on a dead Triceratops but I can’t remember if it made it into the finished game.
Q: How did the various team members get along?
A: Hmmm…let’s just say it was an amiable version of a typical Hollywood environment in miniature.
Q: What happened with the team between when Trespasser was finished and when it was finally disbanded?
A: A lot of the team were rolled off onto other projects – I went on to T’ai Fu to help finish that one up. Some went on to Medal of Honor. The rest stayed on for the Clive Barker game that ended up being released by EA after they acquired DWI… oh and a couple went off to Microsoft to invent something called the “X-Box”.
Q: What projects have you been involved with after that?
A: T’ai Fu, Tachyon: The Fringe, Delta Force 3, Robotech the Macross Saga, Tony Hawk 4, Ratchet & Clank 1, 2, 3, Ratchet Deadlocked, Resistance: Fall of Man, and currently Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction.
Q: Regarding Trespasser, some of the models showcased in your site seem to be related to a scrapped level called “Pine Valley” (sometimes also known as “The Geothermal Plant”). There’s the Turbine Shed, the Transformer Array, the Porta-Potty… what was your involvement with that particular level?
A: I worked with Phil Salas building the Pine Valley level. Terrain, texturing, vegetation and the structures you mentioned.
Q: On your site, there are a couple concept images which appear to be of a level called “The Plains”, showing several dinosaurs near a big lake, with wide open spaces around and a few hill s in the background… was it only a concept, or did the level actually exist but got scrapped before the release (like Pine Valley was)?
A: Yup, I did similar work creating the level, texturing the terrain, creating vegetation etc. I guess they didn’t like me much – that level got scrapped too.
Q: Were the dinosaur textures also your work? If so, they are petty good, and the bumpmapping (or normal mapping, rather) used on them was a very advanced feature for a game back then…
A: Nope, I didn’t do any of that, and yes – it was very impressive at the time, the normal mapping really made the dinos look more rounded and dimensional, giving the illusion they were much higher poly models. We demoed them at an E3 long before the game was released, by which time a lot of that had to be taken out to help with frame rate and memory.
Q: Did you ever play Trespasser after its release to see the results of your work? If so, what did you think of it?
I tried, but I’m afraid I found it as frustrating as most other people. And having been so close to the project it didn’t have the excitement of wanting to explore and discover the rest of the game…
Q: Do you think Trespasser would have fared better if it had been done more recently, with the advances in PC hardware that only became available after that time?
A: Yes, in fact at one point I considered working with Crytek when they wanted to do a game about dinosaurs on an island. If the Trespasser team had access to engines/hardware of today I think it would rival or surpass most things out there. The one area it might have failed though was our team’s insistence on doing physics-based, fully autonomous dinosaurs. Even now that would be an extremely ambitious thing to pull off and would require a top-notch team to do it properly.
Questions by Draconisaurus
Q: We understand that Trespasser levels were mass-exported directly into the level files using MaxScripts. While we don’t have these scripts, we have developed similar ones to use, though they are mostly intended for small- to medium-groups of objects at a time, and no scripts exist for exporting Max terrain into the WTD format. We also know that you had a level-viewer program known as “GUInterface” that allowed you some manipulation within the game (such as the fabled “grabbing dinos and dropping them”), but we know very little about it. What capabilities did it allow you and the team, and was actual editing of the game possible with it, or was that limited to the Max scenes?
A: That was a really cool bit of kit our tools team created for us. I don’t remember all its functions, but yes you could place and move objects in the world in real time using the viewer. Another feature I used a lot was the placement of textures in the game, being able to grab them and move them about in real time in the engine viewer. Once we were happy with how various textures with alpha in them were composed and layered, they would be rendered into blended textures.
Q: There is an unused music track in Trespasser called “MUSIC – HIDDEN VILLAGE”. Some speculate that this was for the Mayan city in the Ascent1 level, even though it has its own music, while many others think it was written for an undeveloped location of an ancient colonial town that thrived many years before InGen came to the island, about the same time as the Plantation House, but was later abandoned. Some site this image of the old Church in a pine setting as evidence: screenshot. It could simply be a promotional image, with various available models placed into one scene. But we notice that the windows originally had none of the planks nailed to them, like those in the town, and that the hole in the roof actually served as a spot where a pine or two could stick out. There is also a vast area of nothing but pines and rocks in the Ascent1 level, leading all the way to the ocean, with nothing else. It’s been my opinion this is probably where the village could have gone. Can you tell us anything about such a village, if it ever existed?
A: I don’t remember it specifically. I would guess the art assets were all built and textured but sadly there were a lot of cuts near the end of the game to get the thing shipped.
Q: What sorts of research do you remember the team doing in order to work on the game? For example the Mayan ruins and Plantation House seem highly accurate, probably more than anyone knows. Were there any team visits to sites such as a working geothermal plant or biochemistry lab?
A: The only site visit I remember the art team going on was to the actual Lost World set on the Universal Lot. Terry was extremely good at researching reference for all of our art assets. He previously worked at Walt Disney Imagineering, where, to use his phraseology “you have to kick butt”. I know that early on he and some of the others took a lot of photo reference of redwood forests. I also remember some of the other guys like Kyle going out and getting tons of photos of textures of rusty machinery, vegetation, bushes, dirt and weather patterns on mud, pebbles, grass.. Most of the stuff was done through very extensive photo ref. And of course the internet was already a very powerful research tool by then. We did incredibly detailed work on the art, and it all had to be stylized yet photo-real looking, all done at high resolution and then reduced down. Most of the source textures our art team did back then would easily hold up in a contemporary ‘HD”game now.
Q: The town level is rather large and quite a sight to see, although it seems to be missing much of what was intended for it. It is mentioned in an interview that there was to be a baseball diamond in the InGen Town – all that is to be found in the release is a basketball court. Do you recall the diamond making it into an older version of the level? Do you remember anything else that was taken out of the town? Early renders of buildings suggest they were not meant to be as bare of objects as they are now, what can you tell us about the decisions to change the environment for the sake of engine capabilities?
A: I don’t remember anything about a baseball diamond, it may have been cut early on or changed to the basketball court. Since I wasn’t directly involved in the Town level I don’t know if buildings were simplified for memory/framerate but I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case.
Q: Many findings in the level files of Trespasser tell us that there was a “Hunters Camp” location, probably in the much altered Industrial Jungle level, which is not in fact very industrial. Do you remember anything about this location, and what sorts of things the player would encounter there?
A: I don’t remember much, sorry – I think the ‘Industrial Jungle’ name just stuck from much earlier concepts that probably changed as the design of the game evolved.
Q: Also in IndustrialJungle is the BioSyn helicopter. Do you remember why this was included, or if it once had any significance to the story/gameplay?
A: Sorry, I don’t know if it ever had specific gameplay intended, it may have just been primarily “eye candy”.
Q: There are many cars found in Trespasser, of course none of them are drivable. However, there are sounds in the audio files of the game for starting/running car engines. Do you remember anything about early intentions for drivable vehicles?
A: Yes there were hopes early on that we might have driveable vehicles. At one point I think there was going to be a puzzle to get the broken down jeep started, so you could have some fun riding along shooting at dinos just like in the Lost World film. It would have been nice to have at least one driveable vehicle but I was told we’d never be able to get the frame rate decent enough to be able to drive at a good speed so they gave up on the idea. I still think that was a great pity, but who am I to argue with programmers? 🙂
Q: In one review of the Trespasser Beta, which we all wish we could get our hands on, plants may actually be torn straight out of the ground. What purpose did this serve? Why was it taken out? Perhaps it was for an earlier health system, where the player would have to find food and medical kits to regenerate hitpoints?
A: That was a demo to show we could do stuff like that. If you remember, part of our marketing hype was that we’d have “fully destructible environments”.
Questions by Rebel
Q: If E.A.Games ever decided to remake Trespasser, would you be willing to work on the project?
A: See above, it’s pretty unlikely I’d want to work on another Jurassic Park game at this point.
Q: Of the many talented people who worked on Trespasser, how many (if any) former team members do you still have contact with?
A: I actually work at Insomniac with 4 other ex-DreamWorks guys: Rob Wyatt (worked on Trespasser), Chad Dezern, Steve Ratter, Terry Cohen. I’m still in contact occasionally with a few of the other guys such as Charlie Wallace, Brian Moore, James Wong, Brian Reed, and Seamus Blackley who popped into Insomniac recently to show film director George Miller around…
Q: How would you describe the time you spent working on Trespasser, was it rewarding, a learning experience or a nightmare?
A: All of the above! 🙂
Q: On a personal level, in spite of commercial failure, how would you as game industry professional, rate Trespasser?
A: I would rate it as a very important milestone in game development. I think its technical achievements and especially its environment art, much of which never got to be seen, has been generally underrated. It really showed everything that FPS games would eventually become. When I look at contemporary games like Resistance, or others still in development such as Bioshock, Crysis or Alan Wake I keep thinking to myself wow, this is what Trespasser was meant to be, and only now after all this time are these kind of games starting to become a reality…
Questions by masterchiefoo7
Q: Are you embarrassed or proud to have worked on Trespasser? Did you happily put it on your resumes or just pretend this never happened?
A: I’m very proud because I know the calibre of the team involved. We had some very clever chaps involved on that project, and on the art side I don’t think I’ve seen a more talented team of artists assembled on one video game project.
Q: What is your favorite project you have ever worked on?
A: Resistance: Fall of Man. For many reasons – Insomniac has matured into a very pleasant and yet professional working environment, plus I became a full time concept artist for the first time (since painting digitized pictures for adventure games in the old days!) – plus it was set in England so I got the chance to hand-pick my favourite towns to blow up.
Q: Do you play video games? Including the ones you made?
A: I don’t play games much – every year I get into the mood during the holidays and I’ll play the latest Ratchet & Clank – which I love working on as well as playing, a pretty rare combination… and of course the occasional (easy to play) mega-hit like Devil May Cry or God of War…
Q: How much did the game differ from the version you guys worked on to the version that made it to the stores? What other levels were there? Were levels combined and whatnot to make it what it is today?
A: We never really got to play much of the completed game before its release, since so much was put together in the final stages, including the most important element of the character’s actions and the dino A.I./physics. Which is the whole reason we never had a chance to tweak/fix it, until that huge patch came out. The only levels I remember being cut were the Plains and Pine Valley. As far as I know there were no merging/combining of areas.
Q: What was the GUIinterface like? Do you still have any of the products and tools that you made the game with?
A: It was great (see above) – no I didn’t keep any of the software we used.
Q: Were you a big fan of Jurassic Park? What made you work with DWI?
A: I was a huge, almost obsessive, fan of Steven Spielberg. My favourite film of all time was Close Encounters but I did enjoy Jurassic Park a lot. I was really blown away by the effects on that one – another ‘milestone’ if ever there was one, in computer graphics. I primarily wanted to work for DWI to be involved with ANY Spielberg project, as well as get a chance to work alongside such amazing top talent in the field. Not to mention the sunshine of California compared with dreary Walthamstow, London. 🙂
Q: Were there any other plans for more dinosaurs?
A: Yes I’m pretty sure there were early plans for more dinos, but I can’t even remember which ones ended up in the game and which were cut…
Question by Markosaur
Q: How do you feel about that a small group of dedicated Trespasser fans have carried the game on into the 21st Century as well as rejuvenating it with all brand new levels?
A: I think it’s bizarre, amazing, and very rewarding that such a large group of fans are still so dedicated to showing their appreciation of this almost-masterpiece of a game. 🙂
Questions by General Kenobi
Q: Were there any other levels that were cut from the game, or that level ideas that weren’t put in the game?
A: I wasn’t familiar with most of the early design decisions so I don’t remember much about that.
Q: What are some other things some people wanted that didn’t get in the game?
A: There were definitely lots of discussions and ideas about what should have gone into the game, the most prominent one that I recall was the question of vehicles. (see above)
Question by TheGuy
Q: Were there supposed to be light effects like sun bursts?
A: I believe so, but a good many things like that on our ‘wish list’ never made it into the final game.
Q: You don’t happen to have the source code for Tres do you?
A: Hah, sure I’ll e-mail it over to you in a mo’.
Question by KillerBee256
Q: About a year ago me and another member independently dug up an old article out of the old Next Generation magazine, beyond the article itself there were interviews with a few fellow members of your dev team, and some odd pictures, one labeled “well.” What exactly were they suppose to be?
A: I think these were just various little scenes mocked up for some marketing images.
Question by kali
Q: Do you know anything about when another JP game will be released? I’m going insane over thinking of it.
A: I’m afraid I don’t know any more than you about that. I have a friend at EALA who’s working on an undisclosed project with Spielberg but he won’t divulge anything about it…