Evil Genius Q&A
Conducted by Omni
us a little about yourself: how you got involved in the games industry,
your training, and your role on Evil Genius.
Hi, my name is Peter Gilbert and I am the Producer on Evil Genius. I have been in the games industry for five years, having previously worked for five years in TV and Radio production. I have now been working with Elixir for three years.
your own words – and with as little hyperbole as possible – describe
what Evil Genius is.
Evil Genius is a strategy simulation game, in which the player must build an underground lair, train their minions, establish support cells around the world, research a super weapon, defend their base from the forces of justice and take over the world.
will separate Evil Genius from other titles in the genre?
Three elements really stand out, the humour, the graphical style and playing the bad guy.
Where did the idea for Evil Genius come from?
shortest high concept in the history of games designs… “Be Dr No”.
Genius looks like you drew a lot of inspiration from the Austin Powers
movies and No One Lives Forever. What
other inspirations can be seen in Evil Genius?
there is a lot of inspiration from the Bond films, Austin Powers, and
Our Man Flint but ultimately it’s a very simple high concept; everyone
wants to play the bad guy so we decided to let them play the ultimate
bad guy: a megalomaniac with a penchant for global domination. We use a
lot of the conventions of the spy movie genre – agents in tuxedos, and
so on – but other than a few characters who are obviously inspired by
Bond personae, we have tried to avoid direct references to any of our
influences, unless it’s to pastiche the genre or subvert expectations
for comic effect.
Evil Genius’ comical take on being a villain, will you be able to do
really bad things like genocide or human slavery?
The game is designed to be fun to play and a lighthearted approach to being a evil scheming megalomaniac, so although there are many different ways of being evil, there is no slavery or genocide.
Evil Genius feature any online features?
Like an Evil Genius vs. Interpol mode?
if we are going to finish this game in a sensible amount of time, we
need to concentrate on making it a great single player experience.
It’s definitely something we would consider for a sequel though.
the game’s engine built from scratch or existing technology? What’s the advantage to going that route?
a bit of both really. The engine for Evil Genius was based on technology
that was written for Republic, but there are significant differences to
cope with the games dynamic
environment. The advantage of having
in-house technology is that there is a lot of dedicated knowledge that
can be relied on as the game progresses.
the engine versatile enough to handle everything you want it to?
is designed to handle having tons of characters, special effects and
animation on-screen. It scales neatly between more accurate (and higher
polygon) effects when the camera is zoomed in, and faster
implementations when zoomed out. There are all the features you'd expect
from a modern game, such as a fluid animation system, particle effects,
reflections, and real-time shadows. We're particularly proud that even
on our minimum spec graphics cards, we can still throw around a lot of
polygons without it slowing down. Lots of characters on-screen and
large-scale battles are definitely part of our master plan.
cutscenes be handled by the in-game engine or rendered?
majority of cutscenes will be in-game, but we have got some great
cinematic FMVs currently underway for the bigger sequences.
players be able to just jump into Evil Genius or will there be a
learning curve? What has
been done to streamline the controls?
We have spent a lot of time on the interface and control method to try and make the game as ‘pick up and play’ as possible, but there will always be a learning curve. The game has been focus tested six times in the US and Europe, and we have made changes to the interface in response to the feedback we gained from those, with further focus tests planned in the near future which will concentrate on game pace and difficulty settings.
large is the development team and do you all get along?
are twenty of us full time on the team, and surprisingly we get along
pretty well. We do have a team handbag that is handed out if anyone
starts getting out of hand though.
each member of the team able to make input into Evil Genius’ design?
but that doesn’t stop us all trying! The difficulty with developing
any game is having a feature set and sticking to it. There are so many
cool things we could do with Evil Genius, so many possibilities, but we
have all learned lessons about how to get a finished game on the shelves,
and thus far have managed to keep feature creep to a minimum. Once in a
while, however, we hear those magic words “Hey! Wouldn’t it be great
if…..” We then have a few tense moments while the two factions face
off. On one side the winsome puppy dog eyes of the feature requester and
on the other; Alex Thomson (our Lead Programmer), his cold dead eyes
seeking out the sharpest of his stabbing knifes.
is the target audience of Evil Genius?
feel that the game has mass-market appeal. In the focus tests it was
well received by Strategy and Simulation gamers, and appealed to
differing age groups (we tested 15-18 years, and 30-50 years). In our
next focus group we will be concentrating more on feedback from a female
that Evil Genius sells well, how likely would an expansion pack be?
Or will there be a scenario creator for players to trade among
An expansion pack would be quite likely, with new lairs, henchmen, objects, traps… the possibilities are endless.
(April 1, 2004)
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