Tribes: Vengeance Interview

Tribes: Vengeance Interview

Written by Charles Husemann on 6/16/2004 for

While I never really got into the first Tribes game I was a big fan of Tribes 2 despite all of the bugs and flaws. It was my first experience with a huge multiplayer FPS game that didn’t involve me killing everyone I saw. When I had a chance to check out Tribes: Vengeance at E3 I was pretty impressed with the working beta on the floor and I had a chance to meet Ben Lee, one of the art directors at Irrational who was working on the game. Ben was kind enough to answer a few questions about his background and about the upcoming game.


GamingNexus: What’s your role on the Tribes team?

Ben Lee: I am the art director. On Tribes I also did all the concept art, storyboarded and directed the cutscenes.

GamingNexus: Can you tell us a little about your background?

Ben Lee: I come from a 2d animation background , which I moved from into directing 3d animation , then came to Irrational.

GamingNexus: How did you get into the gaming business?

Ben Lee: I actually emailed someone I had previously worked with , who was at Irrational , asking to beta test Freedom Force.. Long story short, I ended up art directing it.

GamingNexus What are your artistic influences?

Ben Lee: Wide and varied. Comic art had a big influence on me in early times, but now it's more or less anything :)

GamingNexus Did you play any of the previous games?

Ben Lee: I didn't play them when they were released, but we played a great deal of both Tribes games when we were in pre-production (several months.)

GamingNexus What new features can gamers can look forward to in the new game?

Ben Lee: From an art point of view, everything is new! Game-wise, jetpacking is quite a different experience compared to older tribes games.. The vehicles are different , we have all kinds of cool new weapons like the grappler and the buckler that are totally different though any from Tribes , but most of all , you get a huge , involved , story based single player experience as well as the multiplayer game you would expect.GamingNexus How does the art direction differ from the original series? What extensions have you made to the franchise?

Ben Lee: Tribes Vengeance is set before Tribes 1. We had the task of making it look "better" than the previous games, but it also had to look like the technology preceded Tribes 1. Overall , I've tried to design everything so it has bolts , straps and rocket tubes in place of seamless welds and glowing blue spots for engines. Tribes vengeance is sci-fi.. But it's diesel-powered sci-fi.

The biggest change from Tribes 1 and 2 is that our armors are not just skin variants, they have completely different design styles that reflect the individual tribe.. This extends to their base architecture as well.

GamingNexus Will users still be able to “ski” with the jetpack in the new game?

Ben Lee: Well , the jetpack and skiing are not the same thing. Skiing is controlled separately to the jetpack and you tend to use both techniques in conjunction. Instead of a hidden feature, skiing is now a legitimate movement form that is easy to learn , hard to master. From an art standpoint , you can see the grav-skates light up on the bottom of player's feet , and they adopt a different physics and movement system with accompanying poses while skiing.

GamingNexus Can you talk about the advantages of using Unreal technology and which bits of the engine are you using?

Ben Lee: The advantage for me is that we could make assets straight away and see how they looked (mostly) in game.

Ben Lee: We aren't using a lot of Unreal's features, as we wrote out own for many of them.

GamingNexus Have you added any new features to the engine?

Ben Lee: A programmer would have more information for you on this, but we added a lot. Normal mapping, glow effects, our own physics and movement system , havok integration , our own cutscene tools. Quite a lot.

GamingNexus How long will it take to complete the single player portion of the game?

Ben Lee: I don't know that yet , we are still in alpha, going on to beta. That sort of thing won't be finalized until later on.GamingNexus Do you have a final count on the number of weapons and vehicles in the game yet?

Ben Lee: I can say at least 11 weapons and at least 4 vehicles.

GamingNexus What kind of new multiplayer modes can we expect in the final game?

Ben Lee: My favorite is 'fuel' where you steal fuel from your opponent and neutral bases to fill your own fuel pod.. when you launch yours , you win! There are others like 'rabbit' that may be familiar to T2 players.

Ben Lee: Of course the CTF mode will be in there, as well as a dueling arena mode. Final details closer to shipping I'd say.

GamingNexus How many maps will be to be in the final game?

Ben Lee: Aside from single player , we will ship between 4 and 10 for each multiplayer mode.


I’d like to thank Ben again for taking the time to talk to me about the game.

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Hi, my name is Charles Husemann and I've been gaming for longer than I care to admit. For me it's always been about competing and a burning off stress. It started off simply enough with Choplifter and Lode Runner on the Apple //e, then it was the curse of Tank and Yars Revenge on the 2600. The addiction subsided somewhat until I went to college where dramatic decreases in my GPA could be traced to the release of X:Com and Doom.   I have been a Microsoft Xbox MVP since 2009.
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