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John Race and the Sierra Studios Team! 9/15/99

<Xoanon> the chat will start now

<Xoanon> you know how this works, if you have a question type /msg Xoanon and then your question

<Xoanon> why don't we start with you guys introducing yourselves?

<Grendyll> I'm John Race, the designer on Orcs

<ArtGuy> I'm J. Esparza, Art Director

<Grendyll> Hopey is Isa Stamos, our producer

<ArtGuy> Isa ROCKS!!!

<Grendyll> It's true


<Xoanon> lol

<Hopey> my sole purpose in life

<Grendyll> We have a truly amazing team

<Xoanon> ok so I'll give you guys a question and the right person can answer his or her question ok?

<Grendyll> Shoot

<Xoanon> send in your Q's noe folks

<Xoanon> type /msg Xoanon _______

<Xoanon> Gandalf asks: What is the premise of the game?

<Grendyll> Evan "Dont be a hater" Harsha, our tech director is also standing by

<Grendyll> Well, this is tough for chat

<Grendyll> You are an Orc Chieftain behind Sauron's enemy lines during the war of the ring

<Grendyll> You are tasked with raising a force of enforcer orcs to keep peace until the Nazgul return

<Grendyll> To this end you have to recruit and train Orcs, in a wide variety of skills

<Grendyll> You then commit them to various causes, choosing your political alliances

<Xoanon> Calisuri asks: With the growing MAC market, will you be releasing a MAC version?

<Hopey> Berkeley Systems has developed for the Macs in the past and infact started all development on Macs

<Hopey> We have to make sure a title is well-accepted before we can fund the development of a Mac version.

<Hopey> I hope with the growing popularity of Macs this will change.

<Xoanon> Chief asks: Who came up with the idea? and what did Sierra say about a Tolkien inspired game?

<Grendyll> It's been a collaborative development.

<Grendyll> Sierra actually suggested that we use the Tolkien setting, since we already had the license and it perfectlly fit our needs

<Grendyll> And its like coming full circle since it was such a huge influence on us

<Grendyll> We couldn't have asked for better source material, and we really wanted to do an Orcs game.

<Grendyll> LOTR Orcs are THE original Orcs

<Xoanon> Ecthelion asks: Will Europeans be allowed to BETA test?

<Hopey> Europe beta testing won't be possible, except in some very special cases

<Grendyll> But we are trying to makesure we ship in Europe too.

<Xoanon> Smaug asks: what tools are you using to develop the game?

<Grendyll> J?

<ArtGuy> on the art side we are using 3DStudio MAX, pHOTOSHOP, Bryce

<Grendyll> We're looking at some mo cap stuff as well

<Hopey> The engineers are using Visual C++, Direct X 7

<ArtGuy> and, Character Studio, a plug-in for MAX

<Grendyll> J. does most of his work in Outlook

<Xoanon> Wasp asks: What type of music for the game is being done?

<ArtGuy> i would call it a funky sort of dark tribal sound.

<Grendyll> Brad Meyer, our sound designer and composer has come up with a lot of very distinct and diverse stuff

<ArtGuy> Like an all night dance club in Mordor

<Hopey> We are toying with the idea of releasing a CD of just the music, it's THAT good

<Grendyll> Not an all ages club

<ArtGuy> i'd buy it for a dollar

<Xoanon> you think we can have a sneak peek?

<Grendyll> It's tough to pigeon hole it

<Calisuri> lol X

<Xoanon> Estel asks: Will the game be more like Warcraft or Final Fantasy?

<Grendyll> Our game doesn't fit either category, but it's closer to Warcraft in that it's strategy

<Grendyll> It has a deep story line, that's pretty nonlinear, allowing you to serve Sauron faithfully, betray him

<Grendyll> It's more up close and personal than Warcraft

<Grendyll> It's about spending more time with your Orc

<Grendyll> In close up 3D environments, keeping their mood good

<ArtGuy> think of them as green, leathery, furbies.

<Grendyll> It's even closer in perspective and personality than DKII

<Calisuri> lol

<Hopey> oh artguy...

<Grendyll> We really want you to be able to build exactly the type of Orc you want, and then to really want ot keep him alive

<Xoanon> Took Asks: When will it be released?

<Hopey> Spring of 2000

<Xoanon> Asgard asks: How graphic is the violence?

<Grendyll> There will be some blood in combat, but we're not about gore

<Grendyll> It would be unrealistic not to have some blood.

<ArtGuy> we haven't added blood quite yet, but we are preparing large buckets for those who want it

<Grendyll> But we won't have over the top dismemberment

<Xoanon> Gandalf asks: Who will they battle, the Fellowship?

<Grendyll> This is a good question

<Grendyll> We decided to run our story concurrent to LOTR

<Grendyll> But to keep it somewhat separate

<Grendyll> Most of our action takes place behind enemy lines, where you couldn't see

<Grendyll> You'll determine who you fight

<Grendyll> If you serve Sauron, you'll learn of a renegade Orc

<Grendyll> The Ancient

<Grendyll> He can use magic and he's wise

<Grendyll> But most of all he claims to be unbound

<Grendyll> Truly free

<Grendyll> This is just a legend among Orcs

<Grendyll> So he's a threat, and more Orcs start going renegade

<Grendyll> You'll be assigned to bring him down

<Grendyll> But if you don't want to stay on order, you can switch

<Grendyll> You'l l be able to betray Sauron and go renegade yourself

<Grendyll> THere's also a third party, waiting in the wings

<Grendyll> We have a three act structure, and you'll discover that Sauron and The Ancient

<Grendyll> share a history

<Grendyll> with this third party

<Grendyll> Whew!

<Xoanon> Calisuri asks: What will make ORCS stand out among other games?

<Grendyll> Well, I can promise that you haven't seen a game quite like ours

<Grendyll> You don't control your Orcs directly

<Grendyll> You have to give them commands

<Grendyll> whether they obey you or not depends on how well you've trainned them through your

<Grendyll> interaction with them

<Grendyll> It's not a virtual pet game

<Grendyll> It's strategic

<Grendyll> You'll build different types of Orcs for different purposes

<Xoanon> Took asks: can you pick different tribes or loctations in ME?

<Grendyll> No, we have a detailed storyline, so we have to start you at the same point

<Grendyll> But as I said, you have a lot of lattitude after that

<Grendyll> You can abandon your duties and get involved in the black market for instance

<Hopey> In multi-player individuals can start their own clans

<Grendyll> Yeah, we'll have a lot of customization there

<Grendyll> You will move across ME through our game

<Grendyll> Starting outside Mordor in the Ithilien and eventually returning to Dol Guldur

<Xoanon> Calisuri asks: What type of commands can you give the Orcs?

<Grendyll> You'll be able to custom design their fighting moves

<Grendyll> As they train they'll unlock new moves

<Grendyll> These can be chained into combos

<Grendyll> Each is statistically weighted

<Grendyll> In combat, you can tell your orc who to attack and which attack to use

<Grendyll> You'll also be able to tell them to use items

<Grendyll> use special abilities

<Grendyll> and set their postures

<Hopey> In training you can command them too

<Grendyll> Yeah, you can give them positive and negative feedback,

<Xoanon> Gandalf asks: Whose version of Orcs do you use? From which artist/description?

<Hopey> Jay Esparza our art director is interpreting the look of the orcs, but is influenced by John Howe

<Hopey> and the information on orcs in particular is, expectedly, vague

<Xoanon> Wasp asks: What do you think of the casting for LOTR. Will you be using that influence in the game?

<Grendyll> No, we were already well underway before the announcements

<Grendyll> Hopey?

<Hopey> I am still absorbing some of the choices they have made

<Grendyll> I'm just glad the rumors of Jim Carey as Aragorn weren't true

<Hopey> I love the choice of Ian McKellen

<Hopey> haha John

<Calisuri> heh Hopey

<Xoanon> but will we see an Ian McKellen Gandalf in your game?

<Grendyll> We've chosen not to put Gandalf in

<Grendyll> If we did it would just be a walk on

<Grendyll> He's too powerful for meaningful interaction with Orcs

<Grendyll> He would just mop them all up

<Grendyll> even the great champions that you're creating in the game

<Grendyll> Likewise Balrogs

<Grendyll> We'd love to use them, but it just doesn't seem right

<Grendyll> We are going to use the Mouth of Sauron as a character though

<Grendyll> I always loved him, and theres only a couple pages of him

<Xoanon> Took asks: What are the minimum system requirements?

<Hopey> P166 with Hardware acceleration, 233 without, Windows 98

<Hopey> We support direct3D video cards

<Grendyll> We'll be trying to include a lot of races we didn't see much of

<Grendyll> Black Numenoreans for instance

<Calisuri> heh

<Xoanon> Ecthelion asks: How many Orcs can you command? group? Platoon? More?

<Grendyll> Up to ten orcs active at one time

<Grendyll> Up to four in combat at one time

<Grendyll> So you're working up a squad of ten, sending out four at a time

<Grendyll> You can retire and replace them at any time

<Xoanon> Wynn asks: How many people are on your team?

<Hopey> Well, the whole team is over twenty, but we are 17 on a day to day basis

<Hopey> When the testing starts, our staff goes up.

<Xoanon> Took asks: So will any LOTR characters pop up?

<Grendyll> Mouth of Sauron

<Grendyll> Also some of the Orcs you saw in the books will be moving through

<Grendyll> We can't have a really rich original story that does LOTR justice

<Grendyll> unless we separate ourselves a bit

<Grendyll> I don't think people would want us messing with the original

<Xoanon> Chief asks: What type of advice can you give to an up and comming graf artist?

<Grendyll> Try to keep working at all costs, even for free

<Grendyll> Do anything you can to get yourself into the kind of place you want to work

<Grendyll> When you go to an interview, you're going to need to have a lot of pieces to show

<Hopey> I have always found the best artists here, have a good fine arts background

<Hopey> gotta know how to draw

<Grendyll> and you'll be improving your overall skill

<Grendyll> Yeah, traditional art skills really separate the wheat from the chaff

<Xoanon> randamus asks: Where are you folks based?

<Hopey> Berkeley California

<Grendyll> We're a part of Sierra, which in turn is part of Havas Interactive

<Hopey> Berkeley Systems is also known for You Don't Know Jack and After Dark

<Xoanon> Took asks: How did you get your licensing?

<Hopey> Sierra, via the now defunct Yosemite entertainment, got the license primarily for the

<Hopey> Massivily multiplayer online game: Middle-earth

<Grendyll> We actually have a fair amount of contact with the other ME team

<Hopey> They have several games attatched to the license

<Hopey> Tolkien Enterprises is who we work with as the Licensor

<Grendyll> Daniel James has had a lot of input to our story, and overall they've been a big help

<Xoanon> Estel asks: What happens when you betray Sauron? (back on the game)

<Grendyll> If you turn your back on Sauron, his forces will be chasing you for the rest of the game

<Grendyll> But, as we know, he had a lot on his plate during LOTR, so you might get away

<Xoanon> Gandalf asks: Will you command different types of warrior orcs?

<Grendyll> We will have Uruk-hai and Snaga Orcs

<Grendyll> They each have their own racial bonuses and uses

<Grendyll> They're very different looking. Snaga are wilier and more likely to turn up something on patrol

<Xoanon> Calisuri asks: will there be any secret key strokes? or cheats?

<Grendyll> Well, there will probably be some cheats, debugging codes and easter eggs

<Grendyll> But it'd be ashame to give them away now :)

<Hopey> I hope beta testers will be the ones to find them

<Xoanon> Xoanon asks: What's the next thing that we'll see on your site?

<Hopey> Another dev journal entry

<Hopey> and a very special presentation by Jay Esparza

<Hopey> Also, since all the screenshots are preliminary, we will be updating them as soon as we can

<Hopey> We are trying to hold back images so people will have stuff to look forward to in the game

<Grendyll> We just put up some new stuff a few days ago, for anyone who hasn't stoped by www.orcs.net for a while

<Grendyll> Yeah, I want an Asgard question!

<Xoanon> okay..Asgard, ask away

<Asgard> I've been wondering what it takes to get started in the gaming industry.

<Grendyll> Don't leave us hanging (sob)

<Grendyll> Woo

<Grendyll> It depends on what field

<Grendyll> What field

<Asgard> Design

<Grendyll> Ahh. Well, you've already got good ideas. You can come in through Quality Assurance

<Xoanon> cool

<Grendyll> I came in through art a little, and production (producing)

<Grendyll> Keep writing, do what ever you can to keep meeting people

<Xoanon> Took asks: in addition to close up battles, will you be able to see the 'big picture' during battle scenes?

<Grendyll> Well, our emphasis is on the tactical, so all of our battles are ten people or less.

<Grendyll> But there's far more detail than you've seen in RTS's

<Xoanon> just a quick thank you to the Sierra guys,

<Hopey> Berkeley Systems

<Grendyll> Hey, thank you for having us!

<Xoanon> you guys are always welcome back

<Hopey> ; )

<Calisuri> Thanks folks!

<Xoanon> now you folks play nice ok?


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