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Interview With Tripwire Interactive’s Alan Wilson Part 2

This is the second part of our interview with Alan Wilson, Vice President of Tripwire Interactive, the Publisher of Killing Floor and The Ball among other games.  Read the first part here.

Alan Wilson:  When we picked [Killing Floor] up, it was rough around the edges, but all the core elements were there. John (Gibson - president of Tripwire Interactive) brought a quickly-ported copy into the office one Monday morning - then he and I played it for most of the day, realized it was way too much fun and it went from there. All the core concepts were there from the start. We redesigned some of the monsters, rebuilt the spawning system and the whole moving trader mechanism. New voices. Rebuilt and added new weapons. The vast bulk of the work was polishing, improving, replacing artwork. The mod team had been about 3 people, so they had done a huge amount of work to get it that far. Then we spent a lot of time balancing/rebalancing the game to get it to release, getting the gameplay "just so". And it seems to have worked :)

Player Affinity:  It's rather a bit British, wouldn't you say?  Was there talk of “Americanizing” it?

Alan Wilson:  There was, briefly - but, being a Brit myself, I threatened to kick seven bells out of anyone who suggested it again. In reality, it just worked really nicely to be British. Dark humour fits so much better in a Brit accent!

Player AffinityRed Orchestra was a very realistic historical game; what was it like switching from realism to a game that has zombies with machine gun arms?

Alan Wilson:  It was actually great fun - and a great release for the whole team. Many of us had done 5-6 years straight on Red Orchestra at that point. We could use all our great weapon-handling in the game, so it played to all those strengths - we all love guns, I guess. But we could add an edge of silliness to it too. When the team got back on to Red Orchestra it was with fresh energy. And, to be honest, we came back with a few new thoughts about making a game accessible as well. The artists love to switch tracks from Red Orchestra to Killing Floor - they can stop worrying about "did we get it accurate enough?" and go "Nah - make the barrel bigger - I want it really badass!".

Player Affinity:  Is Alex Quick's original development team still working on the updates?  

Alan Wilson:  We do it as a mix of in-house developers here in the office, plus contractors we know well for things like the character packs. The last few maps have been done by two guys in France who won the mapping contest we ran a while back.

As for Alex's team - they've pretty much move on. We still work with Dan Nassick, who does some great (and hilarious) sound work - also happens to live up the road from us in Georgia. Alex himself is back home in Canada, working on a UDK game - Depth (http://www.depthgame.com/) - which looks cool. Myles is still in school, working on Depth in his spare time. And Marco is Finnish - doing whatever Finns do best!

Player Affinity: The Ball was another Make Something Unreal winner you grabbed. How would you describe it to our readers?

Alan Wilson:  We didn't "grab" it - we published it! Different deal to Killing Floor. And it is an action-adventure-puzzler, in first person. Strange and wondrous underground world, archeologist exploring it discovers fantastic abandoned ancient culture, with an alien artifact (the Ball) lurking in there. Now, control and use the Ball to solve multiple physics-based puzzles - and also use it to defend yourself from the guardians of this place: mummies, worms and even the undead gorilla!

Player Affinity: What sort of state was the game in when you approached them, and how has Tripwire influenced it?

Alan Wilson:  It was very close to finished - moving to finish the UDK-based version. We didn't influence it too much - mostly about interface, accessibility. Sjoerd [DeJong] and his team [At Teotl Studios] had done a great job with it - but he is very experienced with Unreal, so no surprise.

Player Affinity: Are the original developers involved with it now?

Alan Wilson:  Of course - it is their game. They decide what to do with it, not us. We'll make suggestions, related to sales and marketing. Got them involved in Valve's Portal 2 ARG, which worked really well - and was a bunch of fun.

Player Affinity: Again you've stayed away from realism and gone with a game that has Aztec Zombie Gorillas, is there a deliberate choice to find outlandish subject matter?

Alan Wilson:  LOL... no. I suppose there aren't that many realism-based games for us to go after. But we are also very much interested in independent teams. Genuinely independent, with the ability to be able to produce great material AND to stay in business. We like games to look great, but we aren't after "art for art's sake". We went for Dwarfs!? next, so go figure! We really go for games that are clearly fun.

Read the final part of this interview where we discuss Tripwire’s upcoming Red Orchestra 2 here.


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