Ryan Feltrin April 26


April 26, 1999
A = Ryan Feltrin

Well, he's back!  That's right friends and neighbors, Toolshack returns this Wednesday with his weekly column, ToolShack's Shameless Plug of the Week!  You can look forward to Tool's own brand of wit and wisdom.  Actually, he was quite fit to be tied Sunday, with the whole Q3releaseforthemacandnotthepcs™ thing that happened.  He came about that close to spending his strip poker winnings on a mac, then decided front row tickets to see Barbara Streisand would be money better spent.

This week, 10 Questions has a chat with Xatrix's own Ryan Feltrin. Ryan has contributed countless hours to the gaming community with his project we all know and love, the Eraser Bot.  After setting the bot aside, he wound up working for Xatrix on this little number called Kingpin (word on the street is that they are going to advertise this game on the Teletubbies show and the 700 Club...but I can't seem to confirm these rumors).  Want to discuss something about Kingpin?   Be sure to check out the Shack's Kingpin Messageboard! Anyway, enough of me, let's check out Ridah!  

Q: What kind of ideas and feedback did you get from working on the Eraser bot that you added into the Kingpin AI?
A: Not very much really. I guess I took (from Eraser) a clearer understanding of the different hurdles I would have to overcome. The actual decision making is entirely different, the part of Eraser that actually influenced Kingpin AI is the navigation, and even that is totally revamped.

Q: What was your motivation behind making the Eraser Bot?
A: A desire to get into the gaming industry. There is no doubt that making a good bot gets you recognition from within the FPS industry.

Q: How will the AI in Kingpin differ from other types of AI, such as what we saw in Half-Life?
A: First, the Kingpin AI is very different to that of Half Life (which I admire in a big way). We have several additions to the decision layers, for instance the weapon holstering, and how it effects the way characters respond to you. So each character has a special "relationship" with all other characters in the game, and that relationship is globally binding. If you leave one level, move onto various other levels, then come back, the characters (still alive) in the initial level still have this memory of you, and will remember how you treated them if you should meet them again.

I have also done a lot of work on the hide/retreat type combat AI, and also characters with weapons have a much more advanced combat layer. They'll hide behind corners, duck out, take a few shots, then duck back. If they get hurt a little, they'll try and find some backup, or get the f*** outta dodge. This is all influenced by a unique "moral" value given to each character, so a higher moral will be less likely to run and hide.

Q: When you began programming for Xatrix, were you forced to drop any projects you had been working on? Anything out there you may still pick back up at a later date?
A: I was in the process of finishing off the Eraser, and still continued working on it in a sub-conscious state in order to achieve my goal of not dropping it if something else came up. That resulted in getting out a final version 1 done, but I still am not happy with how it ended. I might go back and finish that at some point.

Q: In your opinion, what is one feature that will make Kingpin stand out from other FPS?
A: It's probably evident from the demo, but I think the willingness to be true to the "gangsta style" and not have the content influenced by what gamers are used to seeing, and tolerating in an FPS. One of the complaints from the demo was the language, and well, to me it doesn't seems a double standard, that blowing a character's head off is acceptable (and quite cool) yet a certain 4 letter word is obscene.

Anyway, that aside, we've obviously pushed the current hardware to the upper realms of what it can take, and at the same time not lost the focus of what makes a game fun to play. Although we've only had a year to cram the current content in there, I think given more time to fine tune it and develop the story a little more so that it's more obvious to the player what it is
they're trying to achieve, I think it'll be pretty obvious to the player that this isn't your average Quake2 engine liscense.

Q: What is your favorite gangster movie and why?
A: Mobsters. I like the idea of starting out with nothing, and building yourself into something. If that means cussing a few people and killing the odd thug, then that's the way it is. <g>

Q: When you have had time lately, what game have you been playing the most?
A: Oh man, the last 2 months have been so hectic I really haven't played anything, other than a few games of NBA 99 with some friends. That game truly rocks the big one, if only it had LAN play.

Q: Ok, 3 part question.  What are your thoughts about Kingpin being banned in Germany?  Do you foresee American politicians getting into the act?  And to follow-up, What are your thoughts on politicians using the game industry as a reason for them to discuss family values and censorship?
A: It's impossible to say what will happen after the release of Kingpin. Someone once said, however, any publicity is good publicity. Although that has NEVER been an objective of ours. You simply can't build the atmosphere of a dark and dirty crime world, without the odd profanity. We actually started out trying to avoid them where possible, with the result that the game just felt "weak". We want something explosive, something that makes the player feel they're involved in a setting that is on the "edge", where they really have to watch what they do, and who they do it to.

Politicians are always looking for someone to point the finger at. The fact is, you can't tell someone what they should and shouldn't enjoy doing. As far as I'm concerned, as long as you don't hurt someone in the process, you should be allowed to do whatever you want for entertainment. What the politicians (and others with the same stance) need to realize, is the biggest influence on a young mind, are those around them. That includes parents, grand-parents, role models, etc. If a child is taught from a young age that killing animals is good, that will certainly have a big influence on the rest of their life. More so than playing a game, whether it be cops and robbers with plastic guns or a video game such as Quake, Half-Life, or of course, Kingpin

This question was asked of Ryan prior to the horrible incident at Columbine High   -Sam

Q: What are the specs on your home computer?  What will be the next upgrade you get?
A: My main system is a P2-350, 256mb RAM, 18gig HD, TNT, that sort of stuff. My next upgrade will be when I get time to go to the hardware store and find something worth buying. I also have several items on their way which will help adding support for them into Kingpin.

I should note that I have several other systems which I use for compatibility/performance testing

Q: If you had to recommend only 1 book to people, which one would it be? Why?
A: Where's Wally. I dislike reading books with a passion, the only books I read are vehicle physics and 3d math type stuff. Not something I go around recommending <g>.
I also have a large collection of Wheels and SLAM mags. Cars and hoops are my other passions in life.


FREDZ | Sunday 11 November 2018 - 15:36
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