In a world exclusive, Lobotomy Software kindly agreed to be interviewed by Sega Saturn Magazine and revealed the full extent of their incredible plans for the Saturn version of Duke Nukem 3D! Read on, and prepare to get most excited indeed... Interview by Rich Leadbetter from SSM
SSM What are your thoughts on the PC version of Duke Nukem 3D?
LOBOTOMY We were developing Exhumed PC at the same time Duke was in development, so we are very familiar with the Build engine and how complex a game can be done with it, while still being very fast. Duke was designed with the intent of pure action and lots of tricks. Exhumed on the other hand is more of an action adventure that has a very different, and we think, better feel. Overall, Duke is a very cool and fun game.
SSM What did you think when you were confronted with the task of bringing the game onto the Saturn?
LOBOTOMY Can the system handle the complexities of the game and can we do it justice? We mulled this over for quite some time before we were confident we could do a killer Duke game on the Saturn. Once we reached that point of confidence, it was an opportunity we couldn't pass up. Our ultimate intention is to be the first console version of Duke, and also the best playing and looking version available.
SSM How did Lobotomy come around to getting the assignment to produce the conversion?
LOBOTOMY Another company had been contracted to port Duke to Saturn, but the system just couldn't handle a direct port of the Build engine and still have an adequate frame rate. When Exhumed was released for Saturn, we demonstrated an engine and game system that could run circles around other 3D corridor games. When Sega realized we had experience with Build, and had a fast 3D engine, we became the developer of choice. Luckily we had resources becoming available at the same time.
SSM Since our last interview, how has Lobotomy changed? Are you using the same core team for
Duke Nukem or have you expanded?
LOBOTOMY The company hasn't changed significantly, but we are applying more resources to Duke than we have on any project we've done in the past. It's very important the game is done on time and of the highest quality possible. Basically half the company is working on Duke and the other half is working on another project.
SSM Are you working on more than one project at this time?
LOBOTOMY We are doing several projects, in that we are still putting the finishing touches on the PSX version of Exhumed, working on Duke, starting pre-production on an original Lobotomy game, and beginning production on another 3D Saturn title.
SSM There was talk of an Exhumed sequel in the last interview we carried out with Lobotomy.
Are those plans on hold now?
LOBOTOMY We are still talking about doing an Exhumed sequel, but it will likely be an all-new adventure, rather than a rehashed version with different levels and a few new monsters.
SSM Are you using the Exhumed engine to run Duke Nukem 3D? Are any modifications required to
LOBOTOMY We are indeed using the Exhumed engine. It's a proven technology and performs very well. In order to handle the large expanses of open space in Duke, we had to modify the engine considerably to maintain the frame rate. We ended up implementing a "mip" level system so that the number of polygons contained on a wall are reduced as you get farther away from it. Visually you can't really tell the difference, especially when distracted by monsters trying to kill you! We also enhanced the lighting capabilities of the engine and added support for the blood splatters on the wall and various other tricks in Duke.
SSM The Exhumed engine boasts a number of impressive lighting effects which
aren't present in PC Duke? Have any plans to put these into your version?
LOBOTOMY Yes all the cool lighting and effects in Exhumed will be present in Duke, but in a different way. So far the effects we have implemented are really cool. I think it will blow a lot of people away. This is one area where Saturn Duke will be superior to PC Duke.
SSM In the last interview, Ezra Dreisbach mentioned the possibility of speed increases and
improved dynamic lighting. Will any of this surface in Duke Nukem 3D and if so, what kind of
things can we look forward to?
LOBOTOMY The speed of the engine is faster, but the complexity of the game is much higher. Ultimately, it will probably be a wash and the game will be similar in speed to Exhumed. As stated in an earlier question, the lighting is in many ways improved over the lighting in Exhumed. Most of it is just how the environment reacts to the use of cast lights and dynamic lighting, and the Duke setting, it will look dramatically different from the Exhumed lighting, even though the technology behind it is basically the same.
SSM What help have you received from 3D Realms in terms of graphics, level
lay-outs and technical assistance?
LOBOTOMY Basically nothing. We are dealing with Sega on most, if not all issues. We have all the original art, levels, and game code.
SSM Considering the differences in available memory between the PC and Saturn, will porting
across any of the levels and graphics cause any difficulties?
LOBOTOMY There is a limited amount of memory available on the Saturn and we are finding creative ways to exploit all of the memory available. With Exhumed PC, using the Build engine, we went crazy using all kind of art, because the graphics cache system worked very well. We don't have that luxury on the consoles, but thus far we have been able to deal with it effectively.
SSM Are you still using BREW - your world editing tool - for Duke Nukem? Considering the various
set-pieces in the levels (earthquakes and the like), have you had to rewrite or expand it?
LOBOTOMY BREW is a very well designed and modular tool so we have spent considerable time on the level import side of the equation, but the tool itself was already capable of doing what we have to do.
SSM Are you planning on incorporating all of the levels of the PC game?
LOBOTOMY At this point there aren't any plans to scrap any levels. However, many of them are being massaged so as to maximize the game experience from level to level.
SSM Are you contracted to do as close a version of the game as possible, or do
you have the option to improve on the original as you see fit? Team Dolls II, perhaps?
LOBOTOMY We are doing a port which by definition is as close to the original as possible. It hasn't been decided if we will offer any secrets not originally in the PC version.
SSM Right at this moment, what's the state of the play with the conversion? What have you
achieved and what's next on the list?
LOBOTOMY We are currently working over all of the levels, one at time, and putting in all the weapons and monsters. We will deal with all the interactive tricks last. It's actually fun to play right now and we've only been actively coding for a little over a month.
SSM At the same time that Sega revealed that they had signed up Duke Nukem,
they also revealed that Quake would be heading for the Saturn. The big question everyone is
asking at the moment is, can the machine handle it? As experts in the field, what is your
LOBOTOMY Quake is a very technologically demanding game. From what we know, Sega has great confidence it can be done on the Saturn, and they should know.
SSM With both games due to appear within months of one-another, does this increase the
pressure on your Duke Nukem work?
LOBOTOMY We have seen the work that has been done on Quake for Saturn, and we are confident our engine is superior. That lessens some pressure, and having the engine technology in hand lets us concentrate on the game.
SSM With Saturn Duke now deep in development, how does this leave Lobotomy with regards to
development on other platforms? Do you have plans for PlayStation and Nintendo 64?
LOBOTOMY We are going to continue development efforts on PSX and N64, but do not intend to expand the company greatly and try to develop for every system at the same time. We would rather concentrate on two or three titles at once and do an incredible job on those, than spread ourselves to thin.
SSM Bearing in mind the poor quality of Doom, do you feel any pressure to
innovate a technology already way in advance of the competition? Do you
believe that there is anything else you can coax out of the Saturn?
LOBOTOMY No not really. There isn't much pressure to do more with our technology than we are doing with Duke. I'm sure more can be coaxed out of the Saturn, but for us it will take progressively more time and effort to do so.
SSM Obviously, Duke Nukem is an eagerly awaited title and it can only be good news that
Lobotomy are on the job. Is there anything extra you'd like to tell our readers that we
haven't already covered?
LOBOTOMY There will be a lot of hype about this game, and it's all true! Seriously this game will in many ways rival the PC version. We are concentrating on making Duke fun to play and exploiting the technology we have available to support that goal. If you like Exhumed, you'll love Duke on the Saturn. If you haven't checked out Exhumed yet, you should (shameless plug). Thus far, nobody has been disappointed.
SSM You're damn right there.