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Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb
 
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The Emperor's Tomb
 

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  Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb

Interview with producer Jim Tso (October 07, 2002)


Harrison Ford has a new Indiana Jones role - but it likely won't be splashed across the screen at your local movie theatre. Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb is a globe-trekking adventure in the classic movie style, but the target is game players, not movie fans (unless, of course, they also happen to be game players). Slated for release in the spring of 2003 on the Xbox, PlayStation2 and PC platforms, Emperor's Tomb promises the same broad action strokes of former games, but with some new features which greatly improve the look and play of the series. Foremost, Harrison Ford's face has been planted on the video version of Indiana Jones. And Indy sports a new look when it comes to fighting as well. The storyline involves the search for a powerful artifact known as the "Heart of the Dragon." Indy begins the adventure by traveling to China in 1935. But the adventure also takes players to the jungles of Ceylon, the underwater palaces in Istanbul and the streets of Hong Kong. Along the way Indy will have to battle Nazis and Asian underworld characters. Jim Tso, a producer at LucasArts, talked with GameZone about the new Indiana Jones title.


Question: Saw the demo of this game at E3, and the first thing that was both surprising and wonderful at the same time was the face of Indiana Jones. For the first time in the game's history, it is the face of Harrison Ford. How hard was this to pull off, frame-after-frame, in the game?

Jim: "It was fairly difficult, our art director spent a huge amount of time working with scans of Harrison's face and getting those into the game. The power of these new systems has really given us the ability to make an Indy game that's closer to the movies."


Question: In designing a franchise game like this, is there a rule book that must be followed, or you can do just about anything you wish to? If there are rules, can you give us an example of what they might be?

Jim: "We're allowed a lot of freedom but there some guidelines that we have to follow. We had to make sure that our story didn't conflict with anything else already established in the Indiana Jones timeline."


Question:Indy pulls out a whole new series of moves and fighting styles in this game. Tell us a little bit about the new moves. Where they motion-capture or solid animation? What was the toughest move to render?

Jim: "All the moves in the game, both Indy's and his foes, are hand animated. The Collective has some amazing animators and they did an amazing job with Indy and the other characters."


Question: What kind of game engine does this game use, and what advantages did you reap from using it?

Jim: "The game is based on an enhanced version of the Slayer engine, which was used for The Collective's earlier game, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Using an existing engine provided a lot of advantages. Instead of spending a lot of time and resources to develop something from scratch, the team could quickly prototype and test game levels. In turn, this really allowed us to focus on improving the game play and adding new features. For example, instead of building a fighting engine from scratch, the team was able to focus on different fighting styles for Indy's opponents. There are also a ton of new features such as Indy's whip, rope climbing, traps, puzzles, and even vehicle interaction."


Question: Indy travels around the world on this quest. What resource did you use for creating the environments for the various locations?

Jim: "A variety of resources were used, including reference material from the actual countries."


Question: This game is being released on three different platforms. Which one was the easiest to design for? What unique abilities or design features did the various platforms give to you?

Jim: "Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses. Most of our platform specific stuff is focused on making sure the interface and controls feel right for each platform."


Question: What do you think is the lasting appeal of Indiana Jones as a character? In the case of Harrison Ford, do you think it was a matter of the actor fitting the character or the character fitting the actor?

Jim:"I think one of the main elements in Indy's appeal is that he's a well-rounded hero. Indy is just as likely to use his wits as he is to use his fists when it comes to getting out of a jam. I think that's also one of the reasons that Harrison Ford is so great at the role. He's believable as both a daring adventurer and a college professor.


Question: What do you think gameplayers will remember about this title once they set it aside for a bit?

Jim: 'I think they'll remember it as the next best thing to an Indiana Jones movie."

 

-by Michael Lafferty


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