Aliens vs Predator and The UK Games Biz

Written by Joe Martin

January 29, 2010 | 07:31

Tags: #2000ad #alien #aliens-versus-predator #avp #fps #games-industry #industry #jason-kingsley #made-in-the-uk #predator #tax

Companies: #elspa #rebellion #sega #tiga #uk

AVP Classic

BT: So, you have no stake in the AVP license – not the name or anything?

Jason: Nope. It’s not ours. It belongs to Fox. It will continue to belong to Fox. They’ve just allowed us to play with their franchise, luckily. They monitor what we do and they have an approvals process, but in terms of creativity it’s basically up to us. As long as we stick to canon and make the aliens look like aliens and do alien things, then they let us do what we want. They haven’t changed much, have they?

Andy Haith: No, not really. The odd bit here and there. Terminology mainly, like that the Predator’s spear can’t be called a spear and has to be called a Combi-stick. We still call it the spear internally, but…it’s the Combi-stick.

Jason: Yeah, little things like that really. Bits and bobs. Fox are pretty good to work with, I think. They approve very quickly and obviously the relationship goes back to the days of Fox Interactive and before, so they trust us. They recognise that the games we make help build up the franchise and you could argue that the games form the base of the franchise, not the movies. Well, except for the original Alien and Predator films, obviously.

*Aliens vs Predator and The UK Games Biz Alien versus Predator Classic
Open wide for the choo-choo train

BT: You mentioned the re-release of the original on Steam. Has that gone well for you?

Jason: It’s gone incredibly well! We’ve actually already done a couple of patches for it and we’re kind of fixing it up as we go along because it’s very old code. We’ve enabled widescreen support on it, which has pleased a lot of the fans. We’ve put in unlimited saves too. The ‘How many saves should you allow in a game?’ argument has risen its head again a decade later.

BT: Yeah, I was discussing that with Andy earlier.

Jason: It’s funny all the ‘only wimps want to be able to save anywhere’ stuff. It’s weird how the world is just a circle and how the same arguments just keep coming back again.

We’re very pleased with the re-release. We’ve wanted to do it before, but we haven’t had time until lately and it’s great because there are people here like Kevin, who was a programmer on the original and is now the head of programming for the company. He’s actually done a lot of the work on the re-release, so it was really exciting. It’s just a nice gesture for the fans too; to say that AVP 3 is coming and here’s something as preparation; a little blast from the past and it’s dirt cheap too. Costs less than a decent pint of beer and is a damn sight more scary.

*Aliens vs Predator and The UK Games Biz Alien versus Predator Classic
He ain't that tough

BT: Do you see the new game as being as scary as the old one? The 1999 game was a very scary game, but this AVP feels like a bit more of an action game.

Jason: We’ve tried to scare people in this one, very much so, but I think scary is different from surprise. Scary is knowing something bad will happen, but not when. So, we tried to do that but obviously the gameplay has had to become a bit more sophisticated and we have to try to cater to a wider audience because the original game was ferociously difficult to play. A lot of people just couldn’t play it.

BT: Yes. I was one of them.

Jason: Right, so those people weren’t getting the most they could out of the game. So, what we’ve tried to do is manage that. We really want to entertain people that are not particularly good players and make sure the game is accessible for them but still exciting and frightening. We don’t want people to feel like they are just being killed in the first ten seconds all the time, because they’ll just throw the game away or take it back to the shops. We want players to be scared, but also we want them to get into it.

We’re more scientific and professional in how we’ve approached it, I suppose. We’ve tried to look at it in terms of not just what the hardcore gamers want, but also the average users and newcomers who’ve heard about the series and just want to give it a go. We’ve had to modify the game for that.
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