At Adeline, the process was a lot more organic, and a lot of things happened just because somebody thought about it, which resulted in games having many easter eggs, weird references, insider jokes, etc...
So let see what was in Time Commando, that you may not have noticed.
The intro sequence1 machine using Softimage 3D.
Our hero Stanley, the famous "Yellow Spandex" guy, has slightly more polygons in these sequences than it has in the game.
Actually, he probably has more polygons than the entire geometry displayed during the game sequences!
Voice overIn the European version of the game, the intro sequence does not have any voice over explaining what happened.
The American version has one, which was added on request of the publisher.
Personally I liked the silent version. It made the music much more dramatic and left a lot to the imagination, but why not :)
Time PlanningWhen Stanley looks on his tablet for what was planned for him, you can see additional names.
These are the nicknames of some of the other members of the devteam.
- "Tactac" is Frédéric Taquet (who made the intro video)
- "Ben" is Benoit Boucher
- "Jiji" is Jean-Jacques Poncet
- "Xav" is Xavier Wibaut
- "PH" is Paul-Henri Michaud
Playing with himselfAfter seing that he has nothing planned, Stanley relaxes... by playing himself in Time Commando.
That obviously imply that we had some gameplay videos of the game recorded, so they could be used in the video sequence, but in any case, that's quite meta!
Flying casesWe teased Tactac a lot for it, but he answered that it was "future tech" so that was just fine...
...anyway, if you look, when Stanley runs toward the exit, the suitcase actually jumps into his hand :)
Alternative stylesBefore settling on the final character set for the game title and menu, there was a number of alternative designs.
Obviously these days you can just go on one of the many font design sites2, but in 1996 we still barely had one single PC with an analog modem and a CompuServe3 email address, and most of the work was done in Deluxe Paint.
What do you think of this version of the title picture?
I'm personally glad we used the hand made illustration instead!
PC vs PSXIf we had done things properly, the PC and PSX versions of the games would have been sharing most of the code, with specific modules to address the specificities of each platform.
Unfortunately, back in the days the members of the PlayStation team (Olivier and myself) were kind of "elitists pompous coder heroes"4 who after looking at the PC code, decided to write their own version of basically the same thing.
If instead we had came up with an arrangement where we would have been allowed to modify and optimize the PC code, instead of doing a rewrite, the game would have been finished earlier, and the time spent instead on making it a better game.
Attract modeAfter starting the game, if you let it on the menu, after a while the game will switch to "Attract Mode", something commonly found on Arcade machines to show prospective players what the game looked like.
What you may not know, is that this game session is actually scripted to behave like if a player was controlling Stanley, but the rest of the game just runs normally, which means that depending on the state of the random generator, the sequence will not always result in the same outcome.
Sometime Stanley will reach up to the first memory chip disposal point, but sometimes he will just fail to even pass the first caveman!
Beardy ManIf you look closely at Stanley face during the game, you will notice that he gets more and more facial hair :)
It's not a huge change, but that brings some interesting metaphysical questions regarding how long Stanley has been fighting is way out of the simulation.
Obviously it only takes a few minutes to travel through each period, but who knows how long he stays in these tunnels?
When we developed the game, we did not have a clear list of all the features we could implement, which explains why the Prehistoric level is so linear: When it was designed we did not plan for the extra "side rooms" we could later add to the video stream.
At the opposite side of the spectrum, we have the first world war level which has plenty of them, including the two levels barn on the left, and the inside of the truck.
You probably have all seen these photos of the development team, they are even displayed in the game at the end of the credits sequence.
But did you know that some of the characters in the games are actually using visage textures made from modified scans of id pictures of the team members?
Try to find who's who!
Game OversDepending of the context, one of the multiple game over sequences will be played.
I can't say I remember which played in which context, but I believe it at least depends if you died or ran out of time.
Hopefully you learnt something new5 :)
I still have some stuff to share, so stay tuned.
1. I believe it was an Indigo 2, but I need confirmation from Fred!↩
2. Or just get some random free font on DaFont↩
5. And yes, I'm not forgetting the questions some of you asked, but there's so much I can do at the same time↩