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Interviews

Aliens Vs Predator Pt.1

Developer Rebellion gives CVG the inside track on the creation of its next-gen AvP game

The Aliens and Predator movie franchises are two of the biggest action/horror brands out there - making it a brave developer that dares conjoin them in a video game.

But UK-based Rebellion is an old hat at this sort of thing. It made the original AvP game back in 1999 to critical acclaim - and now it's having another go, with a fully next-gen update.

In the first of our two-part interview, CVG catches up with Rebellion co-founder Jason Kingsley to find out more...

Do you think the 'quick fix' perception of games inspired by movies and other entertainment media has been changed by Batman: Arkham Asylum - and will AvP build on this?

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In modern times Batman definitely did. But we made the original AvP back in 1999, which was considered to be a very excellent game on its own. Then they did a movie of the franchise and it met with mixed reception.

That was the age-old 'movie game' adage [of licensed console not being very good] turned on its head. We've always felt that just because something comes from a movie or a book, it doesn't mean you can't do a really great game of it.

Naturally, there are some licences that are next to impossible to make into a great game. I remember someone once asking us to consider doing a game based on Desperate Housewives. We just sat down over an amusing lunch and realised that, for us, it was impossible.

But in terms of action films, given enough time and enough budget, you should be able to make a good game out of pretty much any major motion picture concept. I don't see any excuse.

What tends to happen - and this is why bad games get made by good teams - is that developers just don't have the time. A publisher will say: "We need a game." And you'll say: "Cool, we can do that. Do we have two years?" When they say no, and tell you you've got a year - that's not a year for development, but to get it out in a year - you know you're up against it.

Arkham Asylum was a fantastic game- and it took Rocksteady a long time, which makes sense. AvP has been probably two-and-a-half years in development, which is longer than many of our games, but probably about right for this kind of title.

Which games influenced AvP's development?

We tend to not use other games as influence. You've got your basic control system, and you can't really reinvent that - that would be like selling a computer with a different layout of keyboard.

We considered what we thought will work - boiling down the characteristics of the Alien, the Predator and the Marine. What's good, what's bad, what's scary - we considered it all. It allowed us to be very creative.

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For instance, the Predator is an amazingly powerful monster but he doesn't have a rapid fire machine gun he can use from a distance. There's quite a cool balance of three different characters.

I note that for example in Starcraft, you pretty much have Aliens, Predators and marines. They don't call them that, but they kind of have those attributes. I'm very proud of being the first group to see that would work very well in a game and take it from there.

Do you feel that AvP has any direct competition out there?

Not as such - the three species interaction is completely unique. You normally have good guys or bad guys; in Halo you have humanity and your other creatures. But that's two sides. Our game has three - and the third side adds an interesting dimension, especially in multiplayer.

The third player is a wild card - he can go in there and decide which team to f**k up. It makes you want to shout: "You bastard!" [at your co-players]. After he's killed you, he might then decide to keep attacking you or go against the other side, to keep things even.

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