Legacy Interview

Friday, November 28, 2003.
Armed and Dangerous Box artLucasarts: Armed and Dangerous

We have a chat with the folks at Lucasarts about their upcoming title "Armed and Dangerous".

Q: Before we begin I would like to thank you on behalf of the staff and members of XboxAddict.com for taking the time to do this interview with us. Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your job?

A: My name is Aaron Loeb. I’m the producer at Planet Moon Studios. My job mostly involves keeping groupies out of the backstage area, holding the band members’ hair while they’re “working out” too much drink, making sure the instruments and speakers get loaded onto the bus, and getting the band to their gigs on time. It’s a thankless job, but I wouldn’t do anything else.

Q: With us being at a point of super-hype about such games like Halo 2, Doom 3, Knights of the Old Republic and others, some of our readers might not be too familiar with the plot. Could you give us a quick outline of the game?

A: Armed & Dangerous is about a band of thieves, the Lionhearts, who are latter day Robin Hoods. They live in a land controlled by a tyrant king, Forge, and they are on a mission to embarrass him by stealing his prized possession: the Book of Rule. Along the way, they end up getting pulled into a peasant rebellion against the King and an ancient prophecy that will result in the toppling of the King.

Q: Armed and Dangerous doesn't seem like a game that LucasArts would normally publish. How exactly did this game come to be in terms of your studios' relations with LucasArts?

A: We think Armed & Dangerous is exactly like a game LucasArts would normally publish. It’s got people being shoved into body cavities of massive bovines, cannibalism and beer. Lots of beer. Okay, fair point. Maybe it is a little different from Jedi Academy, which doesn’t have any beer. The deal came about in a poker game. Someone bet someone else they wouldn’t do something, there were knives involved, next thing you know we got a call from LucasArts. But really, does it matter how many people were killed making the deal? Do your readers really want to know about the tedious details of legs being broken and lives being threatened? Shouldn’t we really be focusing on the product of it all, which is a little game I like to call “Armed & Dangerous?” That’s what we’re all here to talk about, not how I lost my left pinky.

Q: All right, now that the serious social stuff is taken care of we can get down to the fun gaming aspects! In the trailer that is posted on the LucasArts' Armed and Dangerous website (listed below) there are some absolutely hilarious and intriguing weapons such as the 'Topsy-Turvy' gun. Could you tell us about this and some of the other weaponry available to the player?

A: The Topsy Turvy gun is a bleeding edge piece of anti-grav technology in Midden, the land where Armed & Dangerous is set. You just screw it into the ground, turn it on, and hang on for dear life. The whole world turns upside down, your enemies go hurtling off into space, then you turn it off and they come tumbling back down. One of the other weapons we’re very excited about is the Land Shark Gun. Here’s a little description of how that works: “First invented to clean out the Onion Mines of Midden, the Land Shark Gun releases a baby land shark. Using an advanced system of hormone treatments and cattle prods, the gun's mechanics cause the shark to grow to its full size in seconds and home in on its intended target. Once under its target, the shark bursts from the ground and swallows him whole. Useful and great at parties, the Land Shark Gun was voted last year's "Gun of the Year" by the Forge City Gazette.”

Q: In a past Q&A Planet Moon stated that the Xbox was their "lead development platform" and the PC was given second chair. Not that I am complaining, but what was the reasoning behind concentrating on the Xbox platform first?

A: I was going to give you a pat, wise-ass answer, but this is kind of interesting if you’re into the wonky details of game-making. The way schedules work out, you need to finish a console game at least 2 to 3 months before it hits store shelves as it will go through a lengthy certification process by the console manufacturer. Since we’re a team of only 10 guys, we really had to focus first on the system that finished first. Now we’re putting all of our energy into the PC, and the game is looking very nice and high-resolution.

Q: One very interesting scene was shown on TechTV's Xplay, wherein a character was manning a turret and literally waves upon waves of enemies were rushing him. The polygon count on that looked to be staggering, yet there wasn't any sign of serious slowdown. How did you manage to pull that off?

A: It’s called Base Defend and it’s a section built entirely to pull off that effect – tons and tons of guys running at you very fast, and you, all alone, with the turret. How did we pull it off? We actually created a piece of technology that slows you, the player, down along with the entire world, so the game seems really fast in comparison. Sure, there might have been easier ways of accomplishing it, but this way had the most bragging rights.

Q: Armed & Dangerous will include 5 different environments that the game takes place in and from what we've heard, it will also have some pretty interesting weather effects. Could you tell us a little bit about them?

A: The game is an enormous travelogue from the frozen Northern Bergog Wasteland to the lush Wildwood Abbey. There are blizzards, blinding rainstorms, and thick hazes. We wanted to give the player the feeling of traveling through a living, breathing, sweating world, and we feel like we’ve accomplished that.

Q: A game like this seems like it would leave a lot more room for entertaining enemies as compared to other games. Could you tell us a bit about some of the people we will be shooting and tell us about the enemy AI that is set up?

A: The mainline enemy is the Grunt, who’s kind of cowardly, so you’ll hear him yell things like “I’m not getting’ paid enough for this!” as he runs away from you. We had a lot of fun with the Grunts and Captains because they speak, and that enabled us to give them a lot of good lines when you shoot them. My favorite is one of the Grunts screaming in a thick Irish brogue, “There’s a bullet in me ass! Me poor, perfect ass!” But there are hundreds of such lines in the game. The enemies vary from “horde monsters,” like the Grunts and the Twiglets, that come at you in big numbers, to “heavy hitters” like the Captains and the Q1-12 Eliminator Droid. The Q1-12 is a giant robot with a huge chain gun. If you aren’t careful and it gets you in its sites, you’re dead. So, you need to be careful around some of the AI. Fortunately, you have really massive guns to use against them.

Q: You've stated that Armed and Dangerous will utilize Xbox Live in terms of downloadable content. Have you already started planning what content you are going to make available down the road?

A: We will be releasing more then one mission post-release. We anticipate they will be available soon after release, honest! After that, we’re going to be reading what our fans have to say, what kinds of levels they would like to see…

Q: Now if I were going to make a game with some humor in it, and it was being published by LucasArts, I would have to throw in some Star Wars jokes or maybe a stray lightsaber or two. Are we going to see any Star Wars stuff hidden in the game?

A: Hidden in the game? Heh. No. It’s hardly hidden.

Q: You have announced that Armed and Dangerous has plenty of unlockable content, which should help it out a lot. Could you tell us about some of the unlockables?

A: There are a boat-load of cheats unlocked by finding the bonus tokens throughout the game. As the Lionhearts are thieves, every level has a hidden treasure in it somewhere. These treasures are the bonus tokens. Along with the cheats, there are three bonus levels in that can be unlocked in the game by finding tokens.

Q: Finally, to please all of the audio and videophiles out there, is there any chance you could give us some hard specifications as far as video resolution, frame rate and/or sound support?

A: The game can run up to 1600x1200 with 32-bit textures. If you have a mighty PC, that will be at 30FPS or higher. At 800x600 it’s generally running at 60FPS on a high-end PC. We have sound. Unless you have no ears. On the Xbox, it is playable in 480P at 30FPS. The cutscenes are in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Thanks guys.

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