Interview with the Chiefs of Game Developers by Jade
ever wondered about who the people are behind the games you love?
What they look like? What they eat? Well, I came up with 5 questions
for my five-minute interview with the leaders of popular game software
companies. We will feature one Chief each week. And I've also got
a photo of each Chief I've interviewed, so that you can see what
they look like. As for what they eat, that's highly classified information.
With the release of Tomb Raider on the
Pocket PC platform (read our review),
Eidos, one of the console and PC game giants, has made their way into
new territory. If Tomb Raider for Pocket PC is successful, does this
mean that Pocket PCs are coming to an age where they’ll share
the super power of mainstream gaming? We certainly hope so!
We chatted with Nick Robinson, a top secret agent at Eidos Interactive
PDA Gaming division. Sorry, we couldn’t ask what he had for
lunch- we didn’t want to be terminated.
Interview: Jade Dragon:Eidos
is a big player in the PC and console gaming market with huge hits
like Resident Evil, Final Fantasy 8 and of course Tomb Raider. What
made you decide to branch out to the Pocket PC platform?
current generation of PDAs, and the related technology which is
beginning to make its way into the next generation of mobile phones,
is at a level which enables us to bring high-quality, fully interactive
content to a mobile market for the first time. Typically these products
represent the flagship of a manufacturer's or operator's range.
We will continue to work with current and future partners in the
wireless industry to take advantage of these new devices but also
to develop content that is appropriate for the mass-market devices
Tomb Raider is arguably the strongest brand in the
games industry and has the mass-market appeal upon which we hope
to build a successful product line. That said, we are always particularly
careful with Tomb Raider to ensure that any implementation of the
game, or of the character, is faithful to the original and maintains
the high standards we have set ourselves to date. Although we have
been keen to bring Tomb Raider to some of the newer technology platforms
in the past, it is only now, with the current level of hardware
sophistication and with the availability of Segundo, that we feel
we can do the character justice.
long did it take you to port Tomb Raider to Pocket PC? How many
people worked on it?
original Tomb Raider itself took approximately two years. The technology
used to enable the game to run on Pocket PC devices, Segundo from
Ideaworks3D, has similarly been in development for an extensive
period. However, one of the key strengths of Segundo is the ease
with which it enables games to be brought to new platforms in a
very rapid manner. The initial port to Pocket PC took a few weeks;
the majority of the time since has been taken up with an extensive
programme of test and performance tuning. The net result is that
we can bring classic games to the PDA without compromising on the
game play in order to make a cost effective product. Total dev team
for TR PDA itself, as opposed to Segundo, was probably around 6,
including producer and QA.
did you manage to transform what must be over a hundred MB of graphics
files to the Pocket PC?
3D's "Segundo" technology incorporates sophisticated compression
technology that allows us to get the full PlayStation game, including
all levels and all content within those levels into the game on a standard
Pocket PC. The full game occupies approximately 12MB when installed, including
documentation. The only content omitted from the Pocket PC version of
the game is the FMV (full-motion video) sequences which provide the narrative
link between levels in the game. The videos have been replaced with still
images and text. In this way we can advance the story in the cut scenes
between levels, without taking up the huge resources required by video.
In future, as the memory capacity of these devices increase, additional
storage becomes more common, and video compression technologies improve,
we may be able to bring the original video sequences to games for handheld
you happy the way the game turned out?
Next question. Seriously, we are extremely happy with the game. Ideaworks
has done an excellent job in replicating the real "Tomb Raider"
experience on Pocket PC and we feel this represents a groundbreaking advance
in gaming for these devices.
Raider currently only supports iPAQ. Do you have plans to support other
above answer to "Will the game crash the device?" Also, we will
continue to evaluate the commercial viability of bringing the game, or
other games from our catalogue, to other PDA devices. Ideaworks3D's technology
platform would allow us to do so with relative ease, although our stringent
Quality Assurance process means that we will not officially release and
support a game for a device unless we are confident that there are no
issues surrounding the idiosyncrasies of that device in particular.
The game has been extensively tested on all supported devices to ensure
that any bugs are ironed out prior to release. We will add new devices
to the list of those supported only after we have tested them to ensure
that the game does not compromise the device, or the data contained in
it, in any way.
you think we will see more Eidos titles on Pocket PC? Can you tell us
more about the future plan?
Robinson: We hope so! In addition to further titles in the Tomb Raider
series we are also considering the release of other classics from our