Q&A With stephen shaw
We hit the saloon with the designer of Outlaws
What were your inspirations when making Outlaws?
The prominent inspiration was the Sergio Leone westerns, but other classics were thrown in as well such as High Noon, and Silverado. Once we had a core team together, we went up to the media room of the Skywalker Ranch main house and spent the day watching westerns like The Good, The bad And The Ugly, Once Upon A Time In The West, etc. We would each call out elements we liked, and start brainstorming how we could make it work in a game given the technology of the time. It was so much fun, the room was acoustically isolated from the rest of the building so we cranked the volume up to the point you could feel the hoof beats, canons and gunshots. We were initially paranoid that the ‘isolation’ claim was not all it was sold to be, but we stepped outside the room and shut both the inner and outer doors, and could barely hear anything. Even though we had reserved the room, we kept envisioning George Lucas or one of his assistants busting in and demanding to know what the heck was going on!
The game is often credited with being the first to feature a sniper zoom and one of the first to feature reloading. Can you tell us a bit about those innovations? Reloading came about because of the way we wanted to establish the pace of the gameplay to match the genre and avoid ending up with Doom in the old west. You see it a lot of the films, the steely eyed Clint Eastwood shoots a couple of guys, and paces across an open street replacing the rounds in his gun with a watchful eye watching the roof tops, windows an alleys for an ambush.
How did the western theme influence the game’s design?
While it was a vehicle for the game design, it was born out of a love of the Sergio Leone films and wanting to pay homage to it by bring that look, feel, and musical style to a new medium. All the elements of the game came from collective knowledge of the films and elements found there. Striking matches on your chin and throwing sticks of dynamite (Clint Eastwood Man With No Name films), the steel boiler plate ‘body armour’ (A Fist Full Of Dollars), exploding kegs of gunpowder, the list goes on. Easter egg here: the piano in the bars – the music is the same as the piano that plays when Ben Throttle kicks it in the ‘Kick Stand’ bar.
» [PC] Outlaws features an enhanced version of the Star Wars: Dark Forces engine.