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.

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