Interstate '76 Games Domain Interview

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This article is originally from Unfortunately, the originating site is long gone, so I've reproduced the article here in its entirey. I take no credit for the work, but just wish to preserve a fascinating look into the history of Interstate '76.

Just when I thought this game was about to become vaporware, it appears to be readying for release in March. My toes have been curling over this game since seeing the first ads for it last summer!

Despite societies best efforts the '70 are becoming hot again. Look what we can't get enough of these days: Pulp Fiction, John Travolta, KISS, Miller ads by advertising genius and 70's music fan "Dick", Intel ads featuring early 70's white boy funk, 70's retro rocker Beck, Andy Warhol movies.

Interstate '76 is what happens when you mix 70's urban grooves, over powered muscle cars, weapons and drug gangs together with a cast right out of the Mod Squad. Add a dash of Shaft, a bit of Charlie's Angels and stir it up nice and slow.

I've seen some of the early cut scenes and have to say this game is going to be hot. Great dialog, movie like camera angles and some great retro 70's groovy tunes. No full motion video here, Interstate '76 uses virtual polygon based actors.

I also messed around with an early beta version of the game. The version I had was not all together playable but the full version promises wide open spaces, fully explorable environments (think Monster Truck Madness) and lots of action. The final version will have over 30 missions. The object? Drive around in your fully loaded muscle car with your buddies Taurus and Jade and track down and destroy the evil drug gang members who killed your sister.

I can't wait! I've got my platform shoes, bell bottoms on and my Bitchin' Camaro is all fired up!

The Interview:

What was the inspiration for the game?

Sean Vesce and Zack Norman, who had just finished work on MechWarrior 2 as the lead designers, went to lunch to discuss what they could do next with the Mech technology. Zack, a big car enthusiast, was flipping through a Photo Buys because he was looking to buy a muscle car. As they would throw out ideas like "Let's do a helicopter sim," Zack would reply "Yeah, that's great. Hey, look at this '72 Cuda." Then it dawned upon them that the answer was staring them in the face. Creating a leading edge combat sim using the two coolest elements from the 70s---muscle cars and funk music---would be unlike any other game on the market. Once the team was assembled, it turned out that everyone shared in Sean and Zack's love of the 70s. At that point, we watched everything from Starsky & Hutch and Dukes of Hazzard reruns to such 70s classics as Shaft, The Mack and Bullet. We even drew inspiration from Pulp Fiction because of its gritty offbeat style and Samuel L. Jackson's great performance as Jules.

How close is it to being completed?

The game is slated to ship at the end of March.

What delayed its release? (I've been waiting for this game since I saw those first funky ads!)

It was delayed for two reasons. We realized that we would not be able to create the game as originally envisioned in the given timeframe, and we really wanted to fulfill the original vision, which was to make a cutting edge game unlike any other combat simulation in the marketplace.

Why did you choose to use "virtual actors" instead of full motion video?

We deliberately chose to go with a 3D low-poly art style for the cutscenes so that we could achieve a sense of continuity between the game and movies. It can be rather disappointing and jarring when jumping back and forth between live actors and their 2D or 3D low-res counterparts. So, we decided from the beginning to use the art assets from the simulation in the cutscenes in order to make the game much more of a fluid cinematic experience that features a unique and interesting art style.

Does the game use the MechWarrior engine?

We used the Mech engine as a starting point, then over the course of the project rewrote it to the point of creating a new state-of-the-art real-time 3D engine that goes beyond MechWarrior.

How would you describe the game?

Starsky & Hutch meets Dukes of Hazzard meets Pulp Fiction meets MechWarrior 2.

Copyright © Edward Fielding for the Games Domain Review, 1997. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission.