Interstate '76 OGR Interview with Scott Krager

Local Ditch > Interstate '76 > Articles > OGR Interview

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.

Online Gaming Review: What was the inspiration for Interstate '76? For instance, why the 1970s instead of say, the much more used, futuristic environment?

Scott Krager: Zack Norman, the lead designer and co-conceiver of Interstate '76, said it best: "The future is boring." That being said, the idea for the game originated during a lunch with Zack and Sean Vesce, director of I '76. The two had just finished working on Mechwarrior 2 as the lead designers and were looking to do something new with the Mech engine. Zack, a big car buff, was flipping through a car trading magazine because he was in the market for a muscle car. As they threw out ideas like "Hey, what about a helicopter sim?" Zack would say "Cool. Hey, check out this '69 Mustang." They quickly realized that the best vehicle for a combat sim was staring them in the face. Flash forward to a couple of months later and the preliminary design was laid out for I '76 featuring the two coolest elements from the 70's---muscle cars and funk music.

OGR: What specific improvements does Interstate '76 have over the MechWarrior 2 engine, on which it was based?

Scott Krager: Other than being much faster to allow for fully textured worlds, some specific improvements include the implementation of a dynamic terrain system, realistic vehicle physics, much improved artificial intelligence, multi-camera angles in the sim for real-time cinematics, fully textured 3D cockpit and improved multi-player options including built-in Internet play.

OGR: Was the idea for using the handgun in close combat situations in the game design all along or did it develop as the game design progressed?

Scott Krager: It was always part of the design.

OGR: Who was in charge of the "funky" music for the game?

Scott Krager: Kelly Rogers, Activision's in-house music director, was primarily responsible for the music. He and I listened to a lot of demo tapes, but had no luck finding the right sound. Then Kelly hooked up with friend and music producer Jason Slater, who has his own recording studio in the Bay Area. He in turn sent us a demo of a funk band comprised of professional musicians with whom he had worked. After listening to the tape, we knew we had found our band. At that point, lead musician Arion Salazar whipped out a slew of rough tracks and within a month was flown to Los Angeles with the core band to record the final tracks at Royaltone Studios, where several well-known bands like Van Halen and the Scorpions have recorded. After laying down the core tracks, we recorded the overdubs back in the Bay Area and then did the final mixing and mastering. The rest is history...

OGR: Groove Champion is one heck of a cool name. Where there any other names for the lead character that were dropped or was Groove Champion the sole choice?

Scott Krager: As far as I know, Groove Champion was always the name for the lead character.

OGR: Is there a particular car in Melee mode that is your personal favorite?

Scott Krager: I don't really have a favorite... although I use the Street Van quite a bit because of its configuration and armor/chassis reinforcement allotment.

OGR: From your experience with the game, do you have any personal tips you can share with our readers?

Scott Krager: Put some thought into your vehicle configuration including armor and chassis reinforcement adjustment. This can make a big difference. Also select your weapons carefully... especially in multi-player mode. The biggest and baddest weapons aren't necessarily always the best ones to use.

OGR: Internet multiplayer is a blast, however, hacked cars are beginning to appear on the server -- unlimited armor, multiple turrets. Is Activision planning a means of combating hacks so players can enjoy the game without having to deal with cheaters?

Scott Krager: Yes, we will be releasing a patch within a week or two that will address the cheating issue. The best part is that it will keep everyone happy including the cheaters.

OGR: Did you expect that hacked vehicles would begin showing up so soon?

Scott Krager: Based on what I've seen happen with other games, I'm not surprised that hacks have already appeared.

OGR: Are there any enhancements planned for multiplayer, such as allowing the game's host to restrict cars and weapons from entering the game?

Scott Krager: Stay tuned...

OGR: Are there any add-on discs planned, such as further single-player missions or more cars and weapons for multiplayer mode?

Scott Krager: We currently throwing around different ideas for I '76 follow-up products, but nothing is set in stone yet. However, the I '76 gang will return...

OGR: I'm sure you've heard this a million times, but what is the status of the Direct3D patch and when might gamers expect it?

Scott Krager: We have been working on the D3D patch for a few weeks and hope to release it by May. It's one of our top priorities.

OGR: Thanks -- and see you on the battlefield