Interview With An Archangel....



Interview by Jeff Walters

Lionel Fouillen is the author of two of the best levels ever made for Dark Forces - Archangel 1 & 2. You can check out these levels at Lionel's homepage, by clicking here.

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Aerial view of Anterak City
Q. The first two episodes in Archangel featured many new surpises and ideas, what special features can players expect to see in Archangel 3?

The level takes place in Anterak City which is a Bespin-like environment where Art-deco and Imperial textures are mixed. There will be a lot of movement with all those new 3DO ships that Peter Klassen created for this level (Tug, Transport and Corvette). Customized VOCs will be used for them. Also, I believe this will be the first level where the player is able to blast windows with a Stouker or a Mine and walk through. I will mention here that Peter Klassen is working with me on the level, as the VUE file specialist.

In the middle of the game, the player must steal a Stormtrooper armor therefore no-one recognizes him and he can walk quietly through he Emperor's palace to reach the objective room of his mission. That's the moment where he enters the conference hall and listens to Palpatine's speech in front of a hundred Imperials, standing to attention (apart from the Royal guards, new static WAXs had to be created from the brown, white and black officers, stormtroopers, commandos, admirals and, for the first time, the Emperor's courtiers and the Emperor sitting in his chair). INF will be extensively used when Kyle races to the docking bays to escape, while the city has started exploding and ceilings are falling down, doors explode and catwalks are dislocated. There is also a new boss: a stormtrooper with the Black Whirlwind and a jetpack, intended for Boba Fett logic (unfortunately Phase 2-DT doesn't work properly because of the difference in size).

I'm also trying to fix problems regarding an underground train scene where two lines are running in opposite directions one along the other and Kyle is fighting with troopers who are in the other train when they cross each other. Kyle normally can jump out of his train into the Imperials train.

A rough version of the Emperor's throne room
Q. I understand that you intend to do a Special Edition of the series. What new features can we expect from the new version?

In the Special Edition, Archangel 1 will be developed in order to look more like the Mos Eisley of the film. Also, there will be plenty of 3DO ships flying around, such as the Skyhopper, Slave 1, the Millenium Falcon, the Outrider and various landspeeders (all with required VOCs). I will change the color palette for JABSHIP.PAL so all textures will look perfect now. I also started creating new Rodian and Weequay WAXs, plus fully-faceted WAXs of city inhabitants and there should be a 3DO textured domed-roof to faithfully reproduce the local architecture. Moreover, there will be more interactivity. For example, there is a moment where Kyle will come across a talking WAX of Garindan. Garindan will propose a deal and, depending on how the player conducts it, some specific part of the level will unfold differently.

In Archangel 2, I will complete the storm scene at the beginning by adding a flash texture, one bug needs to be fixed, a few small sectors will be extended, as will the underwater section. In the dungeon, I will also extend the "roaring pit" scene and promote a nice WAX that was never fully used at its best: the Gundark.

Last but not least, in all three episodes, it will now be possible to select the difficulty level.

Q. Have you played Jedi Knight yet? If so, what did you think and does it seem like a good environment for level creators?

I rushed to the nearest store on October 9th and bought Jedi Knight at 10:01 AM. But I'm very sceptical with it and I reserve my opinion. On one hand, the Sith engine is awesome but on the other hand, textures aren't realistic and 3DO-polygon characters don't look nice (I prefer WAX sprites although it's not truly 3D). Levels are too long and there isn't a variety of worlds to explore (In Dark Forces there was Gromas, Anoat, Nar Shaddaa, Coruscant, Jabba's ship and various Imperial worlds...). Furthermore, I'm not quite sure whether Jedi Knight will be easy to deal with. I heard that LucasArts put severe limitations on what may or may not be done. Also, the very complexed 3D architecture possibilities won't be fully exploited unless a level creator spends half his life on it :-). But I will play the add-on levels because I'm sure they'll be better than the original levels !

Q. Once the Archangel project is finished, what are your plans? Will you be continuing the project in Jedi Knight or are further Dark Forces levels planned?

The Archangel project is quite an old one. The first test for new texture and WAXs of episode 3 had been made before the completion of episode 1 ! Because of a lot of professional work it's taking me an incredible amount of time to complete Archangel 3 (and the level is more elaborated too) so I think I will stop after the Special Edition. However I had two more levels in mind as early as April 1997.

The first one was a level taking place in an Imperial underwater mine. After the destruction of Anterak City, the Rebels have to disable all Imperial facilities that take part in the process of producing that new weapon: the Black Whirlwind. Kyle is sent to an underwater mine where they extract ore that is used for the Black Whirlwind missiles. I had started building a swimming stormtrooper WAX and had completed an awesome emerald rock texture for the underwater depths.

The second level would have been used as a transition between Dark Forces and Jedi Knight. Star Wars fans may know that Mandalorians were once decimated by Jedi knights. After the death of the Emperor in the explosion of Anterak City, a group of Mandalorians decides to lead the remaining routed Imperial troops in order to restore the Empire. They want a revenge and have invaded a Jedi sanctuary to eliminate the old Jedi sages who retire and meditate there. Kyle is sent to deliver them and put an end to the sinister plot. At the end of the level, he's supposed to do a first step on the ways of the Jedi and has to fight his own replica from the Dark Side, all with new Katarn WAX, required VOCs and lightsaber patch.

When I understood I wouldn't have time to do that before the release of Jedi Knight, I destroyed all of this rough work. Maybe I could do these two levels for Jedi Knight, if I have time. It's obvious that I could profit by the complexity of the Sith engine to achieve better levels featuring underwater scenes, old temple textures, and lightsaber fights.

Fight within the subway transport
Q. What first drove you into editing in Dark Forces? Had you any previous experience editing with Doom or other 3D Games?

No I hadn't. I wanted to make a Doom level some time ago but I wasn't motivated enough. It was different with Dark Forces because I'm a Star Wars fan and I just couldn't resist it. I wanted to live scenes from the film on my PC so I was most enthusiastic while I was editing the Mos Eisley level. And I think the reason why we get so elaborated Dark Forces add-on levels from various creators is that the DF add-on community is made of people who are Star Wars fans before simply being videogames fans. As far as I know, most creators are in their twenties so they grew up as part of what is generally described as the "Star Wars generation".

Q. Attached to this interview is a Demo copy of Archangel 3. Can you tell us a little about the demo and it's features?

Well, the demo doesn't actually feature anything new, except one or two customized textures. I wanted to do a demo because I often get mail from people who impatiently ask for the release date of the level. The demo consists of the beginning of the level, which simply sets the mood. Players will be allowed to discover the aesthetical aspect of this new level.

Click here to download the Archangel 3 demo.


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