Heaven Games Invades Big Huge Games
Day 1 (Mar 18, 2004) - The Inquisition
Ah, Big Huge Games. To most gamers, the offices are from a faraway
place; it resides in the magical land of Baltimore with faeries,
talking rabbits, and games without lag. Well, I (Socvazius
- as well as Zen
- got a chance to
visit that magical land for the purpose of leaking all of BHG's
secret-I mean, get a tour and interview some of the cool dudes
My trip started off in Kansas City, Missouri, where I hopped on a
plane to my connecting flight in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Unfortunately, it seems like precipitation wasn't on my side that
day as my connecting flight was delayed a whole hour. I was about
to pass out from waiting that long, I tell you what. After the
arduous wait in Charlotte, I flew to Baltimore, got a cab and
made it to the hotel where the three of us from Heaven were
supposed to stay. Zen meanwhile had a long 8 hour drive from
Boston through a lot of rough weather. Up north, ODA made his way
from Toronto, Canada hoping U.S. homeland security wouldn't think
going to BHG's home base count as stealing state secrets!
I arrived at the hotel first (at 10pm, ouch for the other guys),
so I hung out a bit until Zen made it and we had some high class
gourmet food at the local Wendy's, burgers and fries. Mmm hmm
hmm, I could just feel my arteries clogging up in a deliciously
greasy manner. By the time that we finished up, ODA made it to
the hotel and we verified who he was by the secret HG handshake.
It was getting pretty late at that point, so we decided to hit
BHG Front Entrance
I got up extra early that morning so I could pretty myself up right
good and met the two other guys in the lobby where we proceeded to
meet Graham "Thunder" Somers
just a couple minutes
afterwards. He drove (read: walked) us to the offices just a
parking lot away, and we passed through the large glass doors to
enter BHG's realm.
To start things off we just took a tour of the place and said
"hey", "hi", "heya", or some other variant to the various BHG
staffers that were up that early in the morning. I really enjoyed
the design of the offices, it's pretty much just one big ring of
office rooms with the testing room at one end and a "lounge area"
(drinks, food, couches, pool table, x-box, the works) at the other
end...if only every single office was designed in such a way. At
the end of the tour we took a look at the latest x-pack build,
which was pretty interesting for myself as I hadn't recieved the
beta that they had released a bit back. It looks pretty damn good,
if I do say so myself.
Following the look at the x-pack, we got to interrogate Ike
, the programmer/designed that worked on the singleplayer
Conquer the World in Rise of Nations. He provided some insight into
the design of CtW as well as just some funny comments and such on
the game and other subjects...in particular the death animations
for the various units in RoN; trebuchet guys getting knocked over
by falling pieces of wood, war elephant riders getting crushed by
their dying mounts, things like that. That and the origin of his
nickname there at BHG: "Bitchassman." Oh, we'll get to that
mystical name when we post his interview.
Socvazius and ODA Asking Questions
Socvazius and ODA
With all that interviewing, we (myself, Zen, ODA, and Graham) had
worked up quite an appetite, so we headed for a pizza place nearby.
After lunch, we talked to Doug Kaufman
, one of BHG's
designers. In the hour and a half long interview (by the end we had
him tied down so he couldn't leave), he talked about just about any
subject that anyone would want to know on the design of RoN; from
the implementation of new civilizations to how they went about
starting the x-pack.
The big man, the head honcho, the captain of the USS Enterprise,
was the next man on our hit list and we
drilled him for 45 minutes...unfortunately, he wouldn't budge on
his secret recipe for his famous German Chocolate cake. But we did
get other information out of him, pertaining to the his history in
the gaming industry, the formation of BHG and development of RoN,
and other things of that nature.
Brian, Statue, ODA, Zen, Socvazius
Finishing the interviews off, ODA and I threw some questions at
Pranas "Pancake" Pauliukonis
, one of the AI programmers at
BHG. Afterwards, the four of us rampaged around the city of
Baltimore...this rampaging mainly consisted of looking at a couple
book stores (where I could barely tear myself from the D&D
books there, ohhhh man) and eating at a Sushi place. Such crazy fun
BHG recreation area
We got back to the offices and got right down to what this visit
about: gaming. The x-box was quite the fun thing,
the image was projected on a screen in the "lounge room". The BHG
guys had a pretty good selection of games, from Project Gotham
Racing to a couple hockey games...but the one that caught my eye
the most was a third person shooter called Brute Force. I swear,
that was the single worst game I have ever played in my entire
life; it was the most painful 20 minutes of my life. The interface,
third person view, gameplay, everything just cried out "please kill
yourself now," which I nearly did.
Barns & Nobles Bookstore
After such a traumatizing experience, I was ecstatic to play a
quality shooter: Battlefield Vietnam. A pretty large percentage of
the BHG staff have been playing Battlefield 1942's sequel recently,
and for good reason; it's freakin' awesome. Now, it took me a while
to get used to the gameplay and just working with the game in
general (for example, my interface was set up in such a way that I
would literally flip the helicopters each time I lifted off), but
once I got the hang of it it was just barrels and barrels of fun.
46 barrels, to be specific.
After a while of playing Battlefield Vietnam, one of us took a look
at the time: 2am. Whoo boy, we stayed up pretty late playing that
game, so decided 2 would be a good time to go to sleep and meet up
in the morning again. So the three of us walked back to the hotel
while Graham closed things down at the offices; ah, I was eagerly
awaiting a full 8 hours of sleep.
Day two is detailed by One_Dead_Angel, check out his
account of our gaming for most of the day on the next page!
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