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Steve Lycett is the Producer responsible for the up-coming GameCube game "Superman: Shadow of Apokolips".
The Superman Homepage would like to thank Steve for agreeing to do this interview.
Steve has also supplied the Superman Homepage with 6 exclusive images from the GameCube game. Click on the images to view larger versions.
This interview is Copyright © 2003 by Steven Younis. It is not to be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express permission of the author.
A: I work as a Producer at Infogrames Sheffield studio. For Shadow of Apokolips we basically got the brief to convert the game over to GameCube, making improvements wherever possible within the timeframe allowed (just over seven months).
As Producer I look after the scheduling of the project, oversee the Programmers and Artists to make sure we're going to get out on time, do a bit of design work and finally get the game through QA to make sure we don't go out with any bugs!
Previous to this I worked on Shadow of Apokolips for PS2, Wacky Races PS2, Rally Masters on PC / PSX, all as Associate Producer. Before that I did a number of jobs in QA, from QA Manager to Games Tester. So really this is the first game we're I've been 'in charge' from the beginning and has been a great project for me!
Q: When was it decided to create a "Superman: Shadow of Apokolips" game for the GameCube?
A: We'd had it in mind all along, but it wasn't until the PS2 version was in its final months until we had a team free to start work. Officially we started in September 02. Of course GameCube is the only console that's missing a Superman game so it made sense to fill the gap!
A: Everyone on the GameCube team came across from PS2, except for Pete, our Lead Programmer. Pete had been working on a different GameCube game and came free as we were starting, so it made sense for someone with experience with the machine to join the team. The systems programmer Dave, is probably now the longest serving Superman programmer, having been on the game since the PS2 version started concepting, just over 3 years ago. We're not sure if it's had a positive effect on him or not. :) Dom, the Lead Artist, had previously worked on Shadow of Apokolips as a Level Designer too, with Matt reprising as the Sound Programmer. Over the course of the project a few old team members have jumped in to solve any problems we've run into so it's been cool to keep some of the old team together for this one.
Q: Is there any difference between this GameCube version compared to the PS2 version? If so, how does it differ? How is it better?
A: We didn't want to just port the game over and be lazy, every member of the team wanted to improve on the game simply as a matter of honour. First the platform change has allowed us to do a few things we couldn't before, so now we've got full Dolby Pro-Logic 2 sound in there, the extra power has allowed us to do things like show the Inter-Bot robot exoskeletons when you X-Ray them and on top of that we think everything runs a little smoother and nicer than it did before.
We also looked at the critique of the PS2 version on the web (reviews and forums in particular have been extremely useful for this) and addressed things that the players suggested. So now there are different skill levels, some hidden features in there to extend the replay as well as a few new and cool cheats. We've also had time to produce a new Concept Art movie that shows much more of a behind the scenes look at art created in the process of making the games.
I think we've definitely improved on the PS2 version and the game feels a lot more rounded than it did before! But then I would say that. :)
A: This time round we've not been quite so involved, as the plot and story came straight across from the PS2. Of course everything in the game does have to be reviewed by Warner and DC Comics to make sure we're taking good care of the Superman name. We've had some good feedback on the conversion and a few extra's that were suggested to improve the game have come direct from the guys over in the Warner/DC camps. It's important to all of us that the fans get a quality game at the end of the day.
Q: How long has the GameCube Superman game been in production? When will it be released?
A: Seven short and hectic months. We've been working some good long hours to get the game done and we're close to finishing with the code and letting Nintendo check it out. If everything goes well, you should be seeing the game out around the end of March.
A: If there's one thing I think we got right about the game, it is the feeling of being Superman. Not so much having the Super-powers and being able to fly, but more placing the player in a dilemma and leaving them to decide the right course of action. As an example, there are a load of bad guys ripping up the place, but people are in danger. Sure you can go and beat up the bad guys, but would Superman do that? Nope, he would make sure the people are safe first. It's great watching people play the game the first time, they automatically drop straight into Superman's shoes and do just that.
Q: Why was the PS2 "Shadow of Apokolips" game chosen for the GameCube over the "Superman: The Man of Steel" game which was created for the Xbox?
A: You'd have to ask Bruno Bonnell that one. My own take on it is that I guess with the Toon-Shading and lower level of difficulty (we were very careful to make sure that the game could be enjoyed by everyone) we seem to be a little more GameCube friendly, as opposed to the darker version of Superman the X-Box guys created.
A: Not really, we'd started the conversion before the release of the game, so at that time we couldn't be sure how the PS2 version would do. As a team we wanted to improve the game and I'd wanted to work with the GameCube to see what we could pull off with it.
Q: Will the same cheats that applied in the PS2 version work in the GameCube version?
A: Now that would be telling. :) You can try them, but don't complain if what you get is not what you expected! Actually on the subject of cheats, there are quite a few more in there, including some very nice surprises.
Sadly, one we couldn't get to work quite right, was we did have the Atari 2600 version of Superman running on the GameCube. I have a version on my desk with it almost there (everything but the sound) but we just ran out of time to get it working properly.
A: We all have the Superman Homepage as one of our favorites, pretty much every member of the team is a Superman fan, so we've used it to keep up to date with happenings in the Superman universe. Through development of the game on both platforms we've used it as reference to find inspiration from outside the animated series and to gauge peoples experience with Superman to try and deliver something that would please all the fans (not just ourselves). Really this is one of the best places on the web to keep track of all things Superman, so keep up the excellent work!
Thanks for allowing the Superman Homepage to interview you!