Gaming Target (GT): Fans have had their grimy little hands all over the fruits of your labor for a few months now and the critics have given it their stamp of approval. What kind of feedback have you been getting from the fans?
Andre Emerson (AE): The feedback has been extremely positive. People have really enjoyed the gunplay, high body count and integrated storyline. The overall variety and depth of gameplay has generated lots of great comments as well.
GT: Is it safe to say that this feedback has given you some ideas for the sequel?
AE: If we do DTR2, there were lots of great ideas that didn't make it into the first game, plus tons of new inspiration. Our team is very creative we'll not have any trouble coming up with new, fun stuff.
The PS2 and GameCube versions of the title hit the marketplace four months after the Xbox release. Where did the decision to stagger the releases come from? AE: Dead to Rights was exclusive to the Xbox for 3 months. It shipped in late August and the others in late November. Contractually, the PS2 and GC versions could not ship during this period.
GT: I can imagine that the two different release dates have been almost like completing two different projects. How did the last four months compare to the rest of the development process?
AE: Finishing the PS2 and GC versions went rather smoothly. The extra time gave us further opportunity to focus on tuning and gameplay balancing based on comments from the gaming community.
GT: Usually cross platform ports show-up without anything extra added into the package. What prompted the decision to take the extra leap ahead and tune up what already seemed to be a solid Xbox release?
AE: Time really. We had an opportunity to spend several weeks tuning values, enemies, weapons, etc. We wanted to make sure that DTR would appeal to as broad an audience as possible.
GT: We've all come to love taking human shields, the multiple difficulty settings and upgraded combat system. Were there any features you were thinking about that were not included in the final Dead to Rights update?
AE: Not really. Everything we wanted to do in the short time we had between platforms made it in.
GT: You told us before that you developed certain affection to developing for the Xbox. Did you find that there were any major difficulties developing a title for all three consoles?
AE: Anytime you have to make a game work on multiple consoles, there are compromises to be had. Each system has its strengths and weaknesses, and you generally have to target your efforts at the lowest common denominator so that it will work across all. Single system games, or those that come out many months after the lead platform, usually have the best opportunity to push hardware and graphics.
GT: Were you able to implement any ideas on one console that you couldn't bring to life on another?
AE: There is nothing significant missing between systems, as we targeted our development at the PS2 for the majority of the cycle. Xbox's graphical power allowed us to do a bit, but our core assets were developed with PS2 as the lead platform.
GT: Since so much of Dead to Rights was produced with the cinema in mind, have you thought about bringing Jack Slate to the silver screen? I mean, there is a plethora of characters and situations to pool from and there were dozens of times where I thought, "I would pay full price to see this in a theater!"
AE: This is in the works, but nothing to announce as of yet.
GT: Throughout Jack Slate's misadventures, there were many comparable similarities to Max Payne's own (i.e., bullet time effect, story, etc.). Did Max Payne have any effect on your development of Dead to Rights?
AE: At E3 2001, we had a large DTR demo playable on the show floor that showed the majority of our mechanics, including the slow motion stuff. Our game design and story was complete at that time. We knew very little about Max Payne, as the game was still only being shown privately. By the time Max came out, we were already well beyond feature design and were building levels, mini-games, bosses and the cinematics. I think we probably watched a lot of the same movies, but any similarity between the games is purely coincidental
GT: Now that you have finally wrapped up the production on this first chapter of Dead to Rights, what is the next project we'll be seeing from you in the future?
AE: I want to do DTR2 to take advantage of hindsight and to build another chapter in the DTR universe with the core development in place from day one. I know we can do some damn cool stuff.