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    Venom Interview

    I had the chance to interview Sergey Zabaryansky of The Nephilims about their upcoming sci-fi FPS, Venom.

    1- Tell us about yourself, your company, and what you're doing with Venom.

    Venom - click to enlargeNephilims group was organized in 1998. Our goal was to make a 3D engine that could be the base for game of any genre. Ideas that were laid into the base of it allow the creation of both open-air and enclosed levels. In the spring of 1999 we started to create Venom based on Vital Engine ZL for GSC Games World. Venom is a tactical 3D-action where a player controls a Special Forces squad of two soldiers. The game play brings us to the year 2034, when a comet nearly impacts with the Earth. It is a close call; and the comet passes in a dangerously close vicinity to the Earth and scorches the atmosphere. Thousands of meteorites left the comet's tail and rushed towards the surface, bringing death and demolition. These meteorites brought spores of an alien life form that sprang up fast in the terrestrial environment. Humans clashed with an extremely aggressive life form that could “parasite” humans and subdue them totally. As early as several days after the catastrophe aliens have managed to occupy vast territories and capture numerous facilities. The game scenario portrays a military campaign against the invasion, and in particular, a main hero's role. During the game a player can accomplish 10 intensive and dangerous tasks at objects that had been captured by aliens. This includes rescuing survivors, conducting diversions, preventing nuclear missile launches, painting targets for allied bomber forces, obtaining important information and specimens, etc.

    Official page of GSC Games World is
    Official page of Vital Engine ZL is

    2- Please explain the highlights of your new AI and animation technology.

    Venom - click to enlargeThe AI utilizes algorithms of virtual hearing and vision. These algorithms guide the enemies during the game. The algorithm of virtual hearing allows a computer rival to react to sounds propagating through a level. Thus, for instance, in case a patrol hears a skirmish or explosion sounds, it will search for the sound origin; if a player tries to slip behind a patrol's back, an enemy may hear his footsteps and open fire. The algorithm of virtual vision implements, firstly, an angle of aspect of computer rivals, so they cannot see behind their backs, and secondly, worse illumination and/or longer distance causes a computer enemy to discern objects worse. So, a player can outflank the enemies, hide from patrols in dark parts of rooms, or conduct diverting maneuvers.

    3- You mentioned that your "engine is based on portal technology." Could you explain a little more on that and how it impacts on level design?

    Venom - click to enlargeIt helps to render fast highly occluded scenes with large number of polygons. It adds some limitations on enclosed levels' geometry, but those limitations are weaker than in Quake, for instance. It is very simple to create new levels. Level geometry may be completely created in 3D MAX and then imported to level editor. After that level designer defines portals (generally, marks the doors and windows holes) and level is ready.

    4- You also mentioned that objects are lit in real-time. Will this include real-time shadows?

    Currently, Vital Engine ZL doesn't support real-time shadows, only fake of it.

    5- Your game is taking advantage of environmental mapping. Will it utilize "environmental bump mapping" on the Matrox G400 video cards?

    Bump mapping is not done yet but it may be done in the near future.

    6- The Vital Engine ZL currently supports A3D 1.0. Any plans for supporting A3D 2.0 and 3.0, as well as EAX?

    Currently, we plan to add support only for A3D 1.0 and EAX.

    7- Currently, there are only two of you working on Venom. Do you plan on adding members to the team?

    Actually, there are three members of the team: a) Sergey Zabaryansky (programmer) b) Roman Lut (programmer) c) Andrew Prokhorov (artist and animator)

    8- When do you expect to be finished with the game?

    Venom will be finished in fall 2000.

    These pictures and more of Venom are available for viewing in our Venom Gallery section.

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