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Our next guest loves stockings... hmm what ? Oh sorry I think  I went a bit 
too far. Indeed I'm going to interview Andrew Whittaker who is mostly known to 
us  Atarians  as being  one  of the  guys hiding  behind AvP, understand Alien 
Versus Predator ! To be honest, I've never been convinced  by the JAGUAR tho a 
single game sent waves of  thrills thru my body : hey you  ever been facing an 
Alien when your ammo is down to zero ? Not to mention the awful mouth smell of 
the creature :p

    NOTE of STS : questions #3, 5,6 and 7 were added by Andrew who rightfully
    thought he had more to say. I intentionnally preceded them by  my name to
    make sure questions and answers could be spotted without problem.

STS : Hi Andrew, erm what's your name ? Oki let's be serious and rather focus 
on your status, like age, current job and ATARI background.

 ANDREW : Age, well thats an easy one to start with, a grand old  age of 35. I'm
 currently working  on projects  for film, tv and  some computer  game work too.
 I'm involved in creative design, scriptwriting and also a director of a company
 that does special effects work for various major Hollywood movies.

 I made my first game at the  tender  age  of 13 and  realised that it  was the
 career for me. I had been messing around with a Sinclair ZX81 computer, taught
 myself BASIC and  assembler and decided to  create a few games to amuse myself
 and the family. What I didnt realise at the time, of course, was that he games
 would ultimately be successful and lead me to a career in the games industry.

STS : As you and I have already spent some time chatting, I know most of the 
story of your  life but  I'm sure  our readers  would also be  interested in 
knowing the hard times you've gone thru.

 ANDREW :I dont know as it would be called hard times. I just made  a conscious
 effort at 16 that I would have a career in the games software industry. Like a
 lot of fledgling software authors I ended  up in a  situation where I was in a
 small appartment with zero money working hard on games and  hoping and praying
 that someone would buy them. I had to survive on welfare payments for a couple
 of years, even down to clothing  handouts  to survive. Quite  often meals were
 simply a loaf of bread. But in  the end I sold my work and the rest is history
 as they always say in these sort of interviews.

 What is my abiding  memory of those times ? The delight when the  game I was
 making took off and began to sell  of the shelves and  the sheer gratitude I
 felt to everyone who bought my work. I still have that gratitude to this day
 whenever  people  compliment  my  work and enjoy  what I do. I am  immensely
 grateful for the people  buying my  work who have  given me  the chance of a
 career I wanted to pursue.

STS : Was the Atari your first computer system you worked on commercially ? 

 ANDREW : No, I did games for the Spectrum, Commodore 64 and  Amstrad computers
 as  part  of a  team. We  had  major  successes  on those  machines. My  first
 involvement with Atari was with the release of the Atari ST. I remember we had
 one delivered into  the  office  on  the  first  day  they  were  available to
 developers. I suddenly found myself having to learn 68000 and (for that day) a
 complex  operating  system. I  loved  the  machine  and  never  looked back. I
 continued with the 68000 working with both the ST and Commodore Amiga for some
 time in the transition days to 16 bit computing.

STS : I guess you must be tired with explaining the  same things  again but 
please once again, would you be kind enough to tell us how you came to work 
for ATARI on AvP ?

 ANDREW : Immediately  before AvP I had  worked  on a  project  called Darkseed
which did very well, especially in  the USA. That involved me working alongside
the designer of the "Alien" HR Giger to bring his  work to the computer screen.
When AvP came along, because of  the success of that  I was asked to design and
develop the AvP  experience. Giger  obviously  remembered me as  when the Alien
licence was taken by Atari I was approached by Giger, Atari and  Fox to develop
that licence for the Jaguar launch. It was a great opportunity to develop on an
exciting new  machine with  movies that I  really  loved. I studied  the movies
solid for many months before coming up with a  game design. My  aim was simple,
to recreate the  feeling and  atmosphere of the "Alien" movie. I wanted  people
jumping, feeling claustrophobic and have the fear of being hunted in an unknown

STS : Would you describe AvP as being a shoot-em-up forerunner to Doom and 
Quake ?   

 ANDREW : Definately not, Doom and Quake  are very much shooting gallery games
 whereby you are the hunter. I think and hope that  AvP turns that on its head
 where the player feels  that he is the hunted rather than hunter. As such, to
 play the game properly, AvP forces careful actions and stealth on the part of
 the player in order to survive. I deliberately  had the Predator taunting the
 player at  regular intervals  to remind  the  player that they  are  the prey
 fighting for their survival rather than a gung-ho hero with guns blazing.

STS : I have heard a lot about the AI in the game, can you tell me more?

 ANDREW : Again, to compare to Doom  and Quake, they  are proximity  triggered
 artificial intelligence  games. What that  means is that  the creatures  come
 alive when you get close to them. In Avp the creatures are alive all the time
 and tracking you throughout the maze, working solely  and cooperatively.

 There is a lot of cooperative actions with  the creatures that  you do not see
 in other games. Even  so  called "dumb"  aliens in  certain rooms are  usually
 there to lure you into a trap  where there may be a  pack lurking nearby. They
 use many many tricks to try and bring you to an early demise, in fact over 256
 strategies for each type of creature in the game!

STS : What did you do after AvP ?

 ANDREW : I went on to MGM  studios  in Los  Angeles to  continue the  theme of
 working with movie licences. The biggest licences  being the  James Bond games
 (released through Electronic Arts), Stargate and others. I had a blast working
 with those properties, again with some  success luckily for  my career. I left
 there to  work  fulltime  with  Electronic Arts and  spent a  lot of  time  at
 Bullfrog studios in the UK working on their strategy line-up.

STS : Was it your first and last experience with ATARI ? How did it work out 
and did you have other projects for ATARI machines ?

 ANDREW : No not my first by any  means, the team I belonged to at the start of
my career was Graftgold and we  had  developed a  number of ST  games including
Ranarama and  Rainbow Islands to  name but two. AvP was  certainly my favourite
project for the Atari and  favourite  project that I  have ever  done. I made a
great deal of friends on that  project and loved the  material that I was given
to  work with. It was  ultimately  due to  the demise  of Atari  my  last Atari
project but at the time of course, I never  realised that would be the case and
I had no idea this would be my only forray into working with the Jaguar console
which I enjoyed very much.

STS : Some time ago, we were given a prototype of AvP on the LYNX. Tho nothing 
more  than a  pseudo 3D engine, it  already  looked  promising. Were you  also 
involved in this game ? How did things turn out in the end ?

 ANDREW : No, I had no involvement with it at all  although I was  shown some
 early development ideas, but in all honesty it was nothing to do with me and
 was completely separate to anything that I was doing.

STS : It is quite odd to  see you hang  around on IRC and be  such a nice chap 
while you're a god to anyone who's played AvP ! When and why did you decide to 
give a look at the brave fellows on #atariscne ?

 ANDREW : Hardly a god, but thank you for the compliment. I've visited Atari IRC
 for many many years as I always think of the  Atari family as a group of people
 where I feel comfortable and have been made welcome. I think I first visited as
 part of the research for AvP to garner information on what people would like to
 see in the game. I just never left :)

STS : Do you still have and/or use original ATARI machines ? Are you drawn to 
old school computers or swallowed by the powerful dark side of business, erm 
sorry I meant computing :)

 ANDREW : I've still got various versions of the Jaguar, various versions of
 the ST, a couple of TT machines and the do get warmed up and used, although
 these days I tend to favour playing Tempest2000 as my favourite Jaguar game
 which means I criminally neglect other Atari titles and  activities to feed
 that addiction!

STS : oki then, if you're still here, you must have shown that you still feel 
something for the good old ST but what do you think of the Falcon ? Ever owned 
or played around with one ? 

 ANDREW : I used falcons at Atari Sunnyvale, there were some in my office there
 although I never  owned  one personally, but  come to  think of it, I've never
 bought a computer in my life, so I  guess the answer is that  I never took one
 home but used them around the office.

STS : Tho I have no  idea  about the  answers you're already given, now I feel 
that somehow your experience with ATARI  has brought you  something that maybe 
our community still keeps alive ? Do you happen to read the latest news on DHS 
and/or download the latest demos ?

 ANDREW : I  should really be  politically  correct here  and say "yes" to those
 questions, but  the answer  in  truth is "no" to both, simply  because  of work
 pressures and time commitments. My  source of Atari  information comes directly
 from the IRC community I have to admit. I  wish I had  the time for  that to be
 different but I spend a great deal of my life travelling between continents and
 rarely have  more  than 48  hours  at  home. Quite  often I  may be  in a hotel
 everyday apart from a couple of days a month that I take off work.

STS : WE WANT TO SEE YOUR STOCKINGS ! Erm sorry, I lost control once again and 
surely you thought that some spam had invaded  the interview :) More seriously 
since you seem to show some interest to the ATARI community, then why not walk 
another step forward and meet us at the next party ? Ever been to one btw ?

 ANDREW : Yes I've  been  to Atari  events and  thoroughly enjoy  them. I  have
 particular memories of one in Helsinki. I was hoping to return again last year,
 had plans to do so, but ended up very ill with a kidney infection that stopped
 me travelling at the last minute. I enjoy the events and  being with the Atari
 gang. And, Im not sure if  anyone wants to see my stockings, but they are very
 welcome to do so :)

STS : Time to release our volunteer prisonner at last :) Thanks a lot for the 
time you've spent with us Andrew ! Any last  words you want to tell the world 
out there ?

 ANDREW : It sounds cheesy I  know, but I  simply  wanted to  thank the Atari
 community for all the support and friendship that has been shown  to me over
 the years. It is great to feel part of the group and I will stick around for
 as long as I am wanted, which hopefully is a long time!

Alive 8