Frank Lima of the RETICON Team has graciously allowed us to interview him on the progress of Tahi. Enjoy
DCT: How does your team feel about the Dreamcast and doing the project?
Frank: The team is extremely enthusiastic over the concept of creating a game for the Dreamcast. Most of my team members at one point owned a Dreamcast, so they know what they were in for. What really gets my team going is that they know their hard work will pay off, because they will be releasing a serious, long-term game for the Dreamcast and not another platform, which will make us stand out from the other small development teams. A good analogy would be 'The Black Sheep'.
DCT: Are they on schedule?
Frank: No, we are not on schedule, but this is normal for large projects such as this, with a small team. We have compensated for this lost time by creating a VERY strict summer schedule. This schedule has been produced for every single team member and contains very specific instructions AND deadlines to achieve by the end of August. So far it has been a success!
DCT: Have they hit a wall as of yet?
Frank: Nope, no walls here. We work together closely as a team. If someone ever gets stuck they have me as well as the rest of the team to rely on, even if the other team member has to focus on other responsibilities. We are a very tight-knit group, all with the same goals in mind.
DCT: What portion of the project is working well for them? What isn't?
Frank: Well since the team is segregated into sections, it seems as if all portions seem to be working well for them. I created the team's responsibilities based on their strengths. Again, if they ever get stuck, they have the rest of the team to rely on and me.
DCT: What stage are they at?
Frank: * Our writer is revising the story to improve game play. Him and I spoke for a while and created a plan. We are currently analyzing and attempting to make communication with Marc Laidlaw (writer of Half Life 2) to understand and get a feeling of the gameplay needed. We are trying to achieve 'A gamer in the shoes of a hero', we want the gamer to feel as if he or she is a part of this world without the need of endless cut scenes. * I, as well as the other programmers are endlessly working and retooling the engine. Getting a stronger understanding of openGL and how to apply it to the Dreamcast architecture. We've renamed the ION engine to the IONICON. We've long completed our use cases and diagrams. We're testing and expanding our research and understanding of the extent at which the Dreamcast architecture can be pushed. I am attempting to create a shader system which mimics higher end shaders, without the hit on the processor; it's a tricky process. * Our game designer is also working along side with me. We've reworked the user interface again to allow for less complication and it just to be easier on the eyes. Our control layouts are complete (they have been for quite some time). Our game designer is working along side our writer as well to see what kind middle-ground we can create that has a strong story, but a story that doesn't take over the overall game play. Again, we are using Half Life 2 as an example, and on top of that, Zelda: Ocarina of Time. * Our artists are creating the creatures for the world as well as revising some of the main characters to fit more holistically. Soon one of our artists will be moving to environmental design to create the world. * Our musician is working hard in producing sequenced music for the theme, hero and villian songs. These songs are best understood as reoccurring 'themes', like Star Wars, everyone knows the 'Imperal' theme or the 'Rebel' theme. The sequenced music will then be used on the Dreamcast's Yamaha chip. If we can somehow improve our engine's CPU usage, we would like to use AAC or MP3, but that is still under debate if we can even do so. * We've recently created a public relations section which will allow us to keep updated on all of our outlets, including updating our webpage and constructing the acutal TAHI subsite.
DCT: Will there be a demo within the next four months?
Frank: I am attempting to achieve at least a tech demo to show everyone the ability of what the IONICON engine can produce on the Dreamcast platform. Since this is new research we will allow a download to be placed on our site as well as survey. We want to make sure that this engine works on as many Dreamcast systems as we can. In the mentioned survey we will have multiple questions which include playability, average framerates and other questions as well as a box for any anomalous issues which may occur.
DCT: Who will publish the game?
Frank: Well, frankly, we haven't thought of that stage yet. So if anyone has any suggestions that they would like to share with us regarding this, that would be great. Send any information to flima@ReticonEntertainment.org
We have been so focused on the actual creation of the game, we have not put any thought into publishers just as of yet. We DO plan on picking up a publisher though, we have to make sure that the publisher is just right, both fiscally and legally.
DCT: Do you have any plans for distribution i.e. play-asia.com?
Frank: Yes, we do. Again, relating back to question 7. We have not looked into this completely yet. Are largest concern is legality. Dealing with the Dreamcast, which is developed by SEGA, leaves kind of a gray area for us as a team because, it is discontinued hardware (abandonware in some cases), however SEGA may still have rights in some way for the production of software on that platform. We've been carefully looking into this subject to make sure we can cover our ends just in case something DOES come up from SEGA. So going back to question 8. We do plan on distributing the software, we just need to be careful and plan out how to do so, just to be safe.