Chat with Lance Lewis
Peter: Did the change back to Jack Tramiel make a big difference for you at
Lance: Huge difference. As soon as Jack came back, he was like "F*** this, you're all fired."
Peter: So do you think Sam was on a good way? Would he have tried to keep the thing running?
Lance: I think Sam genuinely wanted the Jag to succeed. Not just to make money, but to prove that they knew what they were doing. As soon as he got sick, and Jack took over, [he] just wanted to sell it all off.
Greg: Hmm... that's too bad. I wondered if Sam's illness played a role. Although, I hoped Jack would actually do something positive. :-|
Darrylb: Unless you're unsure about how certain companies operate nowadays, any idea of which company you'd take up playtesting with again, if given a choice?
Lance: I couldn't do testing again, the salary wouldn't cover my family overhead
FunkDog: Hey Lance, do you know an Eric Riley that you worked with at Atari? He was telling me that you, him, and a few other Atari guys were gonna startup a new development house ... Any truth to that rumor?
Lance: I know Riley. That rumor is not true.
FunkDog: Oh, bummer dude, I'm sure you Atari guys have some killer ideas.
Lance: Testing was fun, but designing was better.
FunkDog: Lance, what was test life like at Atari? I've heard crazy stories of people with booze in their cubes taking naps all day and stuff ... the stories are almost too far fetched to be believable!
Lance: Exactly. Those stories are true. I often slept under my desk. I was tired.
FunkDog: Hey Lance, any hotties work in the test department at Atari? Or all dudes? You don't hear about a lot of girls in the game industry.
Lance: There was a chick in the test dept. one. She was not a hottie. Most hot chicks don't have to play games to get guys ;)
Greg: So, what was your fav game to test (besides AvP of course!)
Lance: I liked testing Zool 2. That game was cool.
Greg: I just wanna know the basic question: How'd your name end up being used
in AvP? ;-)
Lance: I just got lucky. I was spending like 20 hours a day there, days a week. Purple thought it would be funny to put my name in there. It just never got removed.
K3V: I've got my AvP poster with Lance's name on it hanging right by my PC here :)
DanAVC: I got one of those too rolled up though in a tube.
Lance: I liked that poster. The art work wasn't finished. You can see chunks of details missing from the alien.
Greg: Rebellion didn't have their own tester?
Lance: LOL.Yeah, what testers. I think I tested maybe a dozen Lynx games? Most Jag games that came thru.
Lance: What was great, was that the lead programmers/artists at Rebellion had
never even seen Alien or Predator movies. None of them.
Greg: Funny, I remember reading how they went and watched them all though.
Lance: They watched the movies after we MADE them. The first rev they submitted to us as a FINAL was awful...There was no objectives other than shooting and finding the exit. That was all the game consisted of.
Greg: Was it really faster in a prev version than the final?
Lance: As long as there were no objects in the game, the engine was FLYING. As soon as the sprites were there.... Ugh. ;)
K3V: Yeah it's rumored to have been slowed down on purpose... Was that true?
Peter: I thought it was so slow because it had to calculate all those aliens running around
Lance: K3V, I don't think that was totally true, only that the alien had faster speed, that was about it.
Greg: Lance, did you help out Rebellion at all with AvP PC?
Lance: No. I was well out of the industry by then. All my design stuff was only on the Jag version. But I think you can see the obvious influences that our designs led them to further develop.
K3V: I think Lance's appearance in Spacewar 2000 is better than AvP ;)
Lance: K3V, that was awful. I was tricked. Chris Thompson told me I wouldn't be recognizable. I was supposed to be green and distorted. He just wanted a bald guy. Next thing you know, I have a third eye. That's it. F*****g guy tricked me ;). We played hockey together for a few years after that.
Greg: Control of Checkered Flag comes to mind... That just needed
a little tweak.
Lance: We spent MONTHS tweaking the control on C. Flag. That was about as good as the programmer could get it... God, I forget his name. We locked him in Sunnyvale for like 3 months. I had to playtest that thing in manual transmission. Ugh.
Peter: The coder said it would not be any better than that and then Atari would go and release it? Kinda hard to believe....
Lance: Peter, yeah. They needed titles and weren't willing to just eat the game. They didn't care if it was a POS. No offense. The guys worked hard on it. It just should have been a demo is all.
Darrylb: Any idea about how many Jag projects were cancelled at that time that were in the works?
Lance: Probably a half dozen that I knew of. But they didn't tell us much. :(
K3V: Were you involved with Legions of the Undead at all? How far along was
Legions of the Undead probably would have been a fun reworking of the AvP engine. It didn't get much farther than this in development.
evilmaxx17: Anything interesting behind the scenes in regards to the Pro
Controller? Was it released solely for Primal Rage? Also, have you tested any JagVR games?
Lance: As soon as the 3 button controller was manufactured, they realized it was obsolete. The developers hated being limited. I liked the feel of the buttons better on the Pro.
Lance: Only JagVR crap I saw was at the E3. It was all out of our sight. [It] wasn't even built in Sunnyvale, far as I know.
Lance: The 12 of you that own those are why we stayed there on the weekends. It was fun :)
K3V: Many of us own copies of every POS on the Jag ;)
Greg: Yeah, we're all here tonight! :-)
Lance: So are any of you guys those cool indie Jag developers?
Greg: Funny you should ask... TheGraphicsMan is shy, but he's working on... what these days? [Legion Force?]
K3V: JagMod and TheGraphicsMan are indie devs ;) I am their tagalong tester and media whore.
Lance: You guys are f*****g heroes. Gotta get Carl Forhan in here. That guy is a rock star.
Lance: Ok, I'll catch you guys next week. I'm out.
Thanks for the time :) You can check out my s****y website.
Greg: Thanks Lance for coming! I hope you'll come back!
(Entire unedited chat transcript available upon request.)