Questions for Andy 'Metroid Prime' O'Neil

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DRS
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Questions for Andy 'Metroid Prime' O'Neil

Post by DRS » Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:15 am

In this post-RG100 world, it's time for another castaway for you to quiz. I got in touch with Andy O'Neil because of the excellent job he and his gang had done on the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus HD remakes and it turns out he is an RG reader and has some fine stuff in his back-catalogue. I also understand he did stuff on the MSX way back before the CV he has sent me (pasted below) begins, which should be intriguing.

As always, ask whatever you want. I'm talking to him next week so get any questions in quick.

Many thanks as always folks and all the best

Paul


Bluepoint (2006+)
2011 - MGSHD Collection - Mr Fixit & Production (and a bit of code)
2010 - Team ICO Collection - Coder & Production
2009 - God of War Collection - Coder (and a bit of production)
2008 - Pitfall Wii - Reworked player package controls for Wii from GC controls (quickie contract coding)
2007 - Guitar Hero PC - DX8.1 shaders and skinning asm (quickie contract coding)
2007 - Blast Factor : Advanced Research DLC - More code and nicer GFX
2006 - Blast Factor PSN - Lots of code (and no time - PS3 launch title!)


Retro Studios (2000 – 2005)
2005 - Metroid Prime 3 - Weapon particle FX, player package & collision - (Left before shipping)
2005 - Tokyo Game Show 'Revolution Controller' (Wii Remote) Metroid Prototype
2004 – Metroid Prime 2: Echoes – Tech Lead Programmer
2002 – Metroid Prime – Tech Lead Programmer
2001 – Car Combat – Unpublished - Can't remember who was lead on this one (me or Zoid)


Retro Tech Stuff

Player morphball, player movement (normal, screw attack, wall jump etc) & collision detection, player weapons and effects (ice spreader, dark beam, plasma beam), custom creature effects (‘Ing Spot’), split screen multiplayer. Particle system, weapon system, defragmenting memory allocator(s), collision detection system, physics system refactor, ARAM management system, CPU and memory optimization, network file system. Static lighting (lightmaps), offline visibility calculation (PVS), particle editor, network connection tool, ‘fast script cook’, world cooker optimization, automatic loading code generation


Acclaim Studios Austin (1999 – 2000)
2000 – Turok 3: Oblivion – Engineer
Tech Stuff - Engine coding, visibility (PVS), Maya tools, GFX (thermal visor, shadows etc), PS2 prototyping

Tigon Software (1998-1999) - Contract
Saboteur – Eidos – Unpublished - 3DFX Glide API to DirectX conversion

NMS Software Ltd (1995 – 1998)
1998 - Outrage (hovercraft racing game) – Unpublished - Lead Programmer
Tech Stuff - 3D engine, rigid body physics, game tools, visibility (PVS), player package

1997 – Mass Destruction – BMG Interactive (Take 2) – PC and SKU Lead Programmer
Tech Stuff - Coded most of this (aside from software 3D T&L and rasterizer and AI pathfinding - Andy Swann). Steve's Saturn SKU was best - Fun!


Random: Helped on things like Hasbro Risk, Battleships and cancelled stuff like Cued-up and Thrust 360(?)

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Re: Questions for Andy 'Metroid Prime' O'Neil

Post by merman » Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:22 pm

Did you play a lot of the older Metroid games to help shape the Prime incarnations?

Do you think graphical effects can overwhelm a game, or do they add to the overall portrayal of the game world?

If you could remake any old game/franchise for HD, what would it be and why?
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Re: Questions for Andy 'Metroid Prime' O'Neil

Post by Sel Feena » Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:26 pm

Were you already a fan of the games you helped make HD collections for, or did you become a convert whilst working on them?
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Re: Questions for Andy 'Metroid Prime' O'Neil

Post by Hitman_HalStep » Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:30 pm

with all the complaints about coding for ps3 how did you find making a launch game for the system?


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Re: Questions for Andy 'Metroid Prime' O'Neil

Post by Cafeman » Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:26 pm

I especially loved Metroid Prime, more than the 2 sequels. It was my first Metroid game, too.

Andy, glancing at your online resumé of games, it looks like you have had a hand working on rebooting a great property (MP on the then-new GCN hardware), then you were involved with sequels (probably less satisfying); then you jumped ships and have done contract coding, porting, etc. If you had could pick, what is the next project - both the property / type of game and the hardware - that you'd like to work on , and why?

What were your thoughts as a tech guy comparing GCN vs Wii capabilities?

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Re: Questions for Andy 'Metroid Prime' O'Neil

Post by Miketendo » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:01 pm

Huge fan of a large part of your work, Andy.

What was the most challenging aspect of developing Metroid Prime?
What was part of the decision-making progress when it came to changing Samus' figure and face in MP2? The change was so drastic, going from a more believeable everyday woman look, to pinup model.
You've worked on several HD collection games recently, is there a game that you haven't done yet that you'd like to remake, and if so, what is it?

How was the relationship with Nintendo when you were at Retro Studios? Was everybody always on board with your decisions, or are there any stories you can tell us about this?

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Re: Questions for Andy 'Metroid Prime' O'Neil

Post by DRS » Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:56 pm

Great questions - keep em coming :)

And I WILL endeavour to get forum names spelt correctly :s In my defense, that's not the name yer mum gave yer and they don't always trip off the tongue ;]

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Re: Questions for Andy 'Metroid Prime' O'Neil

Post by Darran@Retro Gamer » Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:37 am

What's been your favourite system to work on and why?
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Re: Questions for Andy 'Metroid Prime' O'Neil

Post by NorthWay » Thu Mar 08, 2012 6:58 pm

Why is the C= 64 so much better than the Spectrum? (No, I didn't have any good questions for him...) (And we can't all ask about Dr Who either!)

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Re: Questions for Andy 'Metroid Prime' O'Neil

Post by kazooietothepast » Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:32 pm

How long was Metroid 2.5 with the mad AI considered as the actual game? Also why was it scrapped for Echoes? Have you or anyone ever thought of reviving the concept as a game , but not necessarily as a Metroid game? I am just interested in to how long that was the concept for development.

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Re: Questions for Andy 'Metroid Prime' O'Neil

Post by dste » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:26 pm

Do you know what was/is the official story behind Metroid Dread?

Was the message in Prime 3: Corruption "Experiment status report update. Metroid Project "Dread" is nearing the final stages of completion." a teaser or nothing at all to do with the game?
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Re: Questions for Andy 'Metroid Prime' O'Neil

Post by gman72 » Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:30 pm

The audio in Prime is outstanding, the music helps create the games atmosphere brilliantly. Were you aware of the music early in the games dovelopment or was it added much later? The audio seems to compliment the game so perfectly.
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Re: Questions for Andy 'Metroid Prime' O'Neil

Post by DRS » Thu Mar 22, 2012 1:52 pm

I spoke to Andy last night so thanks again to all who posted questions. He was full of tales, told in his broad brummy accent from his offices in Austin, Texas. Top lad :)

Btw, I did the ask the quite specific ones about aspects of Metroid Prime and the sequels and for some of them, he could only half answer them BUT was quick to say he still knew the other chaps that worked on those games at Retro Studios... and good news for you MP fans! Look out for a full Making Of sometime in the future with hopefully several of the team that created those games. Stu and Daz are handling it (I'm far more comfortable with stuff from the 80s and before :s) and i think it'll be a while off, but basically, that's why some of the questions (eg. about the 'weird AI' and the mention of the 'Dread' game) won't appear in the readers questions but should be addressed in a future piece.

Cheers again - the DID will appear in RG103. Next castaway after that should be Howell Ivy of Death Race fame in RG107.

Paul @;]

PS when i say 'weird AI' I'm referring to 'weird artificial intelligence' not Weird Al Yankovic. Just to clear up any confusion.

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Re: Questions for Andy 'Metroid Prime' O'Neil

Post by Mayhem » Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:07 pm

Good... a Making Of for Metroid Prime would be ace :)
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Re: Questions for Andy 'Metroid Prime' O'Neil

Post by dste » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:10 pm

Shame he couldn't answer my questions but if it leads to a Prime article then I'm happy as hell. :D
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