CABAL'S VISIT TO WESTWOOD STUDIOS, OCTOBER 2001
Here is the report from Cabal's visit to Westwood Studios at the end of October 2001.
Click here for the report of Cabal's visit to Westwood Pacific, and tour with Athena Massey
It was easy enough to find Westwood Studios in Las Vegas, with the help of a map, but it was fun getting in! The map we had directed us to the entrance on Tenaya Way, but when we got there that entrance had a barrier across it. "ENTRANCE CLOSED". After cursing the map we had to turn around in the busy street and get to the other entrance. This should have been simple enough but the road was busy and we didn't know where to turn around. We managed though.
Even though Las Vegas is in the middle of a desert or, as Udo Kier said "Las Vegas is built on sand and tits! I like that!", Westwood still have a nice little garden. I was impressed with that. Also, I like the building they are in. It's much better that the Circus Circus hotel which I stayed in, lol.
The visit started by saying hi to the person at the front
desk, and having to sign a non disclosure form. This was to say that we
won't tell anybody any secrets, not that I heard any anyway. We were told
to sit down and wait for Chris. Although, even the best computer games company
in the world still have small problems - when she was talking to Chris the
phone kept going dead! While we were waiting there was somebody that was
sitting down and filling out a job application form. I don't know who it
was but good luck anyway :P I also took time to look in the trophy cabinet
that is in reception - Brett and his team have managed to get quite a lot.
I didn't take a photo of it because it was covered in Halloween
decorations, as was most of the reception area.
Chris then decided to show me the QA (Quality Assurance) department, since they were playing Renegade and he wanted to make sure I saw as much of it as I could. There were a few people in two rooms all playing it. What I would have done to get some hands on experience :) The game looked great and I can't wait to play it when it was released. I told Chris that I can't wait for the release date, and he told me that it has been delayed and that the final date is locked in stone as February 12th, 2002. He also mentioned that there will be an beta test for some people, which sounded great. (WW recently announced it for those of you who haven't been paying attention to the news). He then went on to explain that a lot of the PCs are bought directly from manufacturers, but some of them are made or modified by Westwood so that they can test the games using different configurations.
While walking back to the main building through the area where Ray Wise (President Dugan) was interviewed for the RA2 DVD we mentioned that Athena Massey showed us around LA. Did he looked jealous! Apparently he only met her for a few seconds. He then took us to Joe to tell him - he looked even more jealous. I will never forget the look on his face. I told him something that Athena told me about a picture of them together. Everybody laughed. You'll have to ask Joe about that yourself - I don't know if he wants everybody to know. At about this point Chris told us about the pumpkin carving contest that they have every year at Halloween. The main prizes this year were won by the artists, although Frank Klepacki won the prize for the funniest design.
After this we walked into a bigger part of the Westwood complex to the render farm, which is where all of the great FMVs for the games are created. The room wasn't full of computers like it used to be, because they have recently upgraded the computer to Gigahertz processors, and so don't need to use as much room to get the same power. There were some offices upstairs, although we didn't go up there.
Our next stop was Frank Klepacki, who has an office full of Star Wars
stuff. Somebody from my school likes Star Wars - but sorry Dan, Frank has
overtaken you in my list of Star Wars fans :). Perhaps I should him an
inflatable JarJar Binks that I saw in Canterbury recently. He let us
listen to some music from pirates of Skull cove, which was brilliant. It
sounds more orchestral than anything we have heard so far. Thanks Frank.
Then came another photo opportunity. Unfortunately I won't be able to buy
Pirates of Skull Cove when it is released because I don't have a console
that is newer than the Mega Drive.
Cliff demonstrated the engineer, bio soldier and laser trooper, the last two being the best way to destroy tanks in the current build of the game. He said it changes every time, so in the final version they may not be the most powerful. Cliff had trouble staying alive because at the point he was, a couple of tanks were trying to destroy his Tiberium Harvester. A piece of advice while we are on the subject - Cliff said that Harvesters are VERY important in the game because that allow you to get new stuff. SO PROTECT THEM. This was his problem in the part of the game he showed me. He kept being flattened by a tank because he had to protect his harvester and a tank has more firepower than a person :) hehehe bad luck Devinoch. I read as many of the previews of Renegade as I could before leaving the UK, and a few of them mentioned that it was fun to run people over. I mentioned this to Cliff and he showed me a demo. It's better if you run them over in a tank, as he demonstrated to me. They make a horrible screaming and crunching noise similar to TD. Let's just hope they don't scratch the paint :)
That was the end of the tour. We didn't meet Brett, Louis or anybody else like that, but that doesn't matter - at least I got to see Chris, Cliff, Ted, Joe, Frank etc. I had fun and wish that I am able to return and say hi again in the future, although finding the money will be a problem - this vacation did cost us a lot although it was the best one I have ever had. This was all due to Athena Massey with her tour of Los Angeles and Chris Rubyor's tour of Westwood Las Vegas.
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