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Interview with Mark Poesch


4/07/00 by Tom Smallwood
with Mark Poesch
Technical Lead
Legend Entertainment

Can you tell us a little about your responsibilities while working on WoT?

Mark Poesch: During the first year of development, I worked on prototype user interfaces -- the Citadel Editor, Inventory Management, and the main interface. Just following our "Proof of Concept" acceptance, I worked closely with the artists and level designers to define our approach to citadel construction, formulate standards, and to enhance the tools (UnrealEd). I also implemented a variety of engine enhancements necessary to support elements of WoT -- including the "Enhanced Actor Rendering Interface" Aaron used to build our particle system, the "Player Render Control Interface" used to optimize performance in "The Ways", and various other mods for improving scalability and render performance. During our second year of development, I took on the role of "Technical Lead" -- over time, we shifted focus from building the "Citadel Editor" to building the "Citadel Game."

How did you get into the game design field?

Mark Poesch: Hmmm... I suspect this question was intended for the level designers. I started developing games, more or less accidentally, after talking with Bob Bates (back in April '87) about helping him with a product he was building for Infocom: "Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels." Duane Beck and I worked with Bob for several months. Over time, one thing led to another, and Mike Verdu and Bob started Legend. Initially, I started with Legend as a part-time contractor, eventually, I joined as a full-time employee.

What games have you edited professionally? Nonprofessionally?

Mark Poesch: I made lots of cubes for Wheel of Time... but, I don't think any of them made it onto the final CD. ;)

What is your favorite computer game after WoT?

Mark Poesch: Jedi Knight, Unreal Tournament, and Unreal are at the top of my list -- but, I don't really have a "favorite." I also love C&C, WarCraftII, Kingdoms... Half-Life, Quake2, Delta Force, Outlaws... and, if you wanna go "way back"... Duke Nukem 3D, Doom, Doom II, Castle Wolfenstein... and one of my first "favorites", Civilization. I'm tempted to put Homeworld on the list as well, but I've only played the first three SP missions, and a single (brief) MP exchange -- James kicked my butt rapidly.

Do you play user created levels?

Mark Poesch: Yeah. When I get a free minute. It's always cool to see what people can come up with with the tools and assets that are available.

What is the biggest problem you see in user made levels?

Mark Poesch: Quality... some user maps are really great... but, some of them just... err.. suck. But, I mean that in the nicest way. With limited time, I really can't afford to spend time looking at levels I could create myself... unfortunately, when I've gone looking, I've found it difficult to find the really good maps. But, I remember when Glen was searching for level designers, he found several maps that were awesome... so I know they're out there. Last December, I watched Erik de Neve play several user levels for Unreal Tournament that were quite cool.

What changes do you see coming in computer games over the next 5 years?

Mark Poesch: Err... I could fill two pages with just what's coming in the next year. I wrote something like this up about a year ago... if you want a copy, let me know.
Note: Mark has supplied this information and I will have it posted shortly

What are you doing now that WoT is finished?

Mark Poesch: Technical Lead for Unreal 2. We're in what we fondly call, "the fuzzy front end" -- gradually, trying to bring definition to the vision for Unreal 2. We've got an incredible team -- everyone from Wheel of Time, plus a few new additions to augment the group.

What did you enjoy most about working on WoT? Least?

Mark Poesch: Working with the team -- it's exciting to work with such a talented, motivated, and enthusiastic group of people. "Managing" -- always trying to find ways to squeeze four months of work into a month... spending more than half my time "not programming."

Finally, how about a quick strategy tip for MP?

Mark Poesch: Hmmm... I think most of the WoT MP players out there can thoroughly kick my ass now. (I haven't been practicing much lately...) My favorite trick was whirlwinding people into the air, then fireballing them as they fell. Not much of a "strategy", but it's fun.

I want to thank Mark Poesch for this interview. Look for more interviews with Legend's staff over the next few days.

Previous Interview - Aaron Leiby

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