MI6 talks to the creators of the NightFire missions in a two part game design special...

Interview: Designing NightFire (Part 1)
31st July 2003

In the first of a two part level design special, MI6 catches up with Steve Taylor from Wahoo Studios, the creators of one of the "NightFire" PC multiplayer levels…

Rising to the Occasion

“We were talking with EA about other possibilities, and when they suggested working on levels for NightFire we jumped at the chance. We were originally contracted to do a pair of levels based on a retro space station theme.”

MI6 can exclusively reveal that a deathmatch version ‘dm_space_station’ of the capture the flag ‘ctf_space_station’ level was planned and due to be released along with the NightFire Patch v1.1 back in February, but due to time restrictions the level never made it into the final game. As previously revealed on MI6, the ctf_space_station level was already planned to be included with the patch before the game went gold, not as a late edition after the game was released.

A Moonraker Tribute

The main designer of the map, Jeremy Throckmorton crafted the level around the actual space station theme in Moonraker.

”We rented the Moonraker DVD, watched it several times, and left it running in the corner of the office for a few days. Our first pass was way too retro spacey, and we reworked the levels with direction from EA. We did both CTF and DM levels based on the Space Station theme, but I believe only the CTF was used.”

Bond fans will have enjoyed the addition of a depressurised cabin which could be used to lock players in and suck them out into space. Steve also explained about an exciting gravity cycle feature, another tribute to Moonraker which was planned for the deathmatch version but never made it into the game.

”The original idea for the depressurised cabin definitely came from watching bond movies, and the final level had a lot of leftover feel from Moonraker, even by the time we and EA had reworked it. The deathmatch version of the space station level that we built was originally designed to switch between high and low gravity on a repeating cycle (with flashing lights and sirens announcing the switch), which is another obvious idea from Moonraker, but we ran out of time on that idea.”

Tricks of the Trade

Like all the level design aspects in NightFire PC, a powerful editing tool called GearCraft was used to cater for the updated game engine from ‘Valve’.

”The editor that we used (we first used valve hammer, then gearcraft) was a lot like worldcraft, but more refined. We didn't have to deal with too many restrictions in the engine, other than the fact that early builds of the engine required high-end video cards. Jeremy is really good at working with and around whatever technical limitations there are. "


'GearCraft' a powerful level editor from GearBox

"We interacted with EA on this project and never directly with Gearbox. Our EA producer on the project was Michael Condrey, who was great to work with and made sure we always had the latest tools and assets as he got them from the development team."

Keep an eye out for the second part of the level design special, where we will be talking to another developer..

Many thanks to Steve Taylor and the team at Wahoo Studios for their time.

Related Articles:
Interview: Designing NightFire (Part 2)