SiN Episodes - Interview - Upcoming SiN game

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Sin Episodes Interviews

This Interview by Chris_d was published 2005-08-08 on


First of all, it’s a great pleasure to have the opportunity to ask you a few questions. The announcement of SiN Episodes was a pleasant surprise for everyone, especially for fans of the original game. How long has the game actually been in development and when was it decided you'd venture into episodic releases?

Steve Nix (CEO of Ritual Entertainment):

We’ve been working on our plans for the next SiN game since 1998 and a number of game designs had been created during that time. Last year, we started talking with Valve about moving to an episodic model and then we went into full production on the first episode very early this year.

Some might say (and have done) that from the screenshots of SiN Episodes so far released, that it doesn’t look like it will be using the full graphical potential of the Source engine. Is this a deliberate move or can we expect the graphics to increase in quality as SiN Episodes gets developed further?

Steve Hessel (Community Relations Manager):

We’re using an iterative approach for the game, so assets are updated again and again as development goes on and things are fleshed out. This worked quite well for us on Elite Force II, and I think you’ll find that SiN Episodes: Emergence will be able to hold its own in the graphics department when it comes out.

Having an integrated physics engine built into the game's development tools usually provides a developer with a lot more flexibility. With the Havok physics engine built in to Source, what kind of cool things can we expect to see the designers do with it? Will it just be used for appearance and interaction with world objects, or will you take it a step further and use physics as the basis for puzzles and destructible terrain etc.?

Steve Hessel:

We’re doing several things with the physics engine. Most importantly, we’re using it to enhance the interactivity of our levels. The first SiN really set a benchmark in this area, but every little bit of interactivity had to be scripted by our level designers, which meant that objects would fall the exact same way every time. Having a physics engine that can dynamically simulate these paths takes that work off the designer’s back, which means in turn gives us the ability to have a lot more objects in the level that the player can interact with. We’re also going to have a few physics-based puzzles here and there, and a generous assortment of destructible objects and geometry.

Will we expect any type of demo or technology demo before the game is released? Valve released a demo of HL2 after its release, but during its development they released a number of videos encoded in BINK format. Should we expect the same for SiN Episodes?

Steve Hessel:

There are currently no plans for releasing a playable demo of the first episode. Gameplay videos and the like are definitely planned though.

It was rumoured in July’s issue of PC Gamer UK that SiN: Source has been experimented with. Do you have any comments on this? If it does happen, what kind of conversion would it be? Would it be a long the lines of Half-Life: Source and be a straight port, or would you update all the content to be of the same calibre as SiN Episodes?

Steve Hessel:

We’re playing around with porting the first SiN to the Source engine along the lines of what Valve did with Half-Life: Source. On top of that, we’re replacing assets where it is appropriate, so the SiN grunts are replaced with the SiN Episodes grunts and you get the new weapons. Some of the gameplay is also being adjusted to work with the new tech. We don’t have a release date at this point, but we’ll probably talk more about this at a later time.

Episodic content is something new for the gaming industry that you’re deciding to embark on. What advantages and/or disadvantages do you see for Ritual or the end-user in doing this?

Steve Nix:

We are really excited about the new opportunity with episodic digital distribution on Steam. A lot of gamers don’t want to make the financial or time commitment that a traditional length, $49.99 game requires. We’ve probably all put down boxes at the store because we knew we had a busy month coming up or remembered that the rent is due next week and $49.99 is real money for most people. A shorter game at a substantially lower price point makes for a much easier purchase decision for a large group of gamers. Episodic delivery also offers the major advantage of allowing us to adjust future episodes and expand the role of features that players enjoyed in previous episodes and eliminate the things that they didn’t like.

So far we know of six episodes being developed. Will SiN Episodes be limited to these six episodes or could there be more to come?

Steve Hessel:

We actually have not announced any official plans for a set number of episodes. If we are having fun with it, and people are enjoying the new episodes, there would be no reason to stop making them.

Throughout SiN, Blade was the only playable character. Will any parts of the game, or even whole episodes, be played out by any of the other characters like JC or Jessica?

Steve Hessel:

Having different playable characters is something we’ve been talking about, especially since each of our characters would have a very specific style of play. Blade usually tends to go in guns blazing, while Jessica might prefer a more sneaky approach. JC on the other hand is all about hacking and cyber-infiltration, so that could make for some interesting gameplay situations as well.

One of the most common “gripes” I’ve seen so far with the announcement of episodic content, is that if each episode costs £10 each and there’s six episodes, then that means the entire game may be up to double the price of a normal boxed game. What would be your response to such feedback?

Steve Nix:

We will make sure that each episode offers an excellent value for the player compared to other games in the action genre and other media offerings. If we make 20 episodes, it wouldn’t make sense to multiply that by X dollars and try to compare that to a traditional game.

We’ve talked about SiN: Source but is there a possibility that you may release the original SiN game as a free download ala Rockstar Classics?

Steve Hessel:

Re-releasing the original SiN via Steam is something we’re exploring, yeah.

Valve has just recently signed a deal with EA for them to distribute Valve games at retail, meaning that now Half-Life 2: Aftermath is being released in stores, which was originally toted as a Steam-only release. As Valve seem to have found a publisher that seems to accept a developer being entirely independent, could we possibly see SiN Episodes appearing in stores with an EA logo slapped on it? Any other plans for a retail release?

Steve Nix:

We are definitely looking at a retail release with a collection of episodes. This will make the game available to yet another group of gamers that might not have been exposed to the digital version. We have not finalized a distribution partner for the retail collection but we have had some early discussions.

Were you happy with the debut of SiN? Was there anything you feel could have been done better, any other considerations you wish you would have made during its development?

Levelord (Studio Lead Level Designer):

Happy? …of course not! It was horrible! We worked so hard, for almost 2 years, only to release the game one or two months prematurely. SiN, for those that have played it, was not a bad game, by any means, but it was released with about five major bugs. All of these bugs were fixed within two weeks and released on the first patch. By then, though, it was too late for recovery. Not as many gamers were on the internet at that time (1998) and Valve’s tremendously great game Half-Life completely stole the show for the next few years. So, no, our debut was not happy ;)

It seems as though you haven’t fully decided on your plans for multiplayer yet, but I understand that you’re due to be canvassing the community soon for ideas on what you might implement for multiplayer. (Our own forum has a section for multiplayer ideas and discussion so keep an eye on that). What ideas have you had so far?

Steve Hessel:

We really don’t want to talk too much about multiplayer just yet, but one of things we’re thinking about is asymmetrical multiplayer, which, unlike traditional team-based multiplayer, has the two sides doing completely different things. But as I said, that’s just one of the ideas we’re kicking around and nothing’s set in stone. We do want to get the community’s input on all of this, so we are going to put a multiplayer survey on in the near future.

Will SiN Episodes contain cut scenes in the style of the original SiN, or will they be more interactive like the ones in Half-Life 2?

Steve Hessel:

The first SiN was very reliant on in-game cinematics, which often broke up the flow of the game. In SiN Episodes, we’re taking a slightly different approach and are allowing the player to experience all the events in the game through their own eyes. That way dialog can be more personal with the player and the game as a whole becomes more immersive.

So, how does it feel to be working with Valve and the game engine that was used to build last year’s Game of the Year?


How does it feel? ...great! The Source engine is both powerful and familiar. My favourite is the physics system which adds multiple layers of immersion to our levels and game. Remember, we've worked with Valve before, so their technology is very familiar to us.

I think I’ve finally done enough probing now so I’ll leave you in peace so you can get that game to us as soon as possible! Just before you go however, any closer to announcing a more solid release date at this time?

Steve Hessel:

Late Fall 2005 is all we’re committing to at the moment :)

Guys, thank you so much for taking this time out to speak to us. Look forward to more chats again in the future.

Steve Hessel:

Thanks for the opportunity to do this interview with you and best of luck with your site!


Ritual has also kindly let us have the following render to enjoy. It's an updated version of the Magnum Pistol that will be appearing as Blade's default weapon in SiN Episodes, making a reappearance after supporting Blade well in the original game.

Se1 render magnum.jpg