development info - J MAC INTERVIEW

Interview by Cameron Sawaya.
John McCann (J Mac) was a Crash Twinsanity developer. Big thanks to them!
  • What was your favorite moment(s) of working on Twinsanity?
John McCann (J Mac): Probably seeing the game on the shelves once it was finally finished! It was the first commercial game I ever worked on. During development it was probably working on the AI behaviours and the "nth dimension" levels towards the end of the game. Oh and I also got a £5000 bonus when the game was shipped and that was the most money I ever had at the time!!
  • Did the Twinsanity game engine have an official name in development?
J Mac: No not really. We started with the same engine used in Wrath of Cortex and we gradually added new stuff and improved various bits. Lots of it was changed massively but some stuff was left almost exactly how it was in W.O.C. For example, the in-game particle system and crate-placement system was exactly as it was before. I think the programmers used to refer to the older stuff in the engine as "Knutsford code", (because the main Traveller's Tales studio was in a town in northern england called Knutsford).
  • What was the game written in programming-wise?
J Mac: It was mostly written in C++ with critical parts of the tech (like the renderer) hand written in assembler. Most of the gameplay behaviours (enemies, moving objects etc.) were written in an in-house scripting tool called "Agentlab".
  • Were any build discs made from the Crash Evolution era?
J Mac: Yeah I there were loads of discs made. We were always having to make builds to send to Jon Burton at the main TT studio as well as the publishers in the USA. We made at least 4 different test levels early on to show progress. I've got no idea how many were kept.
  • What was your main role while working on Twinsanity?
J Mac: I was hired as a level designer but ended up doing a bit of everything (apart from engine coding). I think about half of the levels in the game were designed by me (with the artwork being done by the art team). I also made most of the core AI behaviours that drive all the enemies.
  • Any funny stories during development at TT Oxford?
J Mac: Hmmmmm I'm sure there must be. Let me think. There was one time that our producer was over from the USA, and he saw a guy getting attacked by a gang of youths while he was walking along outside the studio. He rushed back into the studio yelling, grabbed a baseball bat that he just happened to have under his desk, and ran back out again to scare them away with the bat. Unfortunately I didn't see any of this!
Another time we all got given new consoles for XMas. 2003. I got an xbox! I got electrocuted by the shoddy kettle in the kitchen once and the studio manager didn't give a shit! One time I went in to work at the weekend and suddenly the producer from the USA looks at me shocked, runs across the room and slaps me on the neck. I'm thinking "WTF". Turns out there was a spider crawling up my neck and he thought he just saved my life. I had to explain that we don't have any dangerous spiders in the UK.
  • Where does a game like Twinsanity's source code/assets go after the game goes gold? Are they wiped from the TOOL's/PC's? or are they kept around if needed?
J Mac: I'm not sure, I always assumed that a copy of everything is kept by the developer and also by the publisher. I remember hearing that we were contractually obliged to give the publisher a copy of all the source code (but possibly not the game assets).
  • Are there any secrets or easter eggs that are hidden in the game or in files/code?
J Mac: Ahhh probably but I can't remember if I put any in. There's probably a lot of content on the disc that never went into the final game.
  • Who is this guy in the texture that's used in the game?

J Mac: hahahaha that's Steve Riding the studio head/manager. That texture brings back memories...
  • Was Gone A Bit Coco ever finished/playable and does it possibly exist on a prototype build or on any sort of disc?
J Mac: It was never finished but it was definitely playable. There was one large area which had finished art assets, and I had scripted all 3 of the cute monsters to be fully playable. It was quite fun running around shooting the massive swarm of cute creatures. I've got no idea if it ever ended up on a disc. I wasn't really involved in making builds. I wouldn't be surprised if a few of the more experienced coders kept a personal back up of everything though.