"Haben Sie Führerschein?"
An Interview with Ninjaforce on their Work on Wolfenstein 3D

by Ninjaforce

  Q: How did you get involved in the Wolf project in the first place?

A: When it was announced that Wolfenstein 3D would make its way to the GS, we were quite excited about it, even more so because right at that time we were finishing the last parts of our infamous Megademo, including Vaultage. Jesse Blue was interested to see what programming genius Burger Bill was about to cook from a technical point of view, and Clue was eager to see how the PC version's 256 color graphics would look like on the GS given its 16 colors per scanline limitation. It must have been around 1996 when the first screenshots of an early version of Wolf appeared on the Web. While you couldn't judge the game's speed from these screens, it was already clear that the graphics had turned out be a big issue (hey, even FTA's former graphic artist, Olivier Bally-Maitre, was somewhat shocked). So Clue, being convinced he could do better, wrote to Burger Bill to offer redoing the graphics (for free, of course). Convincing Burger wasn't easy, but in the end it was okay for him. However, the problem was that by that time Sheppy had taken over the project from Burger, so poor Clue had to do the same procedure again. This was a really tough one, as Sheppy didn't want to piss off Scott Everts, who had been doing the graphic conversation so far, which was completely understandable. The wole thing got very diplomatic, but let's say that Clue managed to get the job (with a little help of Michael Lutinsky at Logicware... thanks for your efforts, mate!)


God is cool!

Did you ever try out Wolfy's "god mode"? Actually, it is way cooler on the GS than on any other platform. Of course this is just to avoid getting red eyes...


Q: It must have been really hard to convert all the graphics...

A: You bet. However, "converting" is the wrong term here. That is what Scott did, using Debabelizer. You can't blame him, though, as everything else would have been a major undertaking. For example, the PC version's textures and sprites where 128x128 pixels using 256 colors. For the GS version, Burger had gone for 64x64 pixels (using 16 colors). To get decent looking textures and sprites on the GS, you basically had to redo all graphics pixel by pixel with an optimized color palette. So this is what Clue did for a couple of exhausting weeks, using DreamGrafix and our very own Anime animation utility. Wolfy's interface screens where less of a problem, but still a challenge, especially the title screen. However, the GS' multiple palettes feature was perfect for these.


Four Days...

... it took Clue for the title screen. Pixeled from top to bottom, using the GS' 256 color mode (65 colors used). The problem: The original graphic used multiple palettes as well, so painting over it wth new palettes was quite an undertaking!


Q: Wait a moment! You are German, aren't you? How was it working on such a project given the game's content?

A: Hm, to be honest, it wasn't any different from most other projects. On the other hand, Wolf is about killing Nazis, isn't it? Yet, there was one delicate situation Clue had to face when he was working on a texture in zoom mode featuring Adolf Hitler himself. Right at that moment, his mother came into his room and, needless to say, was somewhat shocked! :)


This Guy...

led to some arguments between Clue and his mother! :)


Q: Wolf 3D's credits mention you doing the sounds as well; they are different from the PC and Mac version. Why is that?

A: Good question. At the end of the project, Sheppy was told by Interplay to not use the Macintosh version's sounds, which Burger and him had been using so far (don't know about the PC version's sounds, but there was a reason those couldn't be used as well). This was like a slap in Sheppy's and our face, but we found a solution. Our musician Dreamer had to fire up his sample libraries and, believe it or not, his grandfather! So grandpa didn't have a clue what he was saying when Dreamer told him to speak certain phrases, but that didn't matter at all - the result was simply stunning (he speaks the bosses, as well as some guards). Also, these sound samples did make sense, which cannot be said of the original samples. For example, one was "Haben Sie Führerschein?", which, believe it or not, means "Do you have driving license?" (including the poor grammar!). In the end, the GS version of Wolf 3D is the ONLY version featuring authentic German voices! Cool, ain't it?


Pac-Maze Anyone?

These ghosts are in there, too! How can you get them?


Q: Did Jesse Blue contribute any code to the project?

A: Nope, it was more the other way around. All dear Jesse had to do was to die a couple of times and to run his head into walls for sampling the voice of Wolf's hero. Burger's code is fantastic, 'nuff said. Btw, we are now using his ADB routines in KABOOM! so you can press multiple keys simultaneously (thanks Sheppy!).


Q: I am wondering: Why did you, especially Clue, work so hard for free? What was the motivation behind it?

A: Well, the motivation was clearly more an idealistic one. You want to see this thing on the GS, and as it is such a big title you want to see it done right, doing the machine's capabilities justice. That's probably how it works for the GS these days, as it has been for the past couple of years since the GS market died. Oh well... Amen.