Anachronically Correct Interview with Iikka Keränen: The “Fingers” Creating The Universe

The “Fingers” Creating The Universe

This is an interview with Anachronox level designer Iikka Keränen originally taken on 7/25/98.

First of all, what is your name and job title?Iikka
Iikka Keranen, level designer in Anachronox team
Do you have any nicknames?Iikka
How long have you worked at Ion Storm?Iikka
6 months and 5 days so far.
What kind of locales are you building levels for?Iikka
Any kind goes… So far I’ve done an alien space carrier, huge mountain/canyon area, ancient underground city, creepy old town half sunk into a swamp, and currently I’m making a red light district on a space station. :-) (these places are several map files each)
How long does it take you, on average, to complete a level?Iikka
It varies depending on the size of the map… One of the maps shown at E3 was a mountain top with a big cannon on it, I built it in a couple of days. Another one took ages because of its huge size and complicated nature (aligning textures on curvy tentacle things is a bitch).
Does Tom have blueprints in the design doc of each of the level, or does he merely document what he wants and let you figure out the exact layout of the level?Iikka
The design doc usually only has a very simple description of the place. Before I start making a map, we have a meeting to talk about how it should look and play etc. The exact layout depends… For example, a bar map can be identical to a concept sketch because it’s practically a single big room with a couple of smaller ones connected to the side. But when it comes to big things like towns, I pretty much do the layout myself (a concept artist doesn’t usually have the level designing experience to do it anyway).
What programs and tools do you use when creating your levels?Iikka
A modified version of QEradiant, called IONradiant, and also modified versions of qbsp3, qvis3 and qrad3… Some other level designers use other level editors.
Are there any major differences between creating levels for Quake/Quake2 and creating levels for Anachronox?Iikka
Yes, we don’t care about r_speeds as much. =) Well, more seriously… Anachronox levels are more realistic, they try to feel like actual places unlike the 40 different warehouses you fight through in Q2… They aren’t linear “levels” that have one path through them and don’t need to be revisited after they have been “completed”, they are locations in the game world where you can walk around freely, visit places, go back, talk to people and so on.. Also they vary a lot more in style (than Q2 levels), since the game covers several planets and even different dimensions.
Is there anything you have worked on in the past, besides Anachronox, that you feel especially proud of, or have put a lot of effort in?Iikka
Um, generally everything I’ve done with computers. :-) From my Amiga games through 3d bridge experiments with Doom engine and demos to AirQuake, I’ve put a lot of effort into everything, and I feel they are as good as I was able to do. If you want to pick up just a couple of things, I’d say AirQuake and my Ikspq5 level. While making them I learned a lot of all aspects of 3d game design…
Is any of your previous AirQuake expertise being used in Anachronox, perhaps for spaceships the player can fly, or the like?Iikka
It hasn’t been coded so far.. I don’t know what kind of controls it’ll have yet so I don’t know if it’ll have much influence from AirQuake or not.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?Iikka
The people and environment I work with…
What do you enjoy the least about your job?Iikka
This damn language. :)
What do you think is the biggest hurdle the Ion Storm team has already overcome or has yet to overcome in the development of Anachronox?Iikka
Haven’t noticed any.
Other than playing computer games, what is your favorite hobby?Iikka
Um, is hanging around with my girlfriend (hi mercatur!) a hobby? Anyway I do that rather than play computer games. In general I don’t play a lot.
How well do you hold your own in the deathmatch games at Ion Storm?Iikka
Yesterday I was testing my demon tag mod, and won Sverre but lost to Nelno. Many of the people at ION are very good at deathmatch. If I play with people outside the office (on the net), I usually win. :)
What is your favorite insult that you either say, or receive during deathmatch?Iikka
“Hey! That was my frag!” is the only semi-negative thing I say in DM… There’s no point to insult people (uh, except for campers, but that’s another story). My fav insult to receive is “nice shot” :)
Any quotes or thoughts you would like to add?Iikka
Nah… It’s just me, who’d be interested of my quotes? :p


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