As 2020 draws to a close, we still have a couple of extended-edition “War Stories” videos to release, and this one’s been a while coming. We had a great time last year talking to Westwood’s Louis Castle—so much so that we actually got two videos out of him instead of one. In addition to discussing the 1997 adventure game genre swan song Blade Runner, we also got him to spill the beans on the wild development ride that was Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun.
Today we’re happy to finally be able to publish the extended edition of Castle’s Blade Runner interview. To recap from the short version, Castle and his team faced a series of very high technological hurdles in bringing the dark and expansive world of future Los Angeles to the small screen. The challenges weren’t limited to storytelling and design issues, either, though those were substantial (the developers had to create a branching narrative where there weren’t just multiple endings, but multiple interpretations of different events in the game, including swapping around who is and isn’t a replicant—writing a story with that many moving parts that remains coherent throughout is hella difficult). No, the biggest challenges were of the engineering type and required creative solutions—like inventing a way to weld together dynamically lit voxel characters with pre-rendered backgrounds or planning out a data storage strategy that made the game’s huge files work with the limited IO bandwidth available to contemporary CD-ROM drives.
If a deep dive into the mechanics of programming a massive adventure game on late-’90s technology (and pulling it off spectacularly!) sounds interesting, then this video was made for you.