September 17, 1999

NO CLICHÉ INTERVIEW

Frederick Raynal Talks Toy Commander & Sega


To a lot of people it is surprising to hear that many of the worlds best games are developed in France. In October 1994 Adeline released Little Big Adventure/Relentless to the world. The game was graphically superior to any other game at the time and managed to sell a staggering 500,000 copies. Two years later Adeline released Time Commando on PSX and PC which also managed to sell 500,000 copies, even though it received average reviews. In June 1997 LBA2 hit the stores and continued the success for Adeline with 300,000 copies sold to date. After all this success, Sega decided that Adeline were the perfect company to develop games on the most advanced games console ever, the Dreamcast and bought the company. No Cliché was born, and Toy Commander is their first game on the Dreamcast. I decided to have a chat with Frederick Raynal, the companies' Creative Director.


Firstly could you tell us a little bit about yourself, your role in the company and how long you have been with No Cliché.
Hi, I'm Frederick Raynal, the creative director at No Cliché. My role is to make the games come alive. I founded Adeline Software in February 1993 and created the games Little Big Adventure/Relentless (PC, PSX), Time Commando (PC, PSX), LBA2/Twinsen's Odyssey. In July 1997, the company was sold to Sega to build a new company called No Cliché.

No Cliché have had a great past with computer games. Both LBA 1&2 were huge hits for the company what made you decide to develop on Sega's new console?
We were searching for a new worldwide distributor, then we met SEGA (they used to come to us each year in search for new products). They explained to us their new behavior, and Dreamcast's features. We were amazed. But what made us decide to work on a console instead of PC's was the fact that todays PC's are too different. I mean, the CPU power between "small" and "big" PC's, all the different 3D cards, sound cards etc. You can't tune the game exactly how you want. When you start developing on a console you are sure that everybody will have the same system, so you can tune the performance, graphics, and sounds exactly.

Click To Enlarge Image When did development of Toy Commander begin?
We started Toy Commander at the beginning of No Cliché in July 1997. At the beginning it was more research on the new hardware, and game concepts.

How long have you had the Dreamcast development kits?
First kits arrived around September 1997.

How many people have worked on the title?
Except a few people, everybody in the company worked on it. That's about 20 people.

Click To Enlarge Image The graphics in Toy Commander are reminiscent of Disney's Toy Story. Was that movie an inspiration for the game at all?
No. We tried to avoid anything that can make player think about Toy Story. That's why active small soldiers are not animated. Our first inspiration was Micro Machines. Didier Chanfray, our Artistic Director, wanted to race with planes in a house. I came up with missions and bosses.

Can you explain a little about some of the features in the game.
There are so many things in the game, it's difficult to explain just a little. You can drive over 35 different vehicles from planes to jeeps including tanks, spaceships, cars, helicopters, etc. There are more than 50 missions quite different. You have fight, strategic, dexterity and race missions. 7 rooms including 6 missions + 1 Boss stage.

What Dreamcast peripherals does the game use? (VMU/Rumble/Joystick)
The game uses the VMU to save high-scores and progression, the standard analog joystick and Vibration-pack. We don't use the steering wheel or the fishing controller, but anyway you can't drive a plane with them.

Are there any VMU mini games?
Not yet, but check our web-site, something may happen.

Click To Enlarge Image What has developing on Sega's new system been like?
Forget everything about the nightmare of programming the Saturn. Dreamcast is well thought out, powerful and easy to understand. The system is not far from a programmers dream, which for me, the most important part of a console success. Just a few things could have been done better, like the VMU which is not very powerful.

How have Sega Europe been treating the 1.5 party developers such as yourself?
As everything else, we are very happy about our relation with Sega Europe (and Sega Japan). They've been careful and helpful. Maybe it sounds like "ok you don't want to say anything bad", but it isn't. Until now, quite everything is perfect.

Click To Enlarge Image Do Sega have a say at all about the content in the game or is it all up to No Cliché?
It's all up to us. They gave us complete freedom. They even asked us to make "something different". But we listened to a lot of Japanese and American testers about their preferences about gameplay, features etc...

At the moment you also have another game in development for the Dreamcast called Agartha. Can you give us any information about that title and possibly a release date?
Just a little: It will be an Horror Adventure game. We created something new when we did "Alone in the Dark 1" and we'll try to make something different once again.

Will there ever be another sequel for LBA (on Dreamcast perhaps)?
I hope so, but I don't know when. It would be a Dreamcast game.

Any final comments?
We had a lot of fun creating it (Toy Commander), I just hope that everybody will have as much fun playing it.

Thank you very much for you time....
David Warner ~ Dreamcast Australia


No Cliché can be found at : http://www.nocliche.com
The Toy Commander web site can be found at : http://www.toycommander.com

I hope you enjoyed reading this interview as much as I did in conducting it. If you have any comments or questions E-mail me at : phantom@winshop.com.au