gaming world hasn't quite been the same since the advent of
the Unreal engine! With its excellent graphics, superb
tools, and superior flexibility, its been used in many action
and adventure games, and continues to be licensed for other
high-profile projects like 'Duke Nukem Forever' and 'Deus
Ex'. Zentao Interactive, however, aim to be a little
different and intend to create Extreme Wing Chun VR, a martial
arts trainer that will be educational whilst still loads of
fun! Exact details of the project, however, are scarce,
so we caught up with
Tomasz 'Millennium' Jachimczak, the project's lead level
designer, and gave him a bit of a grilling:
[GW] If its possible, can you sum up Extreme
Wing Chun VR in a paragraph?
[Millennium] The scope of what we're
accomplishing with Extreme Wing Chun is grand, and it's hard
to sum it up in just a paragraph or so, but here goes:
First off, it's a unique application
and none of this has been done before on any scale. In the
most basic sense, it's an "Encarta" encyclopedia
style home study course, that teaches you Kung Fu, with 3D
support by way of the Unreal Tournament Engine. Basically
we're creating and combining a really super martial arts
course and research engine (covering a really effective style
of Kung Fu) with the coolest photo realistic environments and
3D animation yet. It's all designed as a sort of interactive
"self-trainer" that can easily guide a complete
martial arts virgin to a level where they can perform and
train using any of the actions in the martial art. Of course
the advanced martial artists benefit from the easiness of
being able to do research, they can round out their knowledge,
and watch a master of the art performing all of the movements
in 3D, with as much detail as they like from any angle they
wish at any speed.
[GW] What do you think differentiates Extreme Wing
Chun VR from all the other projects out there?
[Millennium] EWC is totally unique, period. It
doesn't rely on gore or violence, or multiplayer gaming, or
any gaming experience at all. The simplicity of a program like
this one is long overdue, and could change how people view
martial arts and the possibilities those skills bring when it
comes to their health and self confidence. Being able to learn
martial arts from the comfort of your home/office just had to
be done. The fact that we're using gaming technology to bring
it all together just makes it so much better. This project is
years (literally) ahead of any competing product. We've
assembled a mind blowing team consisting of rock solid
business management, awesome programmers, and a level design
team other companies can only dream of. Don't take my word for
it though, grab yourself a copy once we hit the shelves and
you won't be disappointed mate. =)
[GW] How did you become involved in the project? Why
did you choose to work on it rather than any of the other mods
on the web?
[Millennium] I have worked on quite a few mods
and conversions for the Unreal engine, dating back to a few
old school mods like Minions of Evil, to a few (then) secret
mods like Kiss Psycho Circus. I've done a fair bit of mapping
myself (Decadence is still a hot download on Planet Unreal).
Then there's www.unrealed.net,
which is a real help to the community, and I'm very proud of
I chose this project because it's a
ground breaker.. an earth shaker compared to any of the other
"games" in development right now. The mod scene will
always be fun, but every mod for Unreal/UT has a "shoot
to kill" theme, or centers around a form of
running/flying/bouncing about and bashing the other players.
In a round-about way, this project goes right against that
grain, runs circles around them, and is about something
completely new, rather then trying to modify a game, and add a
new look to it.
[GW] Do you practice Wing Chun yourself? If so, what
move are you most eager to see in the finished version of the
[Millennium] No, actually I don't practice Wing
Chun, although I have about seven years of martial arts
experience under my belt. As for which part I am most eager to
see? I want to see the sum equal it's parts! I want to start
training myself using it! We've been doing some amazing work,
and I'm anxious to see them all gel together and merge into a
[GW] Software like this has never been attempted
before using an FPS engine - has Zen Tao had much difficulty
modifying the engine to behave properly?
[Millennium] The engine is great, and so
flexible. Our coder Neil is a natural genius and he's a
tireless coder. I'm not at liberty to discuss specifics, but I
can say that our choice in using the Unreal Tournament engine
is one we're very proud of, and there haven't been any major
hitches or problems.
[GW] For this project you will obviously have to
license the Unreal Tournament engine - how have you overcome
the cost of this mammoth purchase, and how supportive have
Epic been during the entire developmental process?
[Millennium] It's very uncommon for developers
to license engine technology themselves. It's really in the
domain of publisher investment, otherwise most developers
would publish themselves and do away with the publisher
altogether. As far as support is concerned, it's very well
known that Epic continues to be extremely supportive of anyone
working with their technology, from community level designers,
to full blown mod teams. They're always willing to help and
that's the Epic way.
[GW] Moving onto map design now, what do you
like/dislike in a level, and how do you help yourself
concentrate during the long map development cycles?
[Millennium] For a multiplayer game, I really
appreciate realism.. even if it's a futuristic base, or space
installation. There isn't anything that shouldn't be done with
realistic levels of detail. Grandeur in a level, making the
player feel very small and unimportant compared to the rest of
the world, is something I really like. I dislike maps that
fall short of an author's potential or original goals at the
outset. There are tons of maps where a design has been started
for a few areas, then it seems that the rest of the level has
been rushed into a haphazard conglomerate of rooms.
Concentration and focus is indeed
hard during long cycles, but if an idea is working well, it's
normally easy enough to get "lost" in the work, and
simply lose track of time. If something isn't working out,
then we have to look at what's being done from a new angle.
The idea is to be in "the groove" and generally take
a step back and see where the design is falling short of its
[GW] What's it like using UnrealEd to design and
texture realistic environments completely from scratch? How
much harder is it to design a level that has no prerequisites
from the original game? (weapons, items, etc)
[Millennium] UnrealEd is a great tool,
regardless of it's rough spots. it's is easy to use, and comes
with some great tricks. In a way, there's a duality to
creation without any existing media.. it makes it harder in
the sense that everything has to be more perfect and with
reason and purpose.. yet it's easier because nothing is carved
[GW] What kind of levels will you be including in
Extreme Wing Chun VR? Are you sticking with authentic
recreations of actual buildings or using a little creative
license to produce 'fantasy' levels? Can you give any
[Millennium] EWC will have over 50
environments! There will be realistic recreations, sure.. and
with the team we have here, it would be insane not to make use
of the creative talent. There will be some pretty fantastic
environments. The idea is for the environments to motivate the
learning process.. Just wait and see ;)
[GW] Of all the maps that you have designed (or
helped design) for Extreme Wing Chun VR, which is your
favorite and why?
[Millennium] At the moment it would have to the
Japanese styled palace I'm working on, which is almost
completed. It's very classy, and gives that feeling of
grandeur I was talking about before.
[GW] Although Extreme Wing Chun VR is mainly pitched
as a simulator, what steps have you taken to ensure its
popularity with the mainstream gamer?
[Millennium] We never ever pitched it as a
simulator, because it's not, and was never intended to be.
Gamers seem to want to wear rose colored glasses when it comes
to EWC.. and that's ok I guess. Sure, we've got features that
will really appeal to gamers, hell the eye candy alone makes
it a must for their collection. We've got scripted sequences
where the moves are applied, and flythroughs for most of the
environments. You could spend weeks with this thing and never
be bored. It's not aimed directly at gamers however. Our
market extends WAY beyond that. Again, I'm under NDA so I'll
leave it at that (we don't want others going after our
[GW] How far are you from completion of the project?
When can we expect to see it in the stores?
[Millennium] Our goal for completion is mid
2000, but the rule of thumb is "when it's done".
It's all publisher dependant, so it could very well be in
stores as early as then, or closer to the holiday season.
Watch for it..! =)