The name Eugene Jarvis is well-known in video gaming circles although more than once I have surprised someone by mentioning that he is not only still in the industry but he is also still involved in the creation of those video arcade games everyone thought died off years ago. Around the time that Midway and Atari Games got out of the arcade business, Eugene along with Andrew Eloff and Deepak Deo founded Raw Thrills Inc. to keep producing coin-op video games. There was some news recently with him joining up with Housemarque to develop a new game, which will appear on game consoles (it is still too early for him to discuss that one). But in the meantime, the newest game from Raw Thrills is about to release to the arcade world so that any venue to feature arcade entertainment can grab it. Called Jurassic Park Arcade, we have been keeping an eye on this game since the first reveal at IAAPA 2014. Curious to know more about it, I reached out to Eugene and he was kind enough to to take the time to respond. Let’s get to it!
Arcade Heroes: What inspired the project to get off the ground?
Eugene Jarvis: Jurassic Park is the premiere dinosaur franchise, and we have always wanted to do a Dino game. Our animation, background and coding guys have been waiting for all their lives to get to show off their mad chops on a project like this. And when you are talking Dinosaurs – what is better than Jurassic Park – NOTHING!!!
AH: How long has this game been in development?
EJ: After 3 years and $ 4 million I think this game is turning out pretty cool – but our bankers are about to shut us down if we don’t get it finished!
Click on the thumbnails below to check out concept art from the game. I actually had to scale all of these down as they were set to some massive sizes.
AH: How big is the development team behind this?
EJ: The Design Team is about 15 people including animators, artists, programmers, sound, music, producers, mechanical and electrical engineering, etc.
Of course this does not even include the production and test side of things.
AH: Was everything done in house between the hardware and software or was some work handled by outside studios?
EJ: It was a total in house job with the game engine and Linux core originally from our Play Mechanix studio. Our Raw Thrills studio did the game and art side of things, plus additional tech and engine tweaks.
Here are some additional in-engine ‘bullshots’ of the game, click for a full view
AH: What features make this different from other games Raw Thrills has worked on over the years?
We have done some pretty wicked games over the years – but this one I think takes the cake. It is our first full motion simulator, environmental cabinet, quad sound, the best dinosaur animations ever done, and super realistic environmental art. It really takes the arcade experience to a new dimension – we call it THRILL-D ™!
AH: How was the research process handled in regards to the dinosaurs?
We worked closely with Universal to make sure the dinosaurs incorporated all the latest archaeological findings, as well as being faithful to Jurassic Park. So you are going to see all your favorites from Jurassic Park, as well as seeing the bright colors and feathers that science has now determined were part of the dinosaur world eons ago.
The amazing thing is that dinosaurs still exist today – they’re called birds!
UPDATE: Here is a new trailer for Jurassic Park that was just uploaded to Youtube.
AH: Ah, that explains the brighter colors on many of the dinos. What determined which dinosaurs did and did not appear in the game?
EJ: It’s all about the Jurassic Park movies – the best and the baddest out there – Raptors, Triceratops, Pteranodons, Compsognathus (Compys), T-Rex, Spinosaurus, Stegosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Dilophosaurus (your classic spitters!).
Of course you gotta see the big top-of-the-food-chain predators like the T-Rex and Spinosaurus (pictured above).
AH: How many game cabinet configurations are planned for the game?
Currently we have both the Full Motion Thrill-D simulator, as well as an awesome Environmental Cockpit Cabinet. Depending on customer requests even more configurations may be released.
The final production models for the Environmental (left) and Thrill-D Motion (right) versions of the game.
AH: What inspired the decision to create a motion seat version? Can you describe how it works?
EJ: Being an arcade shop, at Raw Thrills we want to play with all the cool toys, and motion simulation is something we have been dying to do for years!
The Thrill-D-Air motion system uses an all new pneumatic system with industrial air springs as the motion element. This eliminates costly and failure prone electrical motor systems and transmissions completely.
Not only does the Thrill-D-Air system provide the smoothest and most responsive motion, but it also is vastly more reliable than past motion systems. We have tested and refined this system for thousands of hours in the most extreme environmental conditions to make sure that it works for what locations need.
AH: Apart from the motion, was there any new ground you had to break as a company in creating the software?
EJ: Lets face it, Jurassic Park is all about the Dinosaurs, and Dinosaurs are all about art and animation. We beefed up our creative staff with some of the best animators, artists, and programmers in the industry, gave them state of the art tools and motion capture rigs, and I think the results speak for themselves. Jurassic Park Arcade totally blows away the old Dino games out there.
We also didn’t stop with just making everything look cool. You gotta have the suspense and action that makes Jurassic Park legendary. And that’s just what we did with special boss challenges at the end of each mini-episode. You can’t just buy your way through this game and you can’t stop going until you have captured each boss Dino!
Here is the Arcade Heroes hands-on preview from IAAPA 2014 which shows the prototype cabinets of the game.
The other cool thing is the weapon selection. Weapon power-ups are everywhere in Jurassic Park Arcade. The gotta try out Frostbite, Triple Threat, Shockbolt, Titan, and Renegade. These ain’t your daddy’s old school Dino tranquilizers! You’ve got freeze action, electro-shock, stun grenades, rapid fire, and more. Of course you are going to need this kind of heavy artillery to corral the big boys like T-Rex and Spino!
AH: Will anything from the upcoming Jurassic World movie be integrated into the game later on?
No, this is strictly in the world of the classic Jurassic Park films. We would love to do updates as the Jurassic World saga unfolds. Obviously this is dependent upon future licensing negotiations.
AH: Are there any specific features that had to be cut from the game so it would be ready for production?
As in any production process inevitably some creative assets hit the cutting room floor. We like to think we packed in the action, and cut the snoozers. The final cut has almost 40 minutes gameplay with 9 entry points. So there is an almost infinite variety for repeat play and players can go directly to their favorite scenes!
AH: What hardware configuration powers this game?
EJ: We are running HP 705 rigs running AMD 64 bit multicores clocked at 4.0 Ghz turbo. The graphics card is Nvidia Gforce GTX 750 with 512 CUDA cores, and 80 GB/sec. bandwidth.
Although very high powered, the setup is low wattage so it runs very cool with no overclocking for very high reliability.
AH: That is a pretty nice setup. Are there any Easter Eggs or secrets players should be on the look-out for? Any hints on how to find them?
If I told you now, the team would kill me. What I can say is that there are plentiful Easter Eggs including hidden Amber Room Bonuses in every stage.
AH: What is your favorite dinosaur moment from the films or the game?
EJ: The final showdown with both T-Rex and Spinosaurus is to die for! I know I did many times!
My thanks to Eugene for taking the time to talk with me about this. Raw Thrills’ Jurassic Park Arcade is in production now and begin storming into arcades within the next few weeks.