Interviews - Ken Silverman - 19th December 2001
Questions are in blue, the BUILD masters answers in black.
> What is your favourite computer game of all time?
I don't have a pre-fabricated answer to this because I don't think about it
much. There are so many ways to judge, and it's hard to avoid bias towards
the more recent games. Instead I will give you a few categories:
Games that I currently play: Quake 3 Arena Test / Red Faction Multiplayer
Most inspiring game engines: Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Comanche Maximum Overkill
Most profitable game that I had a part in developing: Duke Nukem 3D
> June 8, 2004. What's so special about this date?
On this date, the Sun, Venus, and Earth are collinear - sort of like an
annular solar eclipse, but with Venus instead of the Moon. It's called a
"transit of Venus". It is very rare - in fact the last one was in 1882.
I first noticed this when I was playing around with my Globe program (a
solar system simulator available on my web site). Then for fun, I put this
date into an internet search engine and was surprised to find many
occurences about this event - and that it had a special name (transit). The
date is special to me because it's what convinced me that my globe program
was calculating the planetary positions accurately.
> Do you regret going to college instead of being able to divert more of
your time to the games industry?
Sure, I miss having a team of talented people working with my stuff. After
Duke was released, I was spending most of my energy on finishing other Build
projects rather than working on a new engine. But at the same time, the
company was looking for a new engine and I didn't have one that was ready.
So I thought it would be a good time to return to school while I was still
> What stands out in your mind as a key moment, or moments even, of your
time spent developing Duke3D?
I enjoyed "testing" the network code with the Duke team. Of course it was
most fun when the game wasn't out of sync. I remember during development,
there were a whole bunch of unbalanced and buggy weapons that made you have
to think of a new strategy every time we played. One weapon that stands out
was the heat-seeking RPG. It was funny how the rocket would just fly in
circles around peoples' heads and make these funny beeping sounds. It was
way too powerful, and the bugs weren't easy to fix, so it had to be removed.
It was also a lot of fun showing off my latest Build engine features to the
team. I visited Texas 10 times, so this usually happened on the day I
arrived. I remember the day when everyone was drooling when I showed them
slopes for the first time - I think they were a little scared too, because
it was hard to resist adding some time to development so they could fully
exploit the feature.
> Are you disappointed that your voxel code wasn't ready in time for
Duke3D Atomic edition?
Sure, it would have been a nice selling point. I think it was ready in time
for the Atomic edition, but they had a deadline and didn't want to risk
spending the time on voxels when they had more important bugs to fix. I'm
just glad they made it into Shadow Warrior and Blood.
> If John Carmack called you up today, and offered you a job at id
software, would you take it?
I'm sure I would if the Id office was all of a sudden re-located to Rhode
Island. I'd just feel too lonely living down there in Texas again.
> Are you surprised by the way Duke3D took off, both commercially and with
Not really. We all knew it was going to be a good game at the time.
> Do you still keep in contact with any of the crew at 3DRealms?
Sure, but not too often. I've been in contact with Todd Replogle fairly
recently, and I shoot the breeze with Frank Maddin every once in a while.
That's about it.
> Will we ever see a Ken's Labyrinth 2?
No. Ken's Labyrinth was a flop. There's no use in using that name again.
Way back in 1992, my dad wanted me to stick my name in the title, so I did.
Originally, I called it WalKen (sounds like walkin'), but then I realized
some people have that as their last name. (Christopher Walken for example)
So I decided to change the name to either Ken's Labyrinth or Ken's Maze.
Ken's Labyrinth sounded cooler.
If it makes you happy, you can think of Ken-Build as Ken's Labyrinth 2
because it has all my own artwork and sound. :)
> What are your plans for 2002?
I don't know, but I hope to release something with my voxlap engine by
> Thanks for taking time for this interview Ken, happy Christmas!
Sorry, I will not celebrating Chistmas this year. That's because I'm