Timelapse Interview
Interview by Al Giovetti, 10/20/96
Price: $47
/ Genre: a graphic animated adventure
Release: October 15, 1996
Developer: GTE Entertainment
Producer: Lori Nichols
Associate Producer: Salvatore Parascandolo
Publisher: GTE Entertainment
Phone: 619-431-3580
Website: www.im.gte.com
Requirements: PC, Windows 3.1 or 95 (Windows 95 recommended), 486DX2, 66 MHz (Pentium recommended), 8 MB RAM (16 MB RAM recommended), SVGA color monitor (640 x 480) with 256 colors, 2X CD-ROM drive (4X recommended), 100% Windows-compatible sound card, External speakers, Mouse and keyboard. Macintosh: Color Macintosh capable of displaying 256 colors, System 7.1, 68040 processor (Power Macintosh recommended), 8 MB RAM (16 MB RAM recommended), 2X CD-ROM drive or faster (quad-speed recommended), Mouse and keyboard

Alfred Giovetti: Timelapse is a new Myst-like game from GTE Entertainment and we are here with a TimeLapse representative and I want him to introduce himself because this is the first time we have met

Salvatore Parascandolo (SP): Hello Al, I'm Salvatore Parascandolo, associate producer for TimeLapse. I have worn many hats and I have done an incredibly broad spectrum of work on the project so I can answer just about any of your questions. Regarding graphics: These will be sent separately and shortly. There are LOTS available. I will have Mike or Lori choose some hot ones for you. By the way, I'm calling the file TLapsInf just in case you are working on a Windows machine, and are using an 8-character name format.

AG: Tell us something about the plot. We know the archeologist that proceeds the main character has managed to get into the time gates and has travelled from one world to the other searching for the secret to the whole plot. What happens when the archeologist reaches Atlantis?

SP: When the archaeologist reaches Atlantis he discovers that the sunken section of the city where he has landed, is the outpost ship itself. A cataclysm, the legendary sinking of Atlantis, took place, interrupting the final mission, and forcing the few living occupants to go into hybernation waiting for the turbulance in the Earth's atmosphere to subside.

A maintenance robot had been programmed to launch the ship when conditions were appropriate, but during a repair operation, the robot was damaged by an electrical discharge, and its original programming was altered. The ship should have been launched centuries ago, but there it remains, still maintained by the guardian.

The guardian robot's damaged artificial intelligence has been twisted a bit over the millennia, and now he has assumed a feeling of ownership of the Atlantean technology, and is indeed guarding it, but fears that if it launches the outpost ship, he himself will be deactivated upon reaching the home world.

The archaeologist reached Atlantis and meant to collect the genetic technologies and leave, but he was intercepted by the guardian and literally jailed in a time gate left at half-transport. This is where you, the player, meet him, and how he is able to periodically contact you.

The player's mission is multifaceted, and the outcome will vary depending on the player's skill, reasoning, gullibility, and sense of values. No one ending is necessarily a victory or loss. Each has its own measure of successes, failures, rewards, surprises, and long-tern consequences.

AG: Tell us something about the game play:

SP: The player can visit the worlds in any order, but to visit Atlantis, all three of the other worlds must have been visited, and the player must have collected a key artifact from each world.

AG: Tell us about interactivity

SP: The player cannot die in Egypt, Anasazi or Mayan worlds, but in Atlantis, the player can end up in a multitude of life/death and limbo scenarios. In this Atlantis, many human skills and qualities come to play. Even though it's possible to die, this is not a Die or Win game. Its multiple outcomes include:
- The worst case, where the player causes the death of the archaeologist, and the destruction of Atlantis and himself.
- The player gets imprisoned in the time gate, just as the archaeologist did.
- The player places himself in suspended animation, but is trapped in Atlantis under the watchful eye of the guardian.
- The player defeats the guardian, rescues the archaeologist, but is trapped in the sunken Atlantis unable to leave.
- The player rescues the archaeologist, launches the outpost ship and remains on board for a rather lengthy trip to the home world.
- The player rescues the archaeologist, launches the ship, and escapes in a module that contains high-tech instructions for harnessing natural energies... ending up with a Nobel prize.

The player's mission is multifaceted, and the outcome will vary depending on the player's skill, reasoning, gullibility, and sense of values. No one ending is necessarily a victory or loss. Each has its own measure of successes, failures, rewards, surprises, and long-tern consequences.

AG: Tell us about the interactivity since Timelapse does not contain conversations, trade, or other forms of traditional interactivity.

SP: The interactivity includes navigation through the world using arrow keys or mouse, going forward, backward, left, right, and in appropriate cases looking or going up,or down. The interactivity also includes manipulating objects such as working controls, shooting a bow, lighting a lamp with a match using all its knobs and gadgets, picking up objects and carrying them to the place where they are used, etcetera. The intractivity with characters is limited to one way speech. The player cannot have a discussion with a character. In Atlantis the player even gets to shoot it out with the guardian.

AG: An interface is the most important part of the game. How do we navigate through the game. How does the interface work?

SP: The interface is largely interfaceless. We strived to fill the screen with nothing but the world itself. There is no gimmicky little window to look through with dozens of knobs and switches. This was meant to be a high quality graphical experience. Part of the interface is in the form of audio. There are puzzles that involve recognizing and making use of audio clues, sometimes at various separate locations. The Anasazi world specifically includes such challenges.

When the player is using the mouse, the cursor takes on various forms to indicate allowable directions, or whether an object can be clicked, collected or otherwise manipulated. When the cursor becomes a target over a specific distant spot, it indicates that the player can instantly navigate to that spot in one click. When the player is using the arrow keys, a small arrow-array at the lower left of the screen indicates the navigable directions. The player can touch the spacebar to open an interface screen that contains buttons to reach the camera, journal, photo album, and artifact collection. There are also customization controls for volume, and even for color balancing the monitor.

Any of the functions on the interface screen such as the camera, journal, save and open saved game can be activated without the interface screen by using hot keys. The game can be saved in any state at any time, and there is no limit to the number of saved games.

AG: What is the artificial intelligence of the game like?

SP: The game uses a mixture of random and modified random events on which to base its decisions. At times the randomness comes across as artificial intelligence, and at other times special programming may appear as random events.

AG: The high-resolution, first-person adventure game graphics with still frame navigation seen in Myst and Welcome to the future are bright, full screen, ray-traced graphics, complete with outdoor light, shadows, and true reflectivity and are beautiful. What more can you tell us?

SP: Over two years in the making, TIMELAPSE combines movie-quality special effects with stunning, full-screen (640x480) 3-D photo-realistic graphics to immerse players in the recreated environments of some of Earthís most intriguing and mysterious lost civilizations. Through the use of ray-traced graphics, water and other outdoor images are accurately brought to life, complete with true shadows and reflectivity. Rather than limiting gameplay to dark, indoor environments, TIMELAPSE graphics fill the entire screen with bright, full-color images of the Yucatan Peninsula, the banks of the Nile, the ancient cliff dwellings of Colorado and the sunken undersea world of Atlantis.

This title is one of the first games to use full-screen, ray-traced graphics of this outstanding quality. Other special product features include 360-degree panoramic turns, as well as over 500 animations in the form of animals and spirits throughout the gameís five worlds. Also unique to TIMELAPSE is an "instant camera" feature that allows players to take photos of important clues throughout the game, thus eliminating the need to make detailed sketches or take extensive written notes.

AG: What about the voice actors?

SP: We used twelve actors, and performers, including television actors, and two Shakespearian actors. The archeologistís character needed to be likable, intelligent, but not too brainy or smug, after all, the player is supposed to feel motivated to rescue him. The ethnic parts are played largely by actors with roots in those cultures, such as Native American, Egyptian, and Latin American. For the Atlanteans, we chose genuine Atlanteans, of course.

AG: The Music score can make all the difference to the meaning of script and art. What have you done in this area to make Timelapse unique?

SP: The music came from several sources, the bulk of which came from three composers. The Anasazi outdoor music was played by modern native Americans and was licensed for the game. The goal was to give the feeling of being in a world with music that fits the world and the situation. At the same time the music had to be loopable, yet not be annoying when repeated many times. The instruments in many of the musical pieces were professional quality electronic samples of the real instruments. Atlantis was one place where we had the freedom to play a wide variety of music, but it still had to feel high-brow, polished, airy, but not abstract... One hint of recognizable pop rhythm and there would go the illusion.

AG: Tell us something about the Sound effects.

SP: The sound effects come from a variety of sources, including professional sound effect libraries, custom recorded sounds from natural sources, modified natural sounds, and completely synthetic sounds born and raisedin the digital realm. This leads on to ask questions like: Is that really a three-ton rock door closing, or is that a couple of walkway paving stones? Is that a crow, or a guy named Tim?

AG: Does the game have any Multi-player aspects?

SP: TimeLapse is not a multiplayer game, unless one considers several people busily directing the actions of the mouse-handler a multi-player experience.

AG: What is in store for the Timelapse fans in the future?

SP: To sum it up: TimeLapse 2: The HomeWorld. We intend to use an immersive technology, lots of live action, a rich plot with heart and purpose, bursting with adventure.

AG: Thanks for meeting with me Salvatore. I am sure my viewers and readers will benefit from this interview.

SP: Ciao for now.