Interview with Nate Vanderkamp

Lead Artist and Primary Game Designer for Jurassic Park Arcade (2015)

15th September 2016


Joshua Malone provides an interview with the Lead Artist and Primary Game Designer on Raw Thrills’ arcade game, Jurassic Park which was released in 2015.

We want to thank Nate for speaking with Josh and allowing us to publish the interview.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the game itself, check out the trailer below:

 


What was/were your role(s) on the Jurassic Park Arcade Game?
I was the lead artist and one of the primary game designers as well.

What inspiration did you take from the films? The books? Previous games, especially past arcade games?
We certainly studied previous games and broke down numerous scenes from the movies. There are so many iconic moments that it was difficult to choose what we should include. We definitely wanted to tell our own story, set in the very recognizable world of Jurassic Park, yet allow it to be loose enough that players could fill in the blanks.

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What new ideas did you try to incorporate into the game that people haven’t seen in previous Jurassic titles? (be it games, books, or the films)
The fact that it was an old fashioned dinosaur roundup! Players are actually trying to capture these enormous deadly beasts, in order to get them to safety. Meanwhile, the island and all of its inhabitants are doing their best to stop them! We introduce new weapons and give players the chance to play on foot, by car, or in the air.

How were the main three dinosaurs (trike, spino, rex) chosen?
We wanted to choose the largest, most threatening dinos around. We also needed species that worked well with our combat style as well as providing good variety for the player. It helped that both T-Rex and Spino were two of the main baddies in the JP films.

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Was there a reason RAW Thrills wanted this game to take place on Nublar (the first JP island) and not Sorna (Site B?)
I think that it just had more of the iconic locations from the original film (Visitor Center, Jungle Waterfall, Kitchen, Entrance Gate). Many people have nostalgia when thinking back to JP and we hoped to connect with players on that level.

There were lots of new animals, creatures, and locations that have never been seen before and others that were expanded on.Were there any new animals and locations that were supposed to be in the game, that didn’t end up making it?
Tons of them! I’m pretty sure that by the end we had cut more ideas than actually made it into the game. I know that we definitely wanted to do an ocean sequence with enormous prehistoric monsters as well as potentially doing a city setting. The awesome thing about working on a dinosaur game is that there is an incredibly enormous library of truly unique species to pull from.

Were there any problems during development?
There were countless problems during development. That is what makes coming to work so much fun! No matter how long you’ve been working in this industry there are new challenges to overcome almost every day. With this game specifically, we were using a new game engine, new 3D software, and for most of us, it was the first time we’d worked on a shooting game. Aside from the numerous technical challenges though, the biggest thing we had to wrap our collective heads was proper pacing. Balancing the enormous action and attack sequences but still giving players time to breath and regroup took a very deliberate effort and was definitely a learning process for us all.

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Was RAW Thrills influenced at all by Jurassic World, which would have been in production (I assume) around the time the game was being made?
No, none of us saw the movie until after the game was complete. It was certainly fun though to have the buzz surrounding the movie occurring simultaneous to our game’s release.

The Jurassic Park Arcade Game has received a lot of praise since it’s release, as it should. What has been your reaction?
We’re all totally excited and utterly flattered. We certainly believed this was going to be a great game but the response thus far has beaten all expectations. I’m just thrilled that we were able to honor such an iconic title by making a game that players can’t seem to get enough of!

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If given the opportunity would you ever want to do another Jurassic game?
No doubt about it. During my 18 years in the industry, this was BY FAR the most fun I’ve ever had working on a project. There are times I almost wish we could go back and do it all over again!

If there is anything else you’d like to share about the making of the game, the process, the creatures, etc. please do!
Only that we had such a talented group of people working on this title and I’m so grateful to have had the chance to work with all of them!


Thanks again to both Nate Vanderkamp and Joshua Malone for the interview! Be sure to check out Raw Thrills’ official website for more information on the game!