Maxx Kaufman 2019

 2019 on
A = Michael 'Maxx' Kaufman (Art Director)
Q = Questions from the Community

1. What inspired you to get into video game development in the first place?

I was working in movies doing second unit / miniatures on Stargate the movie and Star Trek next generation. I was between jobs when my good friend Rob Stahl contacted me about helping out on a game. I loved it and was hooked from that moment on. My first game was Cyberia 2.

2. Do you know of there were any assets that survived that were not used in the final game (such as maps, fragments of maps, skins, models, etc.)?

Wow unfortunately that was a long time ago and I don’t remember anything that we did not use. There might be some concepts Viktor did for characters but otherwise we used everything.

3. What elements were cut from the game? Like levels, weapons, etc.

Similar question to the one above. I don’t recall, maybe Mal or someone else remembers but on the art side we used it all.

4. Do you have any idea what happened to the Kingpin source code? If you don't know is there anyone you think that might know? Why was it never released?

That is a good question for Rafael, he would know if it is around.

5. Can you elaborate on any ideas or future plans you had for Kingpin during development like expansion packs, maps, etc. (Since it ends on a semi cliffhanger with the Kingpin's right hand leaving in the helicopter).

I will start with the helicopter that was one of my favorite designs I had done for the game. We did want to expand the vehicle driving. That would be an interesting addition. I love the Art Deco streamline design ideas, that is what the kingpin aesthetics are based on.

6. Were there any thoughts of turning it into a franchise or at least making a sequel?

Yes, we would have all wanted it to be a franchise. I think we all thought - I’d give another year of development it could have competed with Half Life.

7. How did Xatrix get Viktor Antonov to join the team? Was the art direction for the game decided before or after he joined?

I interviewed him right out of school. He started after production had begun. He was just an artist on the game and he did a combination of models and concepts. He did a series of character designs that were somewhat similar to Dishonored. We never ended up using them, but they were really cool just a slightly different style.

8. Did Kingpin change much during development?

No, I would say it evolved in refinement. We added more vehicles later and that helped define the style even more.

9. Do the early alpha versions with different models, skins, weapons etc. still exist?

Maybe but I do not have them. If I ever find them, I will contact you guys.

10. Interplay announced they were working on Kingpin 2 back in 2004. Do you know if any/many of the original developers were asked to be involved and do you know why the game was cancelled?

To my knowledge no original people were contacted. I think it was canceled because interplay did not have enough money to support the project.

11. Why were the motorcycle and jetpack left out of the game?

I thought the motorcycle was in the game on the oval track??? Okay if that is so that was a really cool feature.... I must be getting old this was about 20 years ago.

12. Why weren't all the ammo mods included in the final game?

Again, don’t remember but probably just because we had a very tight schedule that Interplay would not let us be late. The full production from concept to release was a little more than a year. People would think you were crazy now a days to do such a large project in such a short amount of time.

13. Do you remember why the hud changed during production?

Just further refinement and trying to make the HUD as minimal as possible.

14. Were you planning a Sniper Rifle in the game or did that become the HMG?

Don’t remember.

15. Was an ECD gun (Electro Capacitance Discharger) originally going to be included? What was the elf gun?

Don’t know about those but I did design all of the guns. That was always a fun part of the projects.

Was a concussion rifle going to be included?

Don’t know maybe the other guys?

16. Were there more weapons planned?

Don’t know maybe the other guys?

17. In the SDK (Game Code) there some test code showing there were maybe plans for other enemies other than Thug, Runt and Bitch. For example: elps, buma, bumb and rosie. Where they just test models or models that never make it to the game?

Rafael will know these answers.

18. There is some LightPaint code in the SDK with the console command 'burn_enabled' what was the purpose of that code?

That was really cool stuff. Drew had found that we could paint shadows with the flamethrower, so he and Ryan developed an in game paint program. The idea was to go through the levels and basically paint areas we wanted more contrast or better lighting. You were painting on the light maps. Unfortunately, we never figured out a way to save the information so we had to abandon the ideas. It was cool as shit.

19. Were there plans to start Kingpin's first map with a Tutorial map like in Half-Life?

Don’t remember.

20. Dr. Sleep (John Anderson) said he made the final two levels (Crystal Palace) for Kingpin, but he's not included anywhere in the credits. Why is that? Are there more level designers who worked on Kingpin but aren't credited?

He left during production and that was Drew’s decision not exactly sure why he did it?

21. Was Crystal Palace episode originally larger? It seems at least one map was left out of final release?


22. When Kingpin was released in 1999 it spawned a huge worldwide online community. The Bagman game mode was a large contributor to that success. Was it frustrating not to be able to build on the KP platform due to the collapse of Xatrix?

Not really, we just immediately began work on Wolfenstein. We were very busy in those days working 60 hours a week on projects.

23. Are you surprised to find that there is a community still playing it online in 2018?

No, I love it and applaud them. We loved that game and would have cherished the opportunity to make more of them.

24. How do you feel that a game you helped create almost 20 years ago is still being enjoyed today and that players are still creating new content for it?

Same answer as above. I will say this too - thank you to all the community for putting so much of yourselves and your time into Kingpin.

25. Do you have any thoughts on Brian Fargo's plan to buy back Interplay if The Bards Tale 4 is a big success?

No comment.

26. Do you believe there will ever be a sequel to Kingpin?

I hope so I want to work on it.

27. Do you have a couple of good stories about your time at Xatrix?

Yes, tons but that will need to be a separate interview.

28. What are your favorite games?

Half-life and Bioshock.... God of War from an Art Direction standpoint .

29. What game are you working on currently?

We I just finished Bards Tale 4 and now I am working on an unannounced project.

30. Thank you for your time. Anything else you would like to say to the Kingpin community?

Thank you. I appreciate your dedication.

Extra questions:

What was the initial Art Direction for Kingpin?

Art Deco 1930’s streamline

What sources of inspiration were used in creation of Kingpin? What kind of films, paintings, books, etc.

Great books I will have to get back to you on that. The book called Streamline and some really cool 1930s graphic text and signage books.

What were some of the guidelines and rules you provided your art team in order to have the KP feel throughout the game?

We collaborated a lot, but it was make it cool and keep it in the themes we defined based on the 1930s Art Deco.

Mr.Damage | Tuesday 05 February 2019 - 15:46
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