Highway Pursuit Adam Dawes uncovers the story behind Highway Pursuit
Date of interview: 07.04.2005.
Interview with: Adam Dawes
Interview by: Tom Henrik (via e-mail)
Interview about: Highway Pursuit

What is your name, and where do you live?
My name is Adam Dawes, 30 years old, and I live in Berkshire in the South-East of England.

The coding in Highway Pursuit is very well done, do you work with C++ 6 professionally?
I don't -- I actually work with VB and VB.NET professionally.

I've been programming for fun for many many years, though (I wrote my first program when I was 4). I think I finally reached a competent standard in the early 90s with my Amiga, where I pretty much mastered 68000 assembly language.

As time went by I started to move away from 68000 and into C instead; it didn't have as much power but that was offset by the fact that everything was so much easier to write.

When I finally got a PC a few years later I was determined to learn to program it, and C++ seemed to be the obvious way forward. Since then I've spent a lot of time learning DirectX and can finally put it to good use.

Why did you decide to make this game?
I had wanted to write a game for some time, and was also eager to write something that could be played with the steering wheel my wife bought me some years back. So a driving game seemed to be the right thing to go for.

When I started I hadn't used 3d models from a model editor before, I'd not experimented with music or sound effects, I still had quite a lot to learn. But I got a simple road routine written so that the camera moved along and the road waved from side to side, and slowly things took shape from there.

The game is dedicated to your wife for sticking by you through better and worse, and it also seems her gift was a big boost behind the making of the game. Would the game be made had it not been for your wife?
I think it would have, but without her tolerant approach to my locking myself away with my computer at night-time it would have taken a lot longer! :)


You say the game is inspired by old racing games. What games were the biggest inspiration?

The biggest inspiration is naturally the classic arcade game Spy Hunter. I tried to add extra value to the original game rather than just rip it off, however, and hopefully this is evident when playing the game.




The voice communications from Ashley were also inspired by another great arcade driving game, Chase HQ. I think these give the game a nice atmosphere, like you're not entirely on your own out there.


What was the most difficult thing to program in the game?
The things that gave me the biggest headaches were the weapons vans (in particular getting in and out of them), and the parts of the game where the road splits into two.

In particular, the road-splitting bit was something I hadn't given sufficient consideration for when writing the engine. I ended up with some fairly messy code in there to make sure the computer cars knew which side of the road they were on and wouldn't try to ram you from the other side of the central reservation. I also spent quite some time trying to stop the van that appears each time you start a new life from appearing on the branch of road which was about to disappear!

Do you have any favourite parts?
My favourite parts of the game are the little details like the cones that appear at the start of the collapsed bridge. I really enjoy driving through them and watching them bounce along the road. I've managed to resist the temptation to do the same thing in real life, but I do think about it whenever I drive through road-works...

Most of the game was made by you, but are there anyone you would like to thank?
I'd very much like to thank the Retrospec guys for helping me test and improve the game, and particularly Graham Goring, Bill Harbison and John Blythe, all of whom provided graphics/models for the game. You can read the full credits by selecting 'About Highway Pursuit' from the main menu in the game.

I'd also like to thank everyone who has emailed me with their thoughts, comments, suggestions and stories about the game. The main driving force towards writing these games is user-feedback. It's always great to know people are enjoying playing it and keep coming back to try to beat that elusive top score!

Any interesting fan-mails you want to share with the rest of us?
I've had email from all sorts of age groups, from teenagers up to an email from a 71-year old, who must surely be the oldest player of the game (unless anyone reading this knows otherwise!). One memorable email was from the Texas police force, asking if they could give the game away to police negotiators attending a conference. The image of hundreds of police officers speeding along shooting purple cars still makes me smile.

Are you going to make a sequel?
I don't have any plans to at present. My wife and I are expecting our first child in a few months so my coding time will no doubt decrease, but I will be writing more games in the future.

Congratulations in advance. I wish both you and your wife a lot of happiness in the times to come!


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