|Mister J.C. Lotter reveals
some of his future plans regarding 3DGS in this interview.
A: Both. We started with A4 back in 1997. For enhancements in future releases, A4 was planned to be as flexible and open as possible. That means additional rendering modes can easily be added to the A4 renderer kernel. While this concept made the basic development of A4 a little more complicated, it pays now. The terrain renderer of next year’s A5 does not require major changes at the renderer kernel, or giving up compatibility to the current level format.
Q: Wed is based on Qoole and has been constantly improved. Are you going to rewrite the level editor or will you add more features to it?
A: We are rewriting WED. Qoole wasn’t a true windows program as we acquired it from Litium, Inc – and it shows, especially with some drawbacks of the user interface. There will be a new windows-based WED with a new user interface (similar to the new MED) in a couple of months.
I understand that the programmers will have DLL support in A5. How are
you going to help the non-programmer users to be productive with A5? Will
you continue to add more different template files?
Q: You have managed to release a powerful package at a decent price. Will you keep the same prices for the A5 engine and for updates?
A: At least the update prices will remain the same. We also intend to keep the normal prices, but this is not 100% sure yet.
I started my game with A4. Should I upgrade to A5? Why?
Q: If you would have enough spare time, what type of game would you create with 3DGS?
A: If I had enough spare time, I probably wouldn’t create a game at all. I would spend my time traveling around the world.
Q: Is Direct 3D the future of gaming?
A: It seems so, at least for PC-based games. Meanwhile 3D card manufacturers consider their Direct3D drivers top priority. As a consequence, on new 3D cards Direct3D is as fast or faster than OpenGL, and supports more effects. OpenGL will lose its importance for the PC. I regret this a little, because from a programmer’s point of view, OpenGL was easier and nicer to implement.
Q: Do you feel pressure from the competition?
A: Well, we are selling a lot more products today than in earlier days as competition didn’t exist. So it looks more like that competition helps increasing our sales - especially the low-level competitor products. People learn about A4 while using a competitor’s product. After a while, many switch to A4 for seriously entering game development. This way our competitors are our best advertising.
you, J.C. Lotter.
Remi Valantin is one of the
power users and a contest winner. He kindly answered our questions:
Q: You have managed to create several types of game demos in just few months. Is 3D Game Studio the first game toolkit you have ever used?
I started with A3, then logically continued with A4. Since January 2000,
I made 6 demos/games. Some have been made in a very short time like Pacrabbit,
or the ones I just finished in less than 2 days, some are unfinished (starship
demo), and of course, 'small'
Q: What 3DGS - related troubles have you ran into during the development?
A: A lot ! :))
main problems with Ploing were how to handle collision detections. Some
A4 bugs with map entities (hopefully corrected now) did cost me a lot of
time. Things are going very fast when you make 'only' a demo, but as soon
as you start to work for a 'serious' must-be-finished project, things take
much more time - At least, you know with the demo if what you want is feasible,
and if it worth it.
Q: I know that you write your own wdl for custom actions. Are you a programmer, too?
What do you mean by 'too' ? :)) On a project like Ploing, I spend 90 %
of my time on WDL coding. On the actual project, wich need more graphs,
I only spend 80 % on WDL... hmmm... as many 'geeks' of my generation, I
started to code in assembler on a ZX81, then maybe I could say "Yes, I'm
a programmer"... but I decided since a while that C and C++ was too boring
Q: Can you name three engine features that are making you really happy?
Debugging tools (breakpoint, trace mode) - Md2 compatibility - Use of the
MDL named frames in WDL - flare effect on particles - map entities displayed
with their real shape in WED (and now mdl too) - Ooops... more than 3...
and the list is not finished...
Q: Are you satisfied with Conitec’s support?
A: YES ! Sometimes I would like to know more about how works some internal process in the engine. It would be a great help for level-making optimizations, or better coding. I spend a lot of time on making tests to verify 'hypothesis' that could be explained in documentation.
Q: Is A4 a good tool for the “lone wolf”? How long will it take for an individual to complete a decent, medium-sized game?
A: I took a look on other 'same categories' engines... and A4 is undoubtedly the best tool for the 'Lone wolf'. But it is a good tool for team works too ! The level editor, sharing parameters with WDL code allow any team to customize it's own 'way-of-working' for it's needs.
second part of your question is more difficult... what is a 'decent medium-sized'
game? As much opinions as there is users... Anyway, it is very, very ,very
hard to be a "lone wolf" with actual quality standards in game industry.
I work actually with someone else on what I would call a 'decent medium-sized
game' :), and I must say that it is much more exciting than working alone.
We planned to finish the full product in less than 3 months.
Q: Do you plan to upgrade to A5? If so, what are the features that are attracting you?
Of course ! I need to see the feature list to answer... There are interesting
features in the Beta upcoming list, but I'm looking forward to see an outdoors-feature
- I mean a way to make big outside areas, with hills...
Q: Ploing looks and plays great. Do you intend to make a commercial product from it?
Sure ! Ploing has not given all what it could in term of gameplay
- a lot of code is made, and still not used, and I need some time to code
the thousands more ideas I have for this game.
Q: Can you tell us something about your current game projects?
A: I am currently working on a 3D Jump and Run game. The hero "Sammy" is a suricate and he has to make his way through the dangerous Lion-Land. As the name says, his main enemies are lions, but not just any lions! There are Rasta-lions, Punk-lions and some more. Pretty dangerous folks... The object of the game is to collect a certain number of gems to leave the level, somehow PacMan style. See my PacRabbit demo and you know what I am talking about. But unlike the PacRabbit demo, there are several more game elements, so the game becomes more interesting. You have to find magic gems which open magic doors, you can use elevators to reach higher places, wasp weapons, maybe a crazy elephant and more. "Sammy" will be released soon, we planned at the end of October (but you never know with software...). We will release it as shareware, so any of you can see if we have done a good job. Besides that it will also be published in retail environment. We already have a publisher in Germany. "Sammy" is the first game that is made by Suricate Software (our label). It was founded in June 2000 by Rémi Valantin and Jörg Henseler. Please visit our web-site: www.suricate-software.com. We think that several games will follow...