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27.08.2009 20:00 [Interviews (english)] [gamescom 2009] Interview with Quy Hoang
WOR.de/russian: Is the tension in the team rising before the release or are you all relaxed and totally confident?

Quy: Mixed. We have old-timers in the team who made four games already and know the drill. For them, it's quite normal when a game is released. But there are others who are not as experienced, like me. For us, this is our first big game. Hence, it is very exciting. I myself can't wait to see the game lying in the shelfs and am looking forward to it.

WOR: It's your first game, isn't it?

Quy: Yes.

WOR: What work is being done in the last phase usually?

Quy: Usually, cosmetic fixes. So we have a polishing phase in which we refurbish something that we already did before. You see things that could be made better. The programmers of course go bughunting. Or we test our game, look for bugs ourselves and either report or fix them.

WOR: How was the development as a whole? Did everything work out as planned or were there hectic moments as well?

Quy: Well, I have to say that everything went rather smoothly. Björn once said that RISEN was the most well-going project that PB had until now. That's true because we release on schedule even though we announced the release date rather early. We said that we're going to release by then and we did it. That is great. Of course, there were moments when I was almost drowning in work, had a lot of stress and took some work home. But that is quite normal.

WOR: Did you have to throw away any ideas for the game to keep your schedule this time?

Quy: Yes, that happens all the time. In the beginning, there is a phase where you collect ideas and make prototypes. And not all ideas make it into the game because you don't have the time or other things are more important. It is a normal process that ideas are dropped out. But who knows - maybe they'll make it into the next project.

WOR: What is especially well made in the game in your opinion?

Quy: Well, I would say the gnome. Yes, the gnome! They were a lucky choice, everything about them fits from top to bottom. Those cute little fellows were our personal favorites before we published them. But we could not know if the fans would accept them just as well. They hit like a bomb and that made us very proud, of course.

And proud we are. You develop parts of a game all the time. But how the final game as whole will be later on is hard to imagine. When the first playable version was finished, we were very excited. As we grew ever more happy when we realised: Wow, that game is really fun! It is important for a developer to play the own game in order to identify yourself with your work. And only if the developers themselves have fun the buyers will have it, too.

WOR: What did you personally do especially well?

Quy: My best work in the game? Spontaneously, the shields come to mind. I liked them very much at the end, yes ... and things about which I'm not allowed to talk right now.

WOR: Do you think there is too much repetition? How much Gothic is contained in RISEN?

Quy: Yes, of course. But that was demanded from us right from the beginning. Gothic 3 is very large which resulted in some things not becoming as good as they could have been. That's why this time the motto was: Back to the roots. We told ourselves that we should go back and recollect on our strengths. The fans wanted something that was like Gothic - a game from Piranha Bytes.
But RISEN is no remake. We have a complete new setting. We expanded some stuff and built completely new things, levitation, for example. So we just tried to embellish our strengths.

WOR: How important were the suggestions from the fans?

Quy: Very important. We have a very good contact to the fans. Some of them have accompanied us right from the start of the development. There wasn't even a single screenshot or something. We always told them our newest ideas and got direct feedback from them. Some said: "Yes, that's a new idea, we like that." Some also said: "Well, this and that is not exactly necessary."
Of course, we discussed these opinions in the team. For the old fans who do not want a lot of text messages on the screen, we even implemented an alternative message system. If you don't like the text pop-ups, you can disable them and only get a "new diary entry".

WOR: By the way: Many thanks for that!

Quy: Are you one of those?

WOR: Yes, I don't want to see any HUD interface at all on the screen!

Quy: The HUD interface can be removed step by step, too. That was another suggestion from the fans. Many did not want an excessive interface.

WOR: Here are a few new questions which we get to hear rather often in the Russian forums:

Does it happen often that the animations of two monsters standing beside each other are running synchroneously?

Quy: If you just watch them, something like that should not happen because there a many "ambient animations" which are not all alike and are played in a random permutation. But if you run into two monsters at the same time, they will show the same behaviour. Threaten the player with their "threatening animation", for example.

Will Shader Model 2.0 be supported as well? Or only Shader Model 3.0?

Quy: We released the system specification recently and in those, we clearly stated that we only support the third version.

Is this the same engine as in Gothic 3 or is it a new one? If it is new, why does not so much like Gothic 3?

Quy: Yes, I heard that question often. It is a new engine! And of course you will see similarities to the Gothic 3 engine, no question. But that is because the same people created it. The same programmers worked on it. The same graphics artists worked on the monster design. It's just our style at Piranha Bytes.

If someone wants to buy a new PC before the release - should he invest more money in the CPU or the graphics card?

Quy: I can only give you my personal opinion: I would buy a new graphics card. I would not invest a lot of money anyway. The game will run rather good on a 600-Euro-PC, that's the amount of money I would invest on my personal PC. A good graphics card is important. By the way, it does not matter for RISEN if the CPU is a dual or a quad core. That's up to you and what else you want to do with your PC. In any case: You do not need to invest a lot of money.

WOR: Were the fans really only helpful or were there moments where you would have wished for a greater distance to the community? Does the community sometimes constrain your creativity?

Quy: No. We let ourselves get inspired but in general, we make our own decisions. Some decision that are made are set. Of course, there are fans who ask us: "Can you change that?". Then we have to say clearly: "The decision has been made and won't change." Often there are things that were already changed but not yet published. There are fans who urge us week after week to do something about it. Then you can only ask for some patience.

WOR: How difficult is it the make compromises between the wishes from the community and the criticists? Because the fans loved their Gothic for some things for which others, including the specialised press, criticised it.

Quy: That is indeed difficult. You cannot satisfy everybody. You have to try and find a middle course. For example, some fans wanted a pure keyboard control. Using the mouse was out of the question for them. But something like that is not suitable nowadays. Gamers who start with RISEN would clearly ask for a mouse. So it's not always that easy.
Yesterday, I met someone from the "keyboard only fraction". Now he tried RISEN as said: "No, I want it just the way it is, with the mouse. I would not imagined it but it is perfect the way it is, don't change it." Such statements make developers happy, of course.

WOR: What will happen after RISEN? What projects would you like to realise?

Quy: I think some of us would like to make something completely different sometimes. A science-fiction game, for example. I can imagine it, it would still be a roleplaying game but with laser weapons instead of swords and magic. It would surely be interesting to approach a totally new topic creatively. Other than that, I like the adventure genre a lot.

WOR: Will the Piranhas stick to the middle age fantasy setting for all times?

Quy: I think we will stick to it for some time. Piranha Bytes has the reputation to make good games with such a setting. And of course, it is always a risk to make something completely different. And of course it is clear that we can only think about a different project if we find a sponsor for it. But I think that for the moment, we will keep it to the things we can do well.

WOR: Are you Piranhas friends with each other?

Quy: Yes, I think you can say that. There are many who are in team for a long time are were friends even before that. But the new ones that come into the team are also welcomed in a very open-hearted way. We often go out for a drink. For example, we will do that this evening in Cologne, too. It is a nice team.

WOR: Did you hide some easter eggs somewhere in the game?

Quy: Hehe. Yes, I did. I could not resist. I think, my easter egg is yet to be discovered. The funny thing is that we don't know what the others of the team did. A few weeks ago I was shown a place where an easter egg is hidden, but not the exact spot, of course. I really had a hard time finding it. Some of us really hid their easter eggs well and I know of one which you cannot reach without using cheats.

Interview in german by Polkan. Translation to english by foobar.