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02.03.2013 23:00 [Interviews (english)] Interview with Ralf Marczinczik (Part one)

General Questions

Piranha Bytes

Are you still in contact with your former colleagues from Piranha Bytes? Can you still rely on each other? Do you help each other, e.g. with searching for a new job? Or with advice? In short: Is there still a form of professional and social feeling of companionship between working Piranhas and Ex-Piranhas?

Unfortunately, I only have contact with the current PBs when we stumble into each other on professional events. But I still have close private relationships with Tom, Stefan and Kai. Just yesterday, I had lunch with with Stefan. And a short while ago, at Alex’s funeral, we had each other for comfort – that was very nice.

If PB invited you for a new project, would you accept or decline?

I certainly would have to see if I had the time to do another project. But I still like the Gothic world and would be very tempted to contribute something.

Would it be realistic if all Piranhas which left the studio over the years for different reason came together again and made a dream-game for the old Gothic fans?

Sadly no. One important ingredient (Alex) is not available anymore and the others are all up to their ears enganged in other companies. Life goes on and there are no patrons of art who collect their dream-team to realise projects which they would like to play themselves.

Games industry

How much has changed in the games business since the first Gothics? Which changes are negative and which positive, in your opinion?

I think everything has become much more professional. But still, a lot of projects still derail and the average life span of a games developers (between 3-6 years) is very short. If you have to big corporation backing you and funding your project, it often carries conflict into the teams. Enthusiasm alone cannot put food on the table.

Is there a recipe for guaranteed success of a game? How can people finally make the best RPG of all times?

The mean part is that the technology evolves very quickly. And any game that was in development for 3 years is already outdated when it reaches the customer. So you have to free gameplay and narration from technical circumstances.
Additionally, we have such a wide-spread genre spectrum that you will never be able to make a RPG that satisfies everyone. Every taste is already serves, be it Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror or real world background.

What do you think about the newest Witcher game (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt) from CD Project Red in Poland?

It seems interesting because I read about it. But since I have not played it myself yet, I will not make up my mind about it for now.

It reminds us a little of your great plans for Gothic 3 which were then only realised partially and with a lot of problems for both you and the gamers.

As long as they do not run out of money, they’ll be fine. Of course, it helps to stick to the original plan when in doubt.

In the past, Piranha Bytes was known for maximum closeness to the community. But now they have maximally distanced themselves from their community. It seems as if they do not even look at their faithful fan base. Where do you think is the problem? Is the developer or the publisher responsible?

No, the community care at PB was always because of the personal commitment of single employees. It was always a character thing (Kai had a wonderful phase and I had a lot of fun with it, too). But it was never official company policy.
If no there is currently no Piranha presence in the community, the only conclusion one can draw is that no one currently has the time or interest to engage with the community.

How much do developers depend on their community and how far do they have to go in order to satisfy them? Do they have to fulfil almost every wish of their fan base to please their potential customers? Or is better to experiment to the last remaining buyer for artistic ambitions? Or even tap into new target groups because the old ones are just dinosaurs anyway?

I am afraid this is determined by classical economic calculations. As long as the publisher gets a return on his investment into a developer and the game makes a profit, successors will be churned out. The community is not unimportant – even for the publisher who takes care of PR – and a loyal fan base helps to put up a sensible budget.
But you cannot hope for innovation there because fan communities often have the wish to get the same – but different – game as successor.

Games as a hobby

What games have you played lately and which ones did you like most? Mostly RPGs? What do you currently play?

Ni no Kuni – and I love it! And Assassin’s Creed 3. Both eat up much more time than I’d like to invest in them.

Are you interested in fan modifikations? Or do you not care about the future of old PB games? If not, what do you think about projects like the G3 questmod, the content mod or the still developed Community Story Project?

I casually watch mods but almost never play them. Once a game is finished, I usually do not return to them. Not even for mods. The project has already already consumed years of my life time and I personally want to do something new. But I support modders where I can because I think that mods lengthen the life span of a game. And for game that I did not work on myself, I like to download the occasional mods myself.

When was the time you played Gothic? What emotions did you have during that? Or are you never pulled back to that masterpiece?

Gothic 1 is about 8 years in the past for me. It was a little like watching old holiday pictures: A lot of nice memories and places and people you still like.

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  written by foobar