Marcos Cuzziol from Perceptum did answer our questions about The Varginha Incident by email:


Q 1: Perceptum is easy understandable as perception. Did you choose this as
company's name because of the connection with the sensitive
experience of VR?

A: Well, Perceptum is the Latin word for perception, and so it tends to be understandable in several languages. But you're absolutely right: we wanted the company's name to transmit this idea of awareness involved with interactivity (for instance, the player and the virtual world have to be aware of each other before they can interact), because we think this is the core concept behind interactivity itself. Also, the name reminds another key game feature, artificial intelligence, which was something we were eager to develop...

Q 2: When was the company established and what are the targets of

A:The company was established in 1995, aiming to produce intelligent and highly interactive software. That led us naturally to game creation - a new and still virtually unexplored field down here in Brazil. However our first successful product wasn't a game at all, but an engineering's programming CAD called Control Block Editor.

Q 3: In Brazil, the Varginha Case is a well known story. Do You think
it is the truth, do you believe in UFO's and ET's visiting planet earth?

A: The Varginha case shows many similarities to the Roswell case. But it happened in 1996 (Roswell, in 1947), and there were researchers following the case from its very beginning. The huge amount of data is astonishingly coherent. For instance, several witnesses report the same creatures and the strange UFO shape (not the usual flying-saucer), and cover-up claims are consistent, to say the least. I am completely convinced that something extremely unusual happened in Varginha. Anyway, our game do not intend to be a documentary on the case. Rather, the plot is a fictional work that tries to fill the gaps of the known reports, and - of course - to make the game enjoyable.
Honestly, I really believe in alien spacecrafts as a feasible explanation for the UFO phenomenon. Not the sort of blind believing some UFO fans show - I just think that being the only example of intelligent race we actually know does not imply we're the only ones, nor it implies we're the more advanced.

Q 4: In the game there are also the Drakalis monsters, described as also
known as goatsuckers. Instead of the Varginha case, I've already heard of
these "Chupa cabras", but as some kind of vampires. Are they really
involved in the Varginha case or was that your invention?

A: There is a loose connection: five animals were found mysteriously dead in the Varginha Zoo by that time. There were also news about that kind of attack in other cities from Southern Brazil being attributed to goatsuckers. Anyway, the Drakalis do not show up in the city, but later on the game (of course, they make perfect monsters for a 3D shooter game).

Q 5: How did it come to the idea to produce the story as VR-Game?

A: In fact, we had this idea of producing a sort of "Brazilian" game well before the Varginha case took place. When we learned about the case on the news, we knew it was just what we needed for a good plot.

Q 6: How did you become aware of ACKNEX?

A: I found Acknex when browsing the 3D Engine List pages, in late 1996. Then I downloaded an old Skaphander demo (I think there was not even rooms-above-rooms yet, but it was clear the whole thing worked), waited a couple of months to see that the engine was really being improved, and finally decided to buy the commercial version, for further evaluation.

Q 7: What are the reasons to decide on this engine?

A: We needed an engine that could run fairly fast on a low speed Pentium with no accelerated hardware - that's due to our market's needs. No fancy lighting required, just fast rendering and good support for textures, sound and custom routines (specially for the AI). Acknex 3 was perfect for that.
Afterwards, I found Acknex 3 to be very stable and reliable. Every bug we initially found turned out to be our own fault - and I mean bad WDL code. Most of Acknex users probably value its script based programming, and that's Ok too. But we decided to use it on our game and to upgrade to the Pro version mostly because it proved to be very reliable.

Q 8: How did your team look like, working on the Varginha Incident? How
many people where in the team and who did what?

A: There were six of us in the whole project: myself, Odair Gaspar, Fábio Cardelli, Hans Veríssimo, Rod Reis and Rogério Vilela. However, only Odair and I were directly involved with Acknex. WDL programming, textures, models and animations were my job. Odair did the maps and planned the gameflow. Fábio composed all the CD music and created the sound effects. Hans and Rod made the comic-style manual. And Rogério took care of the box art. Working on The Varginha Incident was something special. True, the task was overwhelming sometimes... but it was also challenging and fun.

Q 9: What experiences did you gain working with the ACKNEX?

A: We were exposed to every aspect of game development, publishing and distribution. That's more than I would expect even if working for any leading game company... And, better yet, we actually made it! Our game is on the shelves right now - and selling... In other words, we gained not only a good deal of experience, but also credibility.

Q 10: What advantages offer this engine in your opinion compared to others?

A: - I guess the most important is that (at that time, of course) Acknex 3 was the only engine we could afford that was complete and fully operational.
- Actions are managed surprisingly well. This is not trivial, if you consider that most actions are being executed AND accessing common variables concurrently during the game. This was also something other engines we evaluated couldn't follow, as we wouldn't risk the time to code a good task manager in C or C++.
- Finally Acknex was generally faster on our target PC. As I said, that was one of our main requirements.

Q 11:  What are the disadvantages? What could be improved?

A: Everything can be improved, since nothing is perfect :) Well, seriously, the only real flaws we found on Acknex 3.8 were the bad behavior of the "SHOOT object" instruction within rooms-above-rooms, and a tendency of some actors to lose eventually their region info due to collision detection failure. Those were corrected on version 3.9 I think, but we were able to program workarounds in WDL even before that.At this time 6DOF, lighting and a better editor are already present on Acknex 4 alpha. A new and competitive royalty policy is also a need to be corrected.

Q 12: How was the cooperation with Conitec?

A: Smooth. I think I didn't bother Conitec that much (if you get the habit of thinking before asking, most of the times you will have no questions at all :) Anyway, Johann Lotter was always there to clarify our doubts when they were raised.

Q 13: When was the Varginha Incident released?

A: The Brazilian version was released on September 10, 1998. It's important to say that the game was ready for publishing since November 1997!, although we did use the forced delay to improve it. That was the biggest issue of the entire project: several Brazilian publishers were eager to do produce the game, but none offered us anything feasible for that (after all, they are not used to local game titles). So we had to do that ourselves - learning how to publish a game from scratch. That also turned out to be a very good experience.

Q 14: Is there a chance for the Varginha Incident to be released also in
the little rest of the world?

A: Yes, but it still depends on finding international Publishers. To tell the truth, we simply didn't have the time to contact them properly...

Q 15: Is there a successor of the Varginha Incident, you are working on?

A: Sure. The plot is finished and we're working on models and textures right now. Sorry but I can't get into detailing this project, that already proved to be bad for our current sales...

Q 16: Are there any other projects you are planning using the ACKNEX in the

A: I am very confident on Acknex 4, and really hope it'll be ready for our next project.

Q 17: Is there anything else, you want the visitors of this page to know?

: I'd like to share a few hints, little things that helped us a lot during all of our project's life. I think the completion of any commercial product depends heavily on the kind of attitude we have when facing problems. Be persistent! Don't get stuck with little details, waiting for someone else to fix them - do it yourself whenever possible, work them around when it's not. I guess it's part of the human nature to find excuses anywhere (and to blame anyone else) when something goes wrong - keep away from that! Don't go "well, I'll wait for the Holodeck technology before doing my game", doing your best with what is available can be very rewarding, as long as you do it. Plan everything, create feasible schedules, follow them and never lose visual contact with the big picture: you must always know exactly what you want to do...

Well, thanks for stopping by and good luck to you all!



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