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Johann C. Lotter, the father of the Acknex engine, kindly took the time to answer the following questions for this month's interview.
Q: What are, in your opinion, GameStudio's advantages against its direct competitors?
A: I think the biggest advantage, and unique feature, is that Gamestudio is designed to be used on any experience level. You need very little to start. But there's no limit where you can end. Small games can be written by a beginner with few lines of code. On the other hand the system is so open that you can write the most complex effects for your game.
Q: Can you tell us some of the major engine features that will be implemented in the near future?
A: Many. A revamping of the shadow system is due, the long awaited ingame editor will be redone, and we'll add 'Open Library' interfaces for easily switching between external physics, audio, or network libraries.
Q: What game templates are planned for the future?
A: Templates for racing games, adventures, and multiplayer games.
Q: Some users continue to work with A6 and C-script. What advantages would they have by upgrading to A7 / lite-C?
A: Theoretically, you can achieve the same with C-Script and lite-C. However you'll normally achieve it with less time and less code in lite-C. So the first advantage is development speed. The second advantage is that lite-C is easier for beginners. And the third advantage, of course, is that you can use all the new cool engine features that are available in lite-C only.
Q: How will the Atari - Conitec partnership affect the engine users?
A: Atari's original intention was to start with us a Game Developer's community, using Atari lite-C as their game programming language, and A7 as their 3D engine. However, Atari got badly shaken up in the last year, which led to an unspecified delay of all projects. Until they get their act done, the main benefit from the partnership remains the free lite-C version.
Q: Did your team start working at A8 yet?
A: No. A7 is so perfect that I have no idea yet what we could put into A8. But I'm sure someday we'll find something... ;) .
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring game developer that wants to start a game project?
A: Aside from "start small": try to make money with game development from the beginning. Develop small advertising games or educational games. Get in contact with companies that pay you for your services. That might even include Conitec when you can offer a useful tool, extension, shader pack, artwork etc. for Gamestudio.
Q: I know that you've been there, so what is the most complicated part when you are climbing a mountain like Kilimanjaro?
A: The most complicated part is finding two weeks that you can keep free of appointments and deadlines. Aside from that, I absolutely recommend for game developers to walk through remote areas or on top of mountains from time to time. The task of walking upwards, taking one step after another, is a welcome change to the task of finding, for example, why a shader in a user project behaves funny. And it's a rich reward when you can see the curvature of the earth horizon from a mountain top, or see from the dark sky color above you that you're now closer to Space. Now you're fit for another year of software development...
Thank you a lot, JCL.