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Oliver Schönmehl has created a good looking serious game. Read on to find out more about this interesting project.
Q: What is Gleisbau-Simulator 2014?
A: Gleisbau-Simulator 2014 is a rail track vehicle simulation. You have a bunch of rail track vehicles and you can build and destroy rail tracks. It includes the classical rail track vehicle, a rail screw driver, a rail tamping machine, a rail cutter, a rail tie positioned machine and a snow blower.
Q: What are the playerís tasks in GS2014? What does he have to do?
A: There are 10 different levels. In each level the player has different tasks. For example he has to maintain a rail track, remove old rails and replace them with new ones, remove snow from a rail track with the snow blower, build up a completely new rail track and many more.
Q: What is your target market? Who should buy the game?
A: The typical target users for this kind of game are kids and mid-aged people (40+). Everyone who loves train simulations will also love this rail track vehicle simulation.
Q: What is the size of the typical level?
A: The typical size of a level is a 4 kilometers long rail track. The player can drive along the whole rail track, but the game play area in the middle of each level is only a hundred meters long. The player donít walk or drive long distances; all the tasks that the player has to do take place in a small construction area.
Q: I see that you are using a lot of vegetation in some of the levels. Are you using some tricks to boost the frame rate?
A: We wrote a special editor for placing and managing that much vegetation. The basic trick is this: all the vegetation that will be always far away from camera is very low poly (only 8-12 polygons per tree) AND we have merged many of these low-poly trees together into a single model file. For this task we wrote a special script that does all the work; it's some kind of faked instance rendering.
Vegetation that can be near the camera is separated into two categories: big vegetation (trees) and small vegetation (grass, bushes, rocks). The small vegetation is clustered to single models, too (like the far away low poly trees) and clipped away in a short distance (the user wonít notice this because of the small size of the vegetation). The big vegetation can have high poly counts and shaders; it is treated as a normal entity and morphed to LOD models at big distances.
Q: Some of the machinery looks quite complex; how were those models created?
A: We cooperated with a company in Austria which manufactures such kind of machines. They sent us CAD blueprint data and tons of pictures and videos. We also had the chance to visit their factory and take pictures of our own. With all these references, it was quite easy to create such complex models.
Q: What is the hardest part when it comes to creating a serious game?
A: The hardest part is to reach the deadline. Due to the long market preparing time you canít wait until the game is finished, and then start marketing it. This has to be done in parallel with the game development. The biggest problem is, you canít really estimate the exact time the project will need. There will always be some unscheduled problem.
Q: Please give us a few tips for the beginners out there.
A: Itís old but true: donít give up. Only if you make tons of games, even mini games, you will reach the level of a pro. If you have a problem donít give up until you have solved it, even if this will take you a while.
Thank you a lot, Oliver!