Intervista a DMP Games (eng)

Jman: Who is DMP Games and what's your background?
DMP: DMP Games is a group of retrocomputing and various skilled enthusiasts. DMP Games currently is:
  • Dave de Sade (design, graphic)
  • MarK (code)
  • Predseda (graphic, animations)
  • Nooly (music and sound fx)
  • Drokk  (concept art)
  • Jack3D (additional 3D arts)
  • Tsak (tilesets, additional graphics)
Dave: DMP Games was founded by me, MarK and Predseda. We know each since more than a couple of years, however we never worked together. Nooly, Drokk and Jack3D are guys from same Czech Amiga community, but later also Tsak joined us from Greece. So we can say, that we are international team! But there are more people in the background (story writer, grammar checking...), which I would like to introduce later, when right time will come. Follow the games' blog for news!
Jman: When did you start the project and why? Is it your first professional Amiga experience?
MarK:  I started the project with Dave and Predseda. Main idea came from Dave de Sade around mid August 2013 (that Dave contacted me for the first time). First testing engine was on FTP on by the end of that month. This is likely my first professional Amiga experience :-)
Nooly: I don't think I can strictly call this project "professional" although every member of the team works like a pro. Anyway, my first Amiga projects included tracked music for different Amiga demos and games (the last one was Tracker Hero). I've been tracking four-channel modules for quite a long time.
Predseda: No, it is not professional. All my work is non professional. I started working on Chaos Guns from the beginning with Dave after we've beaten Hired Guns together (the great sci-fi four player role-play game published by Psygnosis in 1993). I have drawn some graphics, but later John adopted and developed the main part of the graphic work. Today I only make some small additional graphic bits.
Tsak: I entered the team something like two months after Dave and the rest formed it. I saw their post announcing the game on EAB ( - one of the main Amiga-related forum around). I was always interested in working for a new Amiga game; during the last past years I've been involved with several teams and projects but unfortunately none of them got finished or released (yet). When I saw Chaos Guns announcement I was instantly impressed by the amazing concept art and the overall work and progress the guys had made in such a short time. Plus, Alien Breed is an all time favourite for me ;)
Dave: Since I was five years old, I have decided to dedicate my life to computer games. I consider myself mostly a gamer, but with the enormous number of games I've played and finished, I started to think how could I make a better game. Writing about games is one part of my job, but as I have never been a programmer, I've never really created any game (excluded of few text-based games, mostly written in BASIC or HTML)!

Chaos Guns is one of the titles I wanted to design and meeting MarK was a breaking point. He was exactly the guy I was looking for. And with Predseda's enthusiasm, we started working on it and after few months, I dare to say that results are professional.
This project is a huge test for our skills. It's me who has to decide what is right, it's my responsability to evaluate and define every aspect involved, down to the detail of a palette color or an animation frame. With this team it is truly a pleasure and all this couldn't be done without a professional approach, of course.
Jman: What's Chaos Guns about?
Dave: Main story line is expanding events after Hired Guns. I'm not afraid of clichés, but of course the main story line should be believeable for the player. That is the reason why each of the twelve characters has his own story line. On our blog, you can find a more detailed story of course. From my perspective, the most important thing about Chaos Guns is the gameplay. I wanted to create a unique experience, by mixing the competitive cooperation of Chaos Engine 2, the four player experience of Hired Guns with the atmosphere of Alien Breed: Tower Assault . That's what Chaos Guns is really about.
Jman: What hardware and software are you developing on? What are your "weapons of choice"?
Tsak: All my work is done on a PC with Photoshop. As crazy as it sounds - from a pixel art perspective - if configured correctly you can do pretty cool stuff with it (layering system is a great convenience). For some minor graphical work I use PersonalPaint as well on my Amiga. I own an A1200 expanded with a Blizzard 68030/50Mhz and 64 MB RAM.
Nooly: I make drafts in ReNoise professional sequencer and then I continue working in MilkyTracker (both on my Mac). I've got Amiga 1200 with Blizzard 1230 IV which is far more than I need for tracking modules, I'm using ProTracker 3.62 on it.
Predseda: I do everything on Amiga 1200 with an accelerator 68030 board and Deluxe Paint IV.
MarK: Well, I'm mainly a MorphOS guy, so main development machine Is a PowerMac FW800 with double G4/1833 MHz CPU, my secondary development machine is my PowerBook G4/1667MHz, and for testing purposes I have also a PowerMac double G5/2500 MHz CPU, an Amiga 4000 Tower expanded with a 68060/50Mhz card and an Amiga 1200 expanded with a 68030/50Mhz card.  I have also other machines, but they aren't involved (yet) in Chaos Guns development. On the software-side: PowerD for programming the game itself with inline assembly so 100% is done; PowerD is a high level programming language for Amiga Classic, similar to AmigaE, developed by MarK himself.
Dave: Most of my work is done on Amiga with Blizzard 1260 equipped with 64 MB RAM, I prefer Brilliance to draw and Jano Editor to script. Believe or not - I always start on a sheet of paper ;). I do really like the UI of Brilliance. I was using DPaint IV before, so in direct comparison these products are almost identical. Brilliance has a better zoom function, but when you learn the keyboard shortcuts, it doesn't matter which one you use. I was using Brilliance in the late Ninetees for some animations, but mostly kids stuff.
Jman: Do you also take advantage of emulators?
Dave: Of course, WinUAE is a great software and I use it all the time, when I'm not at home. It is also good for quick testing, but in the end I always want to see how things work on real hardware.
Predseda: Yes I do, but only for grabbing screenshots and some testing.
MarK: Yes, I use WinUAE just for testing purposes (I want to make the game working on all possible configurations, including UAE).
Nooly: Sure. It's timesaving but checking your work on real hardware is a must.
Tsak: I'm using UAE on a daily basis for small tasks related to the project. But I usually prefer the real deal for my Amiga gaming needs.
Jman: The importance of developing on real hardware, why?
Dave: I'm convinced that this is the best way. I believe that Amiga has a heart and that the final result will reflect it. There are some practical things: one is WISIWYG (What You See is What You Get), it's easier and more productive working on the same machine that eventually run your code (see this post on the matter), another one is mouse sensitivity (I tried to draw withing WinUAE and it was horrible).
Until I met Tsak, I would say that for pixelart there is no better software than Brilliance (or DPaint), but so far I'm admiring his Photoshop skills. And then you have the testing, of course, that's the obvious part.
Jman: Which are the biggest challenges you're facing?
Dave: I had no clue how complicated is to develop a game for Amiga. Palette, processing power - you have limited resources. Biggest challenge was to adapt to this enviroment. By knowing what you cannot do, vast possibilities will open for you about what could be done. Since I have changed the way I'm thinking about the game, I have realised how beautiful the Amiga really is. Paraphrasing Fumito Ueda: "when you know your limits, you are limitless".
MarK: Speed of engine. On my G4 machines the engine does around 1000 fps, while on 68030/50Mhz it does only about 7fps for now. But - hey - it is 7 times more than it did in the beginning. I hope it will improve with time :). Anyway the engine is in realtime, so it has the same speed on 68030/50Mhz as on a G4, but on the latter it's ofcourse much smoother.
Predseda: Palette. It is an eternal fight finding the most suitable palette. The moment you have it, half of the job is done.
Tsak: Most difficult thing so far was to find a viable way to transfer the work I do on Photoshop to the Amiga without messing up the custom palettes used when converting to ILBM. For that reason the GIF format was selected over the PNG8. Other than the above, working with pixel art I'd say is the greatest challenge I've faced so far as a gfx artist.
Nooly: Biggest challenge is perhaps to make complex music using just four audio channels.
Jman: What's the estimated delivery time frame for Chaos Guns?
Dave: We are finalizing the demo version, it will serves us as testbed for an estimate for the final deadline. Of course - even for a demo - you have to have a finalized engine, which is our main focus at the moment. Since the engine is finished we estimate 6 more months of development to define the graphic assets: currently the main design document contains rough content for all dungeons and exterior maps as well.

Jman: Will you release the game as DD (digital download) or you are planning a boxed version?
Dave: Game itself will be free to download. However we are planning boxed limited edition with maps, manual etc. But it's not going to be cheap ;). Recently we have opened donations via Paypal, which will be gladly accepted, so we can buy some more beer at least ;).
Jman: Minimum requirements?
Dave: Target is AGA Amiga with 68030 processor, 16 MB RAM. Most likely we will fit everything to 8 MB. According to MarK, we might consider also an ECS release later, but that is too soon to answer.
Jman: What your opinion on modern gaming? I see on Dave's blog that you play while commuting to/from work, what are your likes/dislikes?
Dave: It's sad to see that current mainstream moved more to narrative experience for players - I always prefer more ludic approach. I'm a huge fan of Nintendo games because of their perfect playability. I'm watching games closely since my early childhood and to be honest - it make sense to me. I understand the reason for mass produced crap, there is nothing wrong with it, but it is not an art I could fall in love with. Instead of simply criticizing, I always wanted to provide some alternative. Writing my personal gaming blog is one of the things I'm doing, now I'm developing the game I always wanted to play. Life is good.
Jman: You could recently enjoy a PS4. What's your opinion on that platform as a whole (hardware and software)? What's your take on the business model that Sony and Microsoft want to adopt for this console generation?
Dave: Buying system without games is stupid - but sometimes you just have to do something stupid ;) Same thing for the XBOX ONE - it is a nice piece of hardware without software. It doesn't offer that much advantage on technological level; in comparison with the PS2-to-PS3 transition, there is no "WOW" effect at all. But as you have mentioned - it is mostly the business model that changed. Streamed games are a possible answer to the $60+ priced AAA purchases and I'm eager to see them doing this. Development and marketing prices are insanely high, current business model cannot take it any further. I have bought a WiiU on launch day, but until release of Super Mario 3D World it wasn't a good deal. Now I would recommend it. Same goes to new systems - when the game offer is good, I'm in.
Jman: Do you have other ongoing projects? Will you evaluate other Amiga or retrocomputing projects? For example an expansion disk for Chaos Guns?
Predseda: I work on a platform game, Dizzy-style, with Remainder software team (author of Amiga version of Downfall). I hope that after Chaos Guns is finished we will evolve a sequel, "lighter" version suitable for one or two players instead of four.
Tsak: I've got several non-Amiga, art related projects ongoing, the one with my band being the most serious one so far. As for Amiga related ones, currently Chaos Guns takes 99,9% of my time :). If the project goes well, an expansion (or even a direct sequel) is surely on the menu! ;)
MarK: Well, Chaos Guns uses scripts for most of its design, so it's ready for complete exchange of everything including datadisks and custom levels etc.
Nooly: None connected with Amiga at the moment :[
Dave: When finished, Chaos Guns are going to be expanded, that's for sure. We have some ideas for network play, single player campaign and the engine could be use for anything.
Jman: I think we're done. OGI would like to sincerely thank DMP Games for your availability for this chat. Anything you would like to add?
Dave: Chaos Guns is the biggest test for our skills so far. It is not an average shooting gallery game, you will be exhausted by playing it. It is designed with hardcore oldschool gamers on mind, but even these will be surprised.
You can find info about Chaos Guns here.
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