Obligement - L'Amiga au maximum

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Interview with Raymond Cindric
(Interview realized by Damir Arh and excerpt from Digital Amiga Dream - March 2001)


Raymon Cindric - Hello. Thank you for finding time for answering our questions. Could you please introduce yourself first? What's your name, where do you come from, what do you do in your life beside making games for Amiga?

I am Raymond Cindric from Pula, Istria, Croatia - an hour from the Italian border, by car. I have just finished my studies for the hmmm... how do you call it in english? Visual culture? at the Fine Arts Department of the Philospohy Faculty in Rijeka, Croatia. Currently I live in Ljubljana, Slovenia, studying again. Design this time. I have also made a few comics and also a few engravings, but practically no one beside other students really saw it. I am learning languages in free time - slovenian, italian and english.

- When did you start using an Amiga?

Uuuuh, I really do not remember. During the elementary? Hmmm, wait, I remember that the power supply (it was that 'heavy' type, 3 kilos app.) broke a few days after Croatia cut down all phone lines with Yugoslavia, and I could not have it repaired because I bought it in Belgrade - so it must have been around 1991? So I was 16. This means I was not in elementary after all... My previous computer was C64, I still have it, but the disk drive does not work anymore - I just discovered it a month ago. A500 started just as an unexpanded machine, then ended up with a hard drive and a controller with some memory on it. It still works but acts strangely sometimes. I suppose it must be the power supply again, it was adapted from an old PC.

- How did the decision come to found DDE and create games together?

DDE grew out of the previous 'companies'. When I firstly met Cvijan Cvijanovic (and that was a long time ago), he already had the idea about an Amiga based game. It was a game based on a C64 classic and I started making graphics and backgrounds and animations... But we were just warming up on this one, since we did not have any real experience. It was never published, I even do not have a demo of the first thing we made together. So the decision was very organic and spontaneous, maybe even a bit naive.

- Who else are members of Digital Dreams Entertainment? Could you please introduce them briefly and tell us what their responsibilities are?

Firstly, there is Cvijan. He is the brain of DDE: programming, planning... His brother Goran is... I am not quite sure what he's doing, he was listed under 'public relations' so I suppose he's doing that. Personally, I know also Igor Riff (3D modelling) and of course the 'actors': Adriano Plisko is the main hero in Wasted Dreams and the in-game characters (and thus the whole game) bear his mark. Also the staff that helped with digital image processing, they are all listed in WD's "About". Alex Sergo, the main character in Codename: Hellsquad is also a very nice guy. And he really has the haircut that you can see in the game, it's not that he has shaven his head just for the game. BTW his stamina is incredible, it turned out to be of great importance during the shooting.

- Is developing games for Digital Dreams Entertainment your full time job or is it more of a spare time occupation and you have to earn for your living by doing other things? If this is true, how?

When we were developing WD, I was still at the university in Croatia, so it was not a full time job. And it was very hard and not very productive working with 100 kms in between. I also had other interests during the game development, but I used them mostly as a relax when I was too tired to look at the monitor. But nothing that I was paid for in the narrower sense of the word - reading books and drawing comics or painting, that sort of things.

- Your name, Digital Dreams Entertainment, is very similar to name of our club, Digital Amiga Dream. Could you tell us how did you come up with your name? Whose idea was it? What is it supposed to mean?

I suppose it means entertainment with dreams produced digitally - not a very optimistic name, it seems. Cvijan coined it.

- You recently released your second game, Codename: Hellsquad. Some of us still remember seeing first screenshots of this game years ago when Vulcan Software planned to release it under name Hellpigs. Who were first developers of this game and how did you manage to convince them to let you finish what they had started?

The first developers were a team starring Damir Petkovic. There was Drazen Tomic on graphics and... Alex was in the actors team... I think it was the core. I think there were other guys on it too, but I do not know exactly. Convincing them to sell the concept for CNHS was just a negotiation, Cvijan arranged it. Only it turned out there was a lot more of work to do than we supposed, but that is how it goes.

- What equipment do you use for developing your games? Which Amigas do you own and how many of them? Do you develop your games completely on Amigas or do you use any other computers, too? Which are the applications that you find absolutely essential in your developmental process?

Basically, the equipment needed to produce a game like WD or CNHS is a very varied one: cameras and lights, or gouache colors and brushes, or a fake gun and an uniform, for example. Other computers were employed too, for example during the digital image processing. As for Amigas, there were plenty of them, starting with an A500 ranging to A4000, equipped with the classic Amiga software, such as DPaint, Scala and so on and every Amiga had its own task. The rendering was done on a Windows based platform, and the preliminary drawings (conceptual sketches or labirint design, for example) were made with pen and paper, just like the character design for the "aliens" - green guys in yellow robes in WD.

- How does your testing or quality assurance look like? How many beta testers do you have? Are they all members of DDE or you have any external testers aswell? On how may different Amiga configurations does the game get tested before it finally gets released? What does the testing look like?

The first thing we decide upon is what exactly the gameplay should look like and what type of action will be required - for example action or puzzle type. Then we try to balance it somehow, then something turns out to be not right, then we correct it and then something turns out to be just a little wrong again and so on. Then there comes bug catching.

First, Cvijan plays the game thousands of times, to catch all the bugs that can eventually appear on his own configuration. Then the rest of the team play it for a while, and finally, the testers. Everyone take notes during the testing if something strange happens describing the conditions and actions that caused the crash or bug. And we play it on every Amiga we can get hold of.

- It's already passed more than a year since you released your first game, Wasted Dreams. I guess that by now you must have some estimates how well the game sold. Approximately how many copies of the game did you sell and was that more or less than you expected? Were you satisfied with the sales?

Not very satisfied, but considering the fact that Amiga is absent from the market, this is it.

- How do you expect the classic and the future Amigas to develop in very near future?

I have no idea. I suppose the commercial titles will try to catch the technical level of the new machines, just to fail miserably but the majority will be quickly done and just bad titles which are trying to make quick money on the Amiga market - if there will be new titles for Amiga at all. Amiga titles can not match the superior technical level of the new machines, playability should be their strongest point. The PD will continue the trend established by now, I suppose. I just hope there WILL be some new titles for Amiga.


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