Difference between revisions of "Johannes Graff Interview"

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(Interview Part 2)
(Convert Previous Interview into a Summarized Introduction to Duranik)
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==Convert Previous Interview into a Summarized Introduction to Duranik==
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==A brief history of Duranik==
  
The name Duranik was created back in 1989. It was a combination of the two names Dürrsoft + Meranik we put together :)
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German Indie studio Duranik is composed of brothers Roland & Johannes Graff. The studio derives it's name by combining Dürrsoft + Meranik. Elder brother Roland is the lead coder while Johannes is responsible for the graphical work and level design.
  
We are 2 brothers, my name is Roland. I'm 41 years old and work as network administrator. I live in Germany, roughly between Stuttgart and Munich. The other member of Duranik is my brother Johannes. He is 39 years old. He works at a video games company as graphics artist. Currently he lives in Vienna.
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While Duranik might seem like a new name, especially for the Dreamcast Scene the brothers have been part of the video game industry for decades. Their debut Dreamcast title Sturmwind is actually a spiritual successor to 1997's Atari Jaguar Freeware game called ''Native''.
  
I am doing the coding, my brother the graphics and level design. For Sturmwind we also had the help from 2 musicans doing the soundtrack.
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One of the reasons why the dev team has gravitated towards Dreamcast is because it was possible to publish games on it without buying expensive development system the bulk of the game is made with a highly customized version of Cryptic Allusion's KallistiOS along with other free tools.  
  
For most of us, Duranik sounds “new”. But you did make some other titles befote Sturmwind, right? Please tell us about your previous efforts!
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When not making games Roland works as a Network Administrator and resides roughly between Stuttgart and Munich while younger brother works as a Graphic artist for a video game company in Vienna. The pair's top 5 Dreamcast games are Under Defeat, Soul Calibur, Crazy Taxi, Ikaruga and Rez.
 
 
We started on the Atari ST and moved on the Atari Falcon, for this machine we created a Breakout game called Impulse which by the way is currently converter to the Atari Jaguar by a friend of us. After this we worked on Native on the Atari Jaguar. We stopped the project with the one level demo was released.
 
 
 
Next we have done a sports game for the little portable Lynx, this game is called Alpine Games, you can still order a copy at our website if you are a Lynx enthusiast :)
 
 
 
'''When exactly did you decide to create Sturmwind and why? Why did you choose the Dreamcast for your next game?'''
 
 
 
I think we started around 2005/06 but due to daily live and jobs had a slow start. Why we choose the Dreamcast is a good questions, can´t really remember any more. Probably because its a great machine and its still possible to publish games on it without buying expensive development systems.
 
 
 
What's the biggest problem or difficulty you've had to face in order to finish the game?
 
 
 
This all happend in spare time, that's why it took this long and we couldn't stop adding features. Well, biggest difficulty to finish a game is always to finish it and be happy with it. There is always this little thing you would add here or there.
 
 
 
Did any of those difficulties ever make you feel like giving up and saying “to hell with everything”? What kept you going?
 
 
 
No. Apart from ourselves constantly adding stuff, we should probably have gone with just 6-7 levels if we look back.
 
 
 
Can you tell us how the game was programmed? Would you say it makes the most of the console's power?
 
 
 
The game is done in C like most other DC games, it also uses KOS. We are using a 3D Programm (Lightwave3D) as our game editor and have added stuff we need for the game as plugins. This allows us to us all the power of the 3D Tool like particle systems or physics without spending years in coding a complex editing tool.
 
 
 
The game itself is using all the DC has to offer in the fillrate department, there is lots of alpha blended particles and explosions going on.
 
 
 
What would you say it’s the best part of the game? What does Sturmwind have, that other shooters for the Dreamcast don’t?
 
 
 
I think the particle system, physic and destructible environment stuff is very competitive, I wouldn't say others have done that, perhaps not on Dreamcast.
 
 
 
This is what most of us are wondering! Sturmwind had an estimated release date of “Q2, 2011” and now it’s 11/11/11. Why the big delay? Come on, we’re really eager to play the game!
 
 
 
Because we think the summer months are not the right time to release it. Looking back the Q2 statement was wrong, we perhaps didn't think enough about it at that time. In the meantime we improve things, especially the weapon department which is completely reworked since the trailer movie.
 
 
 
Will Sturmwind be compatible with the likes of VGA box, Arcade Stick, Visual Memory, etc? It looks like playing it on a big LCD by VGA connection and with a good Arcade Stick could be a blast…
 
Yes. It supports VGA, NTSC, PAL50, PAL60, VMU, Rumble Pack, Arcade Sticks. The controls are configurable in the main menu.
 
We know players and reviewers will compare Sturmwind with other Dreamcast horizontal shooters, but where did your inspiration for the game and its whole design come from?
 
 
 
We looked at a lot of other games during development and especially in the last months. Classics like Axelay, Blazing Star, Rtype Delta, Einhänder are our favourites. But we also played a lot Blood Money and Wings of Death back in the day, anybody remember these ? ;)
 
 
 
Any plans of porting the game to other platforms? Perhaps Xbox Live? Personally, I think it would look great running on an iPad!
 
We were never very big Xbox fans and the place seems to be very crowded with Titles, so most likely not. We like the PSP, don´t know if this would be a possibility.
 
 
 
Please let us know what your 5 favourite Dreamcast games are.
 
Under Defeat is awesome, Soul Calibur looks great, Crazy Taxi, Ikaruga and Rez.
 
If the game is succesful, will you keep creating new Dreamcast titles?
 
This depends on a couple of things, mainly if people like the game. The other is that most fans seem to expect the next GTA or Shenmue, and not again another “shmup”. Thats not going to happen with a small team. So no, we have not talked about another title, i guess this will be our final game.
 
  
 
==Interview Part 1==
 
==Interview Part 1==

Revision as of 20:36, 27 November 2013

A brief history of Duranik

German Indie studio Duranik is composed of brothers Roland & Johannes Graff. The studio derives it's name by combining Dürrsoft + Meranik. Elder brother Roland is the lead coder while Johannes is responsible for the graphical work and level design.

While Duranik might seem like a new name, especially for the Dreamcast Scene the brothers have been part of the video game industry for decades. Their debut Dreamcast title Sturmwind is actually a spiritual successor to 1997's Atari Jaguar Freeware game called Native.

One of the reasons why the dev team has gravitated towards Dreamcast is because it was possible to publish games on it without buying expensive development system the bulk of the game is made with a highly customized version of Cryptic Allusion's KallistiOS along with other free tools.

When not making games Roland works as a Network Administrator and resides roughly between Stuttgart and Munich while younger brother works as a Graphic artist for a video game company in Vienna. The pair's top 5 Dreamcast games are Under Defeat, Soul Calibur, Crazy Taxi, Ikaruga and Rez.

Interview Part 1

Before we start the interview can you please tell me a little bit about the Etymology of the name Duranik? I read this in an interview posted on our forum:

The name Duranik was created back in 1989. It was a combination of the two names Dürrsoft + Meranik we put together :)

Does it mean anything?

I can´t exactly remember why we came up with the name "Duranik". I think it is a pure fantasy name without any deeper meaning. Maybe this Dürrsoft and Meranik came from my brother. Its really a long time since we use this name. I think probably 20 years or more.

Duranik has a rich history that spans 2 decades. So let's turn the clock back before we talk about Sturmwind. Can you recall the moment when the Graf brothers decide to be game designers and not just game players?

We got an Atari ST around 1986 for Christmas. Our friends had the Amstrad CPC so we played a little around with these before we got our own computer. Back in those times it was always special to see something new for your machine. So you were typing in listings from the computer magazins, sometimes taking hours and days for a little program or game. To get this running after many hours was something very special. Downloading megabytes of data these days you can´t even imagine how great it was getting something new for your machine every couple of weeks or even months. The ST was a great computer to start programming on your own. Easy to pick up and the hardware was simple and clean to begin with. At the beginning we did simple games in GFA Basic and later in STOS, non of these stuff was ever released though ;)

1986 is almost 30 years ago, you must have been like 10 years old when you bought your first home computer and you had been playing around with a friends computer before you had yours. Wow, you guys were born to be programmers but was it simply the love of mathematics and calculations that inspired you to tinker with code or was it some video game?

It was just fascinating, something you had never seen before. One of the first things i saw in terms of computer games was summer games running on a C64 somewhere in school. The animation, the graphics it all looked awesome. And the best of all: it was a lot of fun to control the player sprites on screen.


Being a Sega Aficionado I have to ask what was your first Sega experience?

The first time i heard or saw something from sega was the Sega Master System. It was sold in Germany also around this time. The computer and video game magazins also wrote previews and game reviews for it. I have to say i was not terribly impressed about it. The computers at that time seemed to be much more interesting and it was very expensive and if you bought a couple of games with it even more. A couple of years later the Mega Drive was much more popular and we bought it very early.

Any good memories with the MegaDrive? What did you think of all the accessories and upgrades?

Of course. The Mega Drive is a great machine back in the 90s and still today. We bought it with Castle of Illusion and Revenge of Shinobi. Lots of fun. The Mega CD looked very interesting but it was very expensive and it had a bad reputation because of all these grainy FMV games. With the CD addon they did a bad job with the marketing in my opinion because it had some great hardware with a very good blitter. Most of the magazines did not mention these additional pieces at all. The MEGA CD was a very complex additional console on its own. The still only 64 colors out of 512 out of the box certainly had a big impact on the machine. For the 32x, well it was just to late and to expensive. A simpler addon cart with something like the Virtua Racing DSP 2 years earlier would probably been enough to get some more eyecandy games with lots of scaling and rotation effects.

> That is a very interesting point. But it is all in the past now and > Sega fans do wish a lot of things would've been done differently > between 94 - 98. > I supposed they couldn't handle being thrusted into the top spot. > Started acting like cocaine addicts. > > But let's circle back to Duranik. What was your experience with 5th > Generation console?

So the big 3 were not for you. Which is probably why you upgraded to Atari Jaguar?

Well the Jaguar was available before those other machines, it was released end of 1993, the same year as the 3do but 12 months before PSX/Saturn. As we had other Atari machines like thr ST and Falcon it was just natural to be interested in the Jaguar. Later we modded the machine to transfer and execute code. > > Personally I didn't like this generation that much. At one point we had a PSX but it wasn't used all that much, we played a little with it but no comparison to the Mega Drive or SNES days. Never had a Saturn back in the 90´s but we bought a couple of them some time ago. For me the N64 was one of the most disappointing machines of all time. It was hyped beyond anything seen before and most of the games looked really bad, muddy textures, the poly count and framerate below the old PSX and all covered in fog. The gaming magazines printing all this glossy SGI rendered pictures and claiming the game looks exactly like this was very funny ;)

> A single level demo of a shooter similar to Sturmwind was made for it. > > It was released as freeware though, how come Duranik did not continue > development on Jaguar? > Jaguar is free to develop for unlike Dreamcast which legally requires > a license. > Native for the Jaguar was developed in 96/97, at this time it was not easily possible to release

games for the machine. Like most consoles the Jaguar has a security encryption to ensure only

software developed with a license could be released. This encryption key was not available and

we didn't want to risk to develop a game for a long time without the possibility to release it.

Years later these keys were released to the public, so today it is easy to create new Jaguar

cartridges and cds.

I See, I always thought the key was released fairly yearly.

So after the native demo you guys disappeared for a very long time. Resurfacing in 2004 with Alpine Games; A game inspired by Winter Sports. This was your first commercial release?


Alpine Games was also developed over a couple of years. This is only a hobby for us like for others playing with toy trains or model planes. We don't have the pressure to release something every year.

Alpine Games was the first game that was a commercial release, as it is released on a cartridge, there is no other way around it. If you have developed something over such a long time you just need to release it as a physical release these days because a huge part of the fans are collectors and you can not collect a download.

> True. I am fascinated with the fact that it was released on Lynx > cartridges. > I can understand indie developers releasing games on compact disc's. > The whole reason the indie DC scene still exists is because of > Dreamcast's ability to play CD-R's. If the DC was only compatible with > Giga Disc's, it probably wouldn't have existed. Even then developers > have a hard time releasing games. > > Can you talk about how you went about releasing multiple games for Lynx?

You are right, if it would have been GD-Rom only it would have probably been impossible or at least very difficult for post Sega releases, look at the Saturn, is there any unofficial CD release for this machine ? And it doesn't even have an exotic disc format.

On the Lynx we only released Alpine Games, the other cartridge is called "Alpine Games Bonus Cartridge", it was created for the hiscore contest and later also sold as there was constant requests for it. It consists of a couple of demos and not included events. There were only 512kb memory available so we had to cut some stuff out of the game to make it fit.

> So how did you go about producing cartridges? > Can you discuss the technology employed in order to release Alpine Games? > > The cartridges are produced by a German Lynx fellow, he did all the PCB design and produced some custom flash carts for us to finish the game. As we are no hardware guys it would have not been possible to do this on our own. The fanbase consists of a couple of hundred people, so its possible to do this stuff "by hand".

The Lynx itself is a simple 8 bit machine with a beefed up blitter and sprite logic to allow some fancy zooming effects, the hardware itself is easy and very programer friendly, in fact i would recommend it to everyone who wants to get his feet wet with some old school console programming. So these cartridges were made from scratch by some German fellow? How about giving a shout out to the guy who made the cartridges?

Lars Baumstark is doing the cartridges, he created the first open Lynx Devkit with Bastian Schick, without their work the new games would be very hard to create. They did this to create a kit as an aid for driving schools, the Lynx was used as some sort of teaching device, but that was many years ago.


2) I am a Millennial so through out my life I have seen Sega and Nintendo duke it out and now I am seeing Sony and Microsoft go toe to toe. I always viewed Atari as a long forgotten relic and it is absolutely amazing to see that it holds such a strong place in the hearts of Gen Y.

Do the Graf brothers have any plans to continue working on Atari hardware? Have you check out Skunkboard V3/Ghostboard by Harmless Lion/Goat Store Publishing?

We have some dev devices for various machines, also some Skunkboards but as we just finished Sturmwind it is not likely that we start something new right now, we are currently just looking around for interesting ideas and machines.

So when did development formally resume development for Native?

Development never did resume. It was stopped after the demo was released. Sturmwind is a completely different game, well the same people developed the game and it shares the same genre. There was no code or art assets reused, everything was started from scratch.

Interview Part 2

So I guess the more appropriate response question would be when did work on Sturmwind formally start?

Where any other platforms considered for the game in pre-production?

We started working on Sturmwind in the end of 2006 beginning of 2007. The first couple of months were just for creating some test graphics. Real programming started in 2007. At the beginning we were looking at the Mega Drive as a possible platform. Production of cartridges seemed to difficult and Mega CD to exotic so we went with the Dreamcast instead.

Now we all know that Max Scharl publicly revealed the game on German National Television show Neues in December 2010. When did you start approaching publishers? Did you consider any other publishers such as Hucast, Goat Store Publishing or self publishing?

We talked to Redspotgames about two or three years before release. They heard somehow that we were developing a Dreamcast game and told us they would be interested in publishing the game. We did not talk to any other publisher as far as I remember. The only other option we considered was publishing it ourselves but as it seemed to be to much work to send and handle all packages and payment we went with the publisher option.

3 years before the release? Sturmwind was released in April 2013. So basically Redspotgames contact you approximately 6 months before the Neues reveal?

No it was much earlier, more like two years before the "Neues" Show. But as we knew it would still take a lot of time to finish the game there was no need to sign a contact with any publisher.