Hans Ippisch Interview for Scene World Magazine


N: I’m talking to Hans Ippisch. Hello,
Hans. Hi Joerg. N: I’m talking to you because you
started your career with making games, coding games for Rainbow Arts. Yeah. I did. N: Like 30 years ago. Yeah. The first time I got in touch with a
computer was 1984, because just this week I was preparing a presentation for Culture
forum, here in Nuremberg, and I was asked whether I would like to tell the people, the
usual guests here at the Culture forum, it’s spelled “culture”, which is very good, about
the past, or beginning of computer games. So I have two parts, the development of games
since 1950-something, and the development of media. Of course, during that part I came
over this old Commodore machines, CBM, with 40 characters, 25 lines, and I found that
screen, the black screen with the green characters, and it made me remember when I started in
1984 in gymnasium, at the school. Then in Zwiesel they had suddenly the computer room
and I was spending my time in the computer room, suddenly. What my parents did for Christmas
1984, I got a C64 as a present, a Christmas present. That’s how I started. I started the
first game in basic language, of course, then an assembler. In the summer of 1986 I signed
my first contract when I really started to code. It might be interesting to see how the
people react to coming to my presentation, because for the people older than 35, for
them it’s very interesting, and people younger than 30 it’s like you’re walking in a museum,
it’s like, “What? This is a game? I don’t believe it.” But it’s very interesting to
see how things have worked out, and to see how the first tennis game was made, or pong.
That’s very interesting to see in the past, and also to see the most successful gaming
series, which was, of course, it’s Super Mario by far, and with more than 460 million sold
units, but to also see something like the Angry Birds with 2,5 billion downloads. So
that’s interesting to see and if somebody would’ve told me 1984 what’s coming the following
years, I wouldn’t have believed it. Also if somebody would’ve told me that I’m sitting
here on MacBook doing a Skype interview, everything fine, it’s like, “Okay, great.” Also that
I have games, TV, 24-hour gaming app and live stream app in your hand, and everything is
working, that would sound crazy, because if you just take a look at the movies and drawn
and all that stuff to be alble to take a look back and to see what’s going on every day. N: You didn’t really think back then you
would make some kind of pioneer when you started playing with the computer
at school. No, I didn’t. I just was keen on programming
computer and it was just wonderful for me to do that, to make a game. Everyone has a
different hobby. I also was playing football. Some love learning a music instrument, but
I love music, that’s my greatest love, by the way. You don’t think about that. Of course,
I was always working all the time and it’s a lot of fun, but you don’t think about it
when you do it and so it was just fun. That’s the most important thing. As long as you have
fun working, then it’s the best way. Of course, there are also bad times, but if you know
when to say it’s because of games or magazines or the reach of websites or the advertising
revenue. Is this good? Of course. You always have that times. But I always, that’s what
I say, my colleagues at computer media, we are 200 people there always, we are living
in a paradise. If you compare your job going to the publishing house and writing articles,
making videos and all that stuff, compare it to joining the assembly line at Opel or
Volkswagen. That’s a difficult job. You don’t think being a pioneer, that’s something that
you’ve been told and afterwards that you did some things that not everybody did. Yeah,
and they were thankful for that. That’s also why I spent some time making a presentation,
because I would like to give something back. We also have, in our company, pupils from
the school. For example, my son, he’s 13 years old now, he was there in the office for one
week and he was seeing how we do our website, how we do daily news show for Games TV 24.
He saw how things are working and how’s it going. He was fascinated with it all. That’s
cool. That’s media. When I started it, computing, we having a print magazine, but it’s always
changing. I think that’s most important thing that since I joined games business every time
there was something new. Never remained the same. Because in the bakery you would do basically
the same, but here everything is changing all the time. That’s, I would say, a good
thing. You are never bored. You also have to stay keen on new things. As soon as you,
I could name a few colleagues, once you are bored and you are not interested in the new
stuff and you’re not interested in YouTube and gaming apps and all that stuff, then it’s
dangerous, because you always have to be, I would say, you should be interested in new
things. Always in this business. If you’re not, well, I know some people would prefer
to play Blue Max on the Commodore 64 and that’s fine, but you also should look like, “New
Angry Bird’s is out there. I might need to play it.” N: CP Publishing back then in the ’80s.
Yeah. And now you’re a CEO, so you were grown up and made your career in
the gaming business. How did it happen that you became a coder at the
Rainbow Arts? I’m really sure you couldn’t plan my curriculum
vitae. It was very easy. I remember the first game before I got the first computer. I wrote
it on a piece of paper basic, it was 30 lines, called White Max, and it was kind of Pac-Man.
Of course, I was reading magazines for that time, in the ’80s. I was reading Happy Computer,
and 64 magazine, now 64 Magazine. Then, from the 64 Magazine I’ve learned machine code
assembler and also Chris Huelsbeck, as we all know, he also was an avid reader of C64
Magazine, because he wanted competition. I also, back in 1985, I was sending in a poke,
and probably you know what a poke is. I’m very sure you know what a poke is. A very special poke, and that was published
in magazine. I got the sticker and 20 Deutsche A very special poke, and that was published
in magazine. I got the sticker and 20 Deutsche
A very special poke, and that was published
in magazine. I got the sticker and 20 Deutsche Marks and a letter from the editor. I was
so proud. I had a sticker on the door of my room. I was so proud to have. And once in
the Happy Computer. I always knew exactly when the new issues would be released, or
be on the shelves. I was driving to the city with my mom and buy the new issues of Happy
Computer and 64 Magazine, and later on ISM. I always was reading that, and once there
was an advertising of Rainbow Arts. I never heard of this company. It was half page, I
won’t forget this, and they were looking for programmers, and that time I was making my
first game in machine code, it was Alec XS21, nobody know it. It was with a tank. You could
drive a tank. I was sending that on a tape, because I didn’t have a floppy disk on a tape
to Gute Slav, to Marc Alexander Ullrich. Because I only saw this advertisement, I though, “It’s
interesting. I will sent him my game.”It wasn’t like, “Now I’m going to be a huge star.” Probably
if anyone new become musician, you think about, “Yeah, I will be on the stage with a guitar
and the whole world will sing my songs.” At that time you didn’t know that there are big
stars or anything. So I was reading the advertising, I sent my tape and a few days later I got
a call from Marc Alexander Ullrich and he wanted me to sign a contract that my next
game should be for Rainbow Arts. At that time I was 16 and I said, “What?” and he said he
would come all the way down from G�tersloh, which is in the Bavaria, next to Munich I
would say. So it’s several hundreds kilometers to drive and he said he would come, and the
day before he should come he called and then I should come to Munich with train. Then my
father only once said, “No. You don’t go by train there.”, because at that time you didn’t
have a mobile phone and all that stuff to know where you are, “He has to come here.”
So he came with his Golf GTI at that time, Golf TGI. We signed a contract and that’s
how it started. I’ve had the first game and Chris was sending me the disk once with a
soundtrack and I finished the game in January in G�tersloh Solopress Holger Fl�ttmann,
a later founder of Ascaron and Thalion spent really then whole night with me at Solopress
at the set time, and for few weeks later has been released. As it turned out, it was the
first game, the first German game that has been banned, which means that only adults
were allowed to buy this game. That’s how it started and immediately after that I was
asked by Marc Alexander Ullrich that I could help Matthias Sykosch, because he was finishing
Bad Cat and things didn’t go as planned. He asked me if I would develop a few, two levels
and, of course I would get a few thousand Deutsche Marks for that, which was great for
the age of 16. So I had Matthias Sykosch finishing that game. In the ’88 I got a call from Walter
Conrad, he was working for CP, which you mentioned before, and asked me, “Yeah, we have here
disk magazines and do you have any games?” I said, “Well, I don’t have any games, but
I have an idea.”, which was idea for a very small game, and he offered me also quite good
money. I said, “Well, I can produce it.” and in total I made three games. Also, one day
I got in touch with Christian Geltenpoth, founder of and owner of Computec or Matthias
Sykosch at that time, because there was a competition going on and I started in ’89-’90.
I started to study in Bamberg, next to Nuremberg and at that time I was quite in touch with
Christian Geltenpoth and during the competition we nearly had a telephone call every day.
That game was Kangarudy, which was my best game, thanks to the great idea of Markus Muchenschnabl,
whose nickname is Mac by the way, and I’m sitting in front of a Mac, and I bought my
first Mac SE120, I bought from Markus Muchenschnabl standing over there. So yes, and exactly this
company CP vlog started the magazine. Christian asked me, “Hans, would you like to join us?”
I said, “Well, yeah. I would like to join you.” While I was studying as a freelancer,
I said, “I have an idea for a regular column in this magazine, it was called “high supreme
academy”, because I knew a lot of developers of course, and I said, “I’m going to introduce
the German developers, and dream academy was you know you’re making a dream come true…
That’s how it started, so I was writing reviews and news for Play Time at that time, ’91 the
first issue and I was having the dream academy where I had Sector 5 and then all the people
in this Thalion. Later on in ’92 he started a video game magazine and after two issues,
by the end of the ’92 he, Christian asked me whether I would like to take over as managing
editor. I said, “Well, if you think that I can do this, well then I will do it.” In the
end I was still starting, I was writing all the text. So that was ’92 I took over managing
editor and in ’93 Christian Geltenpoth asked me whether I would like to take over as managing
editor also SEGA magazine. He said, “But you have to join us on a daily basis, and not
as a freelancer.” So I had to make the choice between, do I finish university, which I did
then after quite some while, and starting completely working for computing. Yeah, and
that’s how it started. So I had two magazines ’97 there was Endzone and then there was editorial
direct of all the console magazines, I was doing Kid Zone, and so on. Then it took over
the commercial direct opposition, 2000 as it comes. We were going public and Christian
Geltenpoth left the Computec in 2005. I was taking more editorial responsibility and now
we are part of Marquard Media, a very famous Swiss publisher and he’s completely owner
of Computec now. He likes Computec and everything we do. There’s only one person working for
Computec that has tried before me, only one week. But that’s Hans, he’s the graphics artist,
media designer. Yeah, and that’s how it came. I’m still there and Computec is now completely
different. We have magazines, we have websites, we have server business like for net plays,
games server, team speak server, we have apps, we have events, in Berlin, or Respawn at GamesCom,
all that stuff. That’s Computec now, 50% is print and then we have digital and all that
stuff. It still has to do basically with the gaming, that’s still our core business. Everything
is gaming. Yeah, and if somebody would have the idea, “You know what? I write down how
your life will be and what products Computec will have.”, you would never have that idea.
But it’s always one thing I’m very thankful for, but of course it’s also hard work. I
always say, “As soon as you think you are safe, or as soon as you think that are something,
you have stopped becoming something.” So as soon as you are satisfied and say, “Wow, now
it’s great. Everything is fine.”, in this business it’s very dangerous to say, “Now
we have the best selling magazine.” or “Or now we have the website with the biggest reach.”
You are never safe. That’s media business, because the only thing that’s constant is
the constant change of everything. Different consoles afterwards, then we had browser games,
and still have browser games that are free to play. Everybody’s talking about mobile
games and then everything is coming a long way. So you have much more possibilities to
play games now, because you still can play browser games, you can play mobile games,
you can play a PC game, you can play a PlayStation game, everything. How often did we hear that
the PC is dead? Or consoles are dead? Or mobile gaming will be dead? Or whatever. But you
never know what happens next. If somebody says, “The browser games are the future. Everything
will be free to play in browser games.” No. It won’t happen. Also, “Everything is now
mobile games.” No, it just won’t happen, because people like to play something like GTI on
PlayStation 4, which is great, or Call of Duty, or whatever, you know all the games.
You like to play them, and you also like to play TouchFish or Angry Birds or even the
very simple. Once in a while I started C64 emulator on my PC in the office, but don’t
tell anyone. You know Football Manager? N: Of course. Yeah. I don’t play Football Manager. I played Software
Star. That was the sequel and there you had a chance to create, you know… Your target
was, as a manager of a software house to publish great games. So you had to decide now the
game is nearly finished, how do the developers, give them their money, and then what would
be the other way around than say, “You have to work”. Then you have to decide what’s the
name, how many advertising you will spend. Then you see on your charts, “Beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep”
if you’re getting to number one and sending a lot of units. It’s always funny to see because
in this game suddenly Soldier is number one in the charts. That’s something I’m playing
from time to time, because it’s just as much fun as playing Mario Kart on the Wii U with
my sons. So what I want to say is, in the end gaming has to be entertaining. N: Of course. It can be only characters and a little bit
of text, and it can be fantastic with graphics. So that’s i think the most important thing,
that it has to be entertaining. N: It’s interesting to go back to your
history because I remember White Max was an Easter egg on Danger Freak, on
original diskette. You manipulated the directory so you could only see
Danger Freak, but if you had an extra replay or find the cartridge three,
you could see the whole directory, and there was White Max hidden.
Yes. N: I was playing and I was thinking,
“Why did Hans Ippisch put that on the diskette?” It’s a basic game, you
know? Yes. From ‘984 it was the first game I made.
I totally forgot about that. If you could send me a print out of the listing or whatever. N: Of course. You had to move a character and collect the
flowers or whatever, it was only the basic… N: Heart, actually. Yeah. That was actually because that wasn’t
gameplay, max for the week 20, and I said, “I want to have this on a C64.”, because my
auntie had a four week. Then I said, “I want to have this game and so I programmed it before
I had a computer. I totally forgot about that. Another game my two boys, 8 and 13, they are
laughing about, because they understand that I did make games, and my game after White
Max was, also in BASIC. My both sons always laugh. What you had to do, you had to move
from left to right and shoot at the beast. That was your job. I remember I took this
game, it was a very crappy game, but it was in basic, what I did was, I was going to my
friend’s house and say, “I have the newest game from Ocean Software, 1985.” “Whoa. Great.”
and then he was fill the screen, “Oh, ocean? That’s really great.” But then he found out,
“Well, no. That’s not something from ocean or imagine. But really White Max, I have it
on my mind because I will never forget White Max, because my sons, if I have it somewhere,
doing now probably I have it probably somewhere. That’s very interesting. That’s great. If
you could send me printout of… N: Of course. You totally forgot about
that. Okay. I have forgot about putting that on the disk,
yes. I never forgot about the game. But, I remember, I think, if you insert in Danger
Freak my birthday date, then you have the cheat. Yes, of course, it was something like
that. But, I didn’t know that I included White Max somewhere. Of especially that somebody
found out. So great. Yes. N: Yeah. One reason why Danger Freak was
in my head all the time is because it had a copy protection that if you
copy it and the copy protection check fails, then it formats disk. I know, that was brilliant at that time. Yeah.
I can tell you a story about Danger Freak, I’m pretty proud of Danger Freak because that
was really the first game that was really decent from the technical view, and it’s still
okay and a good idea. I remember that I had to send the review disk to Happy Computer
to Heinrich Lenhardt, which was later on a colleague here at Computec. So I have to say
the copy disk, the review disk, the code, the master disk to Heinrich on the next day
via post. We didn’t have internet or uploading. So you had to save it on a disk and send it
to make it and trust in time to get review in the next issue. So what I did, I was finishing
the game and I was working all the time, and well I owned only small box and at 3 o’clock
in the morning, at that time I was going to school of course, and that was in 1988, yes.
So I thought, “Everything is fine.” and I was saving onto to the disk. You know what
happened? The disk crashed. The disk was broken, corrupt, because I’ve written on the disk
20 or 50 times, and so you probably couldn’t read anything. The problem was everything
I was coding between 11 o ‘clock and 3 o’clock in the morning was lost. I was like, “Oh,
my God.” You didn’t have hard drive, hard disk and all that stuff everywhere. No, just
didn’t have it. So what I had to do, everything I did I had to remember and change. I was
working on it all night, and at 6 o’clock in the morning I was finished with everything
and it worked and I put into the package and it was completely tied and then I was driving
to the post office and send it via courier, and from that I was driving to school. The
first lesson was history and at the time we were very trained to have something like a
suitcase, as a bag, and I was
making it this way, and I was sleeping behind. And I’ll never forget because the teacher
Fr�ulein Truger at the time, she was waking me up and like, “Hans, what are you doing?”
“Oh, I’m just working.” So I will never forget that I was working all night, sending it to
Munich and getting the review. So that was all the problem with the disk, and from that
time on I always had some more disks and I’m also regularly making copies of it. Just to
keep it safe. Also, one thing, of course, the teacher knew that I was coding and I remember
when I was in January ’87 I was head to my first game and together with my mom I was
going to the direct of the school and asking whether I could get three days off for doing
this job, and he was Fridrich, he died last year, which is very sad, he didn’t say, “No,
you can’t.” He said, “Yes. That’s great. Do something.” He understood at that time that
probably that’s a good idea. So the teacher knew what I was doing, so I wasn’t a bad pupil,
which was okay. Coding was more important than learning for school. So I made my school,
which is okay, but it’s a funny thing because I got some money then, of course. Compared
to the others I had some money. For example, I drove with my own car, was a Volfi Golf,
to school and the very old car. But, it was my own car, so I was never rich or something
like that. But you know when you have a few hundred Deutsche Marks and the others have
nothing, then you could afford something. So that was also something that I was working
quite hard. I also played football, so I wasn’t always locked in my room. I was always spending
time with my friends and also because they were playing the games, I asked them. And
that was the funniest thing. I got some money, I got some attention, and that was a good
mix, and I was also DJ later on, and basically what i found out once in my life is I always
tend to produce things or do things where you have to find out what other people like.
If you want to make a game, you always ask yourself, “What would the people like to play?”
I never said, “What would I like to play?”, but “What would they like?” Also, when you’re
a DJ, because I loved music and still love music, then you have to find out what do they
like to hear or they want to dance. Of course, the perfect mix is when it’s what you like
basically. Also, when you are making magazines. It’s also the same. You have to find out what
do people expect? What are they paying for? It’s the same with apps or whatever. That’s
something my interest is, to find out what do people like and also to have a mixture
to surprise them sometimes and also sometimes you try to educate them, of course. When you
have a magazine or a website, you also want to tell something to the people. So that’s
the common thing in my life. If I was producing games, or being a DJ, or writing articles
or making magazines, or even doing events. Today, I was at Munich, we were talking about
the new event, doing in April, in Munich. It’s “What would people like to be at?” then.
It’s the same to find out, “Okay, is there a target group? What do they like? That’s
basically one thing in common, too. Because it sounds very confusing, what I did in my
life, but in the end it’s always the same, that I try to think… I was also writing
some songs. My wife did hear them. But I’m not a musician. But it’s also the same to
produce something that people will like, or to entertain people. Let’s put it this way,
to entertain people. To give them a good time. That’s basically the attention, to give them
a good time with the good music, with a good game, a good magazine, a good article, or
a good presentation, or whatever. Give people a good time, I would say. N: I guess it’s easier for you because
you know the gaming business from all sides. As you said, you’re playing
games yourself, you develop games yourself, and you write about games,
now you are publishing magazines for games, so you know all different
angles of the gaming business. You have the whole round view about
everything. Basically that was an advantage in the beginning
of computing when we were making magazines. For example, that’s why I got a very good
relationship with guys like Tommy Tallarico, the musician, which was very happy to meet
GamesCom, because we were organizing the gigs he did there. Or David Perry, and all that
people, because they knew that I was programmer and probably we did work together like with
the guys on Sector 5. That was easier for me, to ask them, because when you don’t know
anything about coding, then it’s easy for the programmers to tell you anything, which
they did sometimes. They knew that they couldn’t tell me anything and that sometimes I had
questions I didn’t like because I knew that they couldn’t tell me anything. Probably that
was the difference in the beginning at least with our magazines, that I was coming from
the part that was more know-how than other magazines probably had. On the other way,
I always tried to be fair, too. Because it’s easy to put something into the trash and say,
“That’s rubbish and a bad game.”, but I never forgot, because my first game was horrible,
and it was written down by ISM. This was hurting me, at that time, because it was everything,
the best I could do. So I never forget that probably somebody was giving his best to produce
this product and to use words that are not very nice. You can say that product is not
as good as other products. But you don’t have to use words that are really hurting developer.
We all know that probably there are some products that are not worth it, but at least I always
said to myself, “People were working hard on this product. The graphic artist, the musician,
the coder. They were doing their best.” So you should always try to be fair. Probably
that was the reason why I had a good relationship with the developers, and that’s why they gave
me some information earlier than other magazine editors became them. So that was, I think,
a give and take. Also, one thing I always tell my colleagues,”When you are producing
a website, a magazine, an app or whatever, you have to do it with passion. If you’re
just bored, and like, “Oh, my God, now I’m writing ten sentences and I don’t care, and
I’ve written them and now I go home.” If you don’t care about what your output is, if you
don’t care is it a good review, are the screenshots good, is it a good video, does this video
really show everything you need to know, if you don’t care, then people will find out.
They will find out whether you’re doing this with passion or if you’re doing it just like,
“Oh, my God. I have to do it.” Every Christmas dinner we had, that’s something I tell all
my colleagues, that’s something I said in the beginning, “Once you are bored and it’s
like, ‘Oh, I don’t care.’ then people will feel it, and they won’t come back to your
website, they won’t come back to your app.” I always look everyday on Games TV 24 the
daily news and if you have the feeling that they are bored having the daily news, then
you wouldn’t like to watch it anymore. That’s something that’s very important. That’s why
Computec, if you look at the web pages, “Media with passion”, we say. That’s something I’ve
stole from Future Publish in England, but that’s how I understand it. We do it with
passion. If you don’t have the passion, I think it’s the same for a musician. When you
see Chris Huelsbeck, for example, because he was sitting next to me and when Patrick
was playing on the piano, Chris was sitting there, feeling the music. You really see it
was touching and with passion. N: I saw it. Yeah. Yeah. Because you know he’s feeling something.
There are other musicians that don’t feel anything as it’s just like, “Yeah, I just
really don’t care.” But that’s the difference, do you feel something, do you feel that the
editor cares about you, that’s something you feel and that makes you come back. I think
it’s the same with football stadium, when you have a team that’s not giving shit about
the results, it doesn’t matter, then the people won’t join them in the stadium, because they
don’t feel if they don’t care as they won or lose. Then it’s not entertaining. If you
see their giving their best, even if they might lose. It’s the same watching a tennis
match. If somebody doesn’t want to win, then it’s not worth to see it. But if you see something
fighting with passion, then it makes you come back. That’s also something I would say. Of
course, you all have good days and bad days, probably there were some days where you say,
“Well, let me go home. I just don’t want to.” you all have these days. But basically, I’m
thankful for that I can do this every day. I’m thankful for everything. Also, with my
family. Also, I’m thankful for things like sitting here right now and talking to you
and find out that you have seen White Max. You know, “Yes, you get something back.” So
always you will get something back. Of course, some days you think, well probably you won’t
get anything back, but once you lose your hope, then it’s getting difficult. I know
at GamesCom, of course, it’s always very interesting to see. I’ve asked this Chris, “Chris, what
would we have thought in 1986 if somebody would have told us that in August 2015 you’re
sitting in a very nice restaurant in Cologne, and somebody from Australia came over to get
there just to sit next to you. They are spending 90,000 euros or whatever for your book, and
then you ask me to write the forward.” It was like, that I was so happy for Chris, because
for Chris it was a dream come true. It was also very nice evening for me, because I was
meeting many people like you and and were, I just see, “Wow, that’s something what we
did.” Because Chris was always working all the time, and I was working all the time,
and what we did it was worth it. That’s, I would say, the point. It was worth it. And
people acknowledge it. That’s really something you always should try to make your things
with passion, think about the consumers. If you don’t to that, then a robot can do your
job. N: You are kind of a celebrity. You are
in Wikipedia. Chris, also in Wikipedia. You all have your own
entries in Wikipedia. It’s quite interesting. I was so surprised because somebody told me
once, “Hans, since when do you have an internet Wikipedia?” I said, “What do I have?” Really,
to be honest, this is so accurate, this were true. I said, “Well, that’s great.” Yes, and
then it indeed means something, and I said, “Well, that’s really interesting, how people
see it.” Basically if you’re in a business for such a long time… Of course, I made
some mistakes. When you’re young and writing a review and then you have a competitor, you’re
fighting. Of course, there are many competitors that don’t exist anymore, probably because
our products were better, but the consumer decided. Of course, there are people that
don’t like me. Probably they don’t like me because I was more or less responsible for
their problems. Probably they don’t like me because they’ve heard that I’m a hard guy,
whatever. Actually they don’t know me. But that’s something I can live with, because
I’m such a long time in this business, I gave up. I would like everyone to love me, but
I found out 15 years or 20 years ago, it won’t work. Once you have a game out, or a magazine
out, there are some people that will never like you. N: The thing is, for me, when I was
getting my C64 in 1990, when I was playing with my grandfather on a
Commodore 64, then I was 5. When I later got all those games, so like 20
years ago, as a teenager, it was always my dream to talk to you, and
to meet Chris in person, and then I’m sitting there in my city, in a
Mexican restaurant and actually eating with Chris. Or meeting you at
the piano dinner. That’s something awesome for me. I would have not
imagined that as a teenager, 20 years ago, because as a teenager or as a
kid, playing those games you thought those coders and composers, those
game makers, they are heroes and they earn a lot. They must be very rich.
They have a dream job. Everything is perfect. That was my perspective as a
child. First of all, there will always be people
that have more money than you, basically. Our owner is very rich, but he knows, that’s
what he told me, compared to Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, he made nothing. There is always
somebody. If you’re looking as a pupil, “Oh. my God. If I would have 100 euro pay, or 100
dollar pay per month that would be great. A lot of money.” If you have then 1000, it’s
like, “Oh, my God. It would be great.” But there’s always somebody that has more. In
the end I would say Chris was the best business man and he was always cheated by many companies,
but I think the most important thing is he always had the chance to do what he likes
most, he could produce, write music. That’s the most important thing. It’s also something
I tell our colleagues, that they get money, but the most important thing that makes you
happy i that you are doing something that makes you feel good. If you’re an editor and
writing an article or making a video, and you know that people are reading it, watching
your video that helps them, that gives you a good feeling. That’s even more important
than only the money. Because even if you get more money, but you don’t actually like your
job at all, you won’t be as happy as you are having a job within the games industry, if
you’re making a product. You know what I mean? Of course, everyone wants more money, and
of course, I’m happy that I have a good living. I’m really thankful for that. But in the end
the most important thing is, and I’m really sure that Chris would support me, the most
important thing for him is, I think he doesn’t need a yacht or a jet or whatever, he can
live his life and make music. That’s I think the most important thing. I’ve met in my life
a few people, their focus was clearly on making money, and making millions. But if your main
focus is on making money, or starting a company and selling the company, this won’t work.
Because this only happens if you are hard working. But if it’s your only target… I
know people that were working for Kopernik once and they left, because the company was
sold for millions, and then everything is fine. Then, I know also some people who were
asking me, because I was never the owner of Computec, and I always was just working for
somebody. Of course now I’m the managing editor, chief operating officer, yes, but my plan
was never to become a millionaire and have five Porsches and everything would be great.
I’m living in a wonderful house and have cars. Everything is fine. I can afford everything
I want to. But to become a millionaire, or whatever, first of all, you can’t plan it;
second, it’s some risk; and in the end I think, what I did, I never in my life asked to get
more money. Never in my life. Never ever. I always was working and somebody offered
me more, and said, “Well, you’re doing a good job. Good results. You get the bonus. You
get more money.” So basically money was never primary. Of course, I was like, “I would like
to have more money.” But that was not the thing. Still when I go to work I think making
good products, and that’s the most important thing. If you say, “Now I’m making an app
like Angry Birds or Temple Run or Doodle Jump and Flappy Bird, and then I’ll be a millionaire,
this just won’t happen. I have met many clever guys, and they were making. But the guys I
know that are in that position, have such money, they didn’t plan it. It only happened.
If you plan it, it’s like, “Now, I stop working with computing, now I become a music star.”
It just won’t happen. Also, I think that’s something, if you are doing it for money,
that’s the same as football players. Of course, when my son was all like, “How much does a
tennis player gain? And a football player? And a golf player?” I said, “Okay, now I will
become the best golf player in the world. No, it just won’t happen. So he can’t plan
it. That’s, I think, also something important. First of all, you need to like what you do,
to love what you work with, and of course, you need to love your wife, your friend of
children. That’s the most important thing, and you need to like your work. If you have
fun everyday and if you’re going to work not because you are forced, but if you’re going
to work because you like it. That’s the most important thing. If you can make a living
out of it, that’s a basic thing. If you get a lot of money or more money, you just can’t
influence it. Of course, if you are lazy, and you don’t like your job, and you don’t
like the products, then it will never happen. Of course, if you are lazy, that’s something
I tell my sons all the time, you can learn all the time and do the best all the time,
it doesn’t guarantee you that you will become a millionaire, or a managing director or whatever.
But if you’re lazy, and not making good things, nothing of it will happen, that’s for sure. N: Well, I guess it was not easy back
then, because I remember even my childhood, like 20 years ago, games
were never social liked, or really accepted as culture thing. That
chance happened a few years ago. But I remember, “Video game playing is
bad. It’s waste of time, and you could do better things. You could go
outside there. You could spend money on good things, donations, whatever,
instead of buying video games or computers or game consoles.” So, I
guess for you in the early ’80s it must have been even harder. What did
your parents say when you decided to not finish your study, but rather go
for publishing or video game producing? I guess that must have
been really really hard. Well, I’m very thankful for my parents, because
they never had a bad feeling about games. Of course, I remember once when I got the
C64 and got the tape with 20 games on it, and was playing, and the first two months
more than the pro-coding, my father was a little bit disappointed. “I thought that you
were programming games.” and now he was disappointed because I was playing them. That was his impression.
But, I’m happy with that they never had bad feelings about games. Also, because I was
always behaving like a nice guy. I was a prude or whatever. I absolutely know what you mean,
because all my life I had to argue about games and that this is a good thing and it’s not
basically a bad thing. During the ’90, especially here in Bavaria, where we are, it was always
dangerous and somebody thought that killer games might be completely forbidden here in
Bavaria. Though we always explained that games are not a bad thing and always explained that
there are bad books, that doesn’t suite children, there are bad movies, there is bad music that
is not right for children. The parents’ job is to take care of the children, what they’re
doing. Anything that you are doing too much is bad. If you’re playing all the time, it’s
bad. If you’re playing tennis all the time, it’s bad. If you’re reading books all the
time and doing nothing else, it’s bad. If you’re only watching television and doing
nothing. Everything you’re doing too much is basically bad. It’s the same with games.
There are games that are right for children, there are games that are not right for children.
If somebody doesn’t take care of the children, what they are doing, what games they are playing,
then it’s really a problem. But it’s the same if they let them watch brutal movies or porn
movies, whatever. Then if they don’t care about that, that’s basically the problem.
Now it has completely changed. For example, at the last Deutsche Computerspielpreis, which
now was in Berlin this year, and this 2016 in Munich, the list of the secretary from
the government, he was standing there and telling his story, when he started playing
games. That’s the point. I’m 45 now, and people my age are all, even a bit older or younger,
they have all grown up with games, and ten years ago you had the problem that, probably
I don’t want to mention any names, somebody was hating games, but he actually never played.
There was a danger that games are bad, but now, today I was in Munich and everybody has
grown up with games, some have even played my games. So it’s different. Now, games are
socially accepted, because they have grown up with games. There was a time when rock
music was, and Elvis was horrible, but it changes. So now it’s different. If somebody
says games, or something they want to have presentation somewhere, I always ask, “Who
has a smartphone?” and of course, everybody says, “Yes, here.” and it was last year and
there were people from 10 to 80, and even the 80 year olds, yes, they have a smartphone.
Yes, they were playing a game. If they didn’t, the children or the grandchildren did. So
that’s different. So, today everyone is playing games, and if it’s only Doodle Jump on the
smartphone. But everyone is playing and everyone is understanding. Also, Wii U did from Nintendo
did, very did a lot to make games socially acceptable. N: Special games. Special games. Playing Golf on Wii. Also,
my mother did it, and everyone. I think that’s something that changed. Also, Kawashima Brain
Jogging did Jogging, these products did a lot that games are socially accepted now.
That’s something we don’t have to fight, of course. If somebody’s coming up and saying,”
Hey, games are brutal.” then it’s well… I always tell it’s the same. There are movies
and… Basically I would say probably it’s better to play a game than to watch television.
Because television nowadays is sometimes really, really stupid. There are scripted reality
series, they are so stupid. Really stupid. Now I tell Vincent, he was just at door, “Vincent,
I prefer you to play Minecraft than watching Frauentausch.” It;s better for his creativity
or whatever. N: It’s interesting. Yeah. Well,
nowadays television changed. Anyway, people nowadays like to watch “Let’s
Play”s, where other people play the games, some even the games you coded.
That must be interesting. I’ve seen a comic strip just a few days ago
that somebody was, “What are you doing? You are watching somebody playing a game? How
stupid is that?” Then, in the next picture he was going to the television watching Manchester
United against Bayern Munich playing. It’s like, “Okay. It’s basically it.” N: The same thing. Yeah. It’s the same thing. What my wife and I, we
are married now for 16 years, when she was pregnant with the first son, it was a very
hard winter in Bavaria. We had one week of snow and at that time I was playing on the
PlayStation. I remember it was a Christmas holiday, so we weren’t going because she was
pregnant. We were staying at home. I was playing and she was watching, and that was entertaining
for her, and for me. So “Let’s Play”, I probably wouldn’t like to watch. I never wanted to
watch any people, that’s also why I don’t watch ESL, because I doesn’t give me anything.
But, there are many people that like to watch them, and that’s okay. But I also think the
games industry found out that it’s dangerous for them, because usually you want to see
all the game, and if you know, “Well, I don’t have to buy this game. I just watch somebody
playing Super Mario to the last level.” But it’s okay to watch it. My wife also likes
to watch it and also Vincent likes to watch Luca playing Gran Turismo, for example. It’s
interesting to see, and I would have never predicted this, that Gronk and all that stuff
would become so popular, but they are. That’s a fine thing, I would say, because it shows
how important games are. N: Well, you have to be open-minded. I
just spoke to a co-worker today at my job, that there is a channel on
YouTube called “Elders React To”. They actually got elder people, like
63 and older to play GTA V, and you would be surprised how many of those
60, 70, 80+ years old guys actually loved killing police men or
something, or driving over somebody, and then realize, “Okay. So the game
that my grandchild is playing isn’t so boring at all. It’s actually some
kind of entertaining to be a gangster and having a gangster life. Okay. That’s interesting. Yeah, because now
it’s just entertainment. Yeah, that’s really funny. Did you see it, by the way, there was
just in these days a real life GTA video that was made by some guys in Russia? N: Yes. I saw that. Yeah. That’s really great. That’s funny because
now it’s vice versa, it’s the other way around. Very funny. N: Yeah. So I see you are still in part
with it. What I would like to know is when you write about or when you see
games nowadays, did games development for you, was it different back then
when you started? How did you actually start making a game?
Nowadays you don’t really have so much to code anymore. I guess you
have like a development kit and then you put things together kind of, but
I guess for you it was different, back then. At that time that was the challenge for me,
to be a good coder. If you were a good coder like Andrew Braybrook with Uridium, or the
Bitmap Bros, if you remember, the you had the best product. N: Speedball. Yeah, Speedball. Yeah, and later on Chaos
Engine. Also Sensible Software with Wizball was great. The difference is, at that time
it was the biggest challenge to be a coder. What he did with Turrican. That was the main
challenge and because then you had really great product that nobody else had. Of course,
you were thinking about the idea when Danger Freak was a good idea, and Kangarudy, for
example. But now it’s different. That’s why I never liked development for PC, because
you have to have limitations. Like, “Okay, we all have to say computer.” and “We have
a competition.” and “We have the same computer.” and “Who’s making the best product?” I always
hated developers for PCs, like, “Okay, you need more memory. You need a different graphic
card.” Then we have it’s like the worst challenge here. What’s going on? It’s like we come on,
“Yeah, you always need the newest PC, then it’ll work.” You can’t work this way. Also
once, when it was clear that coding is just a part of the job, but it’s not the most important
job. Then, for me, it was less interesting, because I wanted to prove that I’m the best
coder. Also, it was getting too huge, because at the time I was coding, and then had one
or two graphic artists and one musician, then had two or three guys doing QA playing the
game, and that’s it. But as it moved on the teams were getting bigger and bigger. Now,
of course sometimes you have a very small simple gaming app, like Doodle Jump or Flappy
Birds that I would like to code on my own. But now it’s different. Look at something
like Destiny or GTA or whatever, it’s huge project and it has nothing at all to do with
the coding at that time. For me, personally, it was like basically coding to have the idea
how can I get it to work, “I have 16 stripes on the screen, Power/Lock scrolling, how can
I make it right?” and, yes, I did it. But, later on, nobody was asking for it anymore.
It’s like it was the idea. So you can’t compare it, what the challenges were at that time.
So now it’s really multi-million business. Even simple games that you need 10-20-30 million
euros development budget, for example now we have the new, I know it now, PC Games magazine
or next Seedler would come very shortly completely changed, compared to the preview version they
had one year ago, and it had so many people working for it, and it’s such a huge process,
developing one single game. It’s completely different. So I prefer to have someone in
Computec, we have 200 people, but working on various projects. Also, one thing is it
takes so long. It takes so long to get the finished product. You know you can’t produce
a magazine or a website, which can change then, usual. You see, wherever reality’s very
soon, but with the game being in development for two or three or four years, for example,
and some games might never be released, like Titan from Blizzard, as we all know. You’re
always just a small part of a huge team, and of course, it’s a great job to do, but it’s
nothing that you can compare when we have seen games like Turrican or that program by
David Perry. I had a really good relationship with David Perry at that time. That was one
programmer, now it’s like, “Who is Mr. Destiny?” or “Who is Mr. World of Warcraft?” Of course,
yeah, you know some guys from Blizzard, but there are so many people working for it. Music
is different. Chris Huelsbeck you know Hans Zimmer. It’s coming out of their brains, mainly.
Of course, Hans Zimmer has somebody working for him. Chris though, doesn’t have, but it’s
different. Also, from an author of a book, that’s from his brain. We still have only
Shigeru Miyamoto. He’s genius. But basically that’s something I don’t like about the games
business, that you don’t know the people behind it. Because, maybe the company doesn’t want
the brain behind it to become popular, or maybe they don’t want to, or maybe there are
so many people, and that’s different. N: Exactly. If I think about it, for
example, the music from Command & Conquer series, everybody knows it’s
Frank Klepacki, but nobody knows who coded it, or who did the graphics.
That’s actually right. That’s true. He and Louis Castle from Westwood
were the main people behind it. N: Okay. Yeah, that’s the knowledge.
Okay. Yeah, but that was only funny because I was
the first German journalist to talk to them during the CS and then Las Vegas. At that
time there was Dune on the Mega Drive, I mean the real-time strategy game. N: Oh, yes. I know both games. Yeah. Yeah, and basically Dune was something like
the prequel to Command & Conquer. But you’re right, I only know that because we were going
some years together and all. Then for example, when we had in the ’90s we launched the new
PC action magazine. Of course, I said, “Well, I’m going to arrange smart front-cover story
for the first issue, and that was, of course, Command & Conquer 2: Red Alert, and I was
calling Louis and I said, “Well, you know we’re going to launch a new magazine.” “Oh,
you’re going to launch a new magazine. How can I help you, Hans?” That’s the reason why
I remember it. I remember the program was. of course, I only remember that because for
me David Perry, what he did with Aladdin on Mega Drive, and Cool Spot and Earthworm Jim
was unbelievable. Really unbelievable. But you are right. That’s what I said, you don’t
know it. You know Miyamoto games, you know the Pikmin, but you also know the truth is
Miyamoto is not doing everything there, it’s many, many, many people working for that,
for example, the new Zelda, they’re coming also to the stage. Yeah, that’s the difference.
That’s the difference to compare to the ’80s and ’90s, that there are huge projects and
although the pressure is very high, and although the company and the pressure is very high
that they’re going to get good reviews. But it has to take care that we have regular news
and previews, and now websites, and the magazines. Because, Destiny for example, at that time
there was coming a disk with Lemmings, it’s like, “Oh, very funny.” It turned out to be
a huge hit. But nowadays you have blockbusters and there’s so much pressure on it. On the
media and on every one. That’s the difference. At that time it was funny, “Yeah, let’s look
at the new products, at the show.” and it’s like, “Well maybe we do something, maybe not.”
Now it’s clear that there is so much pressure on the editors-in-chief and then the star
and probably sometimes even on me. They are calling me, “Hello, Hans. What can we do about
new product? It has cost a fortune to make and how can you help us?” N: Yeah, but nowadays you have different
options. Many games are funded by Kickstarter. Yeah. N: I was just having an interview two
weeks ago with the guy who works on Aquanox: Deep Descent. Okay. N: So yeah, also Kickstarted by an
Austrian company and developed by a Serbian company, so it’s pretty
interesting. Just today they announced that their sequel of
BattleTech. So the future goes into two directions it seems, into indie
game development… That’s really good because there are some
really nice products. That’s something you can compare with the good old days. That has
more personality. But also, I’m not best friend of Kickstarter because for one reason, because
many people really give a lot of the money to products and many of the products never
see the light of day, and there were a lot of disappointment. I’m afraid that Kickstarter
once will have a very bad image because it’s like, “Yeah, I was pitching for ten products
and eight of them never were released. Also, some gaming celebrities, superstars get millions
of millions of millions, and then there’s… N: Like Ron Gilbert, for example. For example. Or another way around to get
million and suddenly say, “No, that’s not enough.” N: But I guess Ron Gilbert, for example,
he wouldn’t go and run with the money. No, he wouldn’t, but is it really clever or
on the other way I really like Sony. I like a lot of the guys at Sony. To ask of the fans
to give millions and when it’s published by Sony, I just don’t understand it. I understand
for a certain reason that you want to make sure does anyone wants this product out there,
I understand this. But if you have a small amount and say, “You know? I just want to
find out whether there’s a market, and then we have a very special occasion for the die-hard
fans, to get dinner with Chris for example. That’s something special. But I think it’s
dangerous when companies, really multi-billion companies use Kickstarter. I don’t think that
Kickstarter has been founded to support billion-dollar companies, because at Computec, I would never
have the idea to say, “Well, we’re going to have a special issue of a magazine, give us
50,000 euros, then we’ll have a special issue ‘Retro games’.” I would never have the idea.
It’s like, “No, we are a company. It’s our job to do this. If it does work, it doesn’t
work.” Basically, we have Kickstarter. It’s everyday on the news stand, if somebody’s
buying our magazine – wonderful, we can afford to make a new issue. But basically I would
say Kickstarter is great and if would have had Kickstarter back then in the 1986, you
guess what I would have done at that time. I wouldn’t have asked Rainbow Arts to get
me a contract and take 80% of the revenues, 10% of the rest is for me, and 10% is for
whatever. That would be great, but also one thing is for sure, you always did some businessman.
There are creative people making good games or music or whatever, or even movies, for
example, but they are no businessmen. That’s something some people really need. They need
support from the business side. Also timetable, planning, schedule. They need to have that
somebody that you know what to do and they need to get assistance, I would say. That’s
I would say maybe the problem now, we have very popular space game from Germany that
has been a big Kickstarter success, but if they don’t have the assistance or know how
on business side things might get out of control. I find it very interesting to see there’s
a certain guy about Star Citizen, talking about what was like, this probably will never
happen or whatever. It’s very interesting to see because that there is a publishing
industry. There’s a reason for that. Publishing games or music or movies, because there are
certain things you need to do, and you need to know what you do. If you just look you
and me just sitting here, “Yeah. Somebody, give us some money. What to do now?” Let’s
make a movie about the good old times and that’s time scheduling. If you need to do
this and that, and that’s your money, if somebody doesn’t assist you and you are not a good
business guy, then you might get in some trouble. That’s the danger of Kickstarter in my opinion,
that many people will be disappointed because not everybody has millions. Some of them it’s,
“Okay. I’m pledging 50 euros.” and they are not earning enough it means a lot for them,
50 euros, and if this product never comes, then they will be disappointed and once in
a while they won’t return to Kickstarter. N: Yeah, that’s a big issue. That’s
true. I’m not really sure that Kickstarter knows
about it. They don’t need any advice by me, but that’s my personal… First of all I was
very happy and I remember, I really remember when Chris was contacting me a few years ago,
and he said, “You know, Hans, there’s something new.” and “What do you think? Is that something
here in Germany like Kickstarter No, it’s nothing like Kickstarter, but Chris, I can
guarantee you if you’re going to launch something at Kickstarter all of our magazines will write
about it. Just give me the screenshots, information on every website, in every magazine, we will
write about it. I will give you the support.” We also did it with the piano book collection
and that stuff. So I remember at that time, watching it, “That’s coming money. Great.”
And also Tommy Tallarico was asking me, and of course, we have the media to get this news
out to the people there. I remember the good thing, but when I talk to people right now,
then it’s like, the first thing I hear, “Yeah, I spent so much money and most of the products
never have been released.” N: That’s changed. Well, on the other
hand there’s a second development I noticed in the last year, is that a
lot of old companies, game development companies are reborn, for
example 3Drums or Sierra suddenly releasing a new King’s Quest. Yes. N: So you said you would like to see a
new Win Commander. Yes. I’m wondering that Electronic Arts bought
so many companies and brands, like the brands disappeared, and they don’t use it again.
It’s as always, you also have Guitar Hero, the fantastic thing and of course, that’s
something. When you find out that somebody likes something then you want to make more
money out of it. What you do every year, you become new and once in a while it will get
boring, because you can’t have so many new ideas every year. That’s a basic problem.
Sometimes it’s the same in the movie industry. That’s a system you have in a company. Once
you find out that something is going well, then you will have as many adorations as people
will like, and once in a while you will come to the point that people don’t like it anymore.
For example, if you would have had – every three or four years, then it would still be
successful. For example, you don’t have a yearly sequel of settlers. But, from time
to time have a new heads up. Also, example, if you take your time, then you can have friends
for 20 or 30 years, because I remember when I was having the thing about Settlers from
Amiga and still Settlers is now popular.The next Settler is in the making and will have
a report in PC Games magazine in the next few months. You always have to be careful.
Also, if you have a musician releasing a new CD, it’s might get boring. For example, with
Michael Jackson, if you don’t like it, if it doesn’t matter, he was only leading to
be star every five, six, seven, eight, nine years. Yeah, absolutely. Also, Prince was
also genius, but he was releasing too many CDs. But basically, I would say, it’s always
the same. You shouldn’t always give the people what they want, because they always want more
and more and more. It’s the same with chocolate, if you want a chocolate and then another one,
and another one, and another one. Somebody has to take care, “No, that’s too much. Too
many movies. Too many games.” That’s something we have to get somebody. it’s like with the
Guitar Hero, now it’s coming back again. Guitar Hero was so brilliant, but as soon as company
has getting their hands on the thing, “You can make money.” then they’re always squeezing
out as much money as possible. It’s the same of course here with the Computec as a publishing
house. First of all, we need to have the money to pay the bills, and then to pay the colleagues.
Somebody should be careful. For example, the break that Electronic Arts took with Need
for Speed, I think that’s a good thing. It was a good thing. They probably shouldn’t
release new Need for Speed every year. Also, Gran Turismo for example, every new Gran Turismo
is great, perfect. My son is still playing Gran Turismo on the PlayStation and on the
old PlayStation here, because we don’t have a new currently. Because there are some brands
like Settlers where it really works. Another thing with it that now they found the good
way to keep the product, the brand alive, because the brand was nearly dead when they
were releasing a new Tomb Raider every year. Now, when you start releasing also Uncharted,
for example. They have never made a mistake that they were using Uncharted every year.
Every Uncharted so far has been a very big product. That’s a bit learning for the games
industry to take care of the brands and the products and not let the financial guys rule
the company saying, “Yeah, we need to have it every year.” because that’s dangerous.
Because then you can kill something that probably… I think that somebody should write a book
about it, How To Keep Brands Alive. N: So that is why you never made a
Danger Freak 2 or something? But wait, now I can hear you at the speaker. N: Okay. Nice. To be honest I never was in the position to
think about having a sequel because non of the products was so successful. I never thought
about it. Of course, I was started on Kangarudy 2, but that was basically to make some money
for my studies. After Danger Freak we never had the idea of doing sequels, because at
that time there were no sequels. Of course, we all remember Pitstop and Pitstop 2. Of
course, Pitstop 2 was much better, but it would have been boring, to be honest, to have
after Danger Freak, Danger Freak 2. After all it would’ve been boring. It wouldn’t be
boring to be honest, because I didn’t do this to make money. Of course, yes, I got money
for that, but it was a bit challenge was to develop, to find the code on the road was
technically speaking the most difficult one for me, make it work and make it look as good
as nearly good as Amiga was. That was the challenge to say, “Two is okay.” Somebody
can clone new levels, but make the code, no. Did anyone know Andrew never made Origin 2
or Hellcat 2. No, he never did. N: That’s a good point that you mention
it because I was reading reviews about Kangarudy 2, and a lot of
people said bad things about it saying it’s the same game basically. Yeah. It’s not something I’m proud of. But
the reason was I had a chance to make some money with it and I was paying for rent on
my own. Also, more or less, the thing was for me, it was the first time to do everything
on my own, producing a disk, the package, everything on my own. That was more reason
for me to do this once. At that point it was not about the game, it was more about the
process of being your own publisher. So I’m not proud about the game, because I didn’t
change a lot, to be honest. But it was a different thing. Yes. I was great fan of C64. It was
the editor of that time, I know. There was once a review of Danger Freak in C64, I still
have it somewhere here, page. I’m really proud of it. Yeah. And they said that the C64 version
of Danger Freak is pretty good, and the Amiga version is crap. N: Yeah. They were right because Danger Freak was a
game for C64 and I didn’t do the Amiga version, it was just a conversion of my game, and they
were absolutely rights. Yeah. N: It’s interesting because in an
interview about Danger Freak you mentioned that you were very proud of
it because it had parallel scrolling in different speed and different
directions and that was kind of a first. Yes, in 1988. The main thing is parallel scrolling
in different angle, I would say, like here. This is something we had, but we also had
this effect, but you had actually been moving behind it. That was something I had before.
So very proud of it. I think it was in the first level with the car and then the horizon
that was kind of parallel, but in the third level with the flying the small airplane.
We had real parallel scrolling at different speed. That was quite tricky to produce, but
it still looks fine. I’m really proud of it, because I remember how I had the idea how
to do it and how it might work. That was the main thing and that’s why I like the C64,
so many things possible. For example, I remember you read something or also Hawkeye, of course,
all of them. Then, of course, WispBall. WispBall was unbelievable and that was something I
liked the C64 because the C64 was much better machine than Spectrum for example or Amstrad
CPC. That was really different than the C64 was really a genius piece of hardware. Chris
could tell you a lot the seed and I see the graphics chip and the 64 kilobyte of RAM,
that was really unbelievable, what you could make of this machine. Nobody cares about what
can you do out of iPhone. N: Yeah, but back then, when the iPhone
platform started, in 2007, people were surprised by the quality of the
games that were possible. Yeah. Absolutely. N: Asphalt, which I think was the most
famous racing game on the iPhone platform, like, “Oh, my God.” I think it’s in my iPhone, yeah. But because
my son has downloaded it. N: So yeah. It’s also interesting
because it’s similar to the story that David Crane told me, co-founder
of Activision, he said that VCS… Can I tell you, David Crane, yeah, Little
Computer People, Pitfall 1, Pitfall 2. Little Computer People, that’s something. Ghostbusters,
and all that stuff. Yeah. Just a few weeks ago I’ve been watching your video on YouTube
with David Crane. He was, for me, the first popular programmer, developer, David Crane.
Then I guess, the second name I remember was Chris Hubbard. Rob Hubbard, sorry. N: Rob Hubbard. Rob Hubbard, yeah. David Crane and Rob Hubbard,
these were developer and the other one wrote music. Commando, the music thing of the spring.
These were the first, and also Little Computer People. What did you say, sorry? N: I just want to say David and I did an
interview. He told me that he… What? It would be the same, I would like to do an
interview with David Crane, because I would sit here just like you interviewing me, the
same. Because basically all Europeans are the same. But some people mean more to you.
David Crane would be somebody that I would say, “You were somebody who had influence
on me.” Now, I’m sorry. N: You want to say you would like to sit
on my side in the interview? Yeah. N: Well, it was pretty easy. I wanted to
interview him, but I couldn’t get him by email, so I just called him. I was
on the phone, and there was like, “Am I talking to David Crane?” and he was
like, “Yes, indeed.” So I’m like, “Oh, my God. I’m finally talking to
David Crane. Atari or Activision real pioneer. Yeah. N: Yeah. The analogy was, that I wanted
to draw id, he told me that he planned the games like, “What can I
do with the console other than pong?” The BCS. So this is how he developed
the game. He was thinking about, “What could I do to do something new
on the console?” and this is how he got to do Pitfall. And then only the signature of Activision
logo on the screen was great. All these colors, that was fantastic. N: Yeah. So this is what you say, you
did a game and you’re trying to learn new techniques and make something out
of it that even the creators of Commodore thought was not possible. I
remember having an interview with David Heynie who did develop the 128
and he told me that when they try to make the C64 mode in the Commodore
128, they had a problem because the coders did tricks like illegal up-
codes and so on that they didn’t know about because they were not
documented and it was really hard to get that all in, all games and such
things would still run on the 128. Yes. I thought that’s true. For example, you
remember my second game, bad thing about Bad Cat was once again, the music of Chris, the
title music for Bad Cat with the real drum sounds, but these drum sounds didn’t work
on a later version because it was also something like a mistake. N: They did a back-fix on the 8580, on
the later version date. Remove the back that was giving the possibility
to play digital samples. Yeah, that’s what I mean. We had a compilation
where I also recommended to have Bad Cat on the soundtrack, on the compilation because
I really remember that was something special and that was because of a mistake and that’s
true. N: It’s interesting because Chris told
me that when you guys found out the different characteristics of the new
soundchip, Chris changed his music routine. Later games, you code it and
he did the music play right on all C64 models. Yeah, that’s something you have to do. It’s
like today, after releasing a new iOS and then you have to change iOS apps and change
the resolution and whatever. That’s typical thing. But that used to now, but at that time,
basically, that’s what I said, everything is the same, all the time, and you don’t have
to think about it. But now, every time if you have an app, every time Apple or Google
are releasing a new version of their system, then you have to think, “Do I have to change
something for it to work?” That’s the usual thing you have to do in nowadays. N: But back then you couldn’t apply a
patch. No. That’s something I also hated about the
PC market always. I prefer C64 or Amiga console market. When a product is finished, it’s finished.
Here we have it on floppy, here you have it a cartridge and that’s it. Also on the console
market there’s a big Q&A department, in Liverpool for Sony for example. They are testing the
product until everything is fine. Then when the product is really fine, it’s finished.
On the PC market it’s always like, “Okay, here we have a patch.” Unbelievable. How can
you do that? You have to finish a product before you release it. It’s like you know
Azcaron what they did. N: The latest Batman was a fine example. Great! That’s what would happen in the console
business, because there is a department saying, “No, you’re not allowed to release it.” That’s
something I don’t understand because it’s like sending, printing a magazine and then
“Oh, well, you know… Sorry we can’t do it.” It’s like a musician you have to finish your
CD or album, now it’s done. Of course you are. That’s what I meant before. If somebody
tells you, “You have this amount of time, you have to get it right.” There is somebody
who would never get it finished. That’s not because, mainly it’s not because it’s never
satisfied. Maybe it’s because somebody’s just to lazy to make it run. That’s something I
don’t understand. It’ because you can’t release a product that is not finished, because we
are going to cinema and watching new Star Wars in December. It needs to be finished.
It’s not like, “What do you think? The first version. We have a new version in three months
time. Please don’t mention the previous versions of Star Wars now.” N: That’s what I was thinking, you know.
George Lucas. You know you have to have a party. Godfather.
That’s Godfather 1, 2, 3. That’s it. Perfect. I’m also pretty sure that anyone would say,
“I’d like to change.” But that’s a problem, it’s how it is. N: You’re right. I didn’t play any
second of the new Batman because it crashed right after the intro. Okay. That’s not good. That’s not good because
next time, with the next Batman game you would think about it. I can’t imagine how something
like this can happen. I just can’t imagine, but also I couldn’t imagine that something
like this happened at Volkswagen, by the way. N: That’s true. That a brand or a company doesn’t prevent
failures. N: But I guess I have never heard of a
game before that actually removed from the market because it didn’t
play on most PCs. No, no. N: I guess that’s the first. Yeah. That’s a problem and they are not proud
of it. That’s really a shame because it’s a really good game on a console. That’s really.
The Batman brand is really great and they are using good games. That’s what happens
when you get lazy and you go, “Yeah, it’s great. It’s Okay, it’s Okay.” On the other
hand, you meet somebody, for example to say Chris. Chris, it’s fine now, it’s finished,
it’s Okay, wonderful. Not like, “No, I have to change it.” N: I can really see what you mean
because I was sitting at revision some years ago next to Oliver Lindau
at StarByte Software. You know? I remember his name. N: He’s still active on the scene, on
the C64. Didn’t he make Rolling Ronny? N: Yes, exactly. Really? I guess I hadn’t noticed his name
since I was in Bochum and had a meeting. Many, many hears ago by the end of ’80s, beginning
of ’90s. N: So specs since 5 years to the
Commodore 64 demo scene actually. This year he is releasing a new
graphic adventure. How many units can you sell of C64 games nowadays? N: From what I heard, like 50 or
something. I guess they only do it for hobby, not really for earning money. It should not think about Kangarudy 3. As
I said, you shouldn’t do it for the money. N: So you wouldn’t do a Kickstarter or
something? Would be funny to see Kangarudy to be at Kickstarter
just to find out isn’t anybody out there. Just imagine, probably some guys like you
would turn up. It’s like, “Oh my God!” N: But wasn’t Genesis first done this
way? I think was also funded by Kickstarter. Yeah. That’s interesting. Absolutely. N: So it’s not to far of actually? Yeah. Actually it was also funded because
they didn’t have the right for the brand. N: Black forest games, right? They didn’t have the right for the brand.
Somebody else, Rainbow Arts managed to have the rights. He’s a guy who moved to the US
long, long time ago with four other guys. They had the right for the brand. He bought,
actually that’s something I heard last week, he bought the rights for all of the Rainbow
Arts brands. Maybe I should ask him if he has the rights for the Danger Freak Solder,
but he goes, “Because I fear dealing with Black forest games.” N: It’s interesting. Now you would like to know who I’m talking
about. N: If you want to tell, I’m not forcing
you to tell me. I’ve been told somebody from Factor 5 had
all the rights. I could tell, but I wont tell his name. I hear he actually had rights now
and they had ID’s. That’s something they did, they just used the brand without having the
rights. That’s actually not very clever. In the end it turned out to be Okay for everyone. N: Well the same happened with lot of
the Ring’s Pit hole Holiday Hotel that also was stopped by the movie
company because they didn’t have the right to. They started a Kickstarter
without asking for permission. This can always happen. You know what I mean, in terms of business
someone needs to assist them. That’s what I mean with business leading, all that stuff
is a different thing that some people don’t think about. N: I guess what also had them was that
Chris did the music for it. Yes. That’s fine. I think that also would
main… For me it was one of the main reasons why it was successful. Because we have so
many Chris Huelsbeck fans out there in the world, including m, by the way. That would
support anything. Also that was the reason, one at Computec we had a mobile game released
in the soundtrack was done by Chris, because my idea was, “Okay, we have a mobile game
for iOS and Android. Let’s make sure that many people would buy it, let’s have some
music by Chris.” That was my thought. Let’s include music by Chris, because in front of
all it’s good music, and second of all, so many Chris Huelsbeck fans out there that will
support it. That’s one interesting thing, we all know that there are many, many Chris
Huelsbeck fans out there. Also many Tommy Tallarico fans out there. Musicians. But there
are not so many Hans Ippisch fans out there that will support Kangarudy 3. But, we all
know we have some fans of Chris Rowan out there, I’ve heard. I’m pretty sure it’s David
Perry and Tommy Tallarico would join forces and say, “We’re going to have Earthworm Jim
PlayStation. I’m pretty sure that this will go through the roof. Probably should tell
them. N: Well Cinema World announced they are
going to release It came from the desert for the Mega Drive. For Mega Drive? N: For the Mega Drive, yeah. You know, also known as Genesis. And it’s
part of C64? N: I guess. I guess. Yeah. On Mega Drive. No, but actually at hometown
we don’t actually have Sega Mega’s anymore. N: It’s interesting, there are still
retro fans out there. But, one thing I would like to know, what’s your
opinion about the new adventure that Ron Gilbert is doing because he was
saying on his development blog that graphics will be old school, like
Monkey Island, but not the sound, because he wrote that he wouldn’t
like people have bleeding ears from the awful sound abilities they had in
the ’80s and ’90s. Well that is true. We will all like the picture
of the retro style, that’s something we can live with. Even though, that’s very interesting,
it never looked like this in the past because at that time, the television… N: SRTs. Yeah, you know the tellies just wouldn’t chop
enough so you never actually was the pixels like you see now. You know that tie Chris
had with pixel sword, we never saw it this way, but we also getting like Pixel the movie,
we are fine with it. But with the sound, indeed it’s difficult. To be honest, basically I
always say with the music, I like retro versions of music tracks. I never liked live CD’s and
also I prefer, press released it last week, original C64 versions of the songs. Also one
track of Soldier, ut when you have a new game, then you should have a sound that sounds like
it’s from our days, I think so. N: It’s good that you mention it because
that is something Sega was complimented for, that they include
the original music when they released Altheron Coast to Coast in 2006. You know what I have here on the original?
I have to show it because I’m really, really proud of it. The first game music I really
liked was, just a moment, it was in 1986 when I was in discotheque for the first time. There
was one sound I really liked. That was actually the first game music I said, “Wow, that’s
great.” Now I can start it. You know it? N: Oh, yeah. Can you see it? N: Yeah, Space Harrier, Space Harrier,
Space Harrier. Yeah I remember Space Harrier. Actually that’s Space Harrier 2, but that’s
as close at it can get and I prefer the original version because, it really was in 1986. I
remember it because I was turning 16 and I was allowed to go tot discotheque. You know,
some Friday until 10 o’ clock. Then at the arcade, there was this Space Harrier machine
and I really loved this sound. I really fell in love with this sound. I always was spending
time there listening to the song. I was very proud when I, by the way, when I met Yu Suzuki
for the first time. That was also very special moment for me because Yu Suzuki was for me
Space Harrier, Altheron, Virtua Fighter and all that stuff, and also Space Harrier. So
Yu Suzuki and Space Harrier and I have it here, and I also have in my car playlist by
the way. I also have new CDs, but I also have Space Harrier. The other thing is that my
boys like it. That’s a very interesting thing to do, we have a test. That’s very easy to
find out, just a moment, because you will know it immediately from the version we could
also hear it, you could also hear it at video games live. So how many seconds? You can hear
it? N: Yeah, yeah. So achtung. Snake. N: Snake? I didn’t know that. You can hear the whole list. N: I don’t know that, sorry. The first one for the new PlayStation and
that time in 3D. PlayStation 2. N: I never played that actually. Oh, Okay. That’s also one of the greatest
things, you know I have here the Space Harrier. That’s actually form London philharmonic test-work
and also it’s one of the biggest part of Video Games Live from Tommy Tallarico because it’s
so moving. Also, every morning my son is driving to the city with me and I would bring him
to the school. He would always, this week he would every day he started this song in
the car because it’s really great. Because I think that’s a very important point. Some
games are getting old and they are not as cool as they were at that time. N: That’s true. I’m not so ancient so
well, but I know what you mean because my ringtone is actually Power
Drift. I would always have the ringtones from summer games. Exactly,
power drift. Actually I don’t remember that tune, by the
way. Oh, yeah. We’ll immediately know that your phone is ringing because it’s really…
I didn’t remember that. N: I also have the arcade version. That sounds better, yeah. Great. N: It’s actually great because I was
having an interview with him, too. The difference here is, it took me 10
years to find him. That’s the difference. People like Chris or
something, they’re easy to find, but people who are less know, they are
really hard to find. Especially if they have a name that is pretty
common. For example Chis Grigg form Epyx, the sound manager back in the
days, there are 50 people with his name in the state of California. He was responsible for the sound of the Winter
Games. N: Yes, The Games: Winter Edition, the
later version. I remember one of the most important sound
of was Winter Games with ski jumping. That was a very special. It was so moving. Summer
games and Winter Games and Summer Games 2, especially, these were an unbelievable product. N: He did also sound effects for Maniac
Mansion, Zak McKracken and such games. So I’m talking to a lot of
pioneers, back in the day. That’s a good thing. That’s
a really good thing because why not make a
presentation for the Culture Forum. I was looking for information for creative painters
and space involving things, I’m pretty sure we would have had Skype and internet and a
camera at that time. Everybody looking for plenty of information, but now it’s just really
difficult a screenshot or anything about him. I’m pretty sure this is something special
when you look back and with the work you are doing. It’s history. Sometimes it’s more history,
sometimes is less history, sometimes it’s just entertaining. But to keep this how did
it work, how did it come to that, because otherwise we would forget about that. Some
people would forget how did it come, the game industry started. What was the reason for
that? Because as you asked me how did it come, actually I was in the middle of the way. I
didn’t’ plan it. One thing led to another. Hopefully you know the butterfly effect. Somebody
made a decision that should be a computer room, in gymnasium in school where I was.
Without that computer room, maybe if this computer was 2-3-4 year later, I would have
never been in touch with a computer that way, I would have never asked for a computer as
a Christmas gift, I would have never bought a computer and C64 magazine, read the advertising
and sent my game there. That’s how it came to that and that’s very interesting. I never
had to plan, I woke up and said, “Now I want to be a computer programmer.” It was coming
together. I think that’s very interesting when you see, when you ask David Crane what
was his aim. I think basically, did anyone say they did it for the money? N: No, no, no. Not at all. Everyone said because that was
something moving them. N: David Crane told me he went to the
arcades and he played so much of shooting games, so decided his next
game won’t be a shooting game. It won’t be? N: Won’t be. He would always do
something that was the opposite of what was hip at the moment. And you see? He walked into the arcade, the
next game he wanted to do was have a game exactly like this. That’s why we have the
problem with it in our time. He tried to reproduce this game as accurate as possible. N: but from what I know, you had to do a
conversion of it. That was kind of the deal. The deal was causing problem. It was the same
like with Giana Sister and Mario, it was the same problem. It was not funny. I was playing
Space Harrier and I couldn’t do this on the C64. Of course Chris Butler did it on the
C64, not too bad by the way. I thought I can’t to Space harrier on the C64. Chris Butler,
I’m a big fan. I would say if you put it this way, probably I was one of the first programmers
in Germany. Big thing is that I have produced the first game that has been banned, and that
was the first game who has real music. I was actually never famous for my games. Maybe
I’m one of the persons who’s been in the industry for a very long time. That’s my achievement.
It’s not the biggest hit, or the best program, whatever, for at least for a very long time.
It’s something that I’m proud of, that I’m in the business for a very long time. I don’t
have as many fans as Chris, but in the other way I join the media society in ’91. That’s
quite the challenge. It’s probably that my achievement is more or less managed with my
colleagues together to keep moving from Print Magazine house, to publishing house, websites,
apps, videos, YouTube channel, social media and all that stuff. That’s a bigger achievement
for me then actually making brilliant games. Still, that you like it, thanks. N: Yes. It was just an Easter Egg. I
guess he had some blocks to fill. No, it was best place. At that time, yeah,
we didn’t even know it. Probably it was an Easter Egg and that didn’t bother. Since when
do we know Easter Eggs? N: I don’t know. ’87. It was just a joke. N: Is there anything we missed so far? I think we had a lot of topics that I haven’t
been asked in 25 years. N: Seriously? Nobody asked you before
about your past? Of course, yes. But, to be honest, White Max
on Danger Freak disk, that was something that I totally forgot about. I think that was great.
Of course I’ve been asked about my past and many things. It’s always nice, because everyone
has a different approach. Then also one thing that you have been talking to many people,
much more popular than me, and much more successful, that means something to me because it gives
me an impression how it works. It’s special mood where I would say you understand. It’s
a special feeling. Sudden, many people wouldn’t just appreciate it. Because they say, “What
the hell are they talking about?” It like many people wouldn’t appreciate it, but I
really appreciate that you spend so much time investigating the past, or the pioneers. That’s
something I really appreciate. Of course, I couldn’t ask myself. It helps me also think
back why did I do this at that time. It also comes to one point, no, I didn’t do it for
money, it was the passion. That’s always important. It’s still important. When I go to work on
Monday again, it’s also important. From time to time it’s very good to have something like
this, like stuff to think and have new ideas. That’s something with your interview, your
questions makes me think a little in new way. That’s something you need. You need new creativity,
you need to have new ideas and that’s something very important. Because, if you don’t think
about what you did, then it will get boring. I’m only little side-noted in Germany, is
really pioneer. Without them, there wouldn’t be a Pong, there wouldn’t be Atary and all
that. I think Nolan just copied. That’s really the big difference. Like real genius. We have
various markets and I think my personal biggest achievement would be that I’m in the industry
for a very long time, that I’ve been game developer and now I am I would say more successful
on the media side. That’s the part that I can talk about. I worked with him, I met him
once. I was shaking his hand, not seeing him a lot. It was years ago. He’s really a true
hero. On the other side, I thing people like David Perry for example. N: White Max German in 1984, it’s by
Hans Ippisch. Language: German. Oh my God! N: They took it form the Danger Freak
disk. Okay. Unbelievable. N: I just sent you the link. There is a
download link. I will download it. Oh my God here it is.
Oh, God. High score from… Okay. Oh my God. N: You see 16 blocks, it says. There you
go. Great. Okay. N: You see the C64 community really has
everything. Yes. Really everything. Great. N: So keep in touch and talk to you
soon. Yes. Thank you so much. N: So have a nice evening, have a nice
weekend. Bye-bye.

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *