CWF caught up with Hurrican developer Jörg Winterstein, and got an interview. He leads the team that made fanfavourite game Hurrican. Of course inspired by the classic game Turrican, and that is not at all a bad thing. You can find the team's site here.
Hurrican is a Turrican clone that simply goes all out, and all in at the same time. This game has amazing action, amazing graphics and a soundside to it that other developers would propably kill for.
An amazing game for any gamer who enjoyed Turrican, action or ... well playing computer games in general. This game will have to get top marks from the staff here, and much deserved as it is really worked-through.
You can find Hurrican here.
We have so much to ask so lets begin:
My name is Jörg Winterstein and I have always been fascinated by games since my early childhood. Beeing addicted to games was the reason why I starteted programming on the C64. Does anybody remember the "up up and away" sample from the C64 handbook? I do :)
Q: Tell us more about yourself - how old are you, where do you live, what do
you do for a living? (one of these basic interview questions)
A: I am now 27 and live near Wärzburg, in Bavaria, Germany.Three years ago, I made my childhood dream come true and managed to get into the games industry. I am currently working as a freelance game programmer/designer, level designer and music artist. As I said, I love games, and when I started I had to do all stuff by myself, so that's why I am not specialized in one sector but work in different positions regarding games.
Q: When did you start playing games? Do you have any fond memories of those times and did you decide to make a game of your own because of some of them?
A: I have only fond memories of the times back then. And they are plenty :)
My playing sessions ranged from "sitting alone at night trying to finish that damn insane hard Last Ninja game without cheating" up to "spending the afternoon with friends and a lot of shouting and cheering when beating each others highscores at the california games".
But one game changed my young life... (See next question ;)
Q: Were you a big fan of a particular game that might have put you on to making this game or did you just like games in general?
A: In one word:
Turrican. This game was so awesome and so fun to play that I swore to do a game like this in my life, no matter what time it would take. And that was basically the birth of Hurrican. And after about 10 to 15 years later, I started working on it, and some more years later, it's done. Childhood dream come true again.... Awesome :)
Q: Did you ever have a crisis where you almost decided to make commercial games instead of freeware?
A: Since I work in the gaming industry, I apparently DO make commercial games. Even though it is the only job I would want to do (because everything else is just boring to me), it is even more fun to do your own games (freeware) where you can decide everything you want by yourself, and your creativity is not limited by some publisher who does not really know how to make a good game (or does not want to spend the money for it). At the moment, I am working on building up my own company together with Turri who did all the graphic stuff and design for Hurrican. Because that would be the perfect combination: Making games that I myself design AND making a living out of it :)
Q: What made you decide that you wanted to make freeware instead of commercial games?
A: Like I said, I do both. I intend to have my own company running, but of course, I will always keep on making freeware games, because you can reach much more people with it, and because I am such a nice guy ;)
Q:If you were to make a commercial game (however cheap or expensive) what kind of game would you make? And inspired by what?
A: In my opinion, a good game always has to have a good story and the player should be "deeply moved" like when seeing an emotional film or something. That's not exactly what we did with Hurrican, but that was just because of that oath from my childhood :) A game must of course also be fun to play, fun to explore, and fun to "learn and master". Like Atari once said "a minute to learn, a lifetime to master". I think my inspiration comes from a lot of games, since I play a lot myself.
You can probably find influences of Turrican, Metroid, Castlevania, Mario, Zelda or whatever game that I played and liked.
Q: Did you work alone or with more people?
A: I worked together with my friend and colleague Turri who made all the graphics and design stuff for Hurrican. Two other guys made some additional leveldesign as well.
Q: Being the leader of a group of volunteers can be frustrating as you can't really demand anything from them, since they are there of their own free will. How do you motivate the people making the game?
A: Well that's true, it can be very hard to motivate the people. But the good thing with Hurrican was that the other guys were just the same Turrican maniacs as I am, so there were only a few situations where they just needed a good kick in the ass to go on working. I think when being an artist, the chance of motivating other people is bigger then being a programmer. Everybody sees a game and says "that looks awesome!", but I hardly heard people screaming "That was programmed awesome!". So when you do art for a game, like modelling the main character or something, then the programming guys will be more enthusiastic to put it in the game when it looks cool rather than when its some sort of stick-figure. So motiovation can come from showing people "what the game will become".
Q: Was the game ever in danger of not being published? Why? And at what state?
There where times when we hardly worked on the game, and just did some minor stuff in about a month. Then at some point, people on our website started complaining that we don't release new Screenshots and stuff, and they started insulting us and said that the game would never be finished, it would be all some sort of illusion, the work would have stopped years ago
and we just did not want to admit it. That was quite hard for me, because I began asking myself "why are we doing this anyway? IS there an end in sight?". But in the end, the question of "will it be finished" was not releveant for me, because I KNEW I wanted to finish this game. Remember the oath? :)
Another fact was that there were still people around motivating us to keep going. And if there was only one people out of hundred who said so, it was worth for me to go on. I think, when you really believe in something and work hard for it, you can achieve it.
Q: What specific tech side of making a game is the hardest (to find people for)? (Music, Graphics, storyline, translation, etc.)
A: Since I do a lot different things myself and Turri did all the graphics, the content for the game was not really the problem. Well, perhaps leveldesign was a bit stressful for the editor being a bit crappy, but that's another story :) (I learned that investing 10 times the work in the tools instead of quickly finishing a tool and then having a pain in the ass working with it is ALWAYS the better alternative...)
The only problem was that every user has a different machine that the game runs on. Even if it runs on all P4 chips with NVidia graphic cards and onboard sound, you don't have even 1% of all the hardware variation that can appear in the user community. So when the first release came out, we had a lot of bugreports of users where the game simply wont run, or that they get funny errors like "all graphisc that are to be drawn flipped are not drawn
at all" and stuff like that. But after some good feedback from our community we managed to handle those things pretty fast.
A: The translation was no problem at all, since MANY of our fans send us translations in spanish. portugese, swedish, french etc. That was great, to see that the community really cares about your game.
Q: Did any sacrifices have to be made with the content?
A: Um.... Yes. We worked for many years on the game, and the content that was done at the beginning was in no way as good as the content that we did in the end. So we were redoing a lot of stuff.There were also many ideas that we wanted to put into the game, but it was just too much work (especially with the people complaining on the website...). So we just cut some things and keep them in mind for a possible sequel :)
Q: Where did you find the will to power through this consuming job? Did the fans help or was it just sheer willpower?
A: It was both. As I said: Believe in what you do, and you can do it. But of course the community was great help for us. They even offered us to help out with whatever things they could do, just to speed up the development process. Of course many people wanted to join the beta test.... But I think a lot of them only wanted to play the game instead of contributing to it.
Q: Will you keep working on the game or have we seen the last version of it.
A: As soon as I get the Visual Studio 6.0 code running under Visual Studio 2005 I will upload a patched version. There is also the possibility to mod the game by changing all of its content together with the level editor that we released. And if someone wants a special feature implemented in the game (and it is not way too much work to do), we will do it.
Q: What will be your next game/remake?
A: We are not quite sure at the moment. There are so many games I would like to remake. Like Golden Axe, Last Ninja, Barbarian and so on. We'll see :) But at the moment I am just relaxing from Hurrican and watching the game spread across the world.
Q: Where do you see yourself 5 years from now regarding gamemaking?
A: I am a millionaire and can code whatever I like, no matter how long it takes. Well. OK seriously... I want to have my own company running making games that I like. Besides that, I want to have enough time to still do some freeware remakes. Not as big as Hurrican, but of course well worth a download :)
Q: Any words for other freeware game developers?
A: Keep on supporting each other. We're all in the same boat! Always remember:
YOU can decide what your games should look. No one else.
Q: Any favourite freeware games we should know about?
A: I think you already know many of them, but here they come:
Clonk (older versions are freeware)
5 Days a Stranger
Q: If you were to mention a GOD of freeware, who would that be?
A: Maybe Derek Yu from Eternal Daughter. This game is just awesome
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: I am currently working on a commercial title for DS and PSP, but I am not allowed to talk about it.
Q: Have you ever heard of CWF's developer help project?
A: I must admit, not at all :(
Q: CWF's dev help project aims to be a 'bridge' between freeware developers and people interested in participating creating freeware games. If you needed more helpers, would you consider opening a thread in CWF, telling which kind of help you need?
A: Of course! I think there are a lot of talented and motivated people out
there, but they need a way to get together, so this would be a brilliant
Q: If you could choose to do a freeware game with any gamedeveloper (freeware or commercial) who would it be?
A: John Carmack and John Romero (I would like to work with them... AND they would have to work together again :)
Blast your way through nine action-packed levels filled with different enemies and powerups. You can learn the basic controls of the game by playing the tutorial level. A Turrican clone that simply goes all out, and all in at the same time. This game has amazing action, amazing graphics and a soundside to it that other developers would propably kill for. An amazing game for any gamer who enjoyed Turrican, action or ... well playing computer... (read more)
CWF Crew rating:
(6 of 6)