[Acorn Gaming]


Artex Interview

As the Acorn gaming scene stirs from its slumber, one company is currently doing more than any other to turn rhetoric into reality.

That company is Artex Software.


Acorn Gaming speaks to Artex about the company, their games and their plans for the future.

When did Artex first get together? Who works for you?
Artex was founded in 1997 with the release of Exodus. I had just decided to never make any computer stuff again, when many people (especially Acorn themselves) showed interest in a network strategy game for the Acorn games market. So we officially founded 'Artex Software GbR', with the purpose of making quality computer games. That is, games not only with good programming and gameplay, but also with 'design' - something that is not very well known in the Acorn games market!

The core of Artex are Dominik Heide, Florian Stadlbauer and myself [Jan Klose]. Dominik does C and Assembler programming and sound/music realisation. Florian is responsible for games design, management and PR. I'm doing design as well as programming, whereas Dominik does the fast optimized graphical routines and I'm concentrating on computer intelligence, interface and behaviour of the game elements.

Then we also have graphicians and musicians, as well as test players and, in the case of TEK, a film team, actors and (a few) stunt men.

Acorn games are notorious for being profitless - do you hope to change this with the quality of your releases?
We do not want to make games simply because it's fun - we are working very hard here, and most of us are doing full-time jobs. Naturally, we want to get rewarded for this work. So we have to do good games, games that can be sold many thousands of times. This may not sound very much compared to a typical PC game, but it is a lot for an Acorn game. Therefore we will be very busy advertising and visiting shows - anything that may attract people to our games.

Acorn are involved with TEK, aren't they? How far does this help extend?
I don't think I should say too much here, but they are offering massive support. This includes equipment as well as knowledge. Acorn will license the NetStation version of TEK, although only if the game is good enough, of course!

How well did Exodus sell?
Sales could have been better, and only one major magazine has done a review so far! (But two more are due to do reviews shortly). But we'll be doing some advertising for Exodus, and we hope to sell over 1000 copies during the first six months. TEK and Ankh will see more publicity, however, (including lots of advertisements), as these are being created as professional products right from the start. So their sales will hopefully be much higher.

Are you pleased with what you achieved with Exodus?
I didn't expect to see it so well-received. I knew the test players really liked it, but I was not sure about the reaction of the public. In fact, I thought I wouldn't even sell 200 copies, as this was my first commercial product for the Acorn market.

What do you think the secret to a successful game is?
First thing is design. Second thing is good gameplay. Third thing is good programming. Programming and gameplay are easy to achieve (if you have a bit of knowledge). But design needs resources. You need graphicians and musicians, and they are often hard to find. These people are rarely computer enthusiasts, and so they want money right from the start. Furthermore, you need lots of advertisement and publicity, which is something that is hard to do in the Acorn market.

Any plans for games after TEK and Ankh?
Yes. TEK will hopefully be followed by TEK 2, and maybe Ankh will also get a successor. We will do further Acorn games as soon as we have resources for them (we're all very busy at the moment, as you might imagine). We're also interested in receiving unfinished products from capable programmers, so we can finish and polish them and then release them. What we do not want to do is release Shareware-style games at high prices, as we think this destroys the market. All our games will be unique and well- designed, and by that I mean that it's not us who claim the games are great, but the customers who buy them.

Will you be publishing TEK and Ankh yourselves?
This hasn't been decided yet. As I've said before, the network version [of TEK] will be licensed to Acorn. We will possibly give the complete packages to distributors, as we did with Exodus (however we've just got a new interesting offer for the release of Ankh, but I won't say more here). [Ed: I presume this refers to R-Comp Interactive]

Various people in the newsgroup comp.sys.acorn.games have been conjecturing that Ankh is a development of a German demo of a point'n'click adventure a few years back, called Sorcerors. But this isn't the case, is it?
No, it has nothing to do with a polished version of any other game. It's brand new. New riddles, new graphics, new music. New everything.

Will Ankh really be ready for release in March?
The graphicians are doing nothing else other than making graphics for the whole of February. The game should be ready for release in March. Engine is finished, and music only has to be licensed.

Does the name 'Artex' actually mean anything?
It's a fusion of the words 'Art' and either 'Technics' or 'Textures' (we were not sure about the latter and we like both).

About how much film is actually going to go into TEK? 1 minute, 10 minutes, 100 minutes?
There is an intro film that will be about 3-5 minutes long. Then there'll be 10 cut-scenes accompanying the game (the story makes sense even without playing the missions). Then there's a 'game over' film and a 'well done' scene. The total length will be about 20 minutes - maybe a bit more.

Do you have any plans to release games for other platforms?
Not yet, although we are considering converting TEK - but there are no real plans for that yet.

Do you do any software development other than of games?
We are thinking about setting up a NetStation network in Germany, but at the moment we are more than busy with our games, and we really want to keep to the deadlines.

...this page last updated: 31/1/98...
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