Jan Klose of Artex Software kindly agreed to do an interview for Acorn Arcade. Jan is becoming a well-known figure in the acorn games market as a result of his company's excellent games titles such as Exodus and the forthcoming Ankh and TEK.
Acorn Arcade: Where did Artex Software come from? You did appear to come out of the blue...
Jan Klose: Artex Software does not consist of people who belonged
to any kind of "coder group" in the past. When I wrote Exodus I did it mostly on my own, my only support consisted of 'creative consultants' and test players. Dominik was a PC programmer who is quite new in the Acorn scene. He owned an A4000 and upgraded quickly to a StrongARM RiscPC. Florian owns his third Acorn computer now (he started with the A310). Truthfully spoken, we did not come together to form Artex because of some loyalty or enthusiasm, but because we thought that we can make money here. There are many Acorn users around who would like to see some sophisticated Acorn games but they don't see any new releases. They should be happy about the first games that have state-of-the-art PC games quality (or more). Further the Acorn machines seem to be the ideal platform for games design for a number of reasons.
Acorn Arcade: How many people do Artex employ and what do they specialise in?
Jan Klose: There are two programmers, Dominik and myself, and we have support by 'freelancers' should we need them (this will be the case for TEK). Florian does games design and the management and PR stuff. Then we have some graphicians, mainly Marco Bahn (and further guys when there is more work to do). Four people are acting as 'quality control', they are testing our products and making our life really hard, as they always find something to criticise. Sound (for Ankh and TEK) will be done by professional musicians working for record label "Infracom". But some more people are involved in Artex work, for example our film team and actors for the TEK cut-scenes.
Acorn Arcade: Could you tell us a bit more about Ankh, the graphical adventure game for the Acorn?
Jan Klose: The idea for this adventure game was created on a backpacker trip through Africa. We had many evenings that we spent sitting on a beach at Lake Malawi, and we have created a really nice adventure story. 'Ankh' plays in Egypt about 2000 years ago. Maybe it's a typical adventure game, but the graphics will be stunning (and high resolution), as will be the music (played from CD in 16 bit quality). There are over 30 places to visit, over 35 people to talk and deal with, and over 50 items to use, combine and trade with. Some of the highlights (I won't reveal all) are the audience at the Pharaoh's palace and and encounter with the God of the Underworld (where a beautiful girl is held in chains). You'll surely like McDonalds, who you will find at the marketplace, as well. The programming work for Ankh is finished, and we're only waiting for the graphics to be done. The game will be released in March.
Acorn Arcade: Where do you see the Acorn games market as heading at the moment?
Jan Klose: It's been quite a long time since I bought my last Acorn games, they were "Simon the Sorcerer" and "Cannon Fodder". Not many games have been released since then, and those who were published can be easily compared to Public Domain games on the PC market. Now we hear about 3D games like "Doom" and "Quake", but let's face it, Doom is many years old, and even Quake is no brand new title any more. It is good to see these titles eventually published, but I'm desperately looking for new, innovative Acorn games. We have listened to quite a number of announcements, but hardly any of these titles have been released.
Acorn Arcade: We've heard about two of your future releases, Ankh and TEK, but what do you have planned after that?
Jan Klose: That is an easy question: We'll take the money and disappear forever! No, do not believe this. TEK will be followed by TEK II, if its predecessor is well received. Further we're interested in writing a 3D engine which should enable us to release several different games. Anyway we do not intend to publish many 'quite nice' games, we prefer making a few 'really good' games. All of our games will see professional design, equal to PC games or above. We understand that only a small part of a quality game is good programming, the rest is design. This does also mean that we'll try to get our hands on half-finished nicely coded games and give them shiny graphics, good sound and advertisement. Further we will do developments for Network Computers. And who knows what possibilities the RiscPC 2 might bring?
Acorn Arcade: You said in Acorn User magazine that your favourite game is Tomb Raider, would this have anything to do with a certain Lara Croft who I believe features prominently in the game?
Jan Klose: Nah, of course it's just that lovely 3D engine and the
superb tracking camera view... of course it's Lara! Nice women always attract games players, whether they are real or not! (So be prepared to meet some in our film clips...)
Acorn Arcade: And finally, thankyou for doing this interview and I wish you and the Acorn games scene all the best for the future!
Jan Klose: Thanks very much! I wish you the same for your games site!