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Chris Jacobson Interview

I recently had a chance to ask a few questions to Chris Jacobson over at Contraband Entertainment who is the Project Lead on Heroes of Might and Magic IV for Macintosh. I had some assistance in gathering questions from Angelspit of Celestial Heavens. The game is currently scheduled for a Christmas 2002 release and will be published by 3DO.

Rogue: Are you a fan of the Heroes of Might and Magic series?

Chris: I played the old game Kings Bounty, and enjoyed it for a bit, but never really kept up with the other games. I played them a bit, but not much. My interests in games are very eclectic.

Angelspit: What do you think is the most interesting improvement to Heroes IV compared to the earlier games?

Chris: Heroes IV is a complete rewrite from the ground up, and has many new features over the previous versions. There are so many things that were improved, and the new graphical engine is just a small portion of it.

Rogue: How has the porting process been for this game? With regards to Heroes III, I heard from the developer that the game was not difficult to port but the editing tools were a big task.

Chris: Being a complete rewrite, Heroes IV had to be done from the ground up. Overall it has been a fairly straightforward conversion, and our own DirectX and Windows conversion code, developed by Burger and I over the past few years on prior conversions, helped save a lot of time in getting the game running.

Chris: The editor has been as much work as the game itself, and in some ways more so. It involves large portions of GUI code being rewritten for the Mac.

Angelspit: How would you describe your cooperation with 3DO and NWC?

Chris: 3DO has been a dream to work with; they let us get the job done without trying to micromanage us. They are responsive when we need things from them, and easy to work with.

Rogue: Is the Macintosh port keeping up with the patches that have been added to the Windows version of the game?

Chris: Work was started with the v1.3 code, and we are incorporating the multiplayer patch currently.

Rogue: The multiplayer patch was recently released for the windows version of Heroes IV. Can you say what network protocol was used and if it will be possible for the Macintosh and Windows versions of the game to play together online?

Chris: The multiplayer patch uses DirectPlay. Unfortunately, that rules out Mac/PC networking compatability .

Rogue: Do you have an estimate of what the hardware requirements will be?

Chris: The minimum system requirements should be announced soon.

Rogue: The requirements, especially video RAM, were rather steep for the Windows version considering that it is a 2D turn-based game. Is this something that is being addressed in the Macintosh version of the game?

Chris: Being 2D game doesn't necessarily mean it will have lower memory requirements than a 3D game. Having many frames of animation for a 2D sprite takes up more RAM than a skeletally animated 3D model with a single texture. The game is VERY graphically intensive. On top of that, graphics are not the only use of RAM; game data, music, sounds, etc all have to be considered.

Rogue: What video and music formats will the game use? Will save files and game data files be compatible across platforms? Will there be any differences between the Macintosh and Windows versions of Heroes IV?

Chris: Video will be quicktime, music will be MP3. Save games and maps will be cross platform.

Rogue: Are there any plans for the Expansion, or is it too early to say?

Chris: That depends on sales of Heroes 4 for the Mac.

Rogue: Is there anything you want to add that readers might find interesting?

Chris: We are NOT fueled by souls of the damned. That would be canabilism.

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