Christian "Evil C" Vanover was one of the most popular
New World Computing employees. With Jennifer Bullard, he was one of the contact
persons at the 3DO Community forums. He took the time to answer the questions of
the fans, as well as tease them a little. He was never afraid to step into the
forums whenever there was some panic or confusion. He stayed with Jon Van
Caneghem's team until the very end, before accepting
a job at Microsoft.
Celestial Heavens: First of all, how are you, and where do
you live these days?
Christian Vanover: I'm doing well, thank you. In the
near two years since I left NWC, I became a dad, moved to Seattle, and as you
know, now work at Microsoft.
CH: Now, where does that nickname come from, and that fascination for all
CV: Back when I was first posting to the NWC/3DO message boards (during the
development of Heroes III), I developed a knack for hinting that I would be
about to give out new info, but then I'd tell everything except the one thing I
had hinted at. It was visitors to the boards that started calling me evil,
and it just kind of stuck. I could post real info as "Good" C., and be a
smartass with "Evil" C. (well, within the limits of general good taste, at
CH: Not that I want to make a connection between evil and Microsoft, but what
have you been doing over there?
CV : No no, go right ahead
and make the connection. In fact, when I got the job here I very nearly
posted to the CH boards a thread called "Evil C. Joins Evil Empire, Says
Plan of World Domination Nearly Complete!"
strange as it may seem to longtime fans of the Might and Magic games, I'm
currently part of the Design team working on a racing simulator for the Xbox
called Forza Motorsport, due out this year.
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CH: Did you stay in touch with former New World employees?
CV: Absolutely! Many of the people at New World were friends before they
started working there, and there are many that I stay in touch with or visit
with when I get the chance to go back to L.A.
CH : Now, if you could step into the time machine... You've done a
lot of work on Heroes IV, especially on the expansions. Despite the good
reviews, the game is considered by many the bastard child of the series. What
should New World Computing as a whole should have done differently if we could
go back in time?
CV: I personally consider Heroes II to be the best in the series, with Heroes III
a close second. So for me, Heroes IV was the lesser of them all. But
that's just me, and I know that opinions differ greatly. As for what could
have been done differently, that's a tough call, because essentially Heroes IV
was done differently.
CH : Jon Van Caneghem was very critical towards that game, even though his participation
on the project has been... minimal. "It just wasn't done right" he told
us two years ago. We also got the feeling that he wanted Heroes V to be a Heroes
III remake. How did you feel about this?
CV: Honestly I felt the same way Jon did, but I think I can clarify the statement
some. After so much close work on Heroes I-III, Heroes IV was the first
time the game was out of Jon's direct control. I had also gone off to work
on a different game, and as a result I missed all the Heroes III expansions and
didnít get to see Heroes IV until it was nearly done. With a different
group of people, you undoubtedly get some different choices being made, and so I
think that when Jon finally got to see the game it was completely different from
what he would have created himself. Speaking for myself it was a strange
feeling the first time I got to sit down and give it a spin.
CH: What was Heroes V like later on? Was development coming along well? Did
you have high hopes on that games, or was it just a project on life support?
CV: We had actually pitched a few game ideas to 3DO, and encouraged them to
shelve both the Might and Magic and Heroes series for a few years to give
everybody a break (both us and the fans). Unfortunately, 3DO insisted we
deliver two Heroes IV expansions and get to work on Heroes V, so off we
went. I spearheaded the expansions, and by the time they were done, Jon
and Bryan (Farina) had a pretty solid framework in place for how we would build
Heroes V. Our Art lead already had an entirely new set of gorgeous looking
terrains ready for the map editor, and creation of the new towns and creatures
was well underway. We were all pretty excited.
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CH : The last time we talked, the news of the move to Solvang just appeared on
Celestial Heavens and generated some controversy. It was the beginning of the
end after all, wasn't it? What was the atmosphere in the offices during that
CV: The move to Solvang was more of a new beginning. I never got to confirm
it, but I suspect that Jon was prepared for 3DO to close its doors, and wanted
to be set up "lean and mean" for when that happened, so that New World could
hopefully continue on as their own game studio. The atmosphere beforehand
was mixed... those moving saw a fresh start, but there was a touch of
sadness because there were others leaving.
CH : Have you been keeping an eye on the details of Ubisoft's Heroes V? What do
you think of the artwork? Do you agree with the decision to take heroes out of
CV: Yes, I've been watching. It will be interesting to see what direction
they take the game in. As for taking heroes off the battlefield, that was
something we were going to do ourselves, so yes I do agree with the
decision. But we weren't "just" removing them... we had found what
we thought was going to be an engaging way to keep them involved that would have
improved combat overall.
CH : The first non-NWC Might and Magic title to be announced is some sort of
MMORPG for the Chinese market. Aren't these plans similar to what Jon Van
Caneghem wanted to do at some point? Isn't it ironic that Jon is now at NCSoft,
working on a MMORPG?
CV : Well Jon originally brokered the deal with 3DO because they were planning
on using their existing online technology to develop Might and Magic
Online. As often happened at 3DO, however, plans changed, and MMO was shelved before
it ever really got off the ground. As for Jon being at NCSoft working on
an MMORPG, I wouldn't call it irony... I would call it justice!
CH: Do you miss the Heroes/Might and Magic fan community? Do you sometimes feel
we were a little tough on New World and 3DO?
CV: Like anything else from my past, there are things I miss and will always
remember fondly. As for being tough on us... you can never be too
tough on 3DO, but y'all could have cut New World some slack! Heh.
CH: Finally, the age-old questions: Might or Magic? Gold or experience? Titan
or Black Dragon?
CV: Might, Experience, and Black Dragons. And a certain hero named
We would like to thank Christian for his time. His new game, Forza
Motorsport, is scheduled for a May release.