May 062009
 

I recently had a chance to chat via email with the wonderfully named (really, his name rolls off the tongue)  Simone Bevilacqua, creator of the Amiga/Windows (and now /Mac!) game BOH.  A little known fact but ‘Bevilacqua’ translates literally to “(you) drink the water”  or more accurately “water drinker” which seems appropriate as I happen to know that Simone doesn’t drink anything alcoholic.   I also know what he had for lunch recently.

We profiled BOH previously here at Troll in the Corner.   Simone’s been hanging around our comments section for a while and was gracious enough to answer my questions after I cyber-stalked him for a bit.  A brief introduction to BOH in Simone’s own words:

BOH is an original, retro-flavored game of exploration and action. You move in claustrophobic and dangerous battlefields searching for the Evil Masters. This no easy task not only because of the traps-packed corridors and mind-blowing puzzles, but also because of the countless enemies that the Evil Masters throw at you more and more until you discover them – at that point, you will be attacked directly by the Evil Masters themselves, the toughest of all. Although your quests are made slightly less hard by the bonuses and power-ups scattered all around the battlefield, carrying out the missions demands lots of concentration and quick reflexes.

We’ll also be featuring a review of the game in the near future as well as a legally binding promise to stay at least 100 meters away from Simone at all times.

Why develop an Amiga game in the first place?

I am a long-time Amiga user and I use AmigaOS daily for pretty much everything, so it was a natural choice. What was not an obvious choice is making a version also for Windows (and MacOS as well, which will be made available shortly): but I had to, if I wanted to sell a few copies more and hope to at least recoup the investment and, since I’m currently unemployed and the future does not look too bright, maybe earn some money.

Have you been active in the Amiga community for a long time and if so, did you own an Amiga when they were being produced and sold to the public?

Yes, I got my first Amiga (only) in 1993 – it was an Amiga 1200 (which I still own). My main machine is now an AmigaOne XE, bought in 2002. I guess that a bit more of context will be of help – but the history of Amiga is a complete mess, so it is impossible to recap it in few words.

Anyway, the situation now is that although “classic” Amigas (A1000s, A500s, A1200s and so on) are dead and gone, the OS that ran on them is still alive: AmigaOS 4.1 is on sale right now and is actively being developed. It runs on “modern” Amigas (like my AmigaOne) which are nothing but PPC-based motherboards which standard parts (graphic/sound cards, etc.) can be mounted on – please note that some of these machines have been recently designed and are currently being sold. AmigaOS 4 is a complete re-write of the classic AmigaOS and has been designed to be easily portable and to be enriched with modern features.

As regards my activity in the Amiga community, I released a number of freeware games, utilities, developer packages etc. and I am a quite regular member of some Amiga-oriented forums.

How long did it take BOH to go from an idea to a product?

That is impossible to say because BOH became what it is now long after it was started. More precisely, on the 19th of July, 2007, I decided to let my frustrated creativity free (you see, back then I was employed as a programmer and I was working at stuff that I deeply hate and that just drive me crazy): I started implementing an idea that had been floating in my mind for a few years. This idea was about wandering around in mazes illuminated a-la Shadowlands (an old videogame) and seen from a top-down perspective (inspiration, as hinted at also in the user’s manual, came from Wizard of Wor, Alien Breed, Tail-to-nose and other titles of the past). That idea is now the core part of the game both as regards the technical part and the gameplay. From there, things evolved quite naturally, without too much pre-planning.

Who’s been working on development for this?  Is it a one man operationor did you have a team of folks creating it?

I did everything, although I received help with the French, German and Spanish translations.

How has it been received?

I do not know if it is a wise thing to do, but in all honesty I have to say that the sales are frighteningly low! At the same time, I have to say that everybody who bought the game is happy with it – actually, most of the customers are really enthusiast! I receive a lot of praise and thanks, and I must say that having managed to share my creativity, my ideas and my passion in such an effective manner is wonderful! I have also received a couple of very positive reviews and many congratulate for having brought an actual product to the Amiga market. For those who want a proof of what I am saying, on the game’s website I have collected the links to the comments/reviews people made in public.

What did you have for your most recent meal and was it good?

I had a steak, some potato mash, an apple and water (I love simple things) – and, yes, it was good.

Do you play video games on systems other than an Amiga (or emulated Amiga OS) and if so, what are you currently playing?

I love playing video games, but there is one thing I love more: programming them! Moreover, there are other things in life besides video games. That means I rarely have the time to play. Anyway, recently, while waiting for the release of BOH, I had a break that allowed me to discover a wonderful game: it is a shoot’em-up called “Plural”… and it’s for the C64!

Are there any plans for a future title?

I have plenty of ideas for 3 or 4 new games, not to mention that there could be also a BOH 2. However, none of them will probably ever see the light of day, as it all depends on the sales of BOH.

Between the time it took me to send these off and Simone to answer these questions, he also somehow found a few extra minutes to create, test and release a major update to BOH.

  • makes the game run natively on MacOS X Tiger/Leopard machines;
  • adds zooming to full screen modes;
  • allows the choice of the screen mode among those notified by the system;
  • replaces zooming routines with more optimized ones (especially 3x and 4x);
  • adds the possibility of disabling interpolation (for slow computers);
  • adds the possibility of disabling the rendering of barriers;
  • improves a bit the original themes;
  • enriches slightly the Evil Masters AI;
  • adds timer ticking during time-limited missions;
  • adds map zooming;
  • adds the option of sorting missions by difficulty;
  • allows the use of joypads/joysticks with just 1 button;
  • fixes the following bugs:
    • bad joypad handling (detection was inhibited by a ‘2’ in place of a ‘1’; sometimes up/down movement could stick);
    • [PAGE UP/DOWN] handling (repeat delay handling was missing);
    • a bad optimization of ray-tracing routine (which had no practical effects thanks to the way maps and themes were made);
  • improves and extends the user’s manual;
  • links the AmigaOS 4 version to libSDL 1.2.13;
  • applies some other minor changes.

[tags]video games, amiga, interview[/tags]

About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.

  27 Responses to “BOH (new game for Amiga, Windows or Mac) creator Simone Bevilacqua submits to a grueling 8 question interview”

  1. Nice interview! I bought the game and received in earlier this week. I’m looking forward to try it out! :D

  2. Simone is a genius…no wonder why he got an Italian name!

  3. @Andreas: I hope you’re having lots of fun with it!

    @Star Wars Galaxies Credits: I’m absolutely no genius… but thanks anyway

  4. Hello,

    I’m here to inform you that I have just released the demo version of BOH.
    Both the AmigaOS and Windows versions can be freely downloaded from the DOWNLOADS page of the website at [url=http://www.bohthegame.com]www.bohthegame.com[/url] (the MacOS version will follow shortly).

    saimo

  5. Hi again,

    as promised, now also the MacOS version of the demo is available – you can get it from the DOWNLOADS page of the website (www.bohthegame.com).

    Simone

  6. Hi everybody,

    I’m here once again to inform you that yet another version of BOH’s demo is available.
    This update brings 4 new tutorial missions and the preview of the “castle” theme.
    You can download it from the DOWNLOADS page of the website) as usual.

    Enjoy,
    Simone

  7. Hello,

    I’m back again to let you know that another additional theme for BOH has been released: “castle” turns you into a knight who has to explore the dark recesses of infested castles and, with his magic glove, defeat the dreaded Evil Masters.
    Get the theme from the DOWNLOADS page of BOH’s website at http://www.bohthegame.com/downloads.html.

    Simone

  8. Hello,

    this time around I’m happy to announce that BOH continues to improve with update3, which:
    * adds a direction indicator to the map;
    * allows to create chains of teleports of any lenght;
    * allows to specify the ambient illumination on a per-floor basis (several missions have been modified to take advantage of this);
    * allows to add (optionally localized) synopses to missions;
    * takes note of the total playing time of each mission and of the whole game;
    * allows to restart the last failed mission without returning to the menu;
    * adds support of joypad axes;
    * allows to confirm/reject the name entered by means of joypad buttons;
    * adds [ALT]+[F4] support (Windows only);
    * fixes the countdown ticking (the sample was not played when the time limit was less than 1 minute);
    * improves/updates the user’s manual;
    * applies some other changes.

    The update is available for free download on the DOWNLOADS page of the website (http://www.bohthegame.com/downloads.html).
    Also note that the demo has been updated to reflect the changes as well.

    Simone

  9. Hi all,

    in the hope that someone will like this piece of news, I’m here to inform you that, due to popular demand, BOH is now available also as a downloadable ISO image of the CD-ROM at the reduced price of just EUR 10.00. Customers will be entitled to buy, at any time, also the physical product by paying just the price difference (EUR 2.50) and the postage.
    Moreover, the direct purchase of the boxed version, which continues to be available at the usual price of EUR 12.50, will give immediate access to the downloadable image.
    The image contains the most up-to-date versions for AmigaOS, MacOS and Windows, as well as all the expansions released to date.
    Prices do not include VAT 20%.

  10. Hi all,

    quite fittingly, after 4 months since the original release, update4 is made available

    Specifically, this update:
    * makes the game run natively on Linux (requires an x86 CPU, SDL 1.2 and SDL_mixer-1.2);
    * avoids the restart of the whole program upon theme change (very useful when playing in full screen, as the monitor does not need to re-sync);
    * adds themes randomization options;
    * adds the “USE ENHANCED WEAPONS” option (makes killing enemies easier);
    * slows down the blinking of the automapper direction indicator;
    * adds video mode suggestions;
    * fixes a minor bug in the zoom selection handling (in rare cases it could cause an illegal memory access);
    * fixes bad centering at 4x zoom (a couple of parentheses were missing);
    * links the AmigaOS version to the latest SDL;
    * links the Windows version to a fresh build of the custom framework (by mistake an outdated framework had been used with the consequence that, on some machines, input handling was partially broken);
    * includes some graphical retouches to the themes “castle” and “warm”;
    * adds synopses to the phases of the mission “tougher and tougher”;
    * updates and improves the user’s manual;
    * improves some translations;
    * applies some other changes.

    BOH owners can enjoy the update by downloading it for free from the DOWNLOADS page of the official website (http://www.bohthegame.com).
    The demos available on the same page have been updated to reflect the changes.

    Enjoy!

  11. Hi all,

    I’m having so much fun with BOH that it looks like I can’t stop producing updates ;)

    Here’s what update5 does:
    * replaces low obstacles with traps (f.ex. the pools of the theme “default” cause damage to the shield);
    * adds dynamic sound to traps animations;
    * adds acoustic feedback to shield discharges;
    * improves the sound engine policies;
    * simplifies and improves the automapper colors (dangerous places are indicated more clearly);
    * increases the precision of and optimizes sprites rendering;
    * removes pits borders along (transparent) barriers;
    * refines video modes suggestions;
    * removes the sort-by-name option;
    * converts the characters set of themes to full ISO 8859-1;
    * retouches the themes graphics slightly;
    * improves the terminology;
    * reworks some internal aspects of missions and themes for easier development of expansions;
    * fixes the handling of alphachannel-less sprites (this bug had no practical consequences because no theme used such kind of graphics);
    * adds a new tutorial mission;
    * updates and improves the user’s manual;
    * applies some other changes.

    BOH owners can enjoy the update by downloading it for free from the DOWNLOADS page of the official website (http://www.bohthegame.com/downloads.html).
    The demos have been updated to reflect the changes.

    Enjoy!

  12. Hello, I’m back with the usual piece of news ;)

    For even more retro goodness, BOH gets “vectors”, a new theme inspired to vectorial graphics.
    The theme can be downloaded for free from the DOWNLOADS page of BOH’s website.

  13. Hello!

    It’s about time for another update, isn’t it? ;)

    update6 is now out and brings the following changes:
    * makes the game run natively on AROS (requires an x86 CPU);
    * optimizes and improves the field of vision calculation;
    * optimizes and improves the lights casting;
    * makes some explosive objects cause chain explosions;
    * fixes a few minor bugs;
    * adds a new mission;
    * improves/extends the manuals;
    * applies some other changes.

    The update can be downloaded for free from the DOWNLOADS page of the official website.
    The demos have been updated to reflect the changes.

  14. Hi all,

    quite simply, let me inform you that today BOH becomes even richer thanks to the update which has just been released.

    More specifically, update7:
    * adds one-way passages;
    * adds flying enemies;
    * changes the functioning of teleports: weapons are not inhibited anymore; enemies are not scared away anymore; the activation wait is shorter; enemies are destroyed if they touch the character during teleporting;
    * improves the visual feedback of hits in theme “vectors”;
    * increases the intensity of shot lights;
    * fixes some minor glitches in the themes “C64”, “default” and “vectors”;
    * adds the mission “skill challenge”;
    * retouches several missions (also making use of one-way passages);
    * adds the Norwegian translation;
    * re-assigns some map characters for an even more logical arrangement and, therefore, an easier development of missions;
    * adds graying-out of the menu interface when another application gets the focus;
    * extends/improves the manuals;
    * applies some other changes/optimizations.

    The update can be downloaded for free from the DOWNLOADS page of the official website.
    The demos have been updated to reflect the changes.

    As usual, enjoy! ;)

  15. nice game i was an amiga lover in the past.thank you.

  16. haytham, you’re welcome!
    And I’m glad you like it :)

  17. Hello,

    I’ve hopped into my Santa Claus costume to bring good news to who’d smile at the idea of finding a copy of BOH under the tree: in fact, from December 8 through January 6, the boxed game will come at just EUR 10.00 and the digital version at just EUR 7.50 (prices do not include VAT 20%)!

    But that’s not all, as there’s a little surprise also for current users: update8 is available right now!
    It is a minor service release that:
    * fixes the handling of sparks colors (did not take into account the platform pixel format, so on some machines colors could look wrong);
    * fixes the disappearance of enemies when hit (happened only in the MacOS version, due to a missing assignment);
    * fixes a few errors in the Spanish translation;
    * makes some minor changes to the user’s manual.

    The update can be downloaded for free from the DOWNLOADS page of the official website.
    The demos have been updated to reflect the changes.

  18. Nice game!! Thanks for creating such a great game :)

  19. I know this post is old, but I just stumbled upon it when searching for old Amiga games. Simone, have you developed the game further since 2009?

    Thanks
    Maria

  20. I still have an old Amiga 500 in the attic. Maybe time to dig it out…

  21. Yes, looks like it is time to drag out the old Amiga. Although it will never be the same excitement as then. So many technological things have happened since then.

  22. Love retro gaming, just takes me back to my amstrad, oh memories

  23. Thanks for the great updates!

  24. Thanks for the great updates, exactly where I was looking for!

  25. Thanks for the game it’s really fun keep up the good work!

  26. Thanks for the info! Keep up the food work.

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