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]