INTERVIEW - Merlin of Master Creating
A picture of Shadow of Power, the game that made Master Creating Famous.
QBG : Tell us about yourself!
MERLIN : Like a lot of other webmasters I have a little webdesign company and so Iīm working on websites for small to middle-size companys. Iīm also studying, in english it would be called something like "visual communication" at the university in Hamburg. My hobbies are fitness, cinema (several times a week), clubbing, sword fighting, playing RPGs and so on. But most of my free time Iīm sitting in front of my computer, working on sites or graphics for my current game project.
QBG : Tell us about Imerion. Ever since I saw that screenshot on your website, I've been jumpy with excitment over the project! How, exactly, will the game work?
MERLIN : Nearly all games are a combination of exisiting games, Imerion is no exception. The combination is new, and some parts as well, but like nearly every puzzle game is called a Tetris clone there are games that inspired us to create Imerion: Warlords, Heroes of Might and Magic, Diablo, Warcraft, Starcraft and their sequals. But one can be called itīs "father": Master of Magic. This game wasnīt very popular, but it was great. It has been written 1994 by the team that created "Civilisation" with Sid Meiers and plays like it in a fantasy scenario. Imerion isnīt the try to make something totally new, it aims to make a game in QB (and ASM) that meets todays quality standards. This doesnīt mean it will be as good as the best (for example Diablo 2), but it should reach the quality of a normal fullprice game, even if fullprice games without "3D" are really rare today.
In Imerion there battle 5 races with different graphics, different units, different builings, different special abilities and different heroes each other. One of them is the "unnamed race" which can be only played by the PC and which is stornger than a single other race. The other four races (human, elves, drawfs and orcs) can be controlled by the PC or a human (via network, "hot chair" and maybe also internet). They have different diplomatic positions to each other, but all hate the "unnamed race" - and tests show all hate the orcs, too, but thatīs another story ;-) The heores can do some kind of quests and carry artefacts a bit like a Diablo hero. Everything is turn-based and battles are without any random soit should be a fair. To press it in the form of other games, you can say it will basically be a Civilisation with Diablo heores and different folks like in Starcraft in a fantasy scenario like Heroes of Might and Magic. Nothing really new, but a nice combination and cool technical features like transparent windows, 800x600 and realcolor which can easily compare with Diablo 2 which has a lower resolution and a lower colordepth (but donīt forget itīs a totally different game!).
QBG : Master Creating has been around for quite a long time. What got you started in Qbasic, and why, unlike many other seasoned programmers like Enchanced Creations or Lost Sock Software have you chosen to stay for so long? Assuming it's not the Qmunnity's undocumented 'Charm', What's keeping you here?
MERLIN : We started in 1989 with C64 BASIC and moved to the PC and Qbasic in the early 90s. The reason we are still coding in QB is that it gives as anthing we need! What should be better if we would code Imerion in Visual C++? Quickbasic 7.1 (which is better than 4.5 for several reasons) with libs like the great Future.Lib 3.5 is so fast on todays (and yesterdays...) computers that it doesnīt make sense to code in C++ except you want to make a 3D game. And I think there are enough sucking 3D games, why should I add one to this list?
Also we entered the Qmunnity very late, Summer 1999. Before this date I didnīt know it exist, when we started SOP (and even when we finished it) we didnīt know thereīs a single other coder that tries to make an RPG in Quickbasic!
QBG : Heh - My Apologies... I used to work with Matthew River Knight, and he told me that Master Creating has been around for 10 years - I just assumed it was in the Qmunnity. Nevertheless, Do you keep track of the Qmunnity? Are there any projects in particular that you're looking forward to?
MERLIN : There are lots of cool tools that can still be improved like FL3, DS4QB etc. Iīm also looking forward to the first completed really compatible QB compiler for Windows 32bit or Protected mode. There are so much which claim to reach this goal but there is still nothing that works good enough to replace QB.
Games Iīm looking forward to are (for example!) Zeta, Dark Ages 2 and Mysterious Song 2. Iīm daily surfing to the best ten QB sites search for new stuff, so I think Iīm keeping track to the Qmunnity.
QBG : What is your opinion of the QMunnity today and where's it's heading? Is Qbasic really a practical language to program in?
MERLIN : QB is still great, but only with ASM libs - itīs too slow without them. Thatīs my opinion, I know there are others, but I donīt want to code in pure QB anymore.
QBG : What's your favorite Qbasic game? How does it compare to your favorite PC game not made in Qbasic?
MERLIN : Really hard question... I guess itīs Bricko, a simple puzzle game which is written in pure QB but which features network support for 2 players (IPX), sound and nice gfx. Itīs really fun to play it with a friend. I donīt play many none-QB PC games anymore, they annoy me. There are mostly games that are nothing but 3D, without gameplay, details and sense. I think the game I played most on the PC was Doom 2, butīs a little old now. Itīs seems also impossible to compare them...
QBG : How does it feel to have programmed what is most likely Qbasic's most popular game?
MERLIN : It feels good to be the coder of such a popular game, even if Iīm not the main coder but the creator of itīs characters, graphics and levels. Iīm always happy to get comments and right now Iīm working on a "walkthrough" that tells every secret about the game and even some details about how it was coded and version 1.5 that will mainly speed it up and fix compatibility problems.
QBG : As far as Websites go, I've always been partial to VPlanet, but QuickBasic News, Neobasic and Future Software have thier following also. What's your favorite Qbasic Website?
MERLIN : V!planet is a great site for reviews and detailed news while Future Software has THE file archive and Quickbasic News THE news. I think these three are the most important, hard to say which is the best. By the way: Iīm working on a totally relaunch of my site. I have a better server now, with 300Mb space and the ability to use PHP, Perl and even SQL. The new site will look totally different and host several other websites.
QBG : Thanks for the interview.
MERLIN : No problem :-)
You can visit Merlin at the Master Creating website, www.master-creating.de.