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-   -   Interview Frank Sauer (agony, unreal) (http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=72381)

turrican3 31 January 2014 00:55

Interview Frank Sauer (agony, unreal)
This is an interview that Frank sauer accepted to do :
(Now, you can ask questions yourself in this thread and i'll transfer them to him.)
I did the interview in french and i translated the text, i hope i didn't make a mistake.
I hope you will enjoy and don't forget to ask your questions.

if you don't know about frank sauer (shame on you :evilgrin) :

Questions - Answers

Hello Frank ,

Why have you stopped development on amiga, while art & magic
mastered so well the amiga ? ?

When Agony was released in 1992, the amiga was starting its slow decline already , it was no more the carrier platform it had been . In addition, we wanted to do arcade for a long time and the opportunity presented . we were young and bored quickly of any thing :-)

Why not have port your arcade games on amiga ?

Our limited ressources forced us to focus on our hardware , and it is true that we were under strong pressure from the hardware team which held the majority of shares in the company . This is also why we have unfortunately not been able to offer Spellsinger on Playstation1 when we wanted to do it , and we ended up leaving the company.

the amiga community was disappointed by the end of development
from Art & Magic for the amiga.
when I bought my amiga 1200 , I was already dreaming of what kind of masterpieces you could create
on this new platform and finally, nothing!
Can you tell us why ?

After Agony , Psygnosis clearly made us understand that the golden age of Amiga was over. It should be understood that as developers we always anticipate platforms, and a game that needs 2 years to be built can't be based on a platform at its life's ending.

Have you ever thought about making a new piece of art on amiga aga
? Did you mention the possibility or did you already had
turn the amiga page after agony ?

The most popular platform was undoubtedly the amiga 500. Versions that followed were less popular, and when the AGA was released , the world of development was already turning to the PC.

What was missing for the CDTV to interest you? this hardware
yet promising was treated by developers as a vilain
duckling ,
It had 700 mega disks but corporations just ported their games
identical to disks versions! Why didn't we see more
big productions or at least games using audio cd ?

CDTV was a flop. We observed this platform a lot when it was anounced , but its price was high ($ 1000! ) Ranking it in another category than the popular A500 or consoles.
Moreover, its form factor was close to a VCR , not very sexy and not really attractive to gamers.
It is not always the best technologies that are most popular , it often requires a good balance between power and price. And for once , it was completely beside the point.
Same for CD32 , with only 100,000 units sold, it is very difficult to monetize the costs of development of a game, especially when compared to, I would say, the PS1, which was released shortly after and sold 1000X more: 100 million units sold !
Imagine that your game have a penetration rate of 1% . That would mean selling only 1000 copies. This is largely insufficient to finance development.
You will tell me , if nobody develops game it is normal that the console will not be sold . That's right, and it is precisely because everyone felt the end coming for Commodore that nobody wanted to bet on these platforms again.

What was your goal by developping Unreal? Make a shadow of the
beast killer as often heard ?

Yes and no, it was mostly to have fun by creating a world without contraints. But it is true that we had a look at the feats of Reflections .
The truth is that we were already envious of the power of arcade machines, it is also by playing Galaxyforce II that Unreal 3d phases are born .

I heard of a development team here in Belgium,
in Charleroi ! ! Were you at the base of this project? Do you know what was going on ?

You're probably talking about Ama studios ? It was ( it closed in November ) a subsidiary of Ama founded by Yves Grolet . I've worked on two games, the last Fighter Within, a launch title for XboxOne . I have made many of sceneries of Lost Temple and Africa there.

Don't you regret the time when the machines were pushed to their maximum compared to today, all games are done under CryEngine or else ?

All games don't use included solutions as UDK , CryEngine or Unity solutions yet, there are still studios that have their own technology ( including us ) , but it will probably take more time because there are too many different machines to bear.

The idea that all games today do not operate the machine at the maximum is not necessarily true. There are many games that continue to push very far some aspects of the machine , especially the GPU.

However,today, the democratization of tools allows less specialized teams to get results , even if it is very poorly optimized. My opinion is that there will be a two-speed development: those who work in very basic way with existing tools , without understanding what is going on underneath ( and come out the mediocre from a technological point of view games, but not necessarily a point of interest for gaming ) , and those who may still ' tweaking ' the low level to obtain original results , and differentiate themselves from the masses.

Some new tools like Unity allows you to work at different levels , according technical competence , and I find it really good.
Of course, today we no longer use assemblers , and what is considered as low level is C + + and Cg / HLSL . However, those who know how to hack the processors at a low level, will still keep the benefit , even in these languages. You have to see what studios like Naughty Dog is able to get out of an old machine 8 years to realize it .

was there a routine or a technical specification on an amiga game that you're still proud of?

This is Yves and Yann who programmed our amiga games, so I can not talk about their routines in their names, but personnaly, it's still Agony I 'm most proud of because I think it has a real unique artistic identity .

For which game do you keep the best memories and why?
( outcast , agony ? ) ?

Each game has a lot of good memories associated . But I have a weakness for NO, Iron Lord , Unreal , Agony and Outcast .

Do you use winuae or do you have a real amiga ?


I still have my A2000 , the one I developed Unreal and Agony with. I had to repair the motherboard because of the batery which had melted (classic) , but now it works perfectly. I still have my source files on my hard drive 20 MB , and my extention 2MB RAM card that costed me a lot! :-)

Can be seen here: http://francksauer.com/index.php/about-me/my-workspace

I also bought an A500 2 years ago ,like a new one in its original box.

do Youfollow , even from far, the development of new amiga ?
AmigaOne X1000 and x5000 and the amiga os 4.1 ? ?
http://www.amigaos.net/ http://www.a-eon.com/?page =

Yes , by far . It remains anecdotic , but it is good to see a community continuing to keep alive this platform.

Predseda 31 January 2014 09:52

Very nice reading, good job t3!

sokolovic 31 January 2014 11:50

Very interesting. And his website is truly wonderful.

Specksynder 31 January 2014 12:56

This is probably one of the most interesting interviews about Amiga I've read so far. Thanks for sharing :great

Rob 1 31 January 2014 14:14


sokolovic 31 January 2014 15:01


"After Agony , Psygnosis clearly made us understand that the golden age of Amiga was over. It should be understood that as developers we always anticipate platforms, and a game that needs 2 years to be built can't be based on a platform at its life's ending."
Well, this is very interesting...

turrican3 31 January 2014 16:17

thank you guys,
But it could be better, don't forget to ask your questions on this thread and i'll transfer to him.

demoniac 01 February 2014 00:24

Nice read.

Question for Frank, has any of Agony introductory animation survived?

turrican3 01 February 2014 08:38


Originally Posted by demoniac (Post 935676)
Nice read.

Question for Frank, has any of Agony introductory animation survived?

Good question and in fact we discussed about it, he is trying to find it. :)
I choosed to don't talk about it, and hoped to make a kind of surprise... But now it's too late :crying :lol

demoniac 04 February 2014 23:32

It'll be a surprise when it's available. :)

vitux 05 February 2014 01:48

Good interview but short, I want more.
Frank website fantastic.
A shame Green beret clone no finalization.

vitux 05 February 2014 02:35

I can not even imagine what they would able to do in AGA!

turrican3 05 February 2014 04:19


Originally Posted by vitux (Post 936416)
Good interview but short, I want more.
Frank website fantastic.
A shame Green beret clone no finalization.

It's short, that's why i'm waiting for your questions !!!!
When i will have enough questions, i will ask him.... Then i'll ask if he found the animated intro.

:bowdown PLEASE GIVE YOUR QUESTIONS FOR Frank Sauer :bowdown

Steve 05 February 2014 14:02

Would he be willing to offer his source files to the community for interest/future archive purposes?

vulture 05 February 2014 14:10


Originally Posted by Steve (Post 936465)
Would he be willing to offer his source files to the community for interest/future archive purposes?

Good thought, that'd be nice!

sokolovic 06 February 2014 12:23

How much will he takes to do the graphics of a brand new amiga game :D ?

el nico 07 February 2014 14:57

Hi turrican 3

i want to learn more of his perception of the amiga golden age

i had noticed that the were 3 waves of games in market of the amiga
the first wave was American (and german) : before the beginning of the amiga golden age 1986-1988
US : Cinemaware (defender of the crown, rocket ranger), Microillusion (firepower, faery tales adventures), Ftl (dungeon master), Electronic Arts (marble madness, zany golf, F18), Microprose
Ger : Factor 5 (denaris, katakis), Rainbow arts / Ger (great giana sister
Uk : Argonaut Software, Ocean, psygnosis

the second wave was British (and german, french, nordic country) : the amiga golden age 1989-199(3)4
UK : bitmap brothers (gods, speedball2, xenon2 chaos engine), psygnosis (shadow of the beast, agony, leander), graftgold, sensible software, gremlin graphics,
team17, bullfrog, DID, ocean, Adventure Soft
Fre : delphine software (another world, cruise for a corpse, futur wars, flashback) Cryo(dune & extase), Loriciel (sweek), ubisoft
US : lucasarts, wetwoods, Cinemaware
Ger : bluebyte, Factor 5
Swe :digitall illusion

the last wave was more in the eastern countries of Europe : after 1994

for me the golden of the amiga started really with Shadow of the beast and battle squadron
it ended with the settlers : it's my perception

before 1992 the amiga versions were better
after it wasn't the truth (exception for Colonization and xcom)

i have a friend who worked for OCEAN Software (French division)
for one game, the team was organised around 4 or 5 people for one year
if the game didn't sell well, the company was in a danger

the arrival of the 3d changed the organisation of the team of developers :
7 (or more) for more than one year

zelda on snes or sonic on genesis are 2 another examples (2d japanese game ) :
a team of 10/14 for 18 months

so if the market is too little you can't survive
in 1992 the amiga market was too little for this developments

it coincided with the arrival of Alone (1992) in the dark, Doom (1993)

i made this description to understand :
the amiga market in USA was too little in comparison with europe
the amiga developpers had succeded to maintain an illusion
the know-how is less important that the market
i really loved the amiga golden age

snifff !!!

quahappy 07 February 2014 16:18

Brilliant read and Frank's website is certainly detailed too. :great

Feel rather privileged now having did the full Unreal walk-through published in CU Amiga magazine back in the day. :)

Only one question I can think of atm:

Are there any graphic artists or musicians that had inspired your own creations?

skan 08 February 2014 12:33

Whoa, what a waste! Spellsinger looks a massive work of art really!
There must be a proto board hidden somewhere...and those EPROMs just have to be dumped! ;)

OK, here's the question:
Do you see yourself working again on a pure 2D game, maybe something like Rayman Origins, in the near future ?

turrican3 12 February 2014 09:13

ok guys saturday i'll send him the new questions you can continue to post yours during this time. :)

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