Habrainterview with the creators of the game "Space Rangers" Alexei Dubov and representatives of SNK

    Alexey DubovoiI bring to your attention an interview with the developer of the legendary Russian game " Space Rangers " Alexei Dubov, as well as with the representative of the Union of Independent Quest Writers Yakov Uvarov.

    The game "Space Rangers" was included in the top ten best games of all time according to the 2013 version of Habrahabr . And among the Russian games she took first place, ahead of Tetris and the Ukrainian development of the Cossacks by a decent margin. I admit, I did not know anything about this game and became interested in what kind of a miracle it was. After watching the video on YouTube, I realized that this is really an outstanding game, because fans speak of it as "the best game in the world."

    I contacted Dmitry Gusarov , Alexei Dubov and the guys fromSNK , who prepared the addon "Revolution". Dmitry declined to be interviewed; Alexei agreed to answer by mail. In another post, I invited everyone to ask their questions. Based on these questions, this interview appeared.

    Alexey Dubovoi

    The story of the Space Rangers game

    You were only 18 years old (right?) When you started writing a large-scale project. How did you decide on this? Did you have any experience writing games before KR?

    As a child, I started with Spectrum and Search computers. The first game I saw was Nether Earth . Then she turned my mind over. And from that time I began to get involved in computers, games and programming. What I was going to be a programmer, I realized very early, it was very interesting for me to study the engines, create my own, everything else ceased to interest me.

    Time passed, I gained experience, and in the middle of 99, I accidentally stumbled onto the website of Dmitry Gusarov on the Internet. At that time he was finishing making General"And was looking for a job in game design. We met, talked and decided to make a new game on a cosmic theme, since we understood that the graphics needed to be done much less than for other genres, and the theme of space itself was of interest to us. If Dmitry was interested in the games Elite, Master of Orion, then I was a fan of Star Wars: X-Wing series and Star Control 2.

    At that time I was 21 years old and I started working on the game without really thinking about the prospects and financing, I was young and full of desire to just do what I love.

    Is it true that they wrote for 3 years without any external funding?

    Yes it is. But you need to understand that I grew up in a different atmosphere, not in the current material and monetary. I spent the early years in the culture of the late USSR with his magnificent children's films “Guest from the Future”, “Electronics”. Of course, my growing up had to collapse, but the spirit remained for a long time, and I was too young to understand what was happening. And then new computer technologies became available to the general population. That is, money at all for that period did not interest me.

    Moreover, before meeting with Dmitry, I worked for 2 years in one state institution and developed a database and a program in which people worked successfully, while getting a stable and good salary for those times. But as soon as I realized that Dmitry and I were planning a very serious project, I didn’t hesitate to leave work and devoted all my life to creating the game. And in fact, he spent 3 years on the neck of his parents.

    How far did development time exceed initial calculations? How did the result differ from the original idea? The question also relates to KP1 and KP2.

    In general, I did not even really read the design document that Dmitry prepared, it was not interesting to me. An ideal circled in my imagination, to which I aspired with all my might. This is only later - after completion, I fully realized that the original idea was a rather primitive game a little more complicated than the general, and therefore the initial estimated time was a maximum of half a year. But things were going well with us, everything that was conceived, it turned out to be done quickly and with high quality, but the publisher was not, and therefore I had to think, and then implement additional features in the game.

    With КР2, everything was different; the publisher, having bought КР1 at a low price from us and successfully selling without any advertising and making big profits, agreed to continue. On a dedicated budget, we were able to rent an office, hire cool people. And in two years we released KR2, redrawing the entire schedule, as well as making robots.

    The game managed to combine different genres: arcade, quests, and turn-based strategy. But balanced and organic. It all adds up to a whole world called Space Rangers. How did you manage to achieve such a wonderful balance? Who tested the games?

    We didn’t know what full testing was. Of course, we let friends and family play, but they didn’t understand much about that, and therefore we simply qualitatively realized our inner world in the game, which was grown on other games, films, books.

    At what point did you feel that the game had already "grown"? What is she tired of you already, and lives her own life, is developing herself by the forces of other people?

    I really like to learn everything new, but after studying this topic for me becomes not interesting. And therefore, as soon as I implemented some new feature in the game, it immediately became not interesting to me. And since almost all features passed through me, I fully completed my own game only once in 6 years of development!

    If you were making a game now, what would you remake in it?

    There was not enough time to write more advanced intelligence for robots. Since there was a lot of work in different areas, and time was short, the 3 months that were spent on this were clearly not enough to write more intelligent robot behavior. In addition, this was affected by the fact that we had already seriously quarreled with Dmitry.

    Questions of interaction with other developers

    A lot of warm reviews about the texts in the game. About texts in a help, about texts in quests, in the history of the world of the Kyrgyz Republic. Who was the "chief editor" of the game texts? How did you build relationships with outside writers? A separate question about the relationship with SNK - the union of independent quest-writers. They wrote about half of the quests for KR2. How did you meet and how did you build teamwork?

    Dmitry was in charge of all the texts. And almost all planetary quests were written by third-party people working through the Internet. We had a good community, in which talented people took part. To do this, we had a post office, a website and a forum on which we communicated with everyone. I think many were bribed by the fact that we were open and tried to make the highest quality product. And they almost never thought about money, and accordingly, quest-writers earned crumbs, although they did a titanic job.

    Many IT people still listen to the soundtrack of KR2. What was the relationship with KD Music, Korzhavin and Semenov? Did you make any demands on the music? How many tracks were rejected?

    Undoubtedly, high-quality music greatly affects the atmosphere of the game. We took all the tracks that we liked. They were offered quite a lot, since they are almost not tied to the game itself, and therefore, one talented musician can make a lot of them. Dmitry accepted the content, therefore it is better to ask him about relationships with people. It is a pity that he refused to answer.

    Funny questions

    Is it true that “KR” was done in Vladivostok?

    Yes it is. Dmitry and I lived in Vladivostok. Then Alexander Yazynin joined us, who drew the main schedule for the Kyrgyz Republic, he is also from Vladivostok. It is very difficult to work through the Internet when the work is in close interaction. And especially when there is no funding. If the city did not have the right people at the right time, then the game would not be like that, there would be something else.

    Probably a very stupid question, but it has long tormented me: how to put emphasis in the names of races? “Maloki” or “maloki”, “pelengi” or “pelengi?”

    The more options: funny and with subtext, the better - it makes people think.

    Tips for young gamers

    Your conversation with Dmitry Gusarov ended painfully, so I intend to bypass these issues. But for future gamers, give advice from the heights of your experience: how to build relationships with companions?

    Respect other people's opinions and compromise whenever possible. Another option is also possible: to ignore everyone and bend your line. In the end, if your ideas are correct, and you know how to work a lot, then you will achieve success, and if not, then more intelligent and successful people will come in your place. So to speak, natural selection, you do not need to consider yourself the center of the universe.

    If you would now start writing a project of the same scale, on which platform would you begin to create?

    Flash is a promising technology for games, if it develops qualitatively. Now 3D support has appeared in it, and therefore it is already possible to do fast graphics, many engines have appeared. And the most valuable thing is that the product written on it can be run on different platforms: Windows, Linux, different browsers, and even on tablets and phones.

    More than 10 years have passed since the start of work on the Kyrgyz Republic. How has the game industry changed? Will the games stay on one computer, or will everything go to browsers and mobile platforms, will everything become multi-user, as you think? Where to go young?

    Blue-headed games will not die, since competing with other people is a difficult matter and not everyone can do it. Now people have learned how to make money without publishers on pseudo-single social and mobile games. In general, I am not a prophet, and I am not interested in the opinion of the majority. I believe that it is necessary to educate people, and not poke them with base instincts. And this is somewhat contrary to success in today's understanding.

    In general, I'm waiting for people to understand and make artificial intelligence, and this will be a completely new page in history. The universe tends to become more complex, and man is just an intermediate stage in the creation of a true mind, which is aware of it and will change;)

    Although this interview is dedicated to the Kyrgyz Republic, what are you working on now? What are your plans and ideas if this is not a secret?

    For several years now, I have been making the multiplayer strategy game Empire in the ranger universe. Now the more or less completed the first strategic part of the game. It remains to be done the second part of the game in which it will be possible to travel and fight on spaceships. The game is already being played, although I do not advertise it. It’s better to wait until all items are completed.

    Yakov Uvarov, SNK project manager, head of technical department

    When did you first learn about the Kyrgyz Republic? What was your impression of the game?

    I found out in 2003 by reading a note from KP1 in the Russian edition of PC World. Only in 2004 I was able to buy and play, because until the winter of 2003, I didn’t have a car that would stretch the game at least with a tolerable speed - for three years I lived on a Pentium MMX 166 MHz and 48 MB of memory.

    I was stunned by the game, not believing that this happens. The first passage, taking into account that I was thirteen at that time, took me almost two months. The first batch is that I probably will not be able to forget, nor will I again experience these sensations.

    How did you get into SNK? What was he doing in the framework of the SNK, except for the Kyrgyz Republic?

    I got to SNK at the end of 2006, when I more or less got used to the Elemental Games forum, which I registered in March of the same year, and helped to support the clan forum and the site when there was a need for them again. Actually, now I, in addition to managing the project, also continue to do this: all resources are administered by me personally, and two colleagues, Vladimir Zhuchkin and Sergey Berezhnoy, help to develop a forum, a table of records, and other joys of life.

    What did he do exactly in the framework of the "Space Rangers"?

    He agreed on the implementation of the project first with Gusarov, then with comrades from 1C (at that time it was Sergey Gerasyov, now our main contacts are Yuri Miroshnikov and Andrey Dineev), he struck the budget, revised the contract, created the project plan and distributed tasks, part of which he helped implement, was fully engaged in the creation and support of the entire working infrastructure (version control systems, trackers, build servers, etc.)

    How was the relationship with the developers of the Kyrgyz Republic built? Remember some interesting points.

    Some of the guys know Gusarov and Dubov personally, since they were in 2004-2005. I visited Igromir and KRI, but since I joined the team after they had a close quarrel, I personally could not communicate with them. I contacted Dmitry electronically during the preparation of the project; for the most part, I talked with Alexei only when the forum was still working.

    Writing texts and quests is closer to fiction. Who was the “chief editor”, or the main writer, who asked the main direction of the judiciary, the main style?

    Most of the texts for the new project were written by Alexander Smirnov and Ivan Ilyichyov, one of the oldest members of the team. The entire subplot with the pirates, as well as a fair amount of the dialogs and about a quarter of the new quests, are their hands of creation.

    What tools do you use to write quests? Are you programming, or just writing in words? Or are there any special tools?

    For writing quests there is a wonderful TGE prodigy, Text Game Editor - a visual editor with support for regular expressions and script formulas, released back in the days of KP1 by the guys from EG. For KR2, it was already redone, and did not support 24 parameters in the quest, but 48, which allowed us to do more complex and deeper quests (the most striking example is “Ikee-Baany Master”, a completely full-fledged RPG).

    This was not enough for our project (back in the days of KR2, we had to “pack” several parameters into one using formulas), but at that time we did not have TGE sources. Fortunately, in the bowels of WaybackMachine, we dug up a bunch of old versions that worked in the format of KP1, and brought it to condition.

    Do you continue to play other games, or does it take longer to create your own games?

    There is absolutely no time. Since we have a project in our free time (mainly due to the fact that our budget never allowed us to put it all in full time mode), we all have main places of work, and there is hardly enough time to do everything business and sleep a couple of hours.

    What is planned with the development of the Kyrgyz Republic? So will add-ons just appear? Or is KP3 expected? Will there be browser versions, versions for mobile platforms, multiplayer games?

    This question would be more correct to ask someone in 1C. Personally, we haven’t received any proposals, and our initiatives and ideas rest on the lack of funding.

    There are problems with porting: the entire project is historically written in Delphi, in particular in the dialect of the sixth-seventh version. Due to the heap of unobvious solutions and the mass of Alexei’s architectural miscalculations (which, incidentally, is understandable, because he learned the language in the process of writing the project), the game builds correctly in CodeGear 2007, although in this case there are some problems caused by a partial transition in this version Unicode environments.

    Kylix was dead for a long time, the project is not really going to XE2 \ XE4 (according to preliminary estimates, you need to rewrite somewhere in the third of the whole pascal code), so at least a full port is not planned.

    What advice would you give young children who would really like to dive into participation in the development?

    First of all, think carefully whether there is enough strength and patience. Raising a project alone or with a couple of friends is a very rare exception rather than a real chance.

    We need money (no one will work for free), it takes time (combining development with the main work is hell, believe us), we need patience, and we need knowledge.

    When Gusarov answered roughly the same, I did not believe. Having gone through this personally, I made sure that he was right.

    A separate question: there are various development proposals, for example, to add control over the planet’s economy. What needs to be done to make this proposal a reality?

    KR, first of all, is a tactical game, not an economic simulator. Too much bias in the economy does not make sense, in fact.

    The game is certainly a cult. There are still fans who are experiencing in a new way the whole coolness of the universe, called "Space Rangers." And all people are divided into those who are already profanet, and those who have not yet profanet. How many more years will you give her?

    Maybe a couple of years before she finally leaves the category of “favorite-games-which-I-will-never-run-again”, in which I already have MoO2, the second part of “Heroes” and many others titles.

    Post script

    Yakov Uvarov is present on Habré under the nickname ksenobayt .

    I thank those who came up with questions for the interview: neMAGnit , batollo , g0dlike , Sterhel , InteractiveTechnology , Aisu_Kuge , Funcraft , RussianNeuroMancer , Ramaloke , Suvitruf , Cim , Kirpa , Dreddik , thunderspb , b3nd3r , ANtlord , Amomum , Navij , petrkozorezov ,race1 .

    Organized and conducted an interview by Vadim Galkin.

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