Interview to the Arcadia Developments Team

Back to AMiWoRLD Home Page The Arcadia Developments Team is a group of young italian programmers formed approximately a year ago.
Their first product, Bubble Heroes (a promising clone of Puzzle Bobble), is in its completion stage and shall be released within short time.
Click here to see a larger image

Hi boys, thanks to have granted the interview.
By how many persons your group is (currently) composed?
Arcadia Developments Team
Thanks to you for the opportunity!
Currently our team of development is formed from 8 persons.
The levels of time and competences with whom the several members of the group work on Bubble Heroes (that is our first product) are basically 2:
  • Andrea Morolli (coder)
  • Igor Imhoff and Alan Scarpellini (2d graphic)
  • Stefano Rossini (musician)
have carried out the greatest part of the project.
  • Elena Amore (illustratrice)
  • Rossano Clementi and Marco Salvi(coders)
  • Massimo Lotti (3d graphic)
worked together on the realization of Bubble Heroes in more or less intense way (depending from the assigned competences). Their job has been fundamental in order to carry Bubble Heroes to the levels we all aimed for!
Then we would have to thank 1000 other persons for 1000 other reasons, but we will leave this task to the greetings in game:D.
We think, in spite of the certain affection that you feel for this platform, that the Amiga it is not exactly the epicenter of your existence.
Therefore, when you are not busy to fill up keyboards and push-buttons of the mouse with germs and sweat, to which hobby (if you have one) you have dedicated your free time?
Arcadia Developments Team
Andrea Morolli: cinema, music and sport (though Bubble Heroes is carrying me out much time indeed)... ah, I forgot... undoubtedly my favourite hobby remains the University (I feel much sadness in the air...).

Alan Scarpellini: music, collecting japanese cartoons and comic strips, anthropological, fantasy and mithological readings, rolegames.

Igor Imhoff: music, and all that that belongs to the world of the image.

Stefano Rossini: Music, RPG, table games, literature, comic strips.

Why you have chosen to develop on Amiga, instead of take risk in a very more lucrative PC market? Morbid attachment or fear of being suffocated from a wider competition and, consequently, more pitiless?
Arcadia Developments Team
Beautiful question!
The thing is extremely complex... says that for the Amiga we feel an enormous affection and above all at this time we're amazed by the way in which hardware and software work (though not up-to-date): surely a less chaotic way and closer to human element than a disastrous PC:)).
We value the idea of giving our contribution (we hope appreciable) to this great machine; our production comes from a heritage of computer science and videogames culture in which is present an impassionate love for the classic arcades (2d shoot-em up like Salamander or Parodius or - to mention one of them on Amiga - Banshee, platform game, puzzle game above all in Japanese style etc...).
Click here to see a larger image since we are grown with this machine, trying the challenge has been natural for us to realize on it all the games that have been saw and still nowadays we see in videogames room or on the consoles.
Moreover, even if it can seem singular, we like to work on a platform where there are gaps in the entertainment software park... for this reason it's stimulant trying to fill up these holes in the best possible way!
Surely there are market factors. Trying to be clearer, the Amiga market is nearly nonexistent at the moment (it was not so poor when we began to estimate the possibility to develop BH) but it allows to new born teams (like ours), without multimillionaires productions, to enjoy a sure international visibility. And this , on one side, makes the things easier...
On PC it is easy to lose yourself in a sea of multimillionaire productions and in no way you can attract attention (though the product being developed is of impeccable quality).
Shortly, what represents for you this machine? Only a melting pot of microprocessors "lovingly guided" from an operating system advanced to the average, or, as our American friends keep to repeat, a "philosophy", a "modus vivendi" ?
Arcadia Developments Team
Another complex question... we support the idea that Amiga has an optimal hardware and software architecture that recalls a certain and well defined philosophy in the way that the things (in computer science field) can be managed at the best. We are keen to specify that the philosophy is just computer-based, we don't like some speeches like fanatical schism that encircle Amiga:).
The "modus vivendi" cited by you simply regards a issue of personal history and taste, nevertheless the possibility of being able to choose.
[In the impossibility of being able to further develop the technology as is (for thousand good reasons of market, costs and commercial insubstantiality), we agree with who says that something of new can be made, something which has the same Amiga feeling and operating way (that means hardware and software living in an elegant an well designed symbiosis).
We don't like nor to see Amiga turned in a sort op PC (by using discards of the hated computer), nor with those people for whom Amiga means just a wonderful operating system.
How do you judge the acts of Amiga Inc.? In short: you believe that these continuous delays on the releases of the new products (Amiga NG, Developer System, OS 3.5) are effectively logical consequence of a careful and shrewd planning, or, more probably, the blanket of fog that wrapped the sinapses of Jeff and company has rarefied only in recent times?
Arcadia Developments Team
On this point I imagine there will be many persons in disagreement... in any case many of us are not between the detractors of Amiga Inc. but not even between the flatterers... the delays regarding the development of the plans are (in our opinion) due simply to a little clear business policy from Gateway towards Amiga and Amiga Inc.
Petro and Jeff have gone ahead for 2 years without a penny and with the order from the main company of surveying the situation and seeing if any commercially appreciable way could exist. Click here to see a larger image Moreover, only recently Gateway has managed to realize an considerable increase of the profits, from here the conviction of being able to really invest in Amiga Inc., the arrival of Jim Collas (one that, with words at least, demonstrates to know his business), the 3.5 confirmation of and the embodyment of an operating staff making believable the development of the announced plans.
Moreover the affirmation Jim Collas made in the last letter has enjoyed us a lot, attesting the will of being able to put to disposition of current Amiga with PPC the development system for the new machine.
It seems us a great thing, also cause we think that the perspective of being forced to work on machines x86 for the development on AmigaNG is not of all a positive one: in fact,it would lack some kind of prosecution and passage to which every Amiga owner we imagine would want to see.

A precise statement... by saying this we do not mean we blindly believe in Amiga Inc. neither that all the things that promise will become truth (also cause many are absolutely cloudy and little comprehensible at the moment).
We only hope that the computer that will exit is not a substitute of a PC nor to level hardware! We would want something innovative and stimulant on which putting our hands.

And what you think about Amiga NG? Which characteristics would have to possess, in your opinion, to assert itself as the "quantum leap" for which all of us are looking for?
Arcadia Developments Team
A refined and modular architecture joined to a development package that allows to take advantage AT THE BEST and in simple way from what the hardware place at disposal. We have already told you, the so-called Amiga philosophy revised, corrected and brought to the present day (indeed to the future days since it must be completely an innovative one).
We do not pronounce ourselves on the technical characteristics, but it would appeal to us to be able to create without problems games in the highest resolutions, completely in 24bit in a fluid and convincing way.
For that which concern the software, it would have to support everything in such way that the great public can choose AmigaNG without feeling outside from the world.
The diversification of the productive line by Amiga Inc. (Classic versus NG) represents: the real "soft transition " from the old one, ramshackle (?) system to a new electronic messiah; just a useless waste of time and resources (better to focus on a single objective); mere collection of funds: once put in the market the "new Amiga", goodbye all...
Arcadia Developments Team
I'll told you my opinion (Andrea): I would opt for the first hypothesis (except for "ramshackle" :D) on condition that will be give the possibility to develop at the actual users for AmigaNG by continuing to use their Amiga (even if only those that have PPC).
I would add also that such diversification can be motivated from commercial and strategic issues: of the rest, from what we can understand, AmigaNG won't be an evolution of the current machines, but something that will have (all of us hope so) the same feeling but, at the same time, it will create a point of detach in the comparisons of the today machines... so it's easy to imagine the motivations they have pushed to form two distinguished hemispheres that would have to make part of the same globe!
About the collection of funds... I fear there is not much to collect, at the moment, in order to justify a move of this kind. Amiga Inc operates (IMHO) according to how much Gateway can invest...
You possess PPC accelerators? If yes, you think you have made a good purchase?
Arcadia Developments Team
Nobody of us possesses a PPC accelerator ... Some of us (we do not make names ;D) think it is a very bad purchase (totally in agreement! NbR), others are waiting and seeing how the things are evolving before (eventually) estimating the possibility to buy one.
In any case, Bubble Heroes will run on BVision/CVPPC, indeed, the last one will be sure the hardware on which the game will give the best of itself (concerning the version for graphical cards).
Bubble Heroes is your first creature or in past you have realized other plans (games or utility), which, also for independent reasons from your will (study, time lacking), you have been forced to set aside?
Arcadia Developments Team
For me (Andrea) is the first commercial product but not the first game I realize: in the past I have programmed several things (from puzzle-game to shoot-em ups) on several platforms but nobody of these (despite some could be promising) has been brought to an end for various reasons.

Alan: Bubble Heroes is considerable as the first commercial game on which I worked, although in passed I've adorned myself with "videogames pieces" actually not sublime (above all as a coder) like a clone of Dungeon Master and puzzle game of doubtful taste (no, it was beautiful, we have split our's sides with laughing and we have passed incredible afternoons in front of such masterpiece nbAndrea).

Igor: he is a veteran of the scene and besides BH) he has realized the graphics of what will turn out to be one of the beautifulst games ever appeared on Amiga, of which we do not say the name to you cause we are bad guys (Traumazero? NdR).

Stefano: BH it is the first commercial product for which I have composed a sound track. Then, being grown with the computer, I have, to level of design, hundreds or perhaps thousands (: -) of plans at embryonic state, sketches, someone more ahead, someone less (the greater part), something to beta state...

Why you have chosen as the title of debut a clone of Puzzle Bobble?
Arcadia Developments Team
Because one day Alan's sister said: "I really enjoy this game, does it exist for Amiga?". As usual the answer has been negative (if we forget some disgusting ones found on the net), and then, since it was a time that we wanted to begin the production of a game on Amiga, we have decided to realize a clone of Puzzle Bobble cause, like already expressed, the games in Japanese style enjoy us very much and the fact that such kind of games had been carried on all the systems of this earth unless on ours loved computer got on our nerves.
The plan is begun in fact with modest ambitions and gradually it has become more and more full-bodied, including a lot of not present innovative elements neither in the chapters more advances of the series. We've been, particularly, amused to insert a true and own weft (approximately 15 pages of script that preview all the possible conversation between the several personages) inside of a puzzle game like PB and to try to involve the player in a mission to carry at the end, that take place in five various worlds, rather than put him in front of a series more or less massive of levels to complete. Obviously, side by side to this modality called"story" there are many other modalities from classic puzzle game. Therefore, after approximately a year of preparation and planning of the game, the development team that it's definitively carrying at end has formed.
Which and how many problems have been taken place during the drawing up of the code?
Arcadia Developments Team
In spite of what could seem to many people, Bubble Heroes has revealed a game not easy to realize (on Amiga at least). The number of necessary objects on screen is quite elevated and at the same time the game is forced to turn to 50 frame for second in order to turn out its playability truly attractive. Moreover, as all the games in which several characters can be chosen (everyone with its own features) is necessary a good flexibility of the code.
Also the realization of a valid "artificial intelligence" in order to make the computer able to play in the 2 players challenges has been revealed discreetly complex.
Finally the debugging has been truly arduous...the formulation of Bubble Heroes (in all the variations presents in the game) expects a numerous series of particular cases and moments of "crowding", in which a lot of things can happen at the same time, and the system must be in a position to managing.
What that mainly jumps to the eye in Bubble Heroes, is the impressive fluidity and the total absence of slowdowns (in spite of the great sprite number of on screen): to which programming tricks you have resorted in order to reach this (optimal) result?
Arcadia Developments Team
Thanks for the appreciation... Sure has been necessary a lot of job and a little bit of fantasy in order to try to overcome some (unfortunately evident) technical limits of Amiga (at least the AGA version).
Therefore we have taken advantage of all that we could, above all AGA sprite and copper (for which we have developed a mini tag-language that allows us to create all the copper-list we need without too many efforts). Moreover, in order to try to optimize to the best the use of the poor blitter, we have created a management system of the screen reaaly flexible and object-oriented, that allows us to assign to every frame of every bob the correct methods of refresh on screen depending of its graphical characteristics and its kind of role it has in the game.
It can be said, of sure, "nothing of revolutionary", in any case all that has served in order to catch up our purposes.

In the RTG version, we are using the operating system and a set of customized blittering routines with use of the CPU (realized in ASM in the more optimal way as far as possble). Unfortunately due to the size of objects that must be moved and the frame rate necessary to make the game turn out ok, the Amiga powered by ZorroII graphic cards will be outside game... We're afraid but is not indeed our guilt if the transfer-rate of such bus turn out so slow (worse of already the not thrilling AGA). From carried out tests, all would have to turn out more than fluid (to the maximum detail) on Amiga with 060 and cards ZorroIII or (better than ever) BVision/CVPPC.

Are you developing/will you develope other products (such as utilities and PPC only games)?
Arcadia Developments Team
At the moment we are concentratissimi in order to carry at end Bubble Heroes as asoon as possible. Then, cause we aspire to live by the wonderful job of videogame products developer, we think to make available Bubble Heroes on several platforms, since we have had several (and we must say unexpected) appreciations also from customers not Amiga owners, to get the hang of how the things work in the other markets (we do not aspire sure to a warm acceptance in fields in which the 3D is a "must"... but, taking a look to the size of not-Amiga markets, we think is a sure number of persons that can find BH) amusing.
In any case 90% of the code have been written in ANSI C and therefore an eventual porting should not have to be a problem.
For the future instead we have many ideas that bubble in pot... our dream would be a possilbility to realize them on AmigaNG (and/or AmigaPPC obviously), but for this kind of decisions we will have to carefully estimate the situation of the market in the opportune moment. Depending by only us, we would develop for all the life on Amiga, but unfortunately these chosen do not depend only from our will.
What we can make is to hope that all will go to a good aim and that Bubble Heroes obtains (on Amiga) results of sale that can be considered acceptable.
Well, thanks still and good luck.
And I recommend you: read AmiWorld.
Arcadia Developments Team
Thanks to you!!


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