Author Topic: Interview with Simone Bevilacqua  (Read 2560 times)

Offline 4pLaY

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Interview with Simone Bevilacqua
« on: February 28, 2019, 03:19:19 PM »
Hello Simone Bevilacqua, could you please do a small introduction of yourself to our readers?

I'd say that I'm the least interesting thing here, so I'll keep it short. I'm 42, I'm currently in Italy, and I love to make games for the Amiga and the C64.

When did you get interested in computers, and what was your first computer?

At 7 I saw the C64 of a cousin of mine. It amazed me to no end, and fired up my imagination and creativity like nothing else before. It is no coincidence that my first computer was a (breadbin) C64, two years later.

What Amiga(s) did you have in the past, and if you remember, what were the(ir) configuration(s)?

My only classic Amiga has been an A1200 equipped with a hard disk, a Blizzard 1230-IV, 16 Mb of RAM, a Surf Squirrel II, and an 8x CD burner.

What is your current Amiga setup?

Exactly the same as above, except that I don't use the Surf Squirrel and the CD burner anymore, and I've replaced the hard disk with a CF card.

Can you tell us how you got started programming on the Amiga?

Given that the only programming language I had learned before was BASIC, on the C64, I started with AMOS.

Can you describe the programming language/environment that you used earlier, if any, and what you currently use to create Amiga software?

After AMOS I moved to Assembly. Initially I used DevPac, but then I quite quickly switched to PhxAss, which I still use today.

Could you tell us a bit about which programs or games you have created in the past on the Amiga?

I have created a lot of stuff, but most of it remained unfinished and/or unreleased. There are also some games and tools which I had released and then retired as I wasn't fully happy with them. Ideally, one day I'd like to release reworked versions of them, but honestly I don't think that I'll ever get the chance to. Therefore, as far as I remember, all that remains still publicly available is a little game called MeMO and ESA, a funky development tool. For completeness, let me mention that I also have some stuff for AmigaOS 4: BOH, an immersive dungeon crawler, Huenison, a crazy arcade shooter, KOG, another indescribable game, and glUAE, a tool that integrates UAE into AmigaOS 4.

You are working on a new Amiga game called SkillGrid that looks very promising. Could you tell us a bit about the game/gameplay and specifications needed to play it?

SkillGrid is an endless vertical shooter which, like it always is with my games, is quite different from anything else out there, both technically and gameplay-wise.

Technically, the highlights are:

  • the 4 separate graphical layers (3 of which scroll in parallax) with real transparencies;
  • the music, which is not based on modules, but uses high quality stereo waveforms compressed in a custom way (conceptually, it's as if each tune is an MP3 stored in RAM), so that there are no channels limits (in fact, all the tunes use 10 to 12 tracks) and, at the same time, 2 Paula channels remain free for sound effects.

Regarding the gameplay, to the usual shooting action I've added the need to continually catch/avoid bonus/malus cells, plus some other wicked mechanisms that make the action very dynamic.

The game runs on any AGA Amiga.

How long was the development cycle on SkillGrid, and is this a team effort, or did you create everything yourself?

I started working on it in November 2017. Finishing it required about 1 year of work, although I couldn't work on it full time as, in the meanwhile, I've also worked on the special physical editions of BOH and Huenison, on the final (and physical) version of MAH, a little bit on QUOD INIT EXIT IIo, (these last two games are for the C64), on a couple of engines for the Amiga (which I dream to use for some future productions), and also on a narrative book (in Italian) which got published mid-December - and then, of course, there have been a number of real life issues.

Anyway, back to SkillGrid... Once the development was complete, I dedicated a couple of months to the creation of the packaging, the manual, and so on. I did everything myself (I'm the only guy behind the RETREAM label, which I'm pretty sure you'll find much easier to pronounce than my name).

Is there anything you would have liked to include in the game that did not make it for various reasons? If yes, are some of these potentially something you would consider including in an update, or perhaps even a SkillGrid 2?

No, the game is exactly as I wanted it. I just wish I could have fit more music into it, but there's only so much I can store in the stock A1200 RAM (while keeping the game single-load and runnable from floppies, that is).

Is there any release date set for this game, and where can people get a copy once it is released?

I hope to have it released in March. The physical edition will be published by RGCD, while the digital download will be available from the RETREAM page.

Do you have a number in mind for the amount of copies you hope to sell? And will this affect your decision to create more games for the Amiga in the future?

I have no sales target. I just hope that the game will sell well, as I've been unemployed for more than 2.5 years, so some money is definitely welcome. If life allows me to, I'll keep on making Amiga games regardless of the sales because I do that first and foremost for passion (although I honestly must admit that it would hurt me quite much if sales were impacted by piracy).

To anyone else that might be dreaming of creating their own games, do you have any suggestions for them?

If you are strongly motivated, definitely go for it, be ready to work hard, set your objectives progressively, and don't be discouraged by the difficulties.

What do you think the state of the Amiga community is in these days?

I don't have a clear idea. I don't participate in events, I rarely visit forums, and I'm not part of any team.

Do you have some last words?

Well, thanks for this opportunity. I hope you all will enjoy the product of this last effort of mine and that it will make for a good contribution to the Amiga Community.

That is the end of this interview, thanks for taking the time to do it Simone, I am sure our readers will appreciate it :).
« Last Edit: July 09, 2019, 11:50:14 PM by 4pLaY »