Author Topic: RVG Interviews Erik 'earok' Hogan.  (Read 498 times)

Offline zapiy

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RVG Interviews Erik 'earok' Hogan.
« on: April 15, 2018, 11:42:47 AM »

Erik Hogan features in this latest RVG Interviews, most people in the scene will know Erik as Earok, we chat about a “Secret Project” for the Amiga, what he is up to now and much more besides.

The Interview

Zapiy

Thank you for agreeing to our interview, please take a moment to tell us a little about you?

Erik

I’m Erik Hogan, a kiwi in Auckland but originally from the West Coast of the South Island, a retro game fan and an Amiga hobbyist game developer. I’m currently part of the PixelGlass team for commercial Amiga development, the ReImagine team (which focuses purely on fan works), the moderator team for the “Commodore Amiga” facebook group, and an active user of the English Amiga Board.

Zapiy

Whats is the gaming industry like in New Zealand?

Erik

The gaming industry is larger than you might expect for a tiny country. “Path of Exile” from Grinding Gear Games has been a big success story for the local industry, but we’ve also seen success in the mobile gaming market from companies such as Pikpok.

Zapiy

Also whats the retro scene like there?

Erik

It’s not nearly as active as I’d like it to be – there’s no local meetups, swap meets, demoparties etc, which is a shame because I know there’s a large number of people around here that have an interest in retro systems.

Zapiy

What was the first game you created?

Erik

When I was young (12-ish, circa 1996) I was really into Klik N Play, the super-simple game maker by AMOS creator François Lionet. Destruction Derby on the original Playstation was a game that I was a fan of at the time, and I ended up creating a rather twisted top down demake called “Death Derby” – when your car became too damaged to move, it’d blow up, and you had to run across the arena and find another one without being run over (or, if your opponent was out of his car, you had to run him down to score a kill). It was rather macabre but I’m definitely tempted to revisit the idea someday.

Zapiy

Was Death Derby ever released and if not would you consider it?

Erik

Sadly, the original game is lost forever! All that remains is a 3D remake I worked on briefly in the early 2000s which itself never got finished (and frankly, is in such a bad state that I’d be too embarrassed to ever release it!)

Zapiy

What do you for a living now?

Erik

I actually work primarily as a game developer! My day-job company focuses primarily on “serious games”, either games with an educational message or games designed specifically to teach certain skills. I also have side contracts working on mobile games and business apps for small business and local government.

Greyfox

What was it that started you interested in doing game ports and hacks?

Erik

I’m not quite sure where it started – as early as Doom at least, I had been crafting new levels and making tweaks of various sorts to existing games. In the past few years, what got me interested in hacking Amiga titles specifically was the desire to get certain games playable on my CD32 without use of a mouse or keyboard (disabling a password protection screen, for instance), from there it gradually became an interest in full blown “special edition” hacks and entirely new titles.


Greyfox

Which one of you hacks or ports was the one that gave you most pleasure to work on and why and lets spin this around as well, tell us the worst one and why?

Erik

Favorite would probably be the Giana Sisters Special Edition hack. Basically, the ReImagine team (John Tsakiris – Tsak) and I took the already solid Giana Sisters port for Amiga, and replaced every single graphic asset from it – the artwork was largely created ground-up, although Tsak used some frames from the Nintendo DS edition as a base, and we also used a new splash screen from the talented Deviant Artist LisVanPiece. A variety of replacement palettes were created to give different moods to different levels, and a handful of sound effects were replaced. On top of all that, we ported the fantastic intro from the Nintendo DS version! It was a great little project that brought Tsak and myself together as a team.

Least favorite is a little bit harder to say – I’ve done some work towards a hack of “UN Squadron” for Amiga, but it’s difficult to justify the time I’d need to spend in order to get it finished (the ratio of hours needed to be put into the project versus how much additional enjoyment the work adds to the game is rather low).

Zapiy

Your CD32 work is fantastic for the scene, anymore future development on this?

Erik

Cheers! I still plan to do various unofficial ports and hacks for the old CD32.co.uk blog, but it hasn’t seen much love lately since my focus has largely been on Road Avenger and AlarCity.


Zapiy

AlarCity looks incredible, tell us the story behind this game and are you doing all the development individually?

Erik

Thank you! AlarCity is a collaboration between myself and Tsak, with support from others in the Amiga community (for example JMD – Simone Bernacchia – who creates an enormous amount of quality tracker music for numerous Amiga homebrew projects). The genesis of the game came from Tsak’s suggestion that – after the completion of Giana Sister’s SE – we should look at joining the small but growing market for modern Amiga game software, and so AlarCity is the first original project we’ve worked on together.

Zapiy

What limitations did you find with making games for the Amiga so far?

Erik

Both processing and memory limitations of the Amiga can be challenging to get around – but it’s also a lot of fun, I can see why the demoscene has not only survived but thrived since it’s inception back in the 1980s.


Zapiy

How did you become part of Pixelglass?

Erik

PixelGlass was originally born as a partnership between myself and John Tsakiris, but has since expanded to include a handful of other Amiga fans, and it could expand further. We’d like to think eventually PixelGlass will become a widely known brand for quality modern games for classic Amiga hardware.

Zapiy

Why Earok?

Erik

Earok = Erik + Turok. It was a silly idea I had as a kid but since I’ve used from the time I set up my first Hotmail account I’ve stuck with it all this time.

Greyfox

Are you involved with Worthy in any way?

Erik

I’m actually not involved with that project, other than occasional help with play testing (and of course, promotion!). The game design and concept, as well as all the artwork is by Tsak. Programming is by Alpine9000, a very talented developer behind other solid Amiga titles such as “Blocky Skies”, “Climby Skies” and “Else We Get Mad”. In addition, JMD has done a great job with the music in the game.

Zapiy

Can you tell us what prompted you to make games for old systems?

Erik

A combination of love for the hardware as well as a love for the great (although sometimes volatile!) Amiga community. There’s also a sense of appreciation in the Amiga community for my efforts that I hadn’t had previously with freeware efforts for Windows.


Zapiy

Highway Sprint looks fantastic, can you tell about where the idea came from and are you doing all the development individually?

Erik

Highway Sprint came out of a conversation I had between myself and talented pixel artist Krzysztof “Koyot” Matys, I was after a quick project to do before Christmas and he had already created bunch of art assets for a game that had never been programmed. He was happy to leave me to come up with a gameplay design based on his art, so I prototyped a quick game design based around a multiplayer “endless runner” style concept. A final version may come out eventually, but it’ll feature a single player mode closer in spirit to “Road Fighter”, “Bump and Jump” or even “Spy Hunter”.

Zapiy

Whats next?

Erik

After AlarCity I may look at finishing off my work-in-progress Raid Over Moscow port, which actually uses art assets from an aborted US Gold Raid Over Moscow port for Amiga and ST. The base artwork was created back in the day by Adrian Cummings, who is still very active in game development – recently he created Dungeonette, which is the very first ZX Spectrum Next game to receive a physical release.

There’s also a secret commercial project (a competitive puzzler for stock AGA Amigas) that I’ve not publicly announced, but I’ve included a screenshot here as a teaser.


Zapiy

Wow an exclusive, can you tell us a little more about your new  game and will it be a Pixelglass physical release?

Erik

It is indeed a PixelGlass game and we are planning a physical release. It’s hard to describe the type of puzzler it is – while it shares a handful of mechanics with ‘bubble shooter’ type games, it’s also very unique.

Zapiy

Will there be a physical release of the Amiga game?

Erik

Certainly! We’re taking preorders for AlarCity through Amiga.Net.Pl, which offer both digital and physical releases of all of the games they publish.

Zapiy

Are you surprised with the resurgence in retro gaming?

Erik

Certainly to a degree, I’ve been astonished with the success of new Mega Drive games on Kickstarter (Xeno Crisis in particular). Though I know we tend to like going back to the games and systems we had in our youth, so I couldn’t say if the current interest in 8 and 16 bit systems is going to extend into generations that grew up on later systems.

Greyfox

Any thoughts for doing games on other systems? CPC464, Dreamcast or Spectrum.

Erik

I have no plans just yet, but you never know! I’m most interested in the Mega Drive as another platform for retro game development, but the C64 is another system that I’m interested in. Atari Jaguar is a maybe.

Zapiy

Do you have any games that are just sitting on your drives unfinished that you may release one day?

Erik

Quite possibly! However, most of my unfinished projects are for Windows which as a platform doesn’t interest me as much any more. Some of them I could potentially dust off for porting to Amiga.


Zapiy

Road Avenger, wow and thank you for doing this port. What is the timeline on doing something like this. Can you briefly tell us how you set about on this conversion please?

Erik

No worries! I can’t give a straight and clear cut answer on that, I already had an FMV game engine that I had created previously (for the similar port of “Time Gal”), so the bulk of the time I spent on it was porting the nine levels (in particular, manually lining up the trigger events to each frame, I couldn’t reuse the data from other ports since the frame rate had to be changed). I’m guessing 2-3 hours for each level approximately, and then maybe another 10 hours or so with the various changes that had to be made to the engine.

Finally

A huge thanks to Erik for taking time to chat to us here at RVG and for spilling the beans on a new game for the Amiga,  we certainly can not wait to hear more about that game as things develope.
Own: Jaguar, Lynx, Dreamcast, Saturn, MegaDrive, MegaCD, 32X, GameGear, PS3, PS, PSP, Wii, GameCube, N64, DS, GBA, GBC, GBP, GB,  Xbox, 3DO, CDi,  WonderSwan, WonderSwan Colour NGPC

Offline Shadowrunner

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Re: RVG Interviews Erik 'earok' Hogan.
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2018, 19:17:17 PM »
Really enjoyed reading that. :)

Offline zapiy

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Re: RVG Interviews Erik 'earok' Hogan.
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2018, 19:29:53 PM »
Cheers fella..

I know a lot of late have been UK/EU biased but that is about to change..

Erik, was a pleasure to chat with and I wish him well with his ventures.
Own: Jaguar, Lynx, Dreamcast, Saturn, MegaDrive, MegaCD, 32X, GameGear, PS3, PS, PSP, Wii, GameCube, N64, DS, GBA, GBC, GBP, GB,  Xbox, 3DO, CDi,  WonderSwan, WonderSwan Colour NGPC

Offline Greyfox

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Re: RVG Interviews Erik 'earok' Hogan.
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2018, 20:47:29 PM »
Another superb interview, we could nearly create a unqie interview book from all this deadly content  8)

Offline TrekMD

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Re: RVG Interviews Erik 'earok' Hogan.
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2018, 01:25:50 AM »
Another great interview! 

Going to the final frontier, gaming...