Author Topic: RVG Interviews: Marco Breddin (MicroZeit).  (Read 69 times)

Offline zapiy

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RVG Interviews: Marco Breddin (MicroZeit).
« on: November 07, 2018, 15:10:54 PM »

Here we interview the founder of MicroZeit who are the publisher of Breakin the Borders series of books. Read on and enjoy.

Zapiy

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

Marco

I am Marco Breddin, I'm 44 years old and currently work as a full-time self-publisher in Germany. After my design studies in 2004, I first wanted to go into post-production for television and added journalism in a one-year course. In my spare time I like to use a small home cinema, cook creative dishes, try to slow down the physical degradation and wander through green and historic places in the area. But my biggest hobby is the development of creative knowledge strategies and the challenge of a vision.

Zapiy

What do you do for a living now?

Marco

Publishing is my main profession. But it's not enough for a whole year yet, so I have to generate additional income from other sources for about a quarter.

Greyfox

How did you first become inspired to make your books?

Marco

This happened during my time as a specialist editor at Weka Media Publishing, a large Munich technology publishing house whose offices in Germany in the 1980s and 1990s produced legendary computer magazines such as Happy Computer and 64'er. There I spoke with some editors and designers from that time and slowly the idea matured. The constant listening to chip music gave me the rest …

Zapiy

Have you ever created a game?

Marco

I never created a computer game myself, but in 1993 I took part in a small production as a pixel graphic artist: H-Mec 1/2 by Breakpoint Software.

Zapiy

Are you surprised with the resurgence in retro gaming?

Marco

Not really. We are a generation that grew up with the pixel and enjoyed a very special game aura in the environment of arcade machines. Between 40 and 50 years old, people generally look back on their time as adolescents. Nostalgia is a feeling and a longing to be able to revive these times.

Greyfox

Whilst venturing into becoming an established publisher with Microzeit, what were the hurdles you faced in bring your products to market?

Marco

The biggest obstacle was certainly the product itself. There were no new Atari ST books at the time of my foundation. Certainly an advantage. A demoscene, however, belongs economically in the "super-niche". But from the beginning I wanted to tell the story of these crazy scene people, who bite their way through despite all obstacles and made their way. After all, several crowdfundings were necessary to realize the books. But there was one thing I never wanted: to give up.

Greyfox

What made you go the route of Crowd Fundraising?

Marco

Developing a suitable product for a still vibrant scene takes time. Crowdfunding allows me to generate a budget that at least covers the production costs and lets the readers participate in the creative process. I like this "closeness" to the customer.

Greyfox

Was you at any point disillusioned and thought about calling it a day and if so why and what changed your mind?

Marco

Of course. Especially the exhausting financing of Beyond The Borders brought me to my limits. After the first, very intensive book that unrealistically over-excited production resources and manpower, I wasn't prepared for things to get so difficult again. In the middle of the Kickstarter crowdfunding for Volume 2 all of a sudden there were rows of refunds hailing and the deposited money disappeared at a ludicrous rate of 500-1000 Euro/day. It's incredibly frustrating to be on your own for this work. But like the first book, I tried it again, then on IndieGoGo. And it worked. The flexible crowdfunding options and the professional interface still convince me there. Why I absolutely wanted to continue has both economic and visionary factors in equal measure.

Zapiy

Which book has given you the most headaches to put together and why?

Marco

The second book was certainly a bit more complicated. The mass of events in the period 1991-1994, finally led to the fact that I had to shorten the project around a complete year. Each of these books has to struggle with a multitude of contradictory statements and requires a lot of research and correction work. Pouring all these fragments into an interesting story and working in flow with a strong layout is after all the biggest challenge. Headache? No. That's the job.

Greyfox

With what appears to be much more niche than other retro systems, the Atari ST scene appears to be a hard nut to crack, why do you think this is?

Marco

I think the Atari ST was a compromise for many, both the makers and the users. Many love it nevertheless, especially because of the intensive involvement the system required at that time. But if you look back objectively on the product "Atari ST", you inevitably have to admit that this computer did not reach a top position either as an entertainment machine or as an application system. Many of my generation had to realize at some point that there was a flexible and inexpensive 68000 system here, but the advertising promises were not kept. The scene, however, took this resistance as an opportunity to grow and evolve. This gave rise to very specific talents. A previously unnoticed part of the story, which characterizes only some of the Atari ST users.

Greyfox

Was it difficult to find contributors for your books for inclusions? Was their language a barrier?

Marco

2015 at the STNICCC in Holland I spoke with the former developers of TEX/Thalion and presented the project to Richard Karsmakers in the same breath. After this it was clear to me that it could work. The really nice thing about the ST scene is the community and the will to be open and participate. That is not self-evident. I mean, we're talking about a scene here, and it's generally fragmented. The so far only English-speaking competitor product "Freax", a book on the Amiga and C64 demo scene, has been sold by the German publisher only with great efforts. Books about scenes polarize. For the Amiga, a French-language demoscene book with a circulation of just 500 is currently being produced. Even then, there were circles typical of the country that only remained among themselves. If you consider that the French Atari ST scene counted about 250 heads at peak times and that I was able to sell about 240 books (part 1+2) to France so far, then this can already be considered a success.

Greyfox

What do you feel you could have done differently if you had to do it all over again?

Marco

If I started again, the focus would be even more on translation quality. A production factor that should not be underestimated in terms of time, but which clearly overestimates the budget - if one were to invest professionally here. The production suffers from the extremely limited budget. A higher level would be desirable here. We are actually satisfied with the layout, but this creative concept requires a lot of effort, which can only be achieved with additional manpower. It's a mystery to me how we've only been able to do this in pairs so far. And there is one more thing: To present typical national demo groups thoroughly and to structure them schematically, there was not enough space - although I only promised 250 pages with the first book and could deliver 400.

Greyfox

Congratulations on the success of funding your third book. What is the next process for you to take in its production?

Marco

The interviews always start with the story. These form the basis of the story and partly determine the focus of the story. Trips to some of the protagonists are planned. In addition, there is the yearly planning - a thorough preliminary research, which is almost a script for my essay.

Greyfox

What is the design process in creating your books? What's the process you take to allow your creativity to shine through?

Marco

First the story is written, then translated and the layout begins with the English text. For analyses, corrections and new beginnings I basically change the location and use public spaces, mostly the city library. Screenshots are taken at the emulator (Steem, Hatari). Sometimes I produce several 100 pictures per game/demo. The record was set by Lethal Xcess. I played the game solo in dual-player mode and shot 2500 screenshots in parallel.

In order to empathize with time again, I use different methods. There is a retro shelf in the office, equipped with an Atari 1040 ST+SC1224 and C64. The shelf is positioned so that I can read the monitor from my desk. There are evenings where I read scroll texts and take notes, or write in parallel on the story. On YouTube I use the video research for extraordinary clips that help me to get deeper into this era. In my mini photo studio I create new pictures, like packshots etc.. If a game is missing it will be bought at short notice. But the layout process is really strange: 2-3 times a week I meet the layouter via Skype and look at a screen transmission for 5-10 hours. The graphic artist is sitting in another city and tries to realize my ideas with InDesign. Here I speak almost continuously and up to 20 versions per page are created. Until we are satisfied. So we manage 5-10 double pages per session. At the next meeting we check the result and improve it if necessary. We do that for three months.

A big problem is the image acquisition from various sources - the image quality is sometimes frightening. Basically, it is the editor's job to procure, prepare and classify all image material. As a studied designer I take over the image editing and structure all chapters. The layouter should not have to think about it. Problems arise when mixing different screenshots: Formats and black values differ and have to be adapted. Sometimes pictures are pixelated one by one. I do the interviews alone. Finally, the bibliography and the credits, an additional 14-day research work, before the proof process and the revision of all contents can begin.

Greyfox

What plans do you have for further books after your third book is published?

Marco

There are different ideas for that. I'm not sure yet which one will emerge at the end. But one thing I know for sure: the next book will break the scene boundaries.

Finally

A huge thanks to Marco for chatting to us, fascinating to read about what goes into making these book.

Follow Marco on Twitter
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Offline Greyfox

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Re: RVG Interviews: Marco Breddin (MicroZeit).
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2018, 23:48:41 PM »
Really fantastic replies in this one. Marco is a very nice guy 👍

Offline TrekMD

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Re: RVG Interviews: Marco Breddin (MicroZeit).
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2018, 00:55:02 AM »
Very nice interview.  :)

Going to the final frontier, gaming...

Offline zapiy

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Re: RVG Interviews: Marco Breddin (MicroZeit).
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2018, 20:28:35 PM »
Yes he is, genuine guy full of passion for this industry.

Thanks again guys.
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