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Friday, July 21, 2000

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Summoner Interview, Demo Info
12:06 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Volition Watch has interviewed Summoner's lead programmer, Mark Allendar. While many of the questions are silly, there are a couple of serious ones about his history and Volition's current progress on this 3D RPG for Mac, PC and Playstation2. Here's a clip:

How has Volition faired in the whole "Developing for the Playstation 2 is hard!" ordeal?

Developing a game for any platform is hard. It doesn't matter if it's the PS2 or the PC or the Macintosh. There are different challenges with different platforms. Working on the PS2 is far different than working on the PC. That's whats hard -- getting out of a PC-centric mode of programming and putting it into the PS2-centric mode.

Summoner will be coming the the Playstation 2 in October. Mac and PC versions will have multiplayer features, which will delay their release for several months afterwards.

In related news, while browsing through the Volition forums, we spotted an interesting post which asked about a possible demo and/or public beta testing. Volition's Sandeep Shekar explains his take on the issues:

Doing any deliverable that the public is going to see requires a _lot_ of time and resources. However, in the case of a demo, this is generally time well spent -- if your game is good, it will advertise itself.

However, the big problem is that at the end of a project, when everyone is trying to finish the game, the last thing you need is another major deliverable to worry about beforehand.

I think it's alot easier to do a demo after the game is done. Usually there are a few weeks between when the game is done, and when it hits stores. This is the ideal time for a team to put together a demo and release it. Another option is to release a demo quite a few months before the game is released. This gives you time to incorporate feedback, and doesn't conflict with the release date as much. On the other hand, the game could change alot in those last few months.

I guess it's just a decision that the developers have to make on a case by case basis.

As far as QA goes, nothing beats having quality in house testers. Concise bug reporting, being able to watch them play, having them reproduce bugs for you, etc. all is much easier with in house people. In general, I don't find much value in bug finding in public beta tests.

What public beta tests _are_ good for is: increased public awareness of the game (maybe), suggestions and interface problems that need to be fixed, compatibility testing, and multiplayer testing over different types of connections.

While this isn't an assurance of the release of a demo for Summoner, we can hope they will provide gamers with one. The Summoner FAQ notes that a public beta for the Mac/PC versions is unlikely, however.

Volition Watch Interview
Summoner Forum Demo Thread
Buy Summoner

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