Interview with Stefan Boberg, lead programer of Addiction

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Q1: Tell me about some of the influences for Addiction - what tables have you played, what themes have you liked, what pinball videogames do you have a lot of respect for, what makes a good pinball videogame?

A1: We have travelled around quite a bit looking for tables, in arcades and (to a lesser extent) pubs. We have also been to the actual distributors of games to have a look at what they have got, and to take photos. We have also rented a couple of tables to have in the office, for research (measuring things, studying game mechanics, LED stuff, verify ball physics, etc).

Some good tables that spring to mind are Fish Tales, White Water, Theatre Of Magic, Jurassic Park, Twilight Zone, Star Trek, and Road Show. The one I liked most is probably Theatre Of Magic.

The currently best pinball videogames are Pro Pinball: The Web, and True Pinball (Hyper 3D Pinball in the States). A good pinball videogame should have reasonably accurate physics, and interesting themes - just like real tables, really. It is quite difficult to put the finger on exactly what makes one table work and another not work...

Q2: What is your philosophy for Addiction. How do you think this compares to other games on the market? What game are you aiming to beat?

A2: We are of course aiming to create the BEST pinball game ever. Anything else would be pointless. The primary competitor is Empire's "Pro Pinball" series, which we think is really good, although quite sparse on tables. We are not necessarily locking ourselves into doing only things that would be possible on real pinball tables. We are always looking for things that can be done to increase the appeal of the game to people who are not usually interested in pinball, but without moving too far away from the subject matter (that would scare away the Pinball Purists :).

Q3: With the info questions earlier, I asked you what you did. You said you were doing the music graphics and sound effects to "...keep in control." What did you mean by this? Do you see yourself as a control freak? If so why, if not why not?

A3: We are probably perfectionists and control freaks, both of us. That is one of the reasons why I'm programming all versions (PC, PSX & Saturn) of the game. Another big reason is simply that no-one else could do the conversions as quickly as myself, for obvious reasons (I know my code, and can design things to simplify conversion right from the start).

Q4: Do you think a well crafted game could be viewed as art? If so, what kind of art do you think Ballistic represents?

A4: Oooh, getting philosophical, aren't we? :-) It depends on how 'art' is defined, but I do think that a game as a whole (overall design and playability) could be viewed as art. But if 'art' is defined as the result of some kind of divine inspiration, programming is probably less about art and more about abstraction, organization and logical thinking.

Q5: Regarding the sound and music, what style of music is going to be used for the tables? What sort of music are you and Stefan influenced by? Any special effects, tricks, techniques worthy of mention that will give Addiction the edge over its main competitors?

A5: Me and Tony listen to almost anything except the 'Bon Jovi' branch of music (so-called Rock'n Roll?) and other boring stuff. Anything fresh and well-produced, really. This is probably not going to have a direct impact on the game music, since we have to select a style of music for each table that fits the theme. For instance, having drum'n bass on the Worms table would be silly.

As for what would give Addiction an edge over competitors: For one thing, I've used my experience in data compression to enable me to squeeze in more data (graphics, sound etc) than any other pinball game has. This will enable us to have more appealing visuals and more atmospheric sound when compared to the competition. Other than that, solid simulation and more sophisticated table designs, made possible by the custom-developed tools (almost a "Pinball Construction Set" :-).

Q6: Do you think it would benefit Sony and the Industry if more people had access to programming tools for the Playstation? What do you think of the current restrictions?

A6: I don't think you could ever get the same kind of thing on the PSX as you had on the C64, because the hardware is more complex, and you need quite a bit of programming experience and time to be able to get anything interesting out of it.

Q7: Martyn mentioned that instead of four tables, there are now going to be three. What were the reasons for this decision?

A7: Time. It takes a more time and effort to design and test tables than we initially expected, and we felt that it would be better to take the time and design three good tables rather than rush four tables just for the sake of it.

Q8: Is there anything else regarding Addiction such as the LED sub-games, the speed and resolution of the game you think are worth especial note?

A8: It's a pinball game, what can I say :-) Personally, I'm most proud of the way everything works technically, with compression etc., which enables us to have a lot of lights, animations and other stuff. Other than that, there's the quality of the graphics, sounds and designs that will put it ahead of the rest.

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