August 25, '98 
Interview with Torsten Hess, project manager of SETTLERS III.
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Thank you, Thorsten, for taking the time out to answer some
questions for the Settlers fans. We all know, you are in work up to the
ears!

Torsten: There's always a few moments ...

What, exactly, a project manager has to do? Are you still doing graphics?

Torsten HessTorsten: That's what I'm asking myself sometimes ... All threads of SETTLERS III meet on my desk. That pertains to the program proper in the first place, but also requests from PR, marketing, sales. I'm just taking care of co-ordination of all work, having a wary eye on our time schedule and am trying to keep the overall picture in mind. In the beginning of the project I had the opportunity to develop the graphic style of the game. Being a graphic designer myself, this was the part I liked best. But meanwhile I'm doing very few graphics.

Are you working at other projects in parallel?

Torsten: No, the SETTLERS require all of my attention.

When I visited Mülheim, I had the impression that there are
apparently no hierarchies in the developing department. Is that true?

Torsten: Everyone in the team is working very independently. Luckily nobody has to be urged to produce higher quality. They do that by themselves.

In a preview I saw the development of sceneries and buildings. Is it hard, to give up an existing concept and start over from fresh?

Torsten: Well, exactly, we haven't given it up. Graphics has been developed for more than one year, and as work progressed, gradually there came a change. The scenery itself and the basic concept is unchanged in principle. More often than not elements are looking excellent taken by themselves, but seen in the context they don't look perfect. Work than hasn't been obsolete, but these elements are simply developed further.

You have revised the buildings graphically. Does that apply to all races? and what has changed?

Torsten: Thorsten Mutschall started to redo the older buildings at one point. These new buildings looked much the better. Small wonder, since the first buildings were created more than a year ago. I therefore had to redo my first buldings as well, just to keep up. The improvements concern all races. I'm rather content now. There always was a couple of them I didn't like so much.

How do you test the equilibrum between the races? Can advantages for one race be excluded from the start?

Torsten: Naturally, we will test until the balance is ok. About three quarters of the elements are equal, one quarter is different. The differences therefore are not so serious, that one has to 'learn' a new race afresh.

Which would be the problems to implement female settlers?

Torsten: Aargh... Please, don't ask me to answer that! Whatever I will say, there will be a discussion. We have pondered that for a long time. and there are reasons telling us not to. No comment therefore...

How do these appartment houses work? There will be differences in size. When a house is completed, are there than more settlers? And if so, how?

Torsten: Yes, there will be houses for 5, 10, and 15 settlers. You than have these settlers in addition. No more automatic generation of settlers. .

Will there be mirrored maps in multi-player-modus, in order to
give all players equal chances?

Torsten: Definitively, yes!

How many different vessels are there at the moment, and which? Are attacks possible from sea?

Torsten: We have transport, merchant, and military vessels. Attacks at sea are possible.

Are there more strategically oriented maps, i.e. with a focus on seafaring or armies of fully equipped military?

Torsten: We are still thinking. Especially with the strategic elements many things are decided during the test. Some things we have in mind, we just have to try. And in a computer game this is impossible before the basis of the game is up and running. Before being sure they work, we cannot announce such features.

My personal favourite wish is bridges. What do you think about?

Torsten: In SETTLERS III we most probably will have no bridges. That will eventually be a feature for a misson disk.

How do you estimate the percentage of progress of the work on SETTLERS III?

Torsten: Graphics are almost done, we are already fine tuning. The program contains all elements, and we have to synchronize the different parts. It's not easy to give a percentage, because the kind of work at the end of development is quite different. It's rather that we are putting together finished or nearly finished parts and test them.

Which games are most impressing to you at the moment?

Torsten: .. Hmmm .. Banjo Kazoi on the N64. Haven't played it myself yet (one of the things to do after SETTLERS III). But Thorsten Wallner was gambling at it during lunch break. I just looked on and was enthusiastic about it.

Which product, in your opinion, is rivalling SETTLERS III most?

Torsten: The gameplay of SETTLERS III is very unique. Some other games are using elements of Settlers I and II.

SETTLERS III goes one step beyond. We got rid of some old elements and implemented new ones. In my opinion, there is no direct competition.

Will SETTLERS III have copy protection?

Torsten: Certainly. We are thinking of a combination of several protecting mechanisms. Regrettably is's not possible today to produce games without copy protection. Our company has had bad experiences of what's happening if you don't. It may seem peanuts to one, drawing a single copy, but for a game developer like Blue Byte, who puts pride in marketing only few, however, high quality products, this very fast may ruin the economic existence. .

Thanks for your valuable time - I just hope SETTLERS III doesn't suffer :o)

 

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