Interview with Lars Hannig regarding JDC's current game project: Star Alliance - Battle for Earth!
Interview Dated: December 19th, 2001
(Lars) Hi Clint !

(Clint) Hi Lars, Thank you for taking the time to do this interview!

(Lars) No Problem :-)

(Clint) You are currently working on a new game (your first I might add)for the
Atari Jaguar called Star Alliance - Battle for Earth. First, how long have
you currently been working on this project? Who are the others currently
working on this game with you and their placement?

(Lars) At the moment I (Lars Hannig), Michael Hartmann and Christiaan Bogtman are
members of the development team of Star Alliance - Battle for Earth.
The working title of SA was "JDC Invader", I started the project on Tuesday,
the 31th Oct of 2000. The basic idea was a simple space invaders clone, but after it
was finished I wasn't statisfied with it and I decided to continue the development of it.
In December 2001 I first got in contact with Michael Hartmann, a very good comic artist
from germany. He was also the one who came up with the name: Star Alliance -
Battle for Earth. He liked the idea of creating a 2D shooter for the Jaguar and decided to
help me with object design, ideas and other stuff. About the same time I asked Christiaan Bogtman from the Neatherlands if he wanted to help me with music and
sound fx, he agreed. I am doing most of the graphics, design and the coding myself.

So the team consists of:
Lars Hannig: Programming, Graphics, Design, other stuff that needs to be done.
Michael Hartmann: Object Design Sketches, Ideas, Suggestions
Christiaan Bogtman: Sound FX, Music, additional graphics (like the status bar)

(Clint)It seems that space shooters have been very famous recently for the Atari
Jaguar (Telegames Zero 5, 4-Play's Battlesphere,Songbird's Protector, OMC's
current working title Dark Guardian, and the unfortunately cancelled title
Zero from Storm Works Interactive) What inspired you guys to choose a space
shooter over any other type of game?

(Lars)There were quite a lot 3D space shooters, but sadly only few 2D space shooters.
2D shooter were always some of my favorite console games. :-) I played some
of the best shooters for Genesis, Super Nintendo, PSX and other systems,
I liked them a lot. :-) Sadly the Jag had only few 2D shooters and they were not as
great as the shooters I was used to. For example Crescent Galaxy is quite bad
in my opinion. Raiden is still my favorite Jag shooter and Native would have been
incredible, but it was never finished. I always said to myself, if you ever do a video
game, it will either be an adventure game, or a 2D shooter.
I decided to do a 2D shooter :-)

(Clint)How complete is the game as it stands? How many levels do you wish to have,
is it mission based, what(if any) power ups are you expecting to add and are
there level enemies or is it like Galaga in a respect of shooting for points
and levels?

(Lars)So far most of the base routines are finished. There are already a few
playable levels, the final level count will most likely depend on memory.
The game will have a shop option, where you can buy powerups and other stuff. 
You can also collect powerups, like health, during the levels. There will be
scrolling levels and some static levels, like the one that is shown on some 
of the screenshots. There will be level enemys as well as different bosses.

(Clint) I like the Shop idea! Adds a nice touch.

What do you hope to do in Star Alliance that the gamer will not find
anywhere else on the Atari Jaguar?

(Lars) I hope to do a fun 2D shooter with some cool features, nice graphics and
some other features. I don't know if it will be better than the other Jag shooters,
but we're doing our best :-)

(Clint)I'm sure you'll do fine, indeed! You know what you want and you know what
your going for, so I have no doubt in my mind!

(Lars)Thanks :-)

(Clint)Will the game be 1 and 2 player (Co Op) and/or (Deathmatch) like or just 1

(Lars)There will be a cooperative multiplayer mode for 2 Players, I think it will
be a lot like the 2P mode in Raiden.

(Clint)I think that's what I enjoyed most about Raiden for the Jaguar, is the 2
Player mode! This way a friend can join in or go solo just as well!

(Lars)Yes, I liked that most about raiden as well. :-)

(Clint)I see your music score will be from Christiaan Bogtman. Will we see samples
 of in-game music appear online in the near future for a "taste of what's to
 come" ?

(Lars)At the moment there are no plans to put a demo, music or a video online, but
when the game is further in developemnt it could be possible that we offer things like that.

(Clint)How about a possible Demo download or Video footage of the game in action?

(Lars)No, sorry. Not at the moment.

(Clint)Assuming that your game will be released on cartridge, will it be 2MB or

(Lars)No. We're trying to make it cd based. Cartridges are much to expensive.
The problem with CD development is that even with Songbird's JagFree CD, the
Jag CD development is a big problem.
Everybody who has no CD dev kit (Jag development CD drive and Atari Falcon
with cd emulator hardware) would have to burn a CD for each tiny change on
the game and test it. I don't have a CD dev kit and as far as I know none of the
current Jaguar developers has one.
The only possibility would be to use a Jag Emulator with JagCD support
(sadly there is none with this feature so far.), or to program a BJL based game 
and split it into different sections. Each of the sections will be burned onto CD 
and loaded seperately. I thinkthis is the way we will do it.

(Clint)I'm not all that educated on the CD side, but you could use a CD-RW and
rewrite anytime changes were made couldn't you?
I'm not banking on the Jag Emulator (as I'd rather enjoy the real thing
myself) but if it is BJL based, what would you say to the person who does 
not own BattleSphere (for JUGS) , a BJL Modified Jaguar and/or a Computer with CD-ROM? Which also brings me back to the size of your game, being that it is on CD, will it be larger
then 2-4MB considering you may be splitting it up?

(Lars)Sadly that is not possible. As far as I know the Jag doesn't accept CD-RW.
Another problem would be the time that it takes to burn a CD... 
It would make the development too slow. Imagine you change sjust one line of 
code and you have to wait 15 Minutes or more to burn it on CD. I'd rather play the
games on the original system as well, but an emulator with CD support would be
a great help for cd development.
I'm not saying that that final game will be BJL based... The files will be burned onto cd and a program will load the different program parts to Jaguar ram and execute them.
CD will be the medium we are going for. :-)

(Clint)Will the option appear for pro-controller use or does the standard Jaguar
controller take care of all functions?

(Lars)The standard controller will be able to handle the game.

(Clint)When are you epxected to have Star Alliance complete, do you have a
projected date or is it still in the air?

(Lars)We don't have a release date yet, but I think it will still take quite some time.

(Clint)I noticed it took you quite a while before you released any information
regarding your new game. Is that because you wanted to wait until

(Lars)Yes, that was one reason. The main reason was that many  "developers"
annouced projects in the past and didn't finish the games.
Many people were very dissapointed and a lot of people left the Jag scene
because of this. The problem is that most jag fans think that a new game is fake.
It is hard to show them that it is a serious project. I wanted to make sure that the 
game is at least in a playable demo state before I announce it.

(Clint)Yes, I completely understand. There have been what,  at least 4 projects
announced game-wise that haven't made it out for the Atari Jaguar?
(Lars) Yes, that is what I meant. Many Jag fans loose faith in new Jag developments. It's time to finish something.

(Clint) I noticed that there is no title for your group (such as OMC has theirs
and Storm Works Interactive had theirs) do you plan on having a title for
your  group?

(Lars)Yes, that is right.
I use Jaguar Development Club as my lable, Michael and Christiaan both have
their own lables/companys, but you can look at the game as a 
"Jaguar Development Club" project.

(Clint)What is the expected price for the game?

(Lars)That depends on the manufacturing cost, but we're trying to keep the price low.

(Clint)If Star Alliance is not completed before JagFest 2002, do you think we
will see a playable demo available at JagFest2002? I have a flash cart if you
 would ever consider it.

(Lars)I can't say that yet.

(Clint)Do you have any plans set after Star Alliance? Do you think you will be
doing a 2nd Jaguar game after you have successfully completed your first one?

(Lars)Yes, I could imagine to do another Jag game. But it could also be possible
that I will do a PC game as my next project. Who knows what will happen in the future ? ;-)

(Clint)Have you considered programming for the Atari Lynx as well?

(Lars)No, not really. The Jag project takes to much time to look into Lynx programming.

(Clint)How long have you been programming on the Atari Jaguar? I notice your
website has TONS of programming information!
Excellent for anyone willing to learn and programmers that need a place to go for
shedding light on the Jaguar!

(Lars)Nice to hear that you like it :-)
I never did much programming before I started with the Jaguar. I wrote some
tiny programs for the C-64 in basic, but not much more.
My interest in Jaguar development started in the end of 1999. I founded the
JDC and downloaded all the Jag infos that I could get. I started to modify little examples
in the beginning of 2000 and I wrote my first little programs in the middle of
2000. In the end of 2000 I started StarAlliance - Battle for Earth.
It was a real challange and I learned TONS of stuff during the project.

I think it is also time to erase the rumor that the Jag is such a hard
system to code for. The Mc68000 really has one of the easiest assmebly languages
that I know. You can learn it really fast and the rest can also be learned with some
effort. If you are really interested in programming, have enough time and if you
really want it, you can learn it.

(Clint)Cool, I hope your become an excellent Jag programmer in the end! Well, I think that's a wrap for now! Is there anything else you would like to add?

(Lars)No. All I can think of has been said :-)

(Clint)Again, Lars...  Thanks for taking the time for this interview! We all
will be looking forward to your new game!

(Lars)Thanks. It was a lot of fun. :-)