by John Shiali
November 98


Prison Oubliette










(The following is an interview from "A Talent For War". It occured during the early days of HardWar. I am presenting these interviews to help give viewers a better understanding of HardWar's history and hopefully give clues as to its future evolution. Please keep in mind that this interview is over a year old. -- Captain Zedo)

We picked letters of the alphabet completely at random, and ended up with "Ciaran Gultnieks", who coincidentally is also a programmer at The Software Refinery. We interpreted this as a cosmic sign, and asked him a load of questions about Hardwar...

Ciaran, tell us about about Software Refinery. Where are you based, how many people work there, etc?

We're based in Leeds, England. There are three of us here at the moment, though that will be changing soon.

Why did you decide to set Hardwar on a moon, rather than out in space?

Having everything in a confined environment like that adds to the feeling of the real world. You can be flying along on your way somewhere and come across a battle between two ships, while others pass by in the background. In space, things would be much more spread out.

Why is Hardwar a year overdue?

There are several reasons, not least the change from DOS to Windows and the introduction of 3D accelerators - Hardwar began life as a DOS software-only game!

Why do you think so many good games come from the UK? What makes a game from the UK so distinct from an American game?

I think both the UK and the US are capable of producing good and bad games. If there is a difference, perhaps it's that UK teams tend to be smaller, and therefore more focussed.

What do you think of the current state of the 3D accelerator war? Who do you think will still be winning this time next year?

I think there will still be a number of players doing well in that market, particularly with recent improvements in Direct3D making the proprietary API's slightly less important.

Do you think that Intel is good or bad for the games industry, the way it keep producing faster and faster processors?

Both, I think. It keeps things exciting, while making it difficult for the average gamer to keep up.

Why did you decide to make Hardwar's weapons so clever? In the demo they seemed to pretty much lock on to a target every time.

The more powerful weapons are very expensive things to buy. It's not very satisfying to see that kind of technology sail off and hit a crater wall. Also, the emphasis is more on the consequences of your actions than the accurate aiming of a missile.

What is your favourite thing in Hardwar?

My favourite thing has to be 'reality' of the world. I've spent a lot of time just following the AI pilots around to see what they're up to.

Is it true that the actors in the movies are friends and relatives of the developers? How did you persuade them to take part?

No, it's not true - it just seems that way. Although the uber-clerk you see in several of the police videos is played by Ade Carless, the game's producer.

Are there any ideas that you had that didn't make it into Hardwar?

Literally hundreds. Once you get a 'real world' like that up and running the possiblities for adding new ways of interacting with it are endless. Hopefully many will make it into a future game.

A lot of people are calling Hardwar a new verison of Elite. Do you think this is a valid comparison? Why?

Yes, it's a valid comparison, if only because of the open-ended gameplay style and the ability to make your own decisions as to how you want to play.

What other games are you playing, particularly any space-sims?

Activision's BattleZone is interesting, and Quake (the original) still heats up our network cables on a regular basis.

What is the recommended specification for a machine to run Hardwar well?

Hardwar should run well across a wide range of machines, but to get the best out of it a 3D acclerator is a good idea. During development, we played it quite happilly on everything from a P166 to a PII-450.

Why are Interplay in the US releasing this as a budget title? What do you think of this?

I can only suggest you ask Interplay or Gremlin Interactive. My comments are unprintable.

The choice of music fits the game perfectly - who chose the music? Why did you decide to have a "name" soundtrack?

The music is all licensed from Warp Records, who have been one of my favourite labels for a long time. I've always been a fan of artists like LFO and Autechre, who both feature in Hardwar.

What are your future plans for the Hardwar universe? Or are you now onto new projects?

Time and money permitting, we're hoping to release an update patch for Hardwar, incorporating a few new features and following some of the hundreds of suggestions that have been sent in by fans of the game. Other than that our future plans are a closely guarded secret for the time being.

Thanks Ciaran, and good luck with all your future projects. We'll be looking forward to more excellent games from The Software Refinery.

A Talent For War 1998-9

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