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Developer Profile - Christoph Doerfler

Developer Profile for Christoph Doerfler

Christoph's interview was conducted on 6/19/05. Christoph is the author of Tanascius, a handy little utility that can do several things, to help you conquer the entire Echo Cluster.

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you have accomplished in life?

I am a 26 year old computer science student. Right now, I am about to finish my studies. I started playing planets in school, about 9 years ago. I had only one friend with an internet connection at this time, and he introduced me to planets. In the beginning I got my turns on floppy discs.

What are your favorite computer / board games and how have they affected the development of your projects?

I am playing a lot of games, especially computer games. I like actions shooters (started with wolfenstein and doom later), simulations (flying, racing, submarine J ), role playing. That's what I am playing without computer, too, role games. A few years ago, I started playing real life RPG's.

What's your favorite Planets memory?

There is no special game or a tactic. I just like to remember the games with a lot of people I know. After my army service I stayed for a few month in australia and was hosting a game for friends during this time. I went every 2-3 days by bus into the city and got the newest turns at an internet cafe. Then back to the tend where I lived in and hosting the game.

What specifically inspired you? What were the biggest influences?

The most important thing was Stefan Reuther's file format. When I started programming small tools for VPL I had to find out the stuff he describes on my own. It took too long and I would have stopped programming without his file format certainly. But with the help of this documentation it was possible to create the more powerful tools.

Were there things that you wished you had added to Tanascius …etc…?

Well, I started to program a VPL viewer once, but I stopped to early although it was really cool. My tanascius tool should be included in this viewer, later on. In addition I would like to make my tool version 4 compatible, once. But until now I have not even seen version 4 J

What do you think are your most important accomplishments to VGAP and why?

Well, I am certainly a better programmer than a player. I often do not have the time to think about every turn twice, but exactly this is necessary. A single turn can decide whether you lose or win a game. Programming tools for VPL is simpler – you have more time J

In this time of graphically intense PC games, what do you think it is about VGAP that has people still playing a PBEM game that came out in 1991

In my opinion it is the complex game tactics. There are a lot of things possible and every single game is different. Graphics are the one side, but game play and possibilities for the players are the other one. And VPL offers a lot of possibilities.

In your opinion, what are the key ingredients that a game of this type should have?

A game like VPL should concentrate on a few things only. I like the fact that economy is not too complex and one can focus on battle. I would like a game with a more persistent world, maybe a massive multiplayer game like VPL

How has the internet affected the expansion of your programs internationally?

Well, in the beginning I started programming only for me and a few friends. They had a lot of ideas and so a few tools were created. But only a hand of people were using this tools. Later, when I got an internet connection it was possible for the first time to share the tools with a lot of players all over the world. Without the internet there would be no expansion of my tools.

How has the fan base hindered or helped your projects as you've worked on them?

It was always a great help to get some feedback. I got new feature requests and ideas. Sometimes there were questions about impossible things, but even then I got a new idea sometimes.

When planning your projects, how do you go through the process of integrating themes and story with the constraints of the software?

That was never a topic for me.

If you could make any computer game that you wanted, which would it be and why?

It would be a massive multiplayer game. Probably in space, like VPL, and it would have a persistent would which evolves over time.

What's the status of your product development and do you intend to continue to develop them or new utilities for Planets v4.0 in the future?

I stopped playing about two years ago – at the same time I stopped programming. Maybe I start playing VPL 4 once. We will see. Normally I start programming as soon as I play the game – I am just to lazy for some actions and that is why I am starting to create tools.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I don't know and I don't think about too much. Right now I am finishing my studies. I would like to go to the states next year to live and to work there for a few years.

Any last words to the Plants fan base?

Well, I hope my program is still useful and helps some players. I am sorry for those who still have great ideas, but at the moment I am not involved in VPL anymore. Maybe I start playing VPL4 once, then we will see in space.


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