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Developer Profile - Harry Bur

This quarter we have an interview with Harry Bur. Harry is the author of quite a few host add-on's, such as Z-Explore, Z-Gate, AutoAlly & Zeus. Also a special thanks to Harry for taking the time to reply to our questions. English is not Harry's native language so the grammar has been edited when needed.

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you have been up to since last software updates.

I live in SW Germany in an area called Saarland. I'm from typus "universal dilletant". I've performed several professions up to now. I’ve been a miner, electronic technician to a programmer... but also such nice things like farming in a commune in Italy.

Currently, I’m coding a new 4x PBEM game, called Cluster23. Possibly a chance to earn a few MC if it’s good. But I know how loyal the v3 community is... so I expect nothing.

I've also coded a new mastering system (like Auto-Troll/PHCC) which is 95% completed. That's for hosting Planets v3 and v4 and Cluster23 games.

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

I do not play much besides VGA Planets for the last few years. I was a bit addicted to Diablo II and played strategy based games like Warcraft, but then I’ve decided to not playing such games any more, because they costs a lot of live time.  But I will still be playing VGAP and if I’ve more muse, I will try to play v4 at some point.

Which race do you prefer to play in VGAP & why?

I prefer the Rebels. That was the first race I’ve played and in my heart, I’m a Rebel too. I'm a specialist in building a really huge fleet till the ship limit hit and I’m also a more aggressive player, so the Rebels fits my style very good.

Do you have a favorite add-on when playing a game? Something that’s caught your attention and made you think, “I wish I had thought of that!

Well, I like it to playing sphere games. After I found how they work, I wanted to write another one. The two versions I found, only set the ship to the other side of the map. No routines for minefields, Loki's, Warp Wells, etc.  For example: a MBR can travel 162 LY without hitting a mine and can also not be de cloaked by a Loki. Zeus/Z-Sphere can handle that. 

What's your favorite Planets game memory?

My first game. I played with shareware till turn 50... until that point, I had already built some transwarp Rushes built at planets with Humanoids with recycled engines, built at planets with Ghipsoldals. After the Crystal's and I had destroyed the other player’s empires, we fought for ~ 100 turns. Many, many fights, but it was like Verdun in World War 1. In the end, I lost the game, because I was too lazy to handle 200+ planets.

What specifically inspired you? What were the biggest influences?

The biggest inspiration in my young live was books like Cosmic Trigger by R.A. Wilson, Neurologics and Exo-Psychologie by Timothy Leary, Beelzebub’s stories onto his great-grandson von Gurdjieff, the Sufis by Idres Shah, Goethe, Hesse and thousands of science fiction books. 

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome due to VGAP's mechanics / limitations while working on your projects?

As I wrote my first add-on, there was always the filefmt.txt. Without them or other information about the data structure, I would not have written a VGA Planets add-on.  With the filefmt.txt, it was easy and I can not remember any problem. The biggest challenge was to over come my laziness.

Were there things that you wished you had added to Z-Gate, Z-Sphere, Z-Explore Zeus…etc…??

Z-Gate and Z-Explore are ok. Nothing more to do...  Zeus and Z-Sphere does still miss a little bit source code for handling Glory Devices and Warp Chunnels for ships which are going over the rim.        

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

A good set of main features and rules. It has to be expandable. A simple to use GUI.

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

I've not published much till now. Zeus is downloaded 100 times. I know only two hosting sites, besides RCworld (the site at which all my add-ons gets beta tested), which runs games with Zeus.

What would your ideal computer game be like if you could have anything you wanted given the limitations of today's technology?

It would be a game with massive multi-player 3d universe with both online and offline gaming elements. I’ve been thinking about such a game for years.

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 want to write an invasion add-on to complete my pool of v3 add-ons. And of course, I need to complete my Internet site. Zeus, Z-Explore, AutoAlly and Z-Invasion are freeware, but I want a few MC for Z-Sphere and Z-Gate. It's possible that I will write a v4 add-on or tool if I start to play v4. But not in the next 2-3 years.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Oh... I only have a 10 day plan  ;-)

Any last words to the Planets fan base?

Keep playing... It's nothing unusual that the community splits more and more... say one or two times per year "pop" into the newsgroup, so we know that you are still out there.


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