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Developer Profile - Kero van Gelder

This is an interview conducted with Kero van Gelder, author of JVPC, RVV and the VGAP Blitz software, on Jan 15th, 2005..

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

Got a Master's in Computing Science; won a Dutch programming contest (in a team, 1995) and organized the same contest in 1997; got a job at Philips research. Seen some parts of the world.

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

Computergames: (Free)Civ, Doom; Boardgames: We played Die Siedler long before it became a hype in .nl, We also enjoyed a game called Circus Maximus :) Iron Dragon. 1830. Occasionally played Diplomacy. I've played chess, but where is the fun when you opponent knows more opening moves than you; Still playing AD&D (RPG, not boardgame). In general, I like strategical games. With that comes the need to have as much data available at a glance and to be able to look into the future.

What's your favorite Planets memory?

Ultimate victory in a teamgame called Explosions Are Cool. But the (team)games with a lot of friends at university in general were great (discussions, challenges, printed maps on the wall), the game became even bigger because it crept into real life. I still meet these people (some only once a year, others more often).

What specifically inspired you? What were the biggest influences?

The quality of the game vs the lousy client. And a fellow student who liked the game as well (you'll find his name as JVPC author). One particular influence was the HP-UX system we had at university. We wanted to see our RST immediately. K-Util was the result. It gave a textual overview, plus it showed ionstorms (a rather new feature at the time; not even VPA showed it :) on the starmap in a PostScript file. K-Util evolved into JVPC later.

Were there things that you wished you had added to JVPC , Blitz …etc…?

So many things. In particular the overview/look-into-the-future is lousy in JVPC. Keep an eye on RVV ( http://rvv.rubyforge.org/ ) RVV is written in Ruby, because I'm fed up with Java.

What are your most important accomplishments to VGAP and why?

The original Arena hosted games for a lot of people (I wrote the scripts, Jurjen did the hosting and Kai-Uwe supplied the hardware). I think that's the most important, because it reached the most people, who were happy with it.

In this time of graphically intense PC games, what is it about VGAP that has people still playing a game that is over 13 years old?

Easy :) 10 human opponents with significantly different abilities give so much more variation than, say, warcraft (where units are very much the same, even when called differently); while still maintaining balance.

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

Humans and balanced differentiation.

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

Hardly. perhaps even negatively. There's too many VGAP forums out there, so the community is very scattered. Timezones make it hard to set a good time for a blitz.

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

Hardly, I've always been small scale. So that's no hindrance and less help than I could have used. My co-authors of JVPC and RVV are an exception to that.

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

I have not written any add-ons, only client software. At the moment I envision a client that can show the future of a game and already accept commands for it (including e.g. ships that still have to be built).

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

A trick-question, I'm sure :) I wish I could fathom something like VGAP. It's not just best-economy player wins. Some changes: nowadays you'd use the internet for client-host, not a PB(E)M. Also, you wouldn't impose things like a shiplimit. But as your fleets grows and grows, you would need better tools to handle it. Then again, perhaps the shiplimit is what takes this game away from the best-economy player.

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

JVPC might have a niche in PDAs above JVC, but after some interest from players, it is silent again. RVV is in the midst of an overhaul to make it much more convenient to simulate a hostrun (including simulated add-ons), and then to make a client of it. But it is on hold until I get the Arena2 out of beta (soon; see http://arena.game-server.cc/ ). It is unlikely I'll play v4.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Somewhere else, but still playing&hosting VGAP with even better software.

Any last words to the Planets fan base?

Thanks! Have fun!


Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Kero.


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