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Questions for Jeff


turbo64
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I wanted to ask Jeff Vogel a few questions. I don't know how often he browses this forum, but I'll give it shot:

  • How did you get started in game development? What were your first programming languages?
  • What was the process of writing 16 bit Windows games like Exile? What tools did you use and how difficult was it compared to writing newer games such as the Avernum remakes?
  • What were your inspirations (if any) for the plot and the setting of Exile/Avernum?
  • How financially successful were the original Exile/Avernum games and how did the old shareware model compare to today's methods of distribution of indie games such as Steam?
  • What advice would you give to anyone starting out in programming and game development?

Thanks for your time.

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I wanted to ask Jeff Vogel a few questions. I don't know how often he browses this forum, but I'll give it shot:

  • How did you get started in game development? What were your first programming languages?
  • What was the process of writing 16 bit Windows games like Exile? What tools did you use and how difficult was it compared to writing newer games such as the Avernum remakes?
  • What were your inspirations (if any) for the plot and the setting of Exile/Avernum?
  • How financially successful were the original Exile/Avernum games and how did the old shareware model compare to today's methods of distribution of indie games such as Steam?
  • What advice would you give to anyone starting out in programming and game development?

Thanks for your time.

 

He doesn't check the forums often; you might have better luck trying email or his twitter.

 

As far as the third question goes, though, there's actually a big list of his inspirations in the readme files for the original Exile games. I think some of your other questions are answered in there, too.

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To answer as best we can:

 

Jeff's first game was Exile, which he wrote while in graduate school for mathematics. if there were any game efforts before that he's never mentioned them. He started with C++, and for a very long time was a stalwart user of Metrowerks Codewarrior. Exile was successful enough that he quit school and went to churning out games roughly yearly for two decades since then.

 

Jeff's written quite a bit about the changing indie/shareware market. It's complicated; before "indie" gained cachet and a wide variety of centralized distributors (Steam, Good Old Games, Humble Bundle, etc.) his reach was quite small but his core of fans paid well. With indies came visibility, but also a push towards rock-bottom pricing. He resisted it for years, then gave in and found that actually he could sell far, far more games and end up making more money even at lower prices. But then the market became oversaturated with too many games. He's pulled back and is charging more again, and we'll all see how it goes.

 

—Alorael, who recommends taking a look at this old interview. It's from just after Nethergate was released, so already five games in, but it gives some insight into Jeff when he was still getting started. Then poke around The Bottom Feeder, Jeff's blog where he talks about a lot of this.

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