The Qbix Interview
Now for an interview with the guys behind the Qbix engine ;) I'm sorry but there website is down or I'd give a link, maybe once it's back up I'll add it!
They will be referenced as follows:
Jorge: Jorge Acereda Macia
Luis: Luis Pons Alemany
Hooka: Do you have a gp32? If yes, when did you get one?
Luis: Until somebody shows real commitment for a GP32 game, we will use emulators for evaluation. Keep in mind that we work mostly for Symbian, and that means we are forced to buy a large quantity of expensive devices.
Hooka: What dev environments do you use for GBA, GP32, and S60?
Jorge: We use our own builds of gcc and binutils. For S60, we also use WINE to run PETRAN from the Nokia devkit. Luis can talk more about the emulator we use while debugging.
Luis: We developed a generic emulator for ARM powered platforms, and we use it for testing/debugging our games. It's called "Delator", and helps us to shorten the developing cycle.
Hooka: What made you decide to make a 3d engine for GBA and Symbian series 60 platforms?
Luis: At the beginning it was just for GBA; there were few 3D engines then, and quite slow and ugly, so I thought a good 3D engine would guarantee us some work. However entering that market was very difficult, and we started evaluating other platforms for the engine.
Hooka: Have you decided to port your 3d engine to the gp32?
Jorge: We could have the GP32 target integrated in our build system in a short period of time, probably within a week. It is just that we don't have any offers right now.
Luis: That's right; if we have to finance a game with our money, the GP32 comes after Symbian because of the number of devices out there. However, if somebody wants to finance a project we are ready to go. The GP32 and a Symbian device like the Nokia 3650 have basically the same hardware.
Hooka: I heard something about you guys wanting to make a racing game for the gp32 with your engine, is this true? If so what kind of racing game? (F1, rally, street racing, ect.)
Jorge: That is not quite correct. We were talking with a publisher and offered a racing game because they wanted a cheap project. We had built a racing prototype previously, so it was an obvious choice for a game to be developed in a short period of time.
Hooka: If not a racing game, what kind of game would you make for the gp32 with your engine?
Jorge: The engine doesn't have any limitation in that sense. We could do a FPS, a racing game... Anything you can see on a PSX should be possible.
Luis: Well, Final Fantasy VII does not fit on a GP32 cartridge, but you get the idea ;) It's hard to know which kind of game fits the GP32 market because it's a very special one. There is not known statistics and no precedent (for a market like this). Maybe a good FPS.
Hooka: I also read that you were going to port the demo of "Children's Play" to the gamepark but wanted to make it use all of the gp32's processor, about when will we be able to try out the demo to see how the engine runs on a gp32?
Jorge: I think someone has spread some false rumors, we don't even own a GP32.
Luis: "Children's play" is waiting for a Symbian release now, and a GP32 version would be interesting. The problem I see is that it is a game created in chapters for download. We have to explore copy protection systems if we want anybody to pay or it.
Hooka: Does your engine depend heavily on extra hardware on the other platforms (GBA and Mobile Phones) or does it just use the ARM processor?
Jorge: Right now it is a software-only engine. We have two versions, one written 100% in C (and thus portable) and one optimized specifically for the ARM in assembler.
Hooka: Do you already have a deal for a publisher?
Hooka: Would you ever consider converting the complete Children's Play game for a commercial release if your first game is a success?
Luis: As I said, it is already being considered.
Hooka: Did you ever check out the gp32z poll about whether people support a 3d racing game from you? 160 people said yes, accounting for 80% of the people who voted, how does that make you feel? (poll can be found here if you haven't seen it yet http://www.gp32x.com/board/index.php?showtopic=9265&hl=qbix)
Jorge: Yes, I did. It is certainly encouraging, but it isn't on our hands. We no longer have money to spend on development and without financing it just isn't feasible.
Hooka: Did you have to do alot of ARM asm to get a good quality 3d engine running on the S60 or GBA? If so what will that highly optimized code do for a gp32 port?
Luis: Yes, we have a lot ARM assembler in the engine; the whole 3d pipeline in fact. This should run in GP32 without problems, as it did on S60.
Hooka: Seriously, don't you think the gp32 needs more new games, especially with the Euro release coming up?
Jorge: Yes, of course. I think it will have problems to be successful selling as a machine for running emulators. It needs more games and having them for the release date would have been a Good Thing.
Luis: If our company was more established we could think about doing a GP32 release without a financer. But right now we can only afford to create small games.
Hooka: If your first gp32 conversion/ commercial release was a success would you continue making more games for the gp32?
Jorge: Sure, after seeing GBA and S60, GP32 seems a great machine to program for. If it was a commercially viable platform we would for sure develop for it.
Luis: True, it's surprising to see the low quality of the Symbian kits or how underpowered the GBA is. The GP32 seems a far better machine; the price is too high to appeal to kids though.
Hooka: How long did it take you to make the original Qbix engine?
Luis: It's hard to say. I think I made the core in 1 or 2 months, in my free time. However I was still adding features and optimizing the code one year after.
Hooka: What other projects have you worked on?
Jorge: If you mean game-related projects, only in Commandos 2 at Pyro Studios.
Luis: Commandos 2, Asterix Paf!, The smurfs, and also worked in the mode 7 engine of Bit Managers (used in a few games produced after I left the company). Jorge and I come from the demoscene (Capsule group). That's the reason we have good experience in software 3d engines.
Hooka: Would you be willing to help out someone who wanted to use your engine for a project, or how would you work that out?
Jorge: It would be quite a hard job to document everything and leave it in a state which could be used by other developers. Even if it was documented, we don't see the point right now in releasing it.
Luis: I am interested but I don't think it's possible right now. Our tools are very unusual.
Hooka: Do you have any approximate release dates for any of your projects?
Luis: We hope to release "Children's play" for Symbian soon, but we have some contract concerns.
Hooka: Well, sorry it was such a brief interview! I just couldn't think of anything else and couldn't check out your webpage while I was writing these questions. If you want to add anything or you feel I missed anything don't hesitate to add it!
Luis: Well, as I said we would be happy to develop a full GP32 game, but we lack the money. Our costs are quite low, so if anybody is interested in producing a game, please write to us. Our page in down for a time, so please mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Finished on 10/06/04*