This is an interview with Bálazs Rózsa, the Hungarian creator of Action SuperCross (Across), Elasto Mania and Elasto Mania II. It was conducted via e-mail, for my retrospective on Action SuperCross (in Norwegian).
Could you introduce yourself, and tell us a little about how you got into computers and games?
I’m Bálazs Rózsa. I graduated as an electronic engineer. At the university we learned the C programming language which I liked a lot. So after finishing the university I became a C programmer. After a while Doom came out and I was playing it a lot with my friends.
Could you tell me approx. how old you were when you started developing Action SuperCross?
I was around 27 years old (+/- 2 years).
Action SuperCross felt pretty unique when it first came out, how did you get the idea for the game? Did you have any specific sources of inspiration?
After playing Doom for some time I wanted to create a game on my own. In my professional life I worked on projects. Between the projects I was doing to make a living I had a lot of free time. On one occasion I was intentionally trying to come up with a game idea. And that motor biker idea occured to me.
The use of physics made the game really stand out – did you create the physics engine yourself? Any particular challenges during development?
Yes, I did the game engine. For challenges maybe I can say that I did a lot of fine tuning to make the wheels not slowly slip on the ground or stick to the ground and such things. I don’t remember the exact things I did, but I remember I had to introduce into the movement of the bike a lot of small special treatments. And one other thing with which I spent some time was to make the rendering of the graphics fast. At the time of the release of the game 3d accelerators were not too much widespread and all the rendering of the graphics is done by the program.
Did you receive a lot of player feedback, and in what form?
I received a lot of positive emails. It was a good feeling.
Was it successful from a commercial point of view?
By Hungarian standards I received a lot of money from the game, but even by these standards if a sum up the time I spent on the game and I sum up the money I received from it, I could have earned more money working for a company for the same amount of time. But of course creating the game was much more fun than working in an office on some dull software.
Were there anything in particular you wanted to improve for the «sequel», or did it just feel natural to make one?
I was trying to improve the game and I spent a lot of time experimenting on which may be the most fun new feature in the game. The moving doors and elevators felt the best improvement for me and my brother, Csaba.
Across and Elasto Mania seemed to be big hits with PC-gamers in Norway, and I remember that pretty much everyone I knew had the shareware version of Across installed at some point. Do you have any data on where your customers came from, or any idea of where it was the most popular (eg. if it was more popular in Norway than other countries)?
Probably I had the data, but I do not remember the exact figures. What I remember clearly is that the game was most popular in the Northern European countries.
Did you ever approach any publishers regarding distribution or publishing of Across or Elasto Mania?
Way back, before releasing Action SuperCross I was trying to find a publisher.
Did you receive any feedback from the publishers you contacted and if so, what did they say?
I don’t remember too much unfortunately. One publisher had some time limited public offer where you could submit your game to them. This was the one I submitted my game to. I don’t remember the name of the publisher nor why we did not have an agreement.
I’m also sort of curious about the release of the game – how did you inititally spread the demo version, and what were your expectations?
I don’t remember that either, but there were some channels where you could spread the free version of your game and after that it spread on its own I think. Download sites started to distribute it too, for example download.com.
Elasto Mania still seems to be enjoyed by a lot of people today – are you surprised by the longevity of the game?
I cannot stop to be amazed by the fact that some players still play it with a lot enthusiasm.
I’d like to thank Bálazs Rózsa for answering my questions. Be sure to visit the official website of Elasto Mania to find out more about the game, which is available on both PC and iOS.
Spillhistorie.no is a Norwegian website mostly dedicated to indie-, niche- and retro games. If you liked this article, we have some more content in English.