Article written by Joachim Froholt.
These interviews were originally published in 2002 on my old website, which is no longer available on the web (and the new owners of the web domain has activated robots.txt, meaning it is not available using the Internet Archive either. I have republished them here, with only slight modifications.
Interview with Metin Seven ( http://www.sevensheaven.nl )
Metin was the graphics artist and co-designer of Hoi.
> How did the development of Hoi get started? What made you decide to make a commercial game?
Well, we had created one commercial game before, a shoot-’em-up called Venomwing, published by the British company Thalamus (renowned for C64 classics like Sanxion, Delta and Hawkeye). That game involved a different programmer than Reinier van Vliet, the Hoi programmer. We called ourselves «Soft Eyes» back then. The other programmer (Pieter Opdam) left the Netherlands to work at Team 17 in the UK and the remaining Soft Eyes members (programmer Reinier van Vliet, music composer Ramon Braumuller and I) decided to go for a cute platform game.
Looking back upon Hoi I’m very happy with the very unconstrained way we approached development of the game. The game really radiates the tremendous fun we had creating it. Whenever one of us had a new idea for a game situation or character, we just created it and implemented it. We didn’t draw whole storyboards and other stuff that would have constrained us in shaping the game while development progressed. But we did made some mistakes, like offering the testers a function key to refresh their amount of lives. We didn’t realize how difficult Hoi was with the fixed nine lives the final release offered to the players.
> According to the readme file that accompanies Hoi AGA Remix, the original release earned you some 500 dollars… what went wrong?
Well, we were three young chaps, all 19 years of age. If a renowned games publisher is interested in your very own game you’re very happy to believe in them. First the American Innerprise Software managed to lose (or sell) more than half of the game to the cracker Fairlight. When we searched for a new, more reliable publisher we found Micro-Illusions (later changed into Hollyware Entertainment) and figured that not all games publishers were crooks. But we were screwed again and never heard anything from Hollyware anymore after the release of Hoi. Later the UK-based Rasputin Software turned out to be equally villainous, never paying us anything for our game Clockwiser. The games world was and probably is full of unscrupulous people who don’t care to steal from young creative people.
> How did you get the idea for the player-controllable platforms on Level 2? These are hilarious!
Thanks! The credit for those platforms goes to Reinier. He designed a lot of original elements in the game.
Thanks again for the compliment! :) The level was actually inspired by two subjects. First of all it was a tribute to the impressive technical achievements of the Amiga demo scene. We wanted to recreate the impressiveness of the numerous original, cool effects seen in several demos, but shape the effects into a totally surrealistic game level. Next to this, the early Nineties marked the beginning of all these psychedelic computer effect animations on big projection screens at the first House parties. As we liked to go out and dance, the level was also a tribute to our favourite dance atmosphere of that time.
> Were you happy with the way Hoi was received by the press?
Definitely! I clearly remember that a friend of mine called me to say that Hoi had received an overall score of 90 percent in The One. It was on a Sunday, so all magazine stores were closed. But I had to have the review, so I immediately jumped on the next train to Amsterdam, to buy it at the central station’s kiosk. I also remember seeing an incredible amount of flashing-lights in the distance when I was sitting in the train. The same evening I saw on television that a plane full of passengers crashed into an apartment building just outside Amsterdam, killing hundreds of people! It was quite a weird day.
> What made you release an AGA Remix of the game?
We had been treated unjust by the Hoi publisher and figured releasing Hoi to the world for free would at least make a lot of games freaks happy and give us some extra fame.
> What are the major differences between the original Hoi and Hoi AGA Remix?
The original Hoi came on two floppy disks. It featured an animation, line-drawn by a friend of mine, who is a professional hand-drawing animator. I digitized his scetches, cleaned them up and colored them. We added some wacky sound effects and included the animation as an introduction of the Hoi character. The original game featured a second intro, with an intro picture of mine (you can find the picture at my website: http://www.sevensheaven.nl/gamegraphics_02.htm ). The second intro was mainly meant to show off our new seven-channel music routine, similar to Chris Huelsbeck’s music engine for the great title music of Turrican II. Our game music engine was derived from our music editor The Digital Mugician.
Furthermore, the original Hoi featured a high resolution title sequence, with a cool piece of music by Ramon, and a huge movie-scrolling high-score table. Last but not least, there was an end sequence, where Hoi finally meets the love of his life, but she didn’t turn out to be what he expected…! ;)
But … the Hoi AGA Remix does feature some improvements over the old version. The background color transition (Copper chip color transition) is changed into a smooth 24 bit AGA transition, some in-game graphics were tweaked here and there and it features an Amiga OS interface with a level selection option, a trainer option and a saving high-score table.
> What other stuff did Team Hoi do (both on the Amiga and other systems)?
We started in 1988 with SIDmon, a music editor, published by the German Turtle Byte. Then came the shoot-’em-up game Venomwing (see above) and Hoi. Almost simultaneously with Hoi Thalamus released our second music editor, The Digital Mugician. Next thing we did was the creation of a game for a peanut-butter TV commercial. After this we created a puzzle game called Clockwiser, published by Rasputin Software in 1994 for the standard Amiga, AGA Amiga, CD32, MS-DOS and Windows 3.1. During Clockwiser development we also created a second puzzle game, called Cognition, released by the Dutch publisher Divo. In the mean time we also released a demo trilogy called The Hoi sAGA and a tribute to our Ramon in the shape of the Ode To Ramon III demo. Finally we created Moon Child, the sequel to Hoi, for Windows 95, published in early 1997. Moon Child will be released for the pocket PC range in the near future.
Exactly the same as Hollyware: a lot of friendly talk and in the end no payment whatsoever.
> What were the reasons you stopped making games (or are you still working on something)?
We slipped into creating multimedia stuff at the last company where Reinier and I worked together, because in the small, dull Netherlands there was no real future for games creators and we didn’t want to move to an other country, like the UK or the US. When we realized that our games dream had come to an end, I decided to go and work as a freelance illustrator, animator and photographer.
> What are you doing today? Any interesting future plans?
Last year I co-created an interactive television series for children called «TattleToons». It won an Emma multimedia award at the Milia in Cannes and was covered in Time magazine. That was quite encouraging. I’ve got no specific big plans for the future, but I do still have a dream hidden inside that Reinier and I will one day be making another game together. So watch out for our comeback! «Hoi 3D»! :)
> Do you follow the current developments on the Amiga?
Well, to be honest I was more or less forced by the demanding market to buy a PC in 1998 and I started learning 3DS MAX (My excuse was that 3D Studio was co-developed by the creator of DPaint, Daniel Silva). I’m a real MAX freak now. The Amiga will always keep a warm place inside my heart though. The atmosphere of the Commodore days is definitely unequalled. It was the time of dimly lit attics where masterpieces were both played and created. I sometimes say that it was the time when you were still considered a nerd when you had a computer, while now you’re considered a nerd when you don’t have a computer. Those who already owned computers in the early days simply were visionaries, vilified by the masses who now can’t live without internet and e-mail anymore. :)
That’s a real tough one. Let me think … If I really have to choose one favourite game it must be Larry Reed’s brilliant arcade conversion of Marble Madness. It was one of my first games for my Amiga 1000, back in 1986. And I was nearly unbeatable with the first Speedball by the Bitmap Brothers. :) I also have to mention the greatest game of our heroes back in those days: Factor 5’s Turrican II. I recall four games that made you extremely proud to own an Amiga: the first was the Psygnosis classic Shadow of the Beast, then came Turrican II, then Leander and the piece de resistance was Thalion’s Lionheart. That game featured more parallax scrolling layers and Copper chip effects than you could imagine! :)
> Final comments?
Well, I am very flattered that our game is still alive, more than ten years after it was released. Thanks guys!
Interview with Reinier van Vliet
Reinier was the main designer and programmer of Hoi. This first part is dedicated to Hoi.
> When playing Hoi, I get the feeling that it was a very fun game to make. What can you tell us about the creation of Hoi?
Back when we started with Hoi there where a lot of games out there which were really stupid with guns and death and war and whatnot. There was a lot of competition with those sort of games. Who could add the most number of paralax layers and have the most number of objects on screen etc etc. With Hoi we wanted to make something completely different. We bascially wanted it to be a cute world where we could put anything we would think off in there. There was no real general storyline or rules which would only imprison our ideas. We would just start and see where it would end. If I look back on Hoi I am really happy to see that the game really shows the fun and unbound freedom we had.
Well I know what I’m not too happy about: the playability (or the lack of it) ;^) What I do like is that the game is filled with original little enemies, challenges and surprises. You never know what to expect next.I recently played Hoi again on WinUAE and I was amazed that the game just goes on and on… What was funny though was that we used to laugh at all the peple who fell in all the traps in the game. Now I’ve stepped in every single one of them too. Talking about ironic justice.
> Did Hoi turn out the exactly way you wanted or were there things you would have changed?
Well the playability could have be somewhat better. But then again, then it wouldn’t be the same as it is now. It was our first major platform game and we have learned a lot. It was the best we could do at the time. I think the sequel of Hoi ‘Moon Child’ pretty much Hoi on steroids. It doesn’t have a lot of the shortcomings of Hoi… and then again, without it, it misses some of it’s charme.
> How did you get the idea for the player-controllable platforms on Level 2? These are hilarious!
I really don’t have a clue anymore. Back then I remember that every week the new programming of me inspired metin for new enemies and pittfalls, and his graphics inspired me for new levels and code as well. So who invented what I’m not sure about anymore. I do know that the initial invention of the platforms with which you had to walk in order not to fall off was because of a programming bug. We liked the idea and kept it in.
> What made you decide to make another commercial game after being let
down by the publishers of Hoi?
We have never not liked creating things. And I think we where really optimistic that we had learned our lesson and this time would come better prepared. I think I’ll always keep on programming things, just like Metin keeps on drawing. It’s in our blood and no stupid ass publisher can take that away.
> How did you get the inspiration for Clockwiser?
I think it was my father who initially had the idea to have a game where you had to rotate things on screen in order to finish the puzzle. After a lengthy brainstorm session the concept was born.
> What aspects of Clockwiser are you particularily satisfied with?
What I liked most is that with a game of a few blocks and rules one can have really difficult puzzles. Out of simplicity comes complexity, just like nature.
> And what do you think you could have done different (better)?
The whole presentation was a bit meagre. A few static screens and dialogs. A few animations and movements could have done a lot.
> How was Clockwiser received by the press? Were you satisfied with the reviews?
[editor’s note: Clockwiser was quite well received by all the large magazines except Amiga Power, scores ranged from 76% to 82%]
> What happened between Team Hoi and Rasputin? Did you ever consider taking legal actions against them?
Well we considered it, but one doesn’t start a legal procedure that easy. Even if it is pretty clear that we got ripped off, it is something
else to prove it in court. We just didn’t have the cash and the will to pursue legal actions.
> What other projects have you been involved in after Clockwiser?
The same team who made Hoi! also made ‘Moon Child’ which is in many respects a kind of turbo Hoi. Me myself have worked on a PC version of Mugician (a music program which I made on the Amiga) called Jaytrax. (You can donwload it for free at my site) This program has also been converted to the PocketPC by me. Furthermore have I worked on an instant messenger, various small promotional games, 2 gameboy advance games called ‘invader’ and ‘black belt challenge’, a few TV-games and many more odds and ends. At the moment I am working for a mobile games company in Amsterdam.
> I hear there’s an upcoming PocketPC version of Clockwiser, is there anything you can tell us about that?
Ah well… I was pretty far actually. Untill a harddisk crash put me back to square one. (yes yes I should make backups). So my initial drive in making it is gone for the moment. Maybe this will revive after some time and then I’ll port it.
> What else are you doing today? Any interesting future plans (Metin mentioned Hoi 3d, hint, hint! :-)?
Hahaha My knowledge of 3D is really poor. I know I should start with it sometime but I feel that my strength is more in the realm of 2D. Maybe thats why I made games for the Gameboy Advance and now for mobile equipment: it doesn’t involve 3D…yet.
I hear stories about the Amiga being reborn every 6 months and I’ve yet to see the day that I can actually install it. The Amiga lives on in my heart, and I hope that maybe someday we’ll all have one again, but I seriously doubt it.
> What’s your favourite Amiga game(s) and why?
I think the games I remember most are the ones which you could play together. Games like Firepower, Lotus Turbo Challenge and of course Bubble Bobble!
> Current favourite game?
Mario 64… after all this time it is still unbeaten. Maybe Mario Sunshine can set the bar even higher!
> Any final comments about Clockwiser, Hoi or anything else?
We had a great time creating it, and still have a great time thinking about the good old times. So in a nutshell: if you don’t know what to do with your life, make a game. You can’t loose.
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.