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by Eric Arevalo


Along with the review of Geneforge this week; we have an exciting interview with Jeff Vogel, successful shareware developer and owner of Spiderweb Software. Jeff tells about his company, the impressive RPGs he has done in the past as well as a special glimpse into Geneforge 2, their newest RPG which should be released in the next few months.



AN INTERVIEW WITH JEFF VOGEL, OWNER OF SPIDERWEB SOFTWARE



THE COMPANY

Please tell us about your company Spiderweb Software as well as its mission.

Jeff: We are a small company in Seattle. We have 3 full time employees, and we started out in 1994. We write fantasy rpgs for Windows and Macintosh. At this point, our mission is to earn money for our daughter's college fund.



PAST GAMES

You created the excellent Exile and Avernum series as well as Nethergate. Tell us more about the development of these games.

Jeff: Each game takes about a year to write. Most of our games are built directly on the engine of the previous game, with some improvements. Nethergate, however, was an all-new engine, so that took a lot longer.



THE FIRST GENEFORGE GAME

You started a brand new and exciting series with Geneforge. Reveal to us your goals as well as your thoughts regarding this new series. How has this game been received by admiring gamers?

Jeff: We wanted to write a game set in an entirely new world. No Tolkein-ripoffs. No hobbits or elves. A weird, funky fantasy world with a strong science fiction flavor.

Geneforge has been very, very well received, and it's selling great. This was, of course, a huge relief.

What particular features do you think gamers have appreciated the most in this new series?

Jeff: The wide open nature. The game supports a huge variety of play styles and strategies, and it gives a wide number of different factions you can join, each with its own quests and goals. There is huge replay value and many different endings.

People seem to really love the wide open nature.



DEVELOPING GENEFORGE 2

The new sequel is due this summer. What has it been like developing the new sequel to the popular Geneforge? What were your goals in creating this sequel?

Jeff: Geneforge 2 has been very relaxing. The engine is done, and I'm very familiar with it. I've just been free to come up with new ideas and neat plot twists.

I liked the way that the servile villagers would respond to the actions you had done in Geneforge. Defeat a particular creature and certain servile villagers will mention what you have done. Join a particular faction and the other factions will mention this. Geneforge is not like other RPGs that have a static world but one that reacts to what you have done. How long does it take to add these kinds of elements to the game and what can we expect with the sequel?

Jeff: It is time-consuming. A town with a lot of dialogue can take days to do.

In Geneforge 2, there will be the same thing, but more of it. There will be four factions you can choose from, instead of three, and many more different endings. Each faction will give you different quests. So, no matter how you go through the game, there'll be lots of things you won't see.



GENEFORGE 2

Give us a look into the background and story for Geneforge 2?

Jeff: You are an apprentice. You and your teacher are going into the mountains to check up on this tiny colony that never amounted to anything. What you find, however, is that some illegal magic is taking place, and there are all sorts of creatures running around that aren't supposed to be there. And then your teacher disappears.

You have to find out what is going on and who is making the strange life forms. Then you have to decide whether to destroy them or join them.

What new creatures can we expect in the sequel?

Jeff: Golems. Huge zombie monsters. Magical eyebeasts. And a lizard beast that eats drayks for breakfast.

What new features are we going to see in Geneforge 2?

Jeff: There will be many more spells, and an expanded game system. Inventory management should be a lot smoother, as will the interface for dealing with traps and locks. And, of course, you'll have a wider selection of horrible mutant monsters to create.

Tell us about the different factions that players will be able to join in the sequel.

Jeff: There is a wide range of them, from those loyal to your people to those who want to be left alone to some people who are just insane.



FINAL THOUGHTS/ FUTURE GAMES

Is there anything that you would like to add that has not already been mentioned?

Jeff: I'm really excited about the Geneforge series. And we're already thinking about Geneforge 3.

What games do you have planned to release in the future?

Jeff: We're also working on Blades of Avernum. It is a full fantasy role-playing system, with the ability to download free scenarios off the Internet and make your own adventures to share. It will use the Avernum engine, of course.



Official Spiderweb Software Website



Official Geneforge 2 Website



Geneforge 2 Screenshots





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