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Skip Navigation LinksPlayHard > In English > Ship Simulator 2008. Interview with Frank Dolmans

Название: Ship Simulator 2008
Разработчик: VSTEP
Зарубежный издатель: Lighthouse Interactive
Издатель в России: Новый Диск
Официальный сайт игры: перейти
Системные требования:
P4-2.4, 1GB RAM, 128 MB 3D Card
P4-3.0, 2GB RAM, 256 MB 3D Card
MultiPlayer: Internet (25)
Жанр: Simulator, Sea
Игра вышла: 16.07.2007
Рейтинг: 7.4

If you're a fan of virtual sailing then surely you've heard of the Ship Simulator series which lets a player board a number of cool vessels and try them out across different realistic maps. While talking to Frank Dolmans of VSTEP, the developer of the line-up, we just couldn't miss our chance to find out more interesting facts about the past & the future of the series uncovering both for you in the second part of the interview with the company's Chief Marketing Officer.

VSTEP's Headquarters- Frank, who are the fans of the Transport simulators?

- Our fanbase and community (the Ship Simulator series has currently sold close to 400.000 copies) contains a variety of game players, ranging from pure fans of realistic simulation games, to ship lovers with or without a maritime background or a history in sailing. Basically, everybody that wants to experience a realistic simulator with ships has fun with our game. There are also a lot of real sailors and captains playing our game, and we get a lot of positive feedback from them. The US Navy even uses our game for training and demonstration purposes. All this is proof that we are on the right track!

- Why such few developers come to work in this field?

- Target audience and know-how! Making a good and realistic simulation is very difficult. Simulation fans are much more demanding than other gamers, and they expect a certain amount of realism. And rightly so. It takes a lot of know-how and input from the simulated industry to make a realistic simulation, so it is a very intensive development cycle. Simulators also cater for a smaller target group than for example the Action games. All these factors cause a lot of developers to back down from making simulators. Don’t forget that expectancy of gamers is much higher nowadays than it was 10 years ago. The Microsoft Flight Simulator Series has a legacy of over 20 years to improve itself, whereas Ship Simulator is only 2-3 years old, so we are not doing too bad.

- What's in the future of the genre then?

- Although the Simulation genre is not as high profile as the action genre, its players are very dedicated. It is very satisfying to make a game that gets a lot of positive feedback from its players. The way to go now is forward, and there is a lot of room for Ship Simulator to grow, with new features, new environments, visual and gameplay enhancements, more realism and more vessels. We are also looking into the possibilities of making ship and environment creation easier for our community.  

- How was the concept of your Ship Simulator series born?

- The Ship Simulator games were born from our maritime training Serious games. We had this wonderful maritime training product that was (and is) still being used in maritime schools when German publisher Astragon came up to us and asked us if we were thinking of making a game for the entertainment market from it. We never looked at it that way, but they thought it had great potential in the Simulation genre. So we adapted our training product, added more environments and vessels and viola, the first Ship Simulator game (Ship Simulator 2006) was born and was an instant hit. So thank you Astragon for the great idea! The biggest lesson to learn is to listen to your customers. They play your game more than anyone else and give invaluable feedback which can be used to further improve the game!

The Ship Simulator series can now offer you a captain's place at the bridge of a luxury liner- Tell us about the evolution of the Ship Simulator series.

- Ship Simulator 2006 started out small and was developed by a small core team of developers. Thanks to its success, we could expand and improve the series and thus Ship Simulator 2008 was created, featuring lots of improvements and developed by a much larger team. It is only our second year developing the series and seeing what considerable improvements were made in a short amount of time, we want to keep improving the series further to make it even better.

- How are the sound effects created for the Ship Simulator series?

- As long as they are the real thing, sound effects are important in any simulator. We have an extensive library with sounds and when needed, we go on board with microphones and record the engine sounds ourselves.

- Are you happy with the reaction from gamers and media for Ship Simulator 2008?

- We have had a lot of positive feedback from our players and community and that is the most important to us. What we have noticed however is the lack of knowledge from some (not all fortunately) of the so-called professional press. They often do not take the time to test the game thoroughly, only focus on action games, or have the game reviewed by an Action gamer that doesn’t appreciate or know anything about simulations, rather than have it reviewed by a true simulation fan. The professional games' press that has taken the time to review it properly however has given us very positive reviews.

- What additional content can your customers get?

- We will continue to improve and upgrade the game and will bring out new updates on a regular basis. We’ve recently launched the Shipyard, which is an online vessel & environment shop. We will offer new vessels, environments, feautures on a regular basis, giving players the chance to modify their game and sail with an armada of choice.

New intriguing additions to the series are already on their way to us and hopefully will impress as much as this Ocean Star liner- What's being planned for the next installments to the Ship Simulator series?

As a developer, we are never completely satisfied with anything [smiles] and want to improve the series further towards realism. Adding new content, features and improving gameplay and visuals even more are points that are high on our agenda.

- What new ships would you like to include in future?

We aim to offer a wide array of different vessels, but it is absolutely imperative that they not only look good, but also sail realistically. In future we will increase the number of ships considerably, and also offer sailing boats next to the motor ships.

- How do you choose new locations for the game?

- We choose them according to feedback from our community and brainstorming with the development team. My personal favorites in Ship Simulator 2008: New Horizons are Rotterdam Harbour and Hamburg. I like the vastness of those harbors - really impressive.

- What “Ship Simulator 2008: New Horizons” features are you proud of most of all?

The improved visuals, vessels and multiplayer mode are really good steps that create a lot of added value to the game! The multiplayer mode was quite a challenge to make, and it’s great to see players from all over the world sailing together online!

- How many users are supported for the multiplayer mode?

- Our free-roaming MultiPlayer gives players from all over the world the chance to sail together, organize races, missions, etc. online. Currently we can have up to 25 players together on our official multiplayer servers. Players can also create their own MultiPlayer servers. In the future we will expand the MultiPlayer gameplay and add official MultiPlayer missions and rankings to the game.

Up to 25 players can sail altogether in a free-roaming MultiPlayer mode- Are the developers sailing their virtual ships online?

- In-game we are all recognizable by our forum tags, and, yes, you can regularly bump (don’t go crashing your ships!) into members of the development team online.

- How do you control the behavior of online players?

- The advantages of a very dedicated community is that we have dedicated moderators that help our online players and make sure everything is running smoothly and people keep the game fun to play. However, should a player continue to offend other players and destroy the fun for others, we can always ban him from our MultiPlayer servers. This will never happen without first issuing several warnings though. 

- What are your other ways to work with the community?

We are in close contact and communication with our community (by forum, mail, etc.) and their feedback is always noted and discussed. Our players are VERY important to us, and they are the ones that play the game most of all, so it’s only fair that we listen and use their valuable feedback to improve the Ship simulator Series further.

Ship Simulator 2008 is sailing to Russian stores- Do you like sailing yourself?

- Yes, I like to sail, and although I’m not an experienced sailor, I seem to have a very high stamina against sea sickness. Fortunately! I don’t have my own boat (only a virtual one), but whenever on holiday, we’ll always go sailing with the wife and kids. They love it as well.

- If there is anything else, you’d like to add, please, do it here.

- Well, Ship Simulator 2008 is coming out in Russia and the CIS in the beginning of august. It will be released by publisher Noviy Disk at a retail price of 165 Rubles ($7). If you’re a fan of Simulators and fancy sailing the Titanic (yes, it’s in there!) without having to cope with Leonardo DiCaprio, you might wanna give it a shot!

22.07.2008 08:59, Unicorn


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