Wandering around Belgrade took a turn of me having a chance to talk to some of the greatest names in the Gaming industry in Serbia. To be honest, it wasn't really wandering around, and the interviews were pretty much scheduled.
One of the interviews GameBuz conducted was with amazing minds from Superverse Industries - the developer Igor Jerković and Nemanja Bondžulić, CEO/founder of the company.
Back in the nineties, Superverse Industries wasn't Superverse Industries at all! *gasping in shock* Instead, they were actually developers for Commodore and Amiga computers. Later on, in 2002, they started developing games, and the company was then called Industry Entertainment.
Nemanja Bondžulić - Yes, Industry Entertainment. We started game development with the first game which was called Monsta. It was a turn-based puzzle and strategy game for PDA devices, specifically for Palm OS.
GameBuz - Why did you decide to develop a game for Palm OS?
Nemanja Bondžulić - Because I got the device and I found it interesting. I recognized back in the day that that is going to be the future, that the market is going to evolve into the smartphones that we know today.
Before we moved on to more serious and mindblowing topics (you'll see, there's some pretty interesting stuff), I had to ask what was the reason they got into game making in the first place.
Nemanja Bondžulić - Actually, it was my dream since I was a kid. That was the reason I started programming - to be able to make the games in the future.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, begins a story of blood, sweat and tears. The story about the game yet to be released. The game, ladies and gentlemen, with its own custom-made engine! The name of the game is Superverse *tam tam taaam*
My dramatical announcement is directly correlated to the admiration I have for Igor, who created a custom-made engine for Superverse. But, still, I had to ask why did they decide to take this step.
Igor Jerković - When I was working on my demo, there were just a few options for the free engine, and none of them were any good, really. You always have to have some tradeoffs - you have something good, but maybe it was difficult to add something new to it.
So, actually, because I was very interested in computer graphics, I started working on … not really an engine, but on some techniques that I could use to achieve what I wanted in 3D.
I started working on a simpler game at that time, maybe as a showcase, a test field for everything I have learned. But, when we started working on the Superverse, the code needed some additional changes, and we started working on so to say "real engine" to support bigger levels, more enemies and the graphics that are heavily improved now.
Today is a completely different situation, I wouldn't really recommend to anybody to start working on the engine from scratch if they want to make a game in a reasonable amount of time.
GameBuz - What was the most challenging thing about making the engine from scratch? Is it because it is time-consuming?
Nemanja Bondžulić - It is time-consuming, for sure. The reason you would choose a third-party engine is to save time. You basically get the product that's tested, used by a lot of other developers, tested on millions of machines, but it's not fun. I mean, what we actually like to do is to create, to program, the visual effects, everything that's happening… But when you get Unreal, for example, you get all that for free.
Igor Jerković - Actually, no. Every engine and core base require some time to learn and eventually to master. And today's engines are anything but simple. So, working on your own engine can occasionally save you some time because some changes can be done really quickly when you know everything that's written. Occasionally.
After laughing at the "Occasionally" remark, it was time to get back to the beginning and ask about the idea behind the SuperVerse, a game that takes you to another universe with every new level.
Nemanja Bondžulić - The idea for the game came after I saw a demo that Igor made. It was basically the clone of Asteroids, made in 3D.
Igor Jerković - Yes, classic Asteroid game.
Nemanja Bondžulić - So I thought we could do something with that. It looked very good, and we decided to develop it. On top of that, we were thinking about how to evolve the game and then we came up with this idea about different universes and connection between them. And that's how we came up with Superverse.
GameBuz - When will the game be released?
Nemanja Bondžulić - That's a great question, but nobody knows the answer. We are now trying to release it as an early access version, and that will be done this year, but we don't want to set the date because we've missed the dates so many times.
GameBuz - Are you gonna self-publish it?
Nemanja Bondžulić - It looks like it. Unless somebody comes up in the meantime and help us publish it.
Pros & Cons of game making
When we got to talking about challenges they had, I assumed building the engine from scratch was the hardest one. But, Nemanja told me something else.
Nemanja Bondžulić - Actually, the biggest challenge for us is the resources, because we cannot dedicate all our time on developing this game. We have to work on other things as well, so the biggest challenge for us is to manage the time and what we can do with it.
GameBuz - On the other hand, what is the greatest part of making games? The most rewarding one?
Igor Jerković - Well, the greatest part is when it's sometime after midnight, and you realize that you have actually spent last half an hour not really testing, not coding, but just playing around, because you like the new thing you added. The thing is, you're always playing - when you're testing your game, you're actually playing; when you're adding some small features, you're actually playing.
GameBuz - And that's why you decided to start making games in the first place?
Nemanja Bondžulić - Yeah. It feels very rewarding that you have built something out of basically nothing. You develop everything - the mechanics, how something moves, how is something displayed on the screen, how it behaves, you know. You basically start with an empty file, and you develop something. And that's rewarding for me.
"Experience the cycle"
Superverse won an award for the best multiplayer game on Casual Connect in Eastern Europe in 2018. Being such pros and having amazing skills, it is mandatory to use their knowledge for good, so that future devs can have an easier jumpstart.
GameBuz - What advice would you give to young developers just entering the gaming industry? Beside not building the engine ofc. (It was just me laughing at my own question, but they still gave us great advice.)
Nemanja Bondžulić - I think they should try to build smaller games first, not to make a mistake and start with a really big project, because they won't finish it, ever. That's one. But the experience is good, the experience is something they will gain whatever they make, and that's good.
Still, I think that it's important to make something that's releasable, so they can release something to the public and get the feedback. That's how they can make a new game and to go through the whole process from the beginning till the end.
There are a lot of programmers that have never done it all. They just do some little part of developing, and that's all so they cannot handle the complete cycle. So, I think that going through the experience as a whole is really important.
Igor Jerković - I think that patience is the key. Once I met one high schooler, and he asked me how to learn the basics of the graphics programming because he tried a couple of times and he gave up every time. And I said that I was feeling the same way. I try 5 times, 10 times until I figure something out.
Today, patience is not so common because we are expecting results and feedback instantly. I mean, everybody is using phones, everybody is having faster and faster internet and faster computers, and in that sense, we are used to getting everything right away.
The thing is that they should have patience and, as Nemanja said, they should take small steps. And it's a good thing because then you can find out how much are you interested in learning, and if you're not, you'll still get something back, not just frustration.
Superverse is available for pre-order on the game's website. And, when it gets to Steam for early access, it would mean a lot to these computer wizards to support their work and give your feedback.