Jagged Alliance 2 Wildfire » JA2 Wildfire - Interview with Serge Popov (English)

Interview with Jagged Alliance 2: Wildfire's maker...
...Serge Popov

Questions asked by: Len
Answers by: Serge Popov
Translation: Kyle-Simmons, Popers

Date: 7th April 2008r.

English version | Polish version

In spite of being released few years ago, Jagged Alliance 2: Wildfire is still at high position among fans, in contrary to JA2: Unfinished Business, which was released in 2001. It gets more interesting if we mention that JA2: Wildfire began as an amateur modification of Russian Serge "Wildfire" Popov. How did Wildfire make it to store shelves? Accidentally - employees of Strategy First dowloaded modification and they liked so much, that they have decided to release it as a series' continuation with full rights. Game 5.0 version's premiere took place 8th March, only at North America area and it didn't differ much from original Jagged Alliance 2. Breakthrough will take place in the first quater of 2005, when German company ZUXXEZ Entertainment release Jagged Alliance 2: Wildfire in 6.0 version. Except of new mercs, areas and realism, standard resolution has been changed from 640x480 to 1024x768, which improved graphics' quality. This version was released in Poland, and we, after three years of its premiere, have decided to contact its maker - Serge Popov.

1. Hello! I would like to thank you for letting us have this interview. There aren’t many of Jagged Alliance fans who don’t know you, but can you introduce yourself to our readers? :)

Serge Popov: Sorry but English is not good enough for long stories. I’m born in USSR and got the IT diploma :). I started to mod JA2 in 1999 since this date I created 6 steppings of Wildfire mod include two commercial version.

2. Can you tell us, what is your current?

Serge Popov: To the date I’m not involved to any game projects if you mean that. There are some future plans, but it’s a long term perspective so I do not ready to discuss it yet.

3. For how long have you been series’ fan? Are you still a Jagged Alliance player?

Serge Popov: My first JA experience had place in 1996. As for now - no, now I’m not JA player anymore, only developer. J I think that it’s almost impossible to be the developer and the player simultaneously. But sometimes I test JA2WF.

4. From where it came to you to create Wildfire? What were the beginnings of creating this modification?

Serge Popov: JA2 is very good game but there is nothing perfect in this world and JA2 also had it’s own weak sides. First thing I disliked in game were unrealistic gun sounds so I changed them – it was the first Wildfire mod for JA2. And once you made a first step it’s easy to make next one and so on. Game rebalancing with item graphics followed and so on up to WF 6.0.

5. When you were putting changes into Wildfire, did you consulte with creators of the series or maybe more important was what the fans say?

Serge Popov: No I did not consult with creators. I think fans’ opinion is more important. The only thing I wanted from Creators was source code and they were unable to give it to me.

6. Are you happy with the popularity that your game have gained?

Serge Popov: Yes, of course! :) But I’m much more happy with the game itself.

7. Have you worked by yourself or was there any help? How long did it take to finish?

Serge Popov: North American version for the Strategy First (WF 5.0) was made in close cooperation with Romuald A. Nagaev, our manager and map creator. The European Version 6.0 fo Zuxxez was much more complicated project. There were 3 core people in I-Deal Games team and about 10 guest artists and people from Zuxxez were involved at different level at different stages. You can see their names in the credits section :)

8. Do you have any data about in how many copies it has sold so far?

Serge Popov: According to the only SF reports we have at our disposal, they sold over 25 000 copies in North America during first quarter of sales. After that they go bankrupt and stop to supporting us with data on sales. As for the European version I do not have any data on sales cause we got lump sum contract with Zuxxez. :)

9. Wildfire was supposed to bring more realism into the game. Do you think that it did?

Serge Popov: I hope it’s so. Our priority was to bring in game new balance while keep playability and bring as much realism as we can. Only fans can sue if we were successful.

10. You are known as JA2 Wildfire creator. What was the hold against creating another games?

Serge Popov: The game development is very unstable source of wages especially in Russia. And I want to eat every day, as well as my familyJ. So I have to spent most of the tie for work aside of game industry just to earn money waiting for another one chance to run a project.

11. What tools did you use when you were creating the game? Did you use a source cod?

Serge Popov: While developing North American version SF declined to provide us with source code so I used nothing but standard JA2 tools and hex-editor. But during the work under European version Zuxxez provided us with original Sir-Tech toolkit and we used some parts of original source code.

12. If you do, is there a chance to publish JA2 Wildfire source code?

Serge Popov: I don’t think so :) There is very complicated legal ussue related to JA2 rigths and I’d prefer to keep aside...

13. Tell as something about the beginnings of cooperation with Strategy First. Who was the initiator of signing the agreement?

Serge Popov: We were initiators. Sorry but I don’t want to talk about SF. They stolen 2 years of my life.

14. It is propably out of place, but I couldn’t help asking: did you earn something?:)

Serge Popov: If you asking about European release of the JA2WF by Zuxxez, then answer is - Yes, of course J. Zuxxez is very reliable partner.

15. European version of Wildfire is far different than American. Tell us, what were the roots of its creation. (Were you involved?)

Serge Popov: (It’ very strange question if I was involved – yes, of course I was involved :]). The difference goes from the different approach of SF an Zuxxez. While SF does not planned development, spend no single cent for it and provided us no help at all. Zuxxez people in contrary were very aimed helpful and productive. When we worked with SF we got lot of whining, promises and bad surprises. When we worked with Zuxxez we got plan, we got budget, we got schedule for all the stages. If you doubt which way is better just compare NA and European releases quality and feature lists.

16. Now, after its premiere, would you change something in the game? What would it be?

Serge Popov: No, I do not plan to make any further changes. I suppose JA Wildfire is a page of history now.

17. Currently creating of modification surpasses many of its authors and they give up their works. Were you sometimes “tired” with Wildfire creation?

Serge Popov: Yes I was tired with Wildfire creation and very often. But is was my chance to make really good game, so i tried hard to overcome myself.

18. Tell us, what is Ideal Games?

Serge Popov: i-Deal Games is the name of the group of enthusiasts created in 1999 for strategic games creation and basically I was not part of it. I start cooperating with one of this group founders Romauld A. Nagaev in 2001 and when we come to agreement with Strategy First we decide to use the name of this team as a label. To the date at the base of i-Deal Games team two independent companies are running: the Egopolis specialized in development of web based software regardless game related or not and the Fantasy Development strictly concentrated on game development. If you want more details ask their management.

19. Ideal Games will continue your job? Are they planning another modifications?

Serge Popov: If you mean next stepping of Wildfire then answer is no, but there are plans for completely new game, without „JA2” in title.

20. What do you think about current modification such as 1.13 or JA2: Multiplayer?

Serge Popov: I think that JA2 and any turn-based games of same kind not suitable for multyplayer mode. And I’m sorry, but I know nothing about v1.13.

21. And what do you think about currently being made in Russia Jagged Alliance 3? Do you think it is going the right direction? Do you think that JA3 premiere will end JA2 era?

Serge Popov: After dealing with Strategy First and discovering their way of running business I just do not believe in creation of anything worthy under their management. I will not wonder if this project will not released ever or will be released by anyone else after developers get tired of SF swindling…

JA3 release will not end JA era in particular or era of isometric games if you mean this. Regardless to it’s graphic engine JA provides nonlinear game system, the wide selection of character development ways and very interesting system of relation within player’s team and player team members to local population.

The name “JA3” does not guarantee the game will be successful, there are lot of work to do… And even if it will succeed it does not mean it will be JA2 Killer. To bury it’s predecessor JA3 should keep all it’s advantage and do not bring to much difference and it’s very doubtful aim to reach. I suppose that it’s more probable it will be just another game in all meanings.

22. Is there something you would like to say to series fans or readers of Jagged Alliance Center service?

Serge Popov: I wish them health in life and good luck in games :)

23. Thank you for this interview. I hope you will show yourself again on Jagged Alliance scene and wish you all the best in life:)

Serge Popov: Will see… :)

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