Through the last months we've covered some news on Kokak Games, the studio behind the graphic remake of two classic FPS games called Doom and Heretic. Well today we're having a word with Mr. Michaël Ryssen, who happens to be the mind and body behind DoomGLES and HereticGles. He will be with us to speak about some of his past, present and future projects, as well as some other nice stuff you may like.
DroidGamers: Welcome Michaël, and thanks for taking some of your time out of your day to sit down and chat with us.
Michael a.k.a Kokak: Hi Nelson, thanks for receiving me.
DroidGamers: To start where everything started, we'd like to know how did Kokak get started, and what projects were released beforehand. Could you tell us about your past games?
Kokak: "Kokak" isn't really a company, as I am the only person behind it. I develop on mobile devices during my free time as I have a full time job in a big video game company. At the end of the 90's, the first personal project I released was WDMP, a multiplayer (split-screen) port of Doom for Windows. Then, I made OpenGL PC ports of Doom, Heretic & Hexen: DoomGL & ZDoomGL (the first version), GLHeretic, and GLHexen.
In 2005 - 2006, I made a Doom port and an Amstrad CPC emulator for Symbian phones. Then between 2006 - 2008, I made DoomGLES & HereticGLES for pocketPC (Dell axim x51v & O2 Xda Flame). They were the first 3D accelerated ports on mobile devices (and they still are).
At the end of 2009, I started the development of my own mobile game engine with "Stacker 3D" on iOS. A 3D stacking game supporting OpenGLES 2.0, while at this point 99% of games used OpenGLES 1.1.
Then, always on iOS, followed "Nuguee Rising", a game for young children and "Satellite Assault", a 3D Asteroid like game where you have to create chain reactions to destroy asteroids. At the end of 2011, I started to work on Android. First "Satellite Assault" was ported, then DoomGLES & HereticGLES.
DroidGamers: Of all the games Kokak has released onto Google Play so far, both DoomGLES and HereticGLES are probably the best port of their classic counterparts that are available. When did you decide to work on them?
Kokak: I've began to work on the DoomGLES port on December. I've always loved the Doom game since its release in 1993. As I ported it (in OpenGL form or not) on everything programmable I possessed, it was natural it would also come to Android. I started the HereticGLES port in April.
DroidGamers: Has there been / will there be development of your games to other platforms, or will you stick with Android?
Kokak: So far, I am too busy with the Android versions.
Amongst other platforms, iOS and Blackberry (BB10 and Playbook) are good candidates. They support native compilation (C/C++) and OpenGLES, so for the most part of the port should be straight forward. I will check that later.
Other platforms may require a lot more work. For example, PS Vita & Windows Phone require C#. And even with Windows Phone 8, which will support native devs, OpenGLES won't be supported (only Direct3D). A pity, in the past Windows mobile supported OpenGLES, and it was a piece of cake to port from Win PC to Win Mobile.
DroidGamers: Some of the most known business models of today is that of Free-to-play/Freemium games, along with Ad-Supported games, which seem to be pouring in the Google Play store these days. Have you ever thought on publishing your next games via those ways? How would they be like if they supported In-App Purchases?
Kokak: Yes I have thought of a DoomGLES freemium version, where you could buy ammo, shield and health packs. Seriously, I don't think people would like such classics like Doom to be treated like this.
What I could do is provide pre-converted pwads as in-app purchases. You already may convert them yourself for free with the tools I provide. But if your are lazy, you may also buy them. It is just an idea. I don't know if amongst the relative low number of active DoomGLES users if there is a lot will be interested for this. But on the different "original" projects I have in mind, I may experiment these models.
DroidGamers: How would a port of some other classics such as Hexen and Quake/Quake 2 sound to you right now? Could we be seeing a HexenGLES, or a QuakeIIGLES somewhere in the future? If so, what would they be like?
Kokak: HexenGLES should be released before the end of the year. Hexen was a great game. I am eager to see it run with all GLES improvements. It will have all features already available in DoomGLES & HereticGLES. I will also replay Hexen a little, to see what extra features I could add.
I was not a big fan of the Quake series, expect Quake 2 which I have good memories of. So maybe a Quake2GLES, if it has not been already done... But frankly, it isn't in my plans.
DroidGamers: Speaking of next games, could you tell us, aside from those already mentioned, what other projects are currently in mind for you?
Kokak: In parallel to continuous support of the actual games, the next big task will be to add network support in the GLES ports. I should also improve "Satellite Assault". I received some good suggestions I will add in the game.
Then, I should port my 2 other iOS games, "Stacker 3D" and "Nuguee Rising". I don't expect a lot from them, but since their engine has already been ported, it won't be too hard to make them run on Android.
I think also to completely rewrite the DoomGLES graphics engine, using a more modern engine (supporting dynamic shadows amongst other things)… But I am thinking of that some years from now. I doubt one day I will have the courage to start that.
Also, porting "Doom 3" to Android should be an interesting challenge. In term of functionality, I think OpenGLES 2.0 supports them all (I need to look at the source code to be sure). But how will be the frame-rate ? Generally mobile GPUs have very poor fill-rate, and it may be a real problem with Shadow Volumes. But on the other hand, Tegra 3 demos are quite impressive. And Doom 3 is already 8 years old.
DroidGamers: Since there are Wiki sites for both Doom and Heretic already, are there any plans to open up sites dedicated to DoomGLES and HereticGLES? Are there plans for forums in those websites?
Kokak: I have no plan to do wiki sites for the GLES ports so far. A forum on the other hand could be useful. It would allow users to communicate with each others and exchange tips on running the games on different devices. As soon as I find some free time, I will check the options to add a forum somewhere.
DroidGamers: In more of a personal side of the story, and since we've learned that Kokak is a one-man-company at this time, is there a chance for other developers and designers to contact you with new ideas and job offerings?
Kokak: This is hard to tell... If I believe if someone submits to me a great idea, we will have to deal with a lot of things. I have very limited time to work on these projects, and being in a team means having responsibilities to other members. Now I can go to vacation anytime, or even give up if I want.
Also, since, I am a software engineer, the choice of the engine will also have a lot of importance. Ideally it should be feasible with an engine I know (my very limited own mobile engine, or the DoomGLES engine). We will also have to deal with how to share profits. Now I can’t pay anyone because I don’t earn enough money from the Play Store.
DroidGamers: If anyone would want to contact you with questions, suggestions or just to say hi, how could they do it?
Kokak: The best option is using my email address mryssen [at] gmail [dot] com . There is also the Facebook page.
And lastly, please, do not ask questions on the review page of Google Play Store. I have no way to reply (Google reserves this option to “top developers” only).
DroidGamers: Well, there it is. We really want to thank you Michaël for the chance to talk with you, and we look forward to checking out your future releases on Android.
And thanks to all of you for checking out the interview. Feel free to write your thoughts below, or just chat personally with Michaël himself via e-mail if you feel like asking some more.