INTERVIEW: Roel van Mastbergen

Out of nowhere a homebrew called Beats of Rage was launched into the homebrew scene in 2002, it rocked the earth and clocked up over 250,000 downloads in a very short time period. The people responsible were called Senile Team and this interview should cover everything you want to know about them! In the interview chair is Roel van Mastbergen.

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S.F: Tell us something about yourself and Senile Team.

R.v.M: As a videogames enthusiast, self-taught C programmer and CG artist, I've been making small games for years. However, it was only when I started working on Beats of Rage that my two younger brothers, Jeroen and Sander, also felt inspired to help out. When the game was close to completion, we decided to name ourselves Senile Team, after our internet server and mailing list. After the success of BoR, we've had the pleasure of working with other talented people from across the world. Most notably, Neill Corlett from the USA, who ported BoR to DC and PS2, and Ben Boahene from Germany, who is working on the soundtrack for AotB.

S.F: Beats of Rage was downloaded well over 250,000 times, you must have lost loads of money
to cover bandwidth costs. Did you actually receive something back for your work? (in any form)

R.v.M: We spent quite a lot of time on the development of Beats of Rage, certainly. But I think I can speak for all of us if I say that it was more of a pass-time than an investment. However, it was only after the game was finished and made available that we really had to get to work. Contrary to our expectations, we soon found that DOS wasn't dead at all. Our server would soon be overrun by thousands of visitors, and it would still take months before we finally managed to overcome the bandwidth issues, through the help of many a friendly site owner.

S.F: The Beats of Rage project is clearly based on the Streets of Rage series, why didn't you do a direct port and use the actual SOF characters? The King of Fighters art wasn't exactly copyright free as well.

R.v.M: A direct port? Are you kidding? The SOR-KOF crossover was the whole point! ;)
Besides, the use of KOF characters is no more or less "grey" than using the SOR cast. We obviously weren't trying to avoid any copyright issues, just to make a game that we thought would be cool, and sort of a tribute to some of our favourite series.

S.F: To be honest, a lot of the Beats of Rage mods released aren't very good, what are your
personal favorites?

R.v.M: You're absolutely right. But there are some real gems out there, too. Rage of the Streets and Hyper Final Fight seem very well-executed to me, and the originality and humour of the Roy Streets mod is just pure gold as well.

S.F: Senile Team has made a good name for itself and interest for Age of the Beast is big, what can we expect?

R.v.M: You can expect us to keep a very high quality standard. But as for the details, you'll just have to wait and see.

S.F: How is Age of the Beast coming along? Can we use the 3DRealms quote 'when it's done' ?

R.v.M: That is correct. This is a non-commercial project. We don't get paid and we work in our own free time. I don't think anyone would be eager to join such a project if it wasn't at least stress-free, do you? ;) So, we have no deadlines, and we divide the different tasks in such a manner that no one person's work depends on anyone elses. A christmas release would be nice, but speed is never a priority in this project. What counts is quality. A well-polished game that you keep wanting to play. And we won't stop before we're sure that's what we have!

S.F: Can we expect it to be as mod friendly as Beats of Rage?

R.v.M: Yes and no. Contrary to Beats of Rage, Age of the Beast was written with modding specifically in mind. This means that some things are now easier. However, the new engine also offers many new possibilities, meaning that the number of commands and values one has to fill in has increased.

S.F: Senile Team is busy enough as it is at the moment but when Age of the Beast is released, isn't it time for a shoot or racing game for a change?

R.v.M: Well, there's a story to this. You see, whilst reactions to Beats of Rage were mostly very positive, we also found that there was a great interest in an improved version of the game. At first we were somewhat hesitant to start another project so similar to Beats of Rage, especially with all the mods and source code changes that were to be expected. It seemed well possible that by the time our new project was finished, there might not be an interest for it any more! However, the thought of creating a game that would surpass expectations, even despite the competition from our own creation, was just too tempting. And so, the Age of the Beast project was born.

We certainly don't intend to build ourselves a reputation of one-trick ponies, though. Rest assured that Senile Team will still manage to surprise you in the future.

S.F: When the content in Senile Team games is 100% original can we expect commercial releases?

R.v.M: Age of the Beast was originally supposed to be our first attempt at the creation of a 100% original product. However, the small number of people working on it, combined with the amount of time required to finish this project, forced us to aim a little lower. So we're using sprite edits now instead of completely new animations. All other material is original.

If we ever want to try a project this size again, I believe it will have to be a commercial one. We simply can't afford to keep spending so much time and effort on freebies. ;)

S.F: What's your favorite console for homebrews and which homebrew projects do you like?

R.v.M: Hmmm, the Dreamcast would have to be my favourite, wouldn't it? A powerful machine which requires no mod chip or any other trick, the Dreamcast is the platform of choice for homebrew gaming. I was quite enthusiastic about the Alice Dreams demo, and I'm looking forward to the finished game.

S.F: Finally, what are your favorite 5 games ever?

R.v.M: There are so many great games, choosing a mere five of them is a tough decision. But here's a list of the first five games that spring to mind when I think "excellent":

-Streets of Rage 2 (Megadrive)
-Last Resort (NeoGeo)
-Sonic the Hedgehog, part 1 (Megadrive)
-Sub-Terrania (Megadrive)
-Quake (PC)


S.F: Thanks to Roel van Mastbergen for this interview. Greets to the Team.
For more information on Team Senile and their games visit Http://www.senileteam.com






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