Interview: Mikhail Bratous of FaMe Soft

August 4, 2002 5:50 PM PST

Brandon and Mikhail Bratous (aka Don Miguel) discuss his new GP32 game Super Plusha, and his company: FaMe Soft of Russia...

ic: Hello Mikhail, thanks for letting us interview you today!

Mikhail: Hello Brandon. Hello dear users of GP32.

ic: First, how about a bio of yourself and your team at Fame Soft? (ie when you started programming, and what kinds of things you’ve done in the past).

Mikhail: I’m 28. I started programming at the age of 13 or so. I was a member of a computer school club. All computer lessons are free in Russia. So I used to take part in numerous computer Olympics and competitions. And I used to win ^_^’ Thus once my face was printed on the cover of a computer magazine. Ah… It was a good time. I’m quite a shy young man. ^_^’

It’s not “Fame Soft” it’s “FaMe Soft”.

“FAME” is an abbreviation. It’s related to my town, Apple][, etc… It was “FAM” in the beginning… But then I got an English dictionary and finally added “E”. ^_-

In the beginning there were only 4 members of our team: 3 programmers and one musician. 2 people became big fat BOSSes ^_^’ and one man is gone to another city. And we’ve got a new team. Now we have some relations with some local music bands & artists. So they help us a lot.

Our team has made some educational & game software for Russian computers AGAT-7, AGAT-9 and Sprite OS. But there was a delay… for 5 years… when I was studying at the 1st university. Now I’m graduated. But continue studying at another university.

About things in my past… I used to make cartoons (real ones with the real camera), to play plays, to write scripts for comics… May be I was wrong when I got a technical profession. But it helps me go forth.

ic: What got you interested in the GP32? How do you like developing for it?

Mikhail: Well… One of my French friends sent me a link to an old French site… related to handhelds. And I saw there some info related to GP32… It was 2 or 3 years ago. The GFX of D&G was great… And I was rather surprised with USB / SMC options of GP32. So… I started searching for more info. And when GP32 was finally launched… I got a note from the French friend. So I went and bought one 8)

I like programming for GP32. It’s quite easy. It reminds me the good old times 8) I say more it’s VERY VERY VERY VERY easy to code for GP32 IMHO.

GP32 SDK is like a toolbox with some tools. I’m migrating from it to my own libraries from time to time… But that free SDK helped me to test GP32 HW, etc. I think I won’t use any SDK libraries in my next GP32 project. (excepting may be File I/O and KOREAN fonts support. You know… Korean code page is quite hard to understand. So I have to use it to have Korean language support)

ic: Looking at the games that have come out so far, how well do you think the GP32’s power is being used currently? How much will Super Plusha tax the hardware?

Mikhail: The power of GP32… Don’t look at the commercial games… Check early ports of Descent, Doom, Wolf3D. I’m sure that we’ll see one day a GOOD race game such as NFS3 on GP32. In other words… the power was used for 20% – 30%.

ic: I notice that your team chose the ‘cute’ graphical style for the game…will it be marketed towards kids?

Mikhail: It’s a commercial decision mainly. Plus I can’t make our artist draw in another acceptable style. That’s style isn’t “cute” it’s “SD” or “CHIBI”… Well you may call it “Cute” in English. But there’s another name for “Cute” in Japanese… I think it’s “kawaii”. But our style isn’t kawaii. I love “Super Deformed” style very much. So it’s another reason.

This game is related to 7-19 ages. It’s a bit hard for li’l children. And it has some violence. But you know nowadays kids. 8) My friend’s wife… started playing the game… And we couldn’t stop her.

So the gameplay of Super Plusha is quite different to other arcade games. I know no analogs of our game. Especially the cones throwing physics ^_-

But everyone will find there something from his favorite game.

ic: Will Super Plusha utilize any graphical techniques we haven’t seen on the GP32 yet?

Mikhail: Yes it will. You’ll see it in the demo version. I’d like to keep commentaries of the early game testers. According to your first question I notice this game uses 20% more of GP32 power. ^_^

ic: Byulbram mentioned in an earlier interview that the GP32’s sound library was poor…how will you deal with this? His plan is you build his own library for his next game…what about you?

Mikhail: Your interview with Byulbram helped me to solve one sound problem. It’s true. Well… Now we don’t use GP32 SDK sound library for background music / sound effects. Super Plusha has STEREO 44KHz BG music and STEREO SFX.

ic: Tell us something about the RPG maker you’re planning for GP32, what kind of features do you plan to include?

Mikhail: One more thing… about Super Plusha. I’ve made a platform maker. You can use it on your own GP32 and make / edit levels… (It won’t be released due to my busyness and other important projects).

Well… I halted some almost finished GP32 projects. And I change my plans every day. Everything depends on the success of Super Plusha. So I think that it’s too early to discuss about the RPG maker… My next project is a very original teenager’s RPG.

ic: Do you mean the platformer maker won't be released ever? Or just not yet? It seems like it might be a good commercial product!!

Mikhail: Sure. It should be a useful thing. But I just have other plans to do first for GP32. And our team has a lack of programmers who can work in parallel.

ic: What’s the planned release date for Super Plusha, and how far complete is it?

Mikhail: It will be 100% ready by the end of August. Now we’re finishing cut-scenes and GFX for few BOSS / ENEMY characters. (We still use temp GFX for ‘em). All game levels were tested numerous times. So it’s ~ 80% now.

The free demo version is ready. But I’ll hold it.

ic: Any additional info you want to mention/something you want to plug?

Mikhail: This game has some surprises. It contains 3 levels of secret places / items. 1 of them is easy to find… The 2nd one may be revealed by super items. But the 3rd level secrets don’t appear in the level summary stats. This game may support more languages and add-ons (free and commercial ones). I’d like to tell you more about Super Plusha and our future plans. But I can’t tell you more before the release of the game. I’m sorry.

ic: Thanks for your time; I’m looking forward to the demo!

Brandon Sheffield