I would like to thank Dennis of GameActive for making possible this interview with Solaris 104 developing team.

Answering: Jorge Hodge, programmer, Murillo Abreu, project manager and Ary Monteiro Jr., conceptual illustrations and level design.

Gamer's Hell : Could you introduce yourself and your company a little?

Jorge : Solaris 104 is our first game and none of us had any background on game development. Everything we know today about game development, we've learned from making Solaris.

Gamer's Hell : Something about the storyline?

Ary : Shoot'em ups are not known for their plots and Solaris is no different in that aspect, however there's a story about those four areas in the galaxy you must conquer to keep the safety of our beloved mother earth. We've tryed to put some dialogs between you and other ships during the stages and the cutscenes sometimes show the pilot doing some... acting. Just an excuse to blow stuff up, but adds a bit of drama to the action.

Jorge : The Solaris 104 universe is a very simple one (I personally like simple things ;). You have planet Earth on one side, and several other alien civilizations, all competing for colonization space. Earth is being overwhelmed by attacks and you must help our last armada free the planet from domination.

Gamer's Hell : Describe the basic gameplay of Solaris 104...

Ary : Destroy everything on your sight and stay alive, that's the basic gameplay! You have different weapons, ship classes and a charging blast as well as some scattered power ups to increase strategy and add variety.

Jorge : Solaris 104 has a very quick learning curve. Basically, you view your ship from the side and you have 2D control over its motion. Other than motion, you only have two buttons: Your trusty "fire" button and the "panic" button, which will initiate a special attack that will depend on the class of your spacecraft. There are three classes of ships you can choose from when you start a new game: Fighter, Bomber and Scout, each with individual characteristics that affect gameplay.

Gamer's Hell : What's your favorite feature in the game?

Jorge : That would probably be the alpha-blending, which makes transparency possible from software. It makes explosions and other light effects look substantially prettier. It also makes anti-aliasing possible. The bottom line is: It makes the game look better.

Ary : It's simplicity. It's pick up and play fun.

Gamer's Hell : Tell us more about Solaris 104. Who conceived it and what were their inspirations?

Jorge : In the beginning, I'd say Xenon II (the PC version, which was a port from the Amiga version) was my personal inspiration. But as the game matured we took inspiration from several other sources and our own crazy ideas.

Ary : Jorge and Murillo started working on the engine and initial concepts, I joined the team later and thanks to years of arcade and console shoot'em up addiction, I could help them to shape Solaris to be the masterpiece of PC shooters. (smiles)

Gamer's Hell : Specifically which elements make Solaris 104 innovative?

Ary : It's from Brazil and it's not soccer!

Jorge : The game is not particularly innovative in the sense of genre as you may see from the games of this type from the mid/late-80's, but the good thing about Solaris as compared to its 80's counterparts, is that it was designed to run on today's hardware. In spite of that, it doesn't take itself too seriously, so you can be sure it gives players many hours of relaxing fun.

Gamer's Hell : What weapons will the player be able to use, and will there be more to it than just shooting or it will be a clean shoot'em up?

Jorge : Well, that's what I meant when I said it doesn't take itself too seriously. You don't have to think, just shoot whatever moves in front of you. The player can choose from 5 different weapons that will be collected throughout the levels, aside from your main gun. All weapons can accumulate energy while you're not firing and unleash a more devastating shot. Also, as you collect power-ups, the weapon you're using (as well as the main gun) will have increased firepower.

Ary : It's a clean, classic, straight ahead shooter.

Gamer's Hell : Will the game include a multiplayer mode, over the net or local two player? If yes, which modes are available?

Jorge : No, Solaris is a very radical single player game. ;)

Gamer's Hell : Which development tools are you using, how long does it take to get a PC game ready for stores nowaday?

Jorge : Aside from the compiler (I use Watcom C), we've made custom tools for level editing/building, script compiling, etc. specifically for Solaris 104.

Gamer's Hell : What PC games are you currently playing now and what PC games are you looking forward to playing?

Jorge : I'm still playing good old Quakeworld. Also, I really like racing/car games, but I haven't played a really good one since Test Drive II, at least not on the PC. Someone should really make a realistic car simulator for PCs, something like Atari's "Race Drivin'" arcade. I mean realistic in the sense of simulation, rather than graphics.

Murillo : The last games that I've played were: Age of Empires, Star Craft and Max Payne. Looking forward to playing the new Doom from id Software.

Ary : I'm playing Star Wars Galatic Battlegrounds and Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Looking foward to Blizzard's games

Gamer's Hell : Any thought about pc gaming industry today and in future?

Jorge : After the release of GeForce 3, you can expect future games to look *really* good. Gameplay-wise, I doubt there will be any major revolutions.

Gamer's Hell : Anything about your future plans? Any exclusive for Gamer's Hell?

Murillo : We're currently between projects and analyzing which direction to go.

Ary : Can't comment now but we have a couple of projects in mind.

Gamer's Hell : I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk with us. Is there anything else you would like to say to Gamer's Hell readers?

Murillo : If you have a dream, no matter how difficult or impossible it seems, don't give up and you'll make it come true.

Ary : If you like old school shooters, buy Solaris 104.

Related Links:

GameActive Network, Solaris 104 Publisher.
Solaris 104 Homepage.
Solaris 104 Screenshots on Gamershell Gallery.

Solaris Demo
Mirror 1, Mirror 2.