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What does the Emergency series mean to you?

Emergency has always been our big project. The series has been with us since 1998. It had been a while since we last worked on Emergency; so, the whole team was enthusiastic when we started to tackle Emergency 2012. The new installment has us all fired up in the best of senses.
What is your opinion of firefighters and people working in relief organizations?

Are you a volunteer in this field yourself?

Through my work on the Emergency series, I have been seriously involved with this topic for a long time, and also consulted expert firefighters. Of course, we are mainly interested in equipment, technology, and the organization of rescue missions. No game or movie can ever let you experience what it really means to pull an injured person from a burning vehicle. Only real firefighters and rescue workers go through that. I am not actively involved with firefighting, the Red Cross or the Agency for Technical Relief, but some of our staff members are. I deeply respect all those people who volunteer their time to help others, or work in this field.

The Emergency series is also popular with people who actually work on rescue teams. How do you react to criticism about certain factors that are not represented very realistically?


At this point, I need to state clearly that we are producing a game. The most important aspect of a game is that it must be fun to play, or nobody would bother with it. Therefore, we cannot aspire to emulate reality down to the last detail. We need to simplify here and there in order to make Emergency an interesting game to play. Still, we have received many valuable suggestions from the community, some of which we were able to incorporate in the game. Of course, the situation would be different with realistic training software for firefighters, for example. We are currently developing a software title to that purpose, by the name of Emergency Professional.

What aspects of Emergency 2012 make you especially proud?


I am very happy that we were able to upgrade the series by incorporating state-of-the-art graphics in Emergency 2012. The game features bump mapping, per-pixel lighting, ambient occlusion, and stunning particle effects for the smoke. But what I find most important are the dynamic lighting effects. In a rescue simulation, you will have fire and blue emergency lights. The overall atmosphere is greatly enhanced when flames and blue lights illuminate the surroundings as well, creating a glorious play of colors. I am also quite pleased with the controls. I have already watched a few people play, journalists for example, who were not familiar with the series and were still able to get the hang of it quite easily. Emergency 2012 can be controlled using half as many clicks as were necessary in Emergency 4. We are very happy with the result because Emergency 2012 has a really good feel to it. After all, the challenge should be mastering the tasks within the game, not learning how to use the controls.

Which parts would you have liked to improve even further?


I know that modding is quite an important topic for the Emergency community. In the past, we have been able to support this by providing an editor. We would have liked to do the same this time around. However, for one thing, the technical requirements have become a lot more complicated and sophisticated. It takes experienced staff these days to work with our internal design programs. Also, it is, of course, a matter of resources. We cannot simply publish our tools and, since we are not a large company, we are forced to set priorities in development. We cannot produce a marketable game that features outdated graphics, and players' demands on usability are constantly increasing. Therefore, we decided to focus on those two aspects in order to be able to continue the Emergency series at all.

You programmed your first game more than 25 years ago, and it was marketed professionally right away. What advice can you give young people who want to work in the games industry these days?


Yes, that would be "Lapis Philosophorum: The Philosopher's Stone" for C64. For me, that was a really big thing back then. Today, there are so many more options, but expectations have grown as well. There are still various ways of joining the games industry, including studying computer science and becoming a programmer, or different ways of learning graphics and sound design. Luckily, there is a growing trend towards specialized training centers such as the Games Academy in Berlin. I teach there myself as head of the Producing division, and I have been able to find quite a few good employees for Quadriga Games in Potsdam that way.