Interview:Lars Norpchen

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Lars Norpchen

We asked game developer Lars Norpchen some questions about his career. Here's what he had to say.

(This interview was conducted by CRV via e-mail in June 2007.)

GDRI: Could you give us some background information about yourself?

LN: I've been a professional game developer since 1989. I've worked for/with Spectrum Holobyte, Maxis, Total Entertainment Network, and Disney Imagineering. For the past ten years or so, I've been an independent contractor, working as a software project manager/technical director and developer for theme park and interactive exhibits, mostly with Disney Imagineering. I've also been developing my own indie game for the past few years.

GDRI: What was your relationship with Punk Development?

LN: I was a contractor/lead developer with Punk, developing an original title for the Genesis. I was there about five months.

GDRI: What games did you work on?

LN: I did (terrible) music for the Stormlord port on the Genesis, and then the Vampire Killer game. I also wrote a sound driver for Maxis used in the PC port of SimAnt and SimEarth as well as a few pieces of supporting code for PC SimAnt. At Spectrum Holobyte I worked on Stunt Driver, wrote a sound driver for Falcon 3 and Flight of the Intruder, wrote some manuals and did a lot of testing, did some initial work on video compression for Falcon 3, and was project lead/head designer on two unshipped games. (One was a space combat game; the other was a geopolitical simulation.) At TEN I worked on the front end client, and at Disney I worked on a long stream of interactive attractions and was the software project manager for all the PC attractions in DisneyQuest.

GDRI: Could you shed some light on [Vampire Killer]?

LN: It was a parallax side-scrolling fighting platformer game where you hunted a boss monster vampire. Each level had a specific boss with certain minions and a terrain style (swamp, frozen mountains, castle, etc.). The game used a clock to show the progression from day to night, which would affect the vampire's strength and powers. There was an inventory system and a choice of weapons you had to make, as certain minions and vampires were more vulnerable to certain types of weapons. Levels would branch based on how well you did on the previous levels, and algorithmically generated newspaper headlines introduced each level's customized story.

The game engine code was mostly completed, but the artwork never materialized due to Punk's inability to hire qualified artists. The project was cancelled "without cause" as the relationship between Punk and RazorSoft unraveled, and Punk's "management" misled RazorSoft about the state of the project's progress. (Punk withheld delivery of milestones to RazorSoft, and RazorSoft was very surprised to find they had to pay me for three outstanding milestones that I'd submitted to Punk and they'd never received.) I was very relieved when it was cancelled, and I was no longer obligated to appear daily at the poisonous office environment.