Issue 41 - October 2010
|Versión en Español
|A Few Words from the Editor...
|X3TC 3.0 Update
|Balance of Power
|A Box of Super X!
|Your Questions Answered
|New Kid on the Block
|EGOSOFT Intern Spills the Beans
|You've Played Too Much X When...
|A Day in the Life of...
|Peter Kullgard, EGOSOFT Producer
|Credits & Contacts:
|The Uninteresting Bit at the End
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A Few Words from the Editor...
Welcome to the 41st edition of the X-Universe News. In this issue we look at what Update 3.0 brings, particularly the arrival of the X Superbox. Belisarius has been busy taking a look at the FAQ and other forum goings-on and also chatting with enenra, who was central to the development of Update 3.0. We are also pleased to bring you the second installment of the 'Day in the Life of...' feature, this time EGOSOFT's Producer, Peter Kullgard, shares a day with us.
Balance of Power
In a fresh update to X3: Terran Conflict, developed specially to coincide with the release of the long-awaited Superbox, we have developed a new adventure, which will pit the player against the might of one of the universe's superpowers in a covert powerplay that, if discovered, may tip the finely poised Balance of Power that exists in the X Universe, leading to all-out conflict. You will be sent on top secret missions to acquire lucrative technology, risking all for a chance to taste forbidden fruit.
Also in Update 3.0 we are introducing a more substantial reward for completion of the long and arduous Operation Final Fury, the campaign to finally rid the X Universe of the Kha'ak infestation. We acknowledge the hard work that players invest into completing this plot and the feedback players have provided with regard to its reward. We're very pleased, therefore, that all players completing the plot will now receive this new reward as well as those players for whom Operation Final Fury is but a distant memory!
As we've previously mentioned in the X Universe News, we've been working on a new Dead-is-Dead mode for X3: Terran Conflict. That work is now complete and we're happy to say that this new feature is available to players who play the game via the Steam client. Remember that if you own the DVD version of X3: Terran Conflict, you can register it with Steam to enjoy both Dead-is-Dead and Steam Achievements.
Click here to be taken to the X3:TC download page. Steam users are reminded that their clients will update automatically; there is no need to download the update from the EGOSOFT website.
A Box of Super X!
The Superbox is here! For those fans of everything X, there's now a box that probably contains everything X. EGOSOFT is very pleased indeed to see the arrival of this new compendium of games, which contains all of the X-series games from X - Beyond the Frontier all the way to the latest version of X3: Terran Conflict. These games represent the complete history of EGOSOFT's PC games development thus far and as we look ahead to The Next Big Thing, we can also look back with pride at what we've achieved in these games.
We have been privileged to share that journey with a loyal, hard-working and dedicated group of fans, whose passion for the games and their own creativity led to a myriad of scripts, mods, stories, websites, artwork, music and much much more. A team of volunteers has spent nearly a year trying to collate some of the best of this content for inclusion in the Superbox and we're pleased to have received such a response from fans of the X-series. All submissions had to go through a process of checks and updates, with permission having to be sought from the creators for their inclusion. So after a herculean effort by our team of volunteers and the content's creators, this awesome content is now available on a Bonus DVD that accompanies all the X games in the Superbox.
Also featured in the Superbox is the 300-page X Encyclopedia, written by Helge Kautz, author of Farnham's Legend and other books set in the X Universe. The X Encyclopedia is the ultimate reference for avid X fans, that contains information on X Universe history, personalities, technology and much more!
The X games contained in the Superbox are compatible with Windows XP (SP2), Windows Vista (SP1) and Windows 7 (32 and 64-bit) and are DRM free.
The X Superbox is available on general release in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Benelux, Australia, France and in the German-speaking countries on 08 October 2010 and is also available to purchase from EGOSOFT's online shop.
Your Questions Answered
Some of our readers may not know that there is a FAQ area on the EGOSOFT forums, where frequently-asked user questions and queries and their answers are stored. The aim of this is to answer pertinent questions about X games without spoiling their fun. There was a time a few years ago when the FAQ area was neglected so much of the information in there became outdated. When one of the site Admins announced that the FAQ development area of the forum would be removed due to its inactivity, it was a bit of an eye-opener to some forum members who had previously been unaware of its existence. A small group of forum moderators then voluntarily offered their services to update the FAQ, thus saving it from extinction. They got started straight away on the job of resuscitating the FAQ.
Almost 3 years have passed since then and the FAQ has been overhauled in a way unlike any other part of the forum. Many outdated topics were trashed or updated within just a few weeks. Then the volunteers trawled through the forums for more frequently-asked questions and found many, many more. The questions were discussed, posted on the forum, translated and then finally added to the FAQ. In this way the number of FAQ articles increased from 500 in 2007 to an impressive 1500 this year, with this number continuing to increase. As long as players have questions, it seems this work will never end.
Just a few months ago a long-missing Spanish language FAQ section was added, so now our Spanish friends within the community are able to benefit from the FAQ as others do. As the numbers of articles have increased, so has the size of the team, which now numbers 22 members compared to the six volunteers who first breathed new life into the FAQ. It's not just moderators involved now, as it was back in 2007; there are now users from nearly all of the different language forums participating in their development or translation.
The ongoing work on the FAQ recently caught the attention of EGOSOFT Managing Director, Bernd Lehahn, who said, "We're all grateful to those involved in FAQ development and you guys who are involved in this work, make it easy for me to answer mails that I receive from players every day at EGOSOFT." We'd like to echo those sentiments too and thank everyone involved in the FAQ. You guys are doing a great job!
EGOSOFT Intern Spills the Beans
Belisarius managed to drag enenra, EGOSOFT's current intern, away from his work for a short time to find out how he manage to end up in Würselen and what he's currently doing.
Hello, enenra. Thanks for agreeing to participate in this interview.
Hello, Belisarius, no problem.
Just a few months have passed since you became an intern at EGOSOFT. What was it that made you swap Switzerland for Germany?
It's true that it's already been a few months since I got here. Actually, it's been only six months since the idea of coming here even occurred to me! I had finished school in Switzerland in December and around my final exams, the idea first came up: The whole game industry has always interested me and I have considered going to university and specialising in video games. However, I wanted to experience working for a company producing games first before actually deciding whether to go to university or not. Well, from that point it didn't take long to the idea of asking EGOSOFT if they had a spare place for an intern. One reason for that was that there simply are no notable companies producing video games in Switzerland I know of, and the other was that I know EGOSOFT from being on their forums for years and participating in the DevNet, the translation and betatesting of X3: Terran Conflict and of course also the modding which has kept me busy for years - and still does! After making the decision to ask for an internship at EGOSOFT, things went really fast: First an e-mail to them, then a few more and suddenly I had an appointement to go and introduce myself. On that day I travelled pretty far but it was definitely worth it. After chatting with Bernd and some of the other employees at HQ for several hours, I got the OK from Bernd: 1st of February would be my first day working for EGOSOFT!
You are a fan of the X games and made it to Würselen. How does that feel?
My hobby became my job. I'm surrounded by X everyday at work - literally: We must have around thirty boxes of all versions of X lined up on the walls of the room I'm working in! Of course it feels great. I enjoy what I'm doing here immensely, although working on X all day also means I sometimes lack the motivation to do the same in my free time when I'm supposed to work on the X-Tended - Terran Conflict mod. My co-workers are great as well! It has taken me some time to get used to working at EGOSOFT but thanks to the warm welcome and their help I have settled in rather quickly. We're a really international company and there are a lot of guys here you hardly ever see on the website.
In the last X-Universe News we found out that it's not your job as an intern to deliver coffee to the rest of the staff, but to help Owen aka Xenon_Slayer in the development of new features and so on. How would you describe your work at EGOSOFT?
That's right, I don't do the coffee. However, I'm the one who usually orders lunch. So you could say that I have a key role in the company! Besides this important job there is of course the MD - Mission Director. All the plots and other missions in Terran Conflict were written using this. That is the main area of activity for me, although I do also have experience in various other fields concerning the modification of Terran Conflict. This came in handy when working on the 2.7 patch. My main focus still is the MD, though, which is also useful as I work on the new plot for 3.0.
Since you mentioned update 3.0, can you tell the players what it will contain?
Obviously all will be revealed as this interview is published. ;) What I can say now is that 3.0 will be the Superbox patch and it will be set up in a way to prevent any incompatibilities with the mods and scripts contained in the Superbox as bonus content. This means that we had to include all changes to those central files which could cause incompatibilities in 2.7 - but of course not available to players. A good example of that is the new Dead-is-Dead gamestart which is disabled in 2.7 and will be enabled for all Steam users in 3.0. There's also the new plot that will be contained in 3.0. I don't want to tell you too much about that yet but I can say that it will give the players a little bit more insight into relations between the Argon and Terrans and just how deep their mistrust of each other runs.
That sounds like a lot of work and I'm sure we can't cover everything in this interview. Is there anything you want to say in addition to your work?
One thing I'd like to say is "thanks" again to all community members helping us out with the patch 2.7! We couldn't have released that patch without the vast support from the modding community, providing us with various fixes, nor without all the betatesters that helped us squish the bugs out of the patch. (Of course we welcome more betatesters anytime - there are never enough. So if you have the time - fill out the form in your profile to get access to level 3 and join us in the Public Betatesting Forum!)
One last question. In your forum signature it says "Annoying Xenon_Slayer since 2010..." - Is that true?
It probably was for the first few months, considering that he was quite busy and I had a lot of questions about the MD. But I've become fairly confident about my MD coding with all the practise I've had recently and so I don't have to bug him as often anymore. But actually, the signature was mainly a nod to Owen's signature, as he was in a similar position when he first joined the team.
Your work is much appreciated and so is your participation in this interview. Thank you very much for the info.
No problem, see you all on the forums! Oh, and did I already mention the secret UFO base in Black Hole Sun?
Since this piece was written, enenra's internship has ended. He has returned to Switzerland to continue his studies and we hope that his time with EGOSOFT stands him in good stead. He returns home with our sincere thanks for all his hard work while at EGOSOFT HQ. - ed.
You've Played Too Much X When...
More than 3 years have passed since fabe82, a german member of the X-community, began a thread entitled "You've played too much X3 when...". With this post he has set off an avalanche of participants that posted their experiences as he had. He knew he had played too much X, when the docking clamps had burned themselves into his CRT monitor. With this post a tracking record was bound to start within the german forum. Now, more than 3 years later, nearly thousand more users have joined that thread to post what they have sometimes experienced in their private life and was connected with moments in X.
Users post there about really strange happenings in their real life like, for example, a truck on the highway with the lettering "Unitrader" on its side, a car sign that refers to the X-Universe or even a visit to the reptile house in a zoo that's considered a visit to a teladi trading station. Sometimes even some really funny photo compositions get created like a clock with a J-button in the hope of starting the Singularity Engine Time Accelerator to let the boredom end more quickly.
The creativity in this topic knows no limits and so it is that this topic has already attracted more than 2000 mostly funny, and sometimes even strange, entries and they grow in number nearly everyday. The kind of humour always differs from post to post. Some are quite ironic in nature but most are purely fun and about strange situations. We'd like to encourage as many users as possible to participate in such fun topics, because the X-Universe is full of potential for funny situations connected with real life, just waiting to be uncovered.
Peter Kullgard, EGOSOFT Producer
For you guys that don’t know me, let me tell you who I am and what I do. My name is Peter Kullgard aka ’der Schwede’ and I work as producer and project manager here at Egosoft. I have been in the industry for about 11 years and joined Egosoft at the end of last year.
My morning always starts with fighting my son, trying to get him dressed and ready to go to the bakery. He doesn’t like to get dressed, but he loves the bakery. By putting on his ‘I look so cute and my parents don’t feed me’ face he always manages to get his first power-up of the day, a Quarkbällchen (a small round doughnut – ed.).
However, after breakfast and morning routines I jump into my car and drive to the office. The first thing I do when I get to work is to turn on my machine and go to the kitchen to check if there is fresh coffee. Usually I am lucky, because Simon knows that I am in desperate need of coffee in the morning. And for you guys who don’t know, Swedish people drink the most coffee per capita in the world (if we exclude the Finns). In combination with being a producer, this simply makes coffee my elixir of life and me a coffeeholic. So I DO need my coffee (and a smoke) in the morning, otherwise it is going to be a very, very bad day! :D After filling up my cup I try to get out into the backyard. I say ‘try’ because now it isn’t as easy since Bernd put the pool in the garden. Actually it is quite nice with a pool since it can become quite hot here in Aachen during the summer (I just wish Bernd could also invest in a sauna for the winter… he he).
After I get my coffee, I am ready to do some hard work! During my years in the game industry there is always a question that keeps coming up over and over again. Employees new to the industry often say, “Hey, Peter, you are not a programmer, not an artist and not a designer. So what do you actually do?” So, instead of trying to give some kind of timetable what I do during the day I will explain some of the duties that keep me busy.
All serious projects need to have a project plan. It describes what, when and who is going to do specific tasks. It is my duty to make sure that we have one. I also spend a lot of time making sure it is always up to date. One of the main tasks is to make sure that the plan is always optimized, making sure we always do the right thing at the right time to avoid losing time. Another task is to make sure we are always one step ahead, making sure that we have time in reserve for ‘eventualities’. A lot of times things like “We need a demo for E3” are forgotten and it comes as a last-minute shock to the team. It is my job to make sure this never happens. I should also mention that making and maintaining the project plan is not a one-man show. I always work very closely together with each team member when it comes to time estimations, etc.
Identify and help solve problems
Good communication is always a must during software development. It might sound like an easy task to make sure that everyone communicates in an appropriate way. However, it is very important that things do not fall between the cracks. So far I have never been on a project where this has not happened, so I guess my job is to minimize these situations. A lot of times it ends up that we have a meeting in our meeting room upstairs. Most of the times I don’t just bring pen and paper, I also bring my ‘special item’. During winter the chairs are simply too cold for me, so I have to bring in my home-made chair cover. And yes, the other guys here at Egosoft often make fun of me, like, “You are a Swede, how can you be cold?”
Documentation and reports
This is just the right topic for someone working in Germany. If you didn’t know it Germany is the Mecca of paperwork. Sometimes it seems to me that 50% of the German GDP is made up of people writing, signing, stamping and checking papers! I just remember the first time I had to turn in a tax report! When I worked for another German company we had more than 10 times more documentation than any other game developer I worked for. Nonetheless, we still had just 10% of the normally-required documents. The standard phrase from the CEO at that company was, “Has the document been approved?”
Here at Egosoft things are very un-German. We only write the documents we actually need. My duty is usually to take care of documents needed by our partners. It can be anything from status reports to marketing material. The most important thing is that I make sure that none of our team members spend time on those kinds of documents if I can write them myself.
When the working day is over I jump into my car and go back home to my small family. If it is not crunch time, I get to play with my son for an hour before I take him to bed. After dinner I usually try to have some time with my girlfriend. That often means watching Germany’s next top model or Germany’s next super star (I hope my girlfriend doesn’t read this because she will kill me! :) . I usually stay up another hour or two after my girlfriend goes to bed. I usually end up playing some games, doing some coding or simply watching some TV. Yesterday I watched the “Running Man”. I can assure you that it is quite funky to hear Arnold Schwarzenegger speak German. However, after a while you get used to it… as with all the other weird things about this country! :)
The Uninteresting Bit at the End
If you would like to get in contact with us, then feel free. E-mail: X-Universe-News@egosoft.com
With Thanks To
Translation and Proofreading
Xgerman - DE
Garga Potter - IT
XFrench - FR
SBlade - ES
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