Developer Interview: 10 Questions for Christoph Aschwanden / Noble Master Games


Welcome, Playandroid-Fans, to the next Android Developer interview. Today, we’ve talked with Chrstoph Aschwanden, CEO of Noble Master Games, the development studio, that created Age of Conquest. If you’re a loyal reader of our blog, I’m quite sure, that you’ve already heard this game title. Why? Because Julian and I checked out this game in our Age of Conquest Review and I take every chance to recommend this game like in my Imbalanced or Duke Nukem 3D Review.

Age of Conquest is a real milestone, because it is one of the best or maybe the best strategy game for Android. That’s why I’m really excited to talk with the creator of this masterpiece. Please welcome Christoph Aschwanden, the CEO and founder of Noble Master Games.


10 Questions for Christoph Aschwanden / Noble Master Games

1. Please introduce yourself.

My name is Christoph Aschwanden. I am originally from Zurich (Switzerland), but I am living abroad for quite some time now. I stayed in Hawaii for little over ten years and moved to Tokyo just recently. I founded Noble Master Games, my company, a few years ago. Basically it’s just me and a handful of people that help out with graphics, music, scenarios, texting, etc.

2. What made you want to be a game developer?

I like creating things and especially games. Having little money, programming is perfect. You can create pretty much anything; all you need is a computer and time.

3. What platforms do you develop games for and why?

I prefer strategy or managerial type games, so PC, Macintosh and Linux are perfect. Also, “recently” touch-screen devices have advanced to the point where developing games makes a lot of sense.

4. What are your experiences in porting games between two platforms?

I ported Age of Conquest from PC to Android, then from Android to iOS. Once you know one programming language it’s not that difficult to switch to another, it’s just a matter of time.

5. How do you get inspiration for a game?

Playing other games and making them more fun. Age of Conquest is actually based on an old and quite unknown strategy game called “Caesar” by Heiko Hartmann (He is German, if I am correct?) that I played on my Atari ST computer back in the days. It’s not the well-know strategy game Caesar although the game has the same name. They graphics very quite crude but the game was lots of fun. I didn’t have money to buy any games, so that was a free game I managed to acquire.

Here are some screenshots from the game for reference:

6. How long does it take for you to write a game from start to finish?

It depends on the game. I think it took about 1-2 years to program the first version of Age of Conquest. I released the ONLINE version of the game as a Java Applet back in 2000. What I would consider version 3 is now available for Android, iOS and Desktop (PC, Mac Linux). Given my previous experience with version 1 and 2 it took about 5 months to develop version 3 for Android and another 3 months to port it to iOS.

It took about 1 year to write Tropical Stormfront for Android. I didn’t do any of the graphics, so I acquired the services of Nick Lee (London) a great artist by the way! Sean Beason (Boston) did the music and Travis Bowling (Ohio) did all the mission scenarios. Great team!

7. What are the biggest technical challenges when you develop a game?

There are lots of technical problems such as is the game running fast enough, are there any bugs that make it crash or are there certain platform where the game doesn’t run. It’s sometimes difficult to address all the issues, however, the biggest challenge isn’t really the technical part but the question if the game is fun to play? Also, as an indie developer, how do you get people to notice your game? How do you get the word out? Also, I am bad at graphics and music, so I cannot do it without the help of others.

8. What do you think the future of gaming will look like?

I wish I knew.

9. What is your favourite game at the moment and why?

Unfortunately, I haven’t spent playing a lot of games recently as programming takes lot of my time. I play test games when I think they look interesting, but usually not for long. I like older games such as Age of Empires, Sim City, Command & Conquer and Railroad Tycoon. I am itching to do a railroad type of game for quite some time.

10. What is your advice for new developers?

Programming is hard especially if you just get started. My advice is to just stick to it. It will take months if not years to master it, but it will eventually pay off in the end (or earlier if you are lucky). Persistence is key. Ditto game-making; unless you are gifted like Markus Persson with Minecraft (he is not only a gifted programmer but an even better game designer) you will most likely produce lots of mediocre games until you eventually succeed in my opinion.


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