Painting a pretty picture


Polynomial‘s been getting around lately, with its beautiful fractal landscapes (in three dee!) attracting a lot of attention and even more awe-struck gaping. We accosted the game’s creator, Dmytry Lavrov, for a chat about its creation.

Q. Firstly, tell us more about yourself.
Dmytry Lavrov: Well, for biography and geography: I was born in 1985 in Vilnius (back then, it was part of the Soviet Union), and am currently living in pretty much same place. I lived in Russia for a while, mostly because my family was there at the time when the Soviet Union broke down. I speak Russian, English, and Lithuanian.

The first game I [wrote] (actually mostly copied from manual) was a moon landing simulation for Elektronika MK 56 – turn-based.

The first real game was a snake clone on ZX Spectrum. I didn’t really write any games on PC (excluding a port of that snake clone, Tetris, and other things everyone does when they learn programming), before Polynomial.

I mostly do 3D effects for TV ads and similar things for a living, though I did a lot of other stuff like web programming as well.

Q. What inspired you to make Polynomial?
DL. I had that idea for a while. I have experimented with that kind of fractal/attractor before with a non-realtime renderer.

In [the winter of] 2008-2009, I made realtime a viewer.

I love 6-DOF games, ever since I played the original Codename MAT on ZX Spectrum, and I always wanted something like that – but with modern graphics that uses all capabilities of the video card, with multiplayer, and so on.

Q. Are you going to flesh out the gameplay? What are your plans for Polynomial?
DL. The most important part of plan is multiplayer capability, as well as classic gameplay types such as last [man] standing, capture the flag, and so on.

I’m also working on several entirely different gameplay modes, [but] I won’t tell more [so as] not to spoil the surprise :-).

Q. It seems you prefer retro-minimalism in games over more complex gameplay.
DL. I wouldn’t put it this way. There’s 1 kind of piece in Go, 6 in Chess, and 52 or 56 playing cards, for example the rule book for live action roleplaying is larger than that for chess or football. But that doesn’t imply card games [have] got “more complex gameplay”, nor that someone chooses Go or Chess because he prefers retro game over “more complex gameplay”. [and I applaud you for this fantastic answer – Ed]

Q. Why is that?
DL. I just don’t feel that addition of campaigns, for instance, greatly improves the game. With [more] campaigns, the gameplay is still same.

I may add campaigns on later stage, but for now stuff like multiplayer or different gameplay modes seem more important; also, it’s pointless to add campaigns before engine is entirely finished.

Q. What was the toughest part about making Polynomial?
DL. The toughest part is probably right now. Multiplayer.

[Another] somewhat difficult issue was getting it to work well on both ATI/AMD and NVidia cards, and there [were] a lot of issues on OS X platform. I imagine there isn’t a lot of testing of things like ‘what happens to OS X when it runs out of video memory’, unexplored territory is always dangerous.

Q. We see that you had some problems with people selling your game. Tell us more about that.
DL.Well, there’s a lot of shareware sites on the Internet, all of them try to make profit somehow. This is not a problem, the problem comes when they spam zillion pages with links and keywords to appear higher on search engine listings, or when they sell downloads of your free demo without asking for permission. Actually, selling is not a problem either; the problem is that such sites [are] dishonest to increase their revenues – e.g. a huge “submit your software” button makes the impression that the author himself did submit software to their site, etc. Though, they’re not too bad. Softonic did respond to [my] request and removed the ‘paid download’ link.

Q. Do you have any final words?
DL. I just checked out your site. Nice article about making sound effects. That’s exactly what I did for enemy “pop”. For most effects I just code the waveform with sine waves, but that one was difficult and I simply recorded and edited a tongue click. I’m working on music as well – it’d be great to license some orchestral performance of something cool, but I plan to include my own music as well.