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Below 10: A Developer Profile
Larian Studio's: Jan Jolly

Myrthos, 2002-02-25

Set in an all new fantasy universe, Divine Divinity takes the player on a fantastic quest in a land torn apart by corruption and dark magic. Throughout his journeys the player will get the chance to develop his character as one of six character types and meet a variety of people and fantastical beings. By combining the best features of the RPG genre, and introducing a lot of new features, Divine Divinity will appeal to both hardcore and new RPG players.

Below 10 is a series of developer profiles where we try to establish a small profile by asking less than 10 questions to a team of developers. This edition features jan Jolly, who is doing his best to test the game in order to track all bugs in it.

1) Tell us about yourself. Who are you and what do you do at Larian Studios.

Well, my name is Jan Jolly, born in Belgium in 1977 and lived here since that day \o/ . I got my degree as a programmer, but basically you could say I'm a gamer in the first place, make that Gamer, so with a capital G since it's about my most important hobby and in a way I managed to make a living out of it. Yes, you've guessed it, I'm one of the game testers here @ Larian. They hired me beginning of January and been playing DD since that day EVERY day hour after hour after hour ;p I hope to get involved in other areas of game dev in the future, for now I have great fun in testing DD and imho it's a good way to ease into the scene.

2) What is your typical working day like?

I arrive at the office around noon (at least that's the time schedule I'm on right now) and start my pc. First thing is checking mails and see if anything is updated and then visit the forums, on which I am known as Euthanatos. Than I start up DD and play it about 5 or 6 hours a day, making notes of any bugs or unlogical stuff I encounter so you lot can have a game that runs like a train and got no bugs left in it (I hope at least or I didn't do a very good job ;p)

3) What did you want to become when you grew up?

Hmmm, kinda hard to remember but I believe there were two things I always wanted to do. One was being a reporter or so for TV or radio, even more radio I think. That medium has always intrigued me and I still think it would be pretty cool to fill a couple of hours a few days a week with nothing but your own voice and good music (as music is one of my main interests).
The other one would be getting involved in the game industry. Either on the developing side with ultimate dream of course being able to create a game of your own which would be played and loved by other players, or as a game reviewer. I think being a reviewer would even be closer to my childhood ideal, as it seemed perfect for, already playing hours and hours on my pc/commodore and writing my own little reviews about them.

4) What are your favourite games and what are you playing now?

Oh my, this could become a long answer but I'll try to keep it as short as possible. First of all I start with some games of my favourite kind of game, being RPG of course :) Here I'd have to say the Fallout series, Torment and the Krynn series (Dragonlance) which I played way back still on my Amiga. I loved Fallout for it's pretty cool system but most of all cause you got complete liberty in your actions: wanna play evil? Well go ahead and kill a whole town cause you feel like it. Don't wanna follow the story line? Well, go ahead and have fun on your own exploring the map …
In Torment I absolutely loved the story, it was a lot of text but I was glad to have an RPG where it wasn't all about fighting, quite some quests can be solved by avoiding the fights and in Morte this RPG has one of the coolest and funniest side-kicks ever seen in a computer game (imho).
The Dragonlance series is in there cause it was about one of the first RPG's I ever played on a computer (along with the forgotten realms games like pools of radiance, eye of the beholder,…) and I was absolutely addicted to these games, getting back up at night and hoping my parents wouldn't notice I was playing AGAIN ;p.
Another series I absolutely adored was Monkey Island, amazing how the quality is maintained throughout the series and it just stays dead funny. Had great times playing these games with friends all gathered around one computer and the rush you get from finally solving a puzzle you've been busting your head on for days.

Moving on to FPS there is only one game I really should mention and that's UT, having played this for about a year and a half in a 2 more than decent CTF/DM clans I just can't get around this and I'm off course very eager for the release of unreal 2 and UT2, very curious if I'll get addicted again.
Coming another of my great addictions on gaming level and that's the civilization series. Played the first one over and over and over again, really kept me up nights after each other. I kinda missed civ2 cause I didn't have regular access to a pc at the time but Alpha centauri made up for that, really enjoyed the new environment with the factions and all, spent hours playing this one on the net as well. Love civ3 as well, but frankly I was pretty disappointed at the lack of multiplayer support from the start.
I'll cut this short now, no doubt forgetting or not mentioning dozens of games that gave me great pleasure and I haven't even started yet on table-top RPG or strategic board games, but as a final category I gotta mention Amiga games. I enjoyed a lot of amiga games tremendously and now and then I still play those games when nostalgia hits me. The Amiga was way ahead of it's time on graphic and audio fronts, especially when you compared it to the PC at that time. Games standing out here are shadow of the beast, Carrier Command, Xenon II and many, many more.

5) Where does your inspiration come from?

As a tester I can't talk about real inspiration, I just trust on my experience in games to make comments about what might work and what doesn't. Especially looking at which little things can make life of players a lot easier.

6) What is the coolest feature in Divinity for you?

Maybe the freedom you got to roam around and explore areas that normally might be too hard for you. Or the interactivity with the game, cause you can really manipulate a lot of stuff.
The skills I especially like, there are some real cool ones in there which are quite original on top, which is nice ;p.

7) Which feature that hasn't made it into Divinity is the one you will miss most?

Well, personally I like a party, different characters being complementary to each other so I do miss this a bit, but not that much though :)
Multiplayer is also nice, but I don't miss it that much here cause I don't think it would really fit in within the scope of the game.

8) How did you get into the gaming business and do you have any advice for anyone seeking a position in that business?

Sheer luck I guess. Being lucky enough to have a game developer pretty close to where I live, where they make a game in a genre I especially feel at home in. As I said I am a programmer, but I did a spontaneous solicitation for the job of tester and was lucky enough to get selected in this.
Tips? First of all I'd say motivation is all important, not only say 'oo, I'd like to do this' but have the guts to actively go out there and look for what you want, not wait until an opportunity might come by.

9) Is there anything you would like to add?

Erm, look behind you, a three-headed monkey!!!
/me runs away.


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