Q: When you’re not working on your games, what is your favorite pastime?
Aaron: I enjoy hiking, snowboarding, and walking my dog Brutus. My favorite is playing with Brutus.
Q: Who would you say has been the most influential person in your life?
Aaron: My father. He taught me to always search for new adventures.
Q: If you were a character in a game, who would you be?
Aaron: That’s a tough one. I would most likely be a computer opponent in a turn-based war game.
Q: What’s your favorite stimulant to take while coding?
Aaron: Arizona Ice Tea with Lemon flavor.
Q: Can you tell us some details about your position at Malfador Machinations, and more importantly your role in the Space Empires 5 universe?
Aaron: I pretty much design and program all of the games here at Malfador Machinations. I started the Space Empires universe and have continued to grow it over the years.
Q: We don't need us to tell you this, but the Space Empires franchise has been well received by gamers; given their willingness to go to great lengths to acquire the games by any means necessary. What do you attribute to the tremendous success of the franchise and its continued development?
Aaron: The space strategy genre has been neglected over the years but still has a strong fan base. Add in to that all of the players who still want to play epic turn-based games. We keep the Space Empires franchise going strong by listening to what the players want, and by making the game as moddable as possible.
Q: Clearly having such a successful franchise spurns a want to create sequels; if for any other reason than to satiate demands of the fans that have made your games so successful. Was there anything else that encouraged you to start work on Space Empires 5?
Aaron: Since Space Empires IV, we create Dungeon Odyssey and Starfury. It was about time to get back to our core series and to update the graphics to modern 3D. The main focus was to give Space Empires combat that visceral real-time nature that makes it almost like watching a movie.
Q: One of the most astonishing facets of the SE franchise success has been the level of personal support you have given the community; in response they (the gamers) have pumped out an astonishing amount of modded content that you have bent over backwards to support. Was this a part of the initial development or something that just happened?
Aaron: Originally it wasn’t a main focus, but it quickly became one. Players wanted to be able to craft their own universe to play in. It started with editable data files and worked up from there. SE5 will be the first Space Empires games with scripts in which you can modify the AI behavior.
Q: So what will Space Empires 5 offer over SE4? Your games are so modable that they seem to continue to evolve long after release how do you decide to draw the line and start again?
Aaron: Major features cannot be modded into the game. For example, you could not mod SE4 to turn tile based ships into real-time 3D models. Space Empires 5 has real-time rendered 3D graphics with detailed models similar to Starfury. We have a real-time space combat engine and have also added a real-time ground combat engine as well. The game has twice as many modding features as SE4. These features plus a plethora of minor improvements make this the biggest and best Space Empires yet.
Q: Space Empires has always had a multi-player component even though a large component of the gamming population baulks relentlessly at the turn-based multiplayer. Regardless of this, there have been some great games that have taken advantage of this niche to make names for themselves; SE, VGA Planets, Laser Squad Nemesis to name a few. For those neophytes out there that don’t know what they are missing, can you outline what you consider to be the strengths of this type of multi-player?
Aaron: Turn-based multiplayer allows two big improvements over other types of multiplayer. First off, with turn-based you can control many more units that you could in a real-time strategy game. This allows for massive ship movements across an entire galaxy. Secondly, turn-based multiplayer allows you to play much longer games than those where all of the players must be present to play. In the Space Empires series, you can play simultaneous multiplayer which allows all players to take their turn offline and whenever they choose. So, games can go on for months or as long as players want to play; players can play at their own pace.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to tell your legion of fans out there?
Aaron: We’re looking forward to the release of Space Empires V and the feedback from the community. This will be the biggest and best Space Empires yet!
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