single.php Community Interviews (Part I)

I thought it might be fun and interesting to conduct a series of interviews with relevant members of the Bennu community so they could share with the rest of us their thoughts about the project and its future. Some of the answers are known to those of us that have been around longer, but I considered them to be of interest to those new to the community.

Obviously my first choice was SplinterGU, the main developer behind Bennu.
I sent him some questions and today he’s emailed them back to me, I have translated his answers to English trying to be as accurate as possible in the translation, but just to be on the safe side, below you’ll find attached the original responses from Splinter in Spanish.

Click below for the first community interview 🙂 First of all, please introduce yourself and describe your role in the Bennu community.
SplinterGU: My name is Juan José Ponteprino, I’m the main developer & leader of the “Bennu Game Development” project. Could you send us a photo of the (real) desktop where you work on Bennu?. You can’t clean before sending it…. How did you get to know Fenix/DIV?. Which were your first steps with them?
SplinterGU: It was long ago, I don’t remember if I got to know DIV for some demo on PCMANIA magazine (I used to buy at the time) or I found it in some magazine kiosk. The thing is that I ended having a copy of DIV, and some time later DIV2. I didn’t do many things with that language, except some test dlls and some games I never got to finish. I remember that one of them was a 4 players racing game with scroll & split screen.

I don’t either remember how I got to know Fenix. I do remember that around the year 2002 I knew it and decided to cooperate with the project, fixing some bugs and implementing the first working extension system for both windows and linux. After this, I got away from the project. When did you decide to take charge of Fenix? Why fork it?
SplinterGU: In the year 2006, I wanted to create a game and looking for some game engine, I decided to visit the Fenix community again and found that it had been abandoned and its latest version was completely unstable and nobody used it because of how many bugs it had. I couldn’t imagine how unstable it was, if I had, we wouldn’t be taking this interview. At that time I decided to take charge of the project & resucitate the project.

Around the year 2008 disagreement arose with some Fenix users that couldn’t keep up with the update rhythm I followed and were most of the time nagging, trying to take me out of the project (and from the forum administrative roles) and complaining about every improvement I did to the language, saying such things as that the language belonged to the community and that I had no right to change it. It was then that I decided to change the name to the Fenix version that was under development (0.93) to “Bennu Game Development” and thus I wouldn’t have to explain to anybody the improvements and corrections I did -and do- to the language. That’s how the fork happened. Why did you decide to call the fork “Bennu”?
SplinterGU: It was a community suggestion. Bennu is the Egyptian name for the Fenix bird, and the first one too. Now that you are going to release Bennu 1.0, which ones do you consider to be the most important features you’ve added to the project since you took charge?
SplinterGU: I think that the most important improvements are modularity, that transforms the core into a simple virtual machine without a specific orientation (this way the language is no longer only bonded to videogames) and 32 bits support. I can’t either forget about the changes to the engine, that is now much lighter and powerful. What are your objectives from now till version 1.0 is released?
SplinterGU: Version 1.0 is nearly a reality, there are no major objectives, appart from testing it and fixing any bug that might appear in this “Release Candidate” phase.
Obviously, having a basic language reference is a must. And after that?
SplinterGU: After that (although the work has already begun):

  • Make use of multithreading to separate the virtual machine and the rendering in different threads.
  • Create a 2D hardware accelerated renderer.
  • Give native 3D support.
  • Create native networking support.
  • Implement support for packed zip in a natural and transparent way.
  • Maybe a commercial version of the core with JIT compilation support (although this is not yet fully decided).

Right now those are the plans for the future. What is your opinion about the current state of the Bennu community? In which way does it or its member influence your decisions about the project?
SplinterGU: It’s constantly growing.
The community’s opinion is very important in my decisions regarding the project, although that doesn’t mean that every one of the suggestions is followed. I listen to every one and usually take private (and sometimes public) polls before taking a final decision.
Appart from that, some users help in the project by finding bugs in the code or improved it, even adding code to it. Which are the community projects that you find more interesting?
SplinterGU: There are many interesting ones, I’ll mention some that I got to try myself:

  • Bennu3D (by Colombian Developers).
  • Sangine (by Sandman).
  • Flamebird MX Bennu/Fenix IDE (by various users).
  • clAssic PAck GAMEs for BEnnugd (by various users).
  • King Solomon’s Treasures (by Coptron Game Studios).
  • Streets of Rage Remake (by BomberGames).
  • Bennu Pack (by Colombian Developers).
  • Hiper 3D (by Hiperbou).
  • All of Pix Games’ games.

These are only some, I’m certainly forgetting about many others. Who would you like to see interviewed next?
SplinterGU: I can think of many people, but I think that because of his compromise and time dedicated to the project, that person should be:

CENSORED Is there something more you’d like to comment?
SplinterGU: Not really, just thank the community thier support for the project and you for the interview and the time you took to make it happen.

Here is a copy of Splinter’s original answers in Spanish.