Meet the Ancients: Chris Vanover
Back in Heroes III and IV, my favourite Knight hero was always the dashing Sir Christian. Only years later did I learn Sir Christian was actually named after one of the developers of the games, Christian Vanover.
In this new "Meet the Ancients" feature, it's time for the most gallant knight of Erathia to take the stand!
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your career?
I came into the games industry from a tech background. In fact, I was originally hired at New World Computing as the Network Admin! Fortunately I ran a smooth ship, and had time to devote to helping build maps for the original Heroes of Might & Magic. It wasn’t long before they decided to hire a new Network Admin so that I could move full-time into Design.
In the 10 years since New World Computing’s closure, I’ve gradually transitioned from Designer to Producer, having worked on Xbox (Forza Motorsport 1-3), then a web-based MMO (Marvel Super Hero Squad Online), and finally transitioned to work in mobile games (multiple titles, including something super-secret currently in development!).
2. When you think about your work on Might & Magic, what’s the first association that comes to your mind?
History. Might & Magic was created during the birth of the videogames industry. It introduced game mechanics which are now part of every game of its type, and helped adapt pen & paper gaming to the computer.
3. What does Might & Magic mean to you today?
As I said, Might & Magic was a key part of the history of video games, and to this day I am both proud and humbled to have been a part of it, and thrilled to see it continue.
4. What inspired your work on Might & Magic?
I was heavily into pen & paper and board games at that time, and I was part of a gaming group that would run tournament games at both GenCon and the local gaming conventions in Los Angeles. For me, working on Might & Magic allowed me to do everything I already loved doing, but for a worldwide audience.
Sir Christian is one of the (many) cameos and nods to the previous Might & Magic developers we sneaked into Might & Magic X: Legacy. But how did Chris become a Hero of Might & Magic in the first place? We asked Chris directly, and as it turns out... "Sir Christian was first introduced in Heroes III after I bugged the design lead to rename one of the existing Knight heroes :)"
5. When developing a game in general, what do you aim for?
The first thing I aim for is the game’s core. If you can create something that’s simple to understand and fun and engaging to play, you’ll have a much easier time layering systems that enhance and support the game’s core mechanic.
6. What are you currently playing, and how do you like it?
Civilization V and World of Tanks currently occupy the lion’s share of my leisure time. I’ve been a series-long fan of Civ, and WoT allows for bite-sized bits of fun when gaming time is short.
7. Would you rather be a human, elf, dwarf or orc, and why?
Human, but only because many games tend to restrict other races from key pieces of progression or gear. Dear other games, please stop doing that.
8. Apart from games, what fascinates you?
Aviation, motorsport, history, astronomy. Not necessarily in that order. :)
9. What’s your motto?
Never criticize a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. That way if they don’t like what you say, you have a one-mile head start AND you have their shoes.
10. Your message to the fans of Might & Magic?
Thank you for giving me the privilege to provide you with literally years of enjoyment, and apologies for all the nights that you skipped sleeping as a result. If it’s any consolation, I was skipping sleep right along with you. :)
From the bottom of our collective heart, a big "thank you!" to Chris... both for answering our questions AND for all the nights that we skipped sleeping playing Might & Magic and Heroes. Sleeping is overrated anyway :)