Meet the ancients: Jon Van Caneghem
"A Jon Van Caneghem Production". For many of us, these words were like a spell opening the proverbial gates to another world. When they appeared on the screen, we knew we were going to leave our boring, everyday lives behind and trade them for epic quests, mystery and adventure.
Co-founder of New World Computing with Mark Caldwell, "JVC" is the father of Might & Magic and Heroes. He's currently heading Victory Games, a division of Electronic Arts, and working on the promising new Command & Conquer game.
Despite his busy schedule, he kindly took the time to answer a few questions for the blog :)
~ Meet the Ancients ~
Jon Van Caneghem
Jon (second-left on the picture) meeting the MMXL team at Gamescom.
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your career?
I started designing and programming in college at UCLA, but I played a lot of board games and paper RPG’s before that. You can find a quick summary of a very long timeframe (:P) on Wikipedia.
Ironically, one of the compelling forces that made me make the first Might and Magic, was the desire to play RPG’s more often. It was always tough to get a group together on Saturdays etc, but if I could create a great PC game then I could play every day nonstop :)
Over the years I think I have done most every discipline in the games business, from programming, design, art, sound, writing, sales, marketing, finance, legal…etc. We had to do it all in the early days, but this has given me a unique perspective on the industry that has served me well over the years.
2. When you think about your work on Might & Magic, what’s the first association that comes to your mind?
I know I enjoyed playing the games as much or more that creating them!
3. Can you tell us about the genesis of the Might & Magic series?
I wanted to make a party based RPG that was very strategic, had a free open world to explore and lots of fun puzzles to solve.Wizardry I, Ultima I and Dungeons and Dragons were the initial influence, but I wanted to go further and express my style of play in the design.Learning to program and figuring out all the technical barriers was just a means to an end, creating the best game possible was my driving force.
4. What does Might & Magic mean to you today?
It’s always a great feeling to know millions of people have enjoyed this series and it makes me very happy to know that new games are still being made.
5. As a fan of the series, here's something I always wanted to ask you :) What were your plans for the storyline of the series? Would we have discovered the secrets of the Ancients and the Kreegans? Anything you can share with us?
Originally, the Might and Magic story ended with World of Xeen.
But with the popularity of Heroes and a demand for new MM games, we started it all up again and took things in many directions.
And yes we had plans to finalize the Kreegans story and visit the Ancients home world… :P
The Reunification of Xeen was meant to be the end of the Might & Magic RPG saga!
Can you imagine a world without Mandate of Heaven or For Blood and Honor?
6. When developing a game in general, what do you aim for?
Initially, something I enjoy playing and have fun with.
Then broaden the appeal for the biggest possible range of players without breaking the original game.
7. What are you currently playing, and how do you like it?
Well Command and Conquer :)
Also GTA V like everyone else, World of Tanks, Guild Wars 2, Puzzles and Dragons…
All great fun!
8. Would you rather be a human, elf, dwarf or orc, and why?
Elf, they live the longest!
9. Apart from games, what fascinates you?
I enjoy auto racing as a hobby, but science, mythology and the world financial markets fascinate me.
10. What do you think of Might & Magic X so far?
11. Your message to the fans of Might & Magic?
Thank you! And yes I would like to make another one :)
Thank you for everything, Jon :)
If you missed it at the time, don’t forget to check this interview of Jon recorded for the 25th Anniversary of Might & Magic :)