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SouthEnd Interactive

SouthEnd Interactive interviewed

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Swedish developers SouthEnd Interactive came very much out of leftfield just a few weeks ago, releasing the first screenshots of an impressive looking multiplayer game called "Blitz : Disc Arena".

We tracked down Magnus Bergholtz, the company's graphical designer and co-founder, to talk to him about the game and its origins...


Although most people hadn't heard of them until last month, SouthEnd Interactive actually dates back to 1998. At first the company was just a part-time job though.

"After working full days at our regular jobs we spent the nights working on the game", Magnus told us. "[But] we realized after a while that it would be rather difficult keeping up with the rest of the industry if we didn't spend full time on the game. So in the beginning of 1999 we decided to quit our ordinary jobs and start working full time on Blitz - Disc Arena."

After almost a year of full time work on the game, it was time to go public. But one thing was still missing .. the company needed a name!

"Deciding what to name something is always difficult. To come up with a few choices we put up a paper on the wall at the office where we wrote every single name we came up with. Before going live with our homepage we had to decide what name to use, and one of the better names was SouthEnd Interactive."

"The story behind it is that Malmö, the city where the company was started, is in the South End of Sweden. So that's where it came from. It might strike other Europeans as funny since we lie so far in the north, but it makes perfect sense up here. :)"


What is it like working in Sweden though?

"From what I've experienced there's no advantages or disadvantages of working from Sweden. We have the same possibilities here as any other company placed anywhere else in the world would have."

"I feel, when creating a game there's no need of being close to the customers the same way a company who sells groceries or whatever would have to be. What we need is to listen to the customers and learn from their thoughts about our games, and with the Internet we have got the ability to communicate with those customers."

Of course, SouthEnd aren't the only computer games company based in Sweden. Just a few weeks ago we talked to Starbreeze Studios (interview), who are working on an impressive looking first person RPG called Sorcery. And they're not alone...

"Sweden's quite a small country and so is the gaming industry here, although it is growing. With companies such as Digital Illusion, Insomnia Software, UDS, ourselves, etc, I believe Swedish developers will gain more and more respect in the world of gaming for releasing high quality titles."

From what we've seen coming out of Sweden over the last few months we'd have to agree...


"We had a lot of brainstorming before coming up with the idea for Blitz - we didn't want to make yet another first person shooter or racing game. We wanted to make a game that introduced new elements with great gameplay. A title with a little less mass production and a lot more attention to detail and fine tuning."

What they came up with was "Blitz - Disc Arena". Magnus describes it as "a futuristic game set in an arena where the players fight to get a metal disc through the opposing teams goal to score points".

If this is starting to sound familiar to some of our older readers, it's no accident...

"To make this title come true we started analyzing other games, what was good about them and why people loved them, trying to get back to that very essence of gaming - great gameplay. We went through all the great games we had played over the years. We played with the thought of improving the old hits with tomorrows technology."

"The one makeover that we all felt was good to build something on was based on the old Amiga classic, Speedball, mixed with todays high paced first person action genre. Several brainstorming sessions later, we finally had a well thought through idea, the birth of Blitz - Disc Arena."

For those of you too young to remember Speedball (God, that makes me feel so old...), it was a violent futuristic sports game from the (then legendary) Bitmap Brothers. Fast paced and addictive, it still brings back fond memories for those of us who played it on the Amiga or PC 'back in the day'.

Blitz looks like being a cross between Unreal Tournament and Speedball, and in our books that has to be a good thing™!


Speedball wasn't the only influence on the game though. "The books of author William Gibson have been a great help when creating the atmosphere", according to Magnus.

"Also movies such as Bladerunner and Alien have helped us visualize the environment where the game is taking place. All this mixed with a personal touch make Blitz - Disc Arena a unique visual experience."

The game's setting is a typically dystopian future world. "Corporations have taken the role of governments, and society is more or less divided into two parts - the few very rich and the poor masses. Syndicates rule the underworld with illegal gambling and arms and drug trafficing."

"The world of Blitz is just not a very pleasant place to live in."

Relief comes through the violent sport portrayed in the game, with leagues, teams, corporate sponsorship, and a whole range of different arenas to play in.

"There will be 30 or so arenas, and some extra ones designed for multiplayer only. The single player arenas range from badly maintained arenas in the lower leagues to high standard arenas in the higher leagues, and all arenas will be totally unique with different sizes and shapes."

Yellow Card

"With almost no rules this game will be quite violent", Magnus told us, and although the aim of the game is to knock the disc into the other team's goal, combat will play an important part.

"The combat experience will be quite unique thanks to the first person perspective. You will see your moves through your own eyes as if you performed them yourself. If you get hit, you will see the same thing as you would if you took a hit in real life - the world tumbling around you."

There are no weapons in the game - fighting is all of the hand to hand variety, and just like any self-respecting arcade beat 'em up, Blitz will feature a wide range of special moves to take down your enemies with.

"A team has a certain number of special moves in addition to the normal fighting moves. As your team progresses, new combat moves will become available for them to learn. Different players can have their own prefered setup of moves."

This opens up all kinds of tactical possibilities for the single player game, and Magnus also told us that "managing your team is a great part of the game since you upgrade your players between fights with money won or earned through sponsorship from corporations".

Like any sport though, Disc Arena has rules .. or one rule anyway.

"The only rule respected by the players is the one of very nasty violence. Extremely brutal players will be penalized during the game by locking their feet to the ground (lockdown) for a limited time based on the offense. This gives a chance for offended players to get even. :)"

Mmm... Payback time.


Although the game will have a fully featured single player league structure, it is the multiplayer part of the game which is getting us most excited.

"Many different kinds of multiplayer modes will be available, from single matches to entire leagues. Even the basic gameplay can be changed. You can play the game with several discs, with no discs, or even 'last man standing' kind of games where it's every man for himself."

"All servers around the world will be connected to a global server that keeps track of all the statistics of every game played on the net. The stats will be put together to form a world league, ranking every team and every player. The statistics will cover a whole lot of different stats such as worst players, best team, best player, most brutal player etc."

It all sounds very promising. Unreal Tournament has scratched the surface of what is possible with its built in "ngStats" system that allows players to take part in a global ranking system. Blitz should take this to the next level, with global leagues and the kind of sporting statistics you would expect from a soccer management game...

There is one problem though, and that is that we might have to wait a whole year to see the game.

"We are currently corresponding with several major publishers so I can't really say anything before we have signed a deal", Magnus reported. "This is due to the fact that our future publisher might have something to say about a predicted release date."

But he did tell us that SouthEnd are expecting the game to be ready for "late 2000". Look for a full preview of the game here on EuroGamer some time next year!

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