I suppose the big question is - why am I remaking Chaos? And why now? The main reason is that the game was very popular with its players, despite is many flaws, quirky bugs and poor graphics. So the logical thing to do is to try to improve it and bring it up to date with today's technology. I have, of course, tried to update it before with 'Lords of Chaos', and in a way with 'Magic & Mayhem'. Although these were good games in their own right, they lost something of the essence of the original Chaos.
One of the reasons I think Chaos worked well is that it was a great multiplayer experience appropriate for the technology of the time. You could gather up to eight mates to play a game in a relatively quick game, despite its plodding turn-based nature. It was also a psychological game of bluff where you were never sure whether an opponent's creature was an illusion unless someone disbelieved it. If you chose to disbelieve it yourself then you were foregoing a valuable opportunity for another spell. There was the minor inconvenience that your spell selection had to be done in secret, which meant other players had to avert their gaze from the screen, but this was a brief interlude in the chaotic fun.
The game also had great replay value because of its random, chaotic nature. No two games will turn out the same, and most of your plans and strategies won't play out exactly the way you envisaged them. Randomness in games is a very interesting issue which I will touch on again in future posts. Many of my colleges in Ubisoft would often say that they don't like randomness - they want more determinant decision making based more on skill than on luck. However, randomness does inject a fair dose of tension and fun into a game. It also means that you have rarely, deterministically lost a game before it is over. In Chaos there is usually everything to play for. Your opponent may have a dragon bearing down on your wizard, but then you might just be able to slip your eagle behind him and slaughter the dragon summoner before your wizard gets fried. It's a fine balance, but I believe that the randomness in Chaos mostly contributed to the fun of the game. What people say they want, and what they actually enjoy are definitely two different things.
I also have to confess that I have been surprised and puzzled at the number of requests I have had from people wanting to remake Chaos or re-engineer it for a new platform. I have always agreed to these requests, but each time thinking that there must be something about this game which is different to all the others I have made. You can find a list of these remakes on the Chaos Remakes Wiki.
Another important consideration is that I wanted to start a project that would be both manageable and have some traction. Chaos gained widespread distribution because it was featured in the cover tape of 'Your Sinclair' on two occasions. Therefore there are probably a few veteran games players left that were exposed to it in their youth and may have some fond memories of it - at least in the UK.
As to the question 'why now?', the answer is that I have the opportunity to do it and the desire for a change. I have been working at Ubisoft Sofia for more than five years and seen the studio grow steadily. I was the creative director for the recently released Vita game, 'Assassin's Creed III: Liberation.' I left Ubisoft in March this year, ostensibly on six month paternity leave to help my wife look after our twin babies. I decided that I wanted to stay at my home with my family for a while longer. So now I am on my own, working in my bedroom, just like I did all those years ago when I was coding in Z80 assembly language on my 48k ZX Spectrum.