Interview with Erlend Robaye (Erland Robaye, Rataplan, Erroba)

Well Lucky Luke's dog is called Rataplan and I just happened to like that character and chose it as a nickname.

Just tumbled into it, I was doing some pixel graphics for a bunch of computer kids and when I was walking around at the computer club meetings I met Peter who was looking for someone that could do graphics for the game he had just started creating. I started doing some for him together with another guy who's name I can't even remember and after a few weeks the other guy stopped and I was the only one left. I just learned the art while doing it.

I've been a full time programmer for just a bit more than 20 years now and perhaps it's just a case of 'the grass is always greener on the other side' but I think I'd rather be an artist, it just feels more natural to me, programming is a job that's hard on the good ol' brain, especially when you get older you're not that flexible anymore and IT is always about learning new technologies.

As I remember correctly it was just a name that 'The Software Business' came up with and stuck on us.


If I recall correctly we were looking for a name and one day I was just paging through a book about mythology and there was the name Sirinx or something like that which happens to catch my eye and after some scribbling away on a piece of paper it was transformed to Ziriax. As an artist I always liked the letter X since it just lends itself to nice designs and looks a bit aggresive.

Deluxe Paint, nothing else and 99% of the time just with the magnifying glass tool and putting pixels with the right colour in the right place.

At the time Peter was actually addicted to a few shootem' up games like Nemesis and Thundercross; I just watched these games a lot and most graphics in Ziriax originated from influences of those games.


Most of the time I used pencils to sketch stuff on paper and the good things where transferred to computer by painstainkingly putting pixels on the screen just like I described before.

After we had played the game so much for testing purposes - but also because it was just fun to play - we noticed that when you knew the game all too well empty gaps kept popping up in certain spots, that's when we decided to fill those gaps with new attack waves and of course this meant that there were no more moments to relax or lose your concentration and that all resulted in a more difficult game.

I also think Peter is just too good a player and he just tuned the game to his likings ;)

As young guys we were already dreaming of earning a living doing games, we had zero experience with doing business and if was a heartbreaking experience that the company went bankrupt just at the point the boxes of Ziriax were ready, reviews were appearing in magazines, etc.

I think it was me that was hooked on Thrust on the Commodore 64 and always thought that it was a pity that the game had such a limited amount of levels and such a poor set of graphics. I was able to convince Peter that there was a lot more we could do with the game ...

Well we did not invent the name Zarathrusta it was more forced upon us by Hewson, we just named it Thrust and the beginning screen was already designed with that named.

It was just a matter of brainstorming I guess.


I really can't remember how many hours I put into that, but most of my spare time went into it, every night after school I used to pixel for hours on end, almost failed school as a consequence of that ;)

32 ( black included ).

Peter had designed a level creator with which we could put levels together and were able to test them straight away, so I put levels together played them, tuned them and so did he.

We had a lot of fun like this putting levels together for each other that we needed to discover. In the end I made 26 and of course Peter being Peter needed one more and made 27.

I was never able to finish the last level so I never arrived at that point ;).

The development of it not, but of course another big disappointing experience for us.

I did not participate in that, the existing graphics could be used as such. So I do not know anything about it, you will need to ask Peter.

No, just Ziriax and Zarathrusta.


'Uridium', 'Nebulus' and 'The Great Giana Sisters', a few others for sure but I can't recall their names right now ;(

Yes indeed, I just can't stick to one thing, at the moment it is photography most of the time and sometimes I create mathematical manipulated images or photoshop works, all of which you can view on my photo stream (