Life After Atari - What's Next for Shiny?
October 10, 2006 Page 2 of 3
GS: Are you concerned at all about the transition from being publisher owned to developer owned?
MP: We're thrilled to be owned by a developer, rather than a publisher, for many reasons – now we can actually run it from the perspective of running a business. If you're publisher owned, you're strictly cost-centric – meaning there's nothing about profit, it's all about keeping costs down. From a business standpoint this is a lot more exciting to us, we actually get to make sure we're running a lean, mean studio.
GS: And if you actually do better, then it does better for you.
MP: Yes, exactly. And you have ways of actually measuring it. Like in a publisher-owned studio, you have no way of measuring if you're contributing to that studio. You can't feel good about anything – all you know is if you might or might not break even, and oftentimes you don't even know that. The other thing is that it gives us the ability to go with different publishers, try different things, and try different genres, without getting pigeonholed into one thing.
GS: I guess you're pretty much starting from scratch project-wise then?
MP: Pretty much from scratch, if not entirely. We do have a lot of existing technology that we're working on, but in terms of design and prototyping and whatnot, yeah, it's from scratch.
GS: Is there anything else you wanted to mention about the deal before we move on? I assume Shiny is keeping its name?
MP: Yes…the only other thing that's important to understand is that this is a completely positive transaction for us. We're really happy to be part of Foundation 9, and I went and met with a lot of the other guys from the studio that I hadn't met yet, and other guys I had met, and everybody's super welcoming, very positive. I just went to Backbone and talked to the Emeryville guys who just finished Death Jr. 2, and it's just a good family to be a part of, it's very creative, and one of the things we're excited about is that F9 is one of the last developers that has the oomph to push an IP through. If you have a good idea, you actually have a good chance of getting it approved. I think they proved that with Death Jr.
Earthworm Jim PSP, as shown at E3 2006
GS: What's happening to Earthworm Jim PSP, since that's still with Atari?
MP: We were working on that, and we're not working on it anymore. But it's really up to Atari to make an announcement about that, I probably can't even make that statement officially, but obviously we're not working on it. But they haven't made an announcement as to what they're going to do with it. We don't know...it's just one of those things.
GS: How do you feel about that?
MP: I think we were on track for something really good. There were some external factors that made it less pleasant, and less likely to succeed, but we would've liked to see it through to the end, for sure. I think we were on the right path, I don't know if you saw the version of it (at E3) but I really liked it. It was oldschool and 2D, and just a slight upgrade to it, but following in the same vein as the original, but on the really cool PSP platform. So it's a shame from our perspective.
GS: A friend of mine did get to see it, and he said it was pretty true to form.
MP: Yeah, I mean the squash and stretch worked really well, and the 3D character...we spent a fair amount of time on that. The backgrounds looked really cool, nice and colorful, the animations were tight, and...it was a good first playable, for sure. But that's how it goes. It's up to Atari, and I'm sure they can find a capable developer to do it.
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