Life After Atari - What's Next for Shiny?
October 10, 2006 Page 3 of 3
GS: How did Dave Perry's departure affect the company?
MP: Obviously we still got sold, so it worked ok. I was hired by David, I really like him, and I'm still on great terms with him. He talked to me after the purchase and congratulated me, and was happy that it was in the people's hands that are here. He knows everyone here and there are no ill feelings.
On the other hand, he'd been here a long time, and if you look at what he's doing now, it's not like he's out of ideas. So maybe it was a good time to try something new, and I was more than happy to take over for him. But I don't think it affected us negatively in that sense, we were well set up to run the studio.
GS: It seems more and more these days there's a focus on names of people - Dave Perry's name was known, do you have any desire to foster that sort of thing again? Are you concerned about a current lack of name recognition?
MP: I think it can work both ways, can't it? American McGee's new title that came out, now it's working directly against him that his name is on there. So I don't know if it helps. I don't know, it's really tough to say. I think David did really well in promoting us for sure, but there's something to be said about letting the games speak for themselves.
We're looking forward to focusing on the internal, and the production values, and less glitter, more production, if you know what I mean. We'd much prefer to make them speak for themselves, I'm not going to be the one flying all over the place. I used to speak at GDC about technology, because that's what interested me, and I needed to get a visa! But since then I think we're much more focused on improving our practices internally and trying to make better games. That's the prime motivation for everybody staying put, just being given the change by Foundation 9 to be well capitalized, and make what we want to make, and a really interesting license game up, in our opinion. So that's what we're focused on right now. I don't think there's a need to pitch my name right now, that could perfectly well be handled by somebody else.
GS: You said it's a license, do you think there's original IP in the future again for Shiny?
MP: For sure, yeah. There's no doubt. This was a really good fit for us as a launchpad to get back to a high profile title. After we finished The Matrix, we kind of burned out on The Matrix in general, so we started on some smaller titles, and obviously we didn't complete them. So doing something like this that everybody can gather around and focus on at once is good for the studio, but in the long run we have plenty of ideas and plenty of support from Foundation 9 to start working on prototypes for our own IPs, so that's why I expect that it's going to be 50/50 between licenses and our own IP.
GS: If you can answer this, how are you feeling about the next-gen platforms in terms of ease of use, and who's giving you the most support?
MP: We don't have any issues with any of the two platforms. Obviously 360 has been out for a year now, and PS3 is just coming out, so in that sense Microsoft's support is more mature than Sony's is, but it's a moving platform. That said, we're running on both, and while we're seeing in terms of performance that in some areas one is faster than the other, nothing is really materializing as being hugely different. The PS3 is certainly a beast, but the 360 is good. It's very good. I wouldn't take a particular stance right now. I think the first wave of titles are not going to exploit much of either machine's capabilities, but over time you might see some variation, it's just tough to predict right now.
In terms of what's easier to program for, if you're a PC guy, the 360, obviously. But the PS3, if you use the included software, it's equally easy, really. It's just a matter of how much more power you expect from the machine. That's tough to say right now.
GS: What's the stopping block for the true next gen from a graphics and physics perspective at least? Right now it seems like the surface is being brushed, but there may be more to it.
MP: I think the first wave of titles will be strictly focused on graphics. Strictly a graphical update. I think non-photorealistic rendering is probably the best way to hammer it home, like if you look at Viva Piñata from Rare, it's a really good showcase for what you can do on modern graphics hardware. It's so different, so colorful, and it's so obvious that it's something you couldn't have done in the last generation of platforms that effectively. I think in the future, obviously multithreading is a huge issue for all of us. You're operating with effectively six cores on the 360, and seven SPEs on the PS3, and you've got to use them for something! At some point it would be nice to use them for something!
And right now it's relatively crude, I mean you're separating portions of the engine and throwing them at the different processors, so you're getting some utilization, but they're by no means 100% utilized. But with that parallel processing comes other things. One thing we're really excited about is animation processing, better skinning, cloth simulation, context detection on complex surfaces...stuff that's character-related, that's always been our focus. Everything's just getting updated right now to be more realistic.
GS: How do you feel about the Wii's not graphical but control step forward. Do you feel like that will be limiting?
MP: I think it forces you to rethink how you used to do a multi-SKU project. It certainly forces you to realize you can't get away with just a straight port. And you have to think about it...you can't just count on everyone having the classic controller and just doing a straight on port. That's not really what the Wii's all about. I guess what's so exciting and what's resonated so well with the gaming press and the whole development community, including us is that it's just a really nice rethink. When we played it at E3, playing Mario was as natural as anything.
We would love to do specialized titles for the Wii in the future, if it takes off. It'd be a really fun platform if it does...it's worth it. It's got a really good price point, and if the public reacts as favorably as the development community, it's going to be a huge hit.
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