How does someone make a baseball to game development career move?
BC: Well, he hasn’t entirely yet. Obviously he’s still doing both to some degree, although not at the same time. So while he’s doing his day job, as we like to say, he’s very focused on baseball. Those two worlds do not collide. He’s very specific -- especially on days that he’s pitching -- that he cannot be bothered, he has to remain focused on his baseball career.
The way that he looked at this, he’s been a passionate video gamer for years, pretty much his whole life. So, he had some stuff associated with Sony Online, and Everquest and Everquest II. Actually was associated with a 3D0 baseball game. He’s been kind of a little bit behind the scenes in the industry for a long time.
RS: Plus he’s got paper gaming.
BC: A paper and board game business, associated with Advanced Squad Leader. He's a very, very avid gamer. Instead of looking at “someday I’m actually going to transition out of my sporting career”, he said “how can I pull together the next greatest entertainment products company, frankly, in the world.”
That's how Curt thinks, that’s how we all like to think. He started to think about who he’d want to pull in to do that. And now he’s in that phase where he’s still very focused on baseball, and when the season’s off he plays a very strong role in the studio. Right now he is still very focused on baseball.
RS: Curt called me up last August out of the blue. The way he presented it to me was that he was putting together the 1927 Yankees, and he wanted me in his batting order. He had been friends with Todd [McFarlane] for a while, because Todd does baseball things as well, and he wanted me to come in and work on the story, Todd for the art, and then, when our names came on board, then the real talent came in. Guys from the industry.
Curt knew a lot of a people behind the scenes in the industry, so he would go up to people that he knew and respected, and would say “if you were hiring anyone in the industry for this position, who would it be?” Then he would call them up -- he’s a pretty persuasive guy -- and his batting average is pretty good on the people he pulled in. He got pretty much most of the people he wanted. They came out and people would buy into the vision, and the idea that we’re putting together this team and we’re gonna work from the ground up together and build an IP.
You mentioned it’s not going to be the same development grind. How are you going to ensure that?
BC: There are a lot ways we’ll ensure that. First and foremost: my background is Electronic Arts, Midway, I was running the the old Midway Austin studio, and then a number of little startups… There’s a lot of process and management and fresh takes on how development can occur, and taking a more rigorous approach about building videogames and entertainment products, applying software engineering approaches, being more structured about specifications, scheduling, clarity about what the team can accomplish, driving the risk out up front, and not releasing the product before it’s ready.
There’s a whole secret sauce associated with that that is hugely important and has to happen as a top down philosophy, at any place. When you have other companies, and I’m not going to name them, where you literally have class action lawsuits, because they are just beating their people to the point where they’re not only losing, but that’s turning into a massive financial liability, not to mention that it just sucks. I mean, all that equity that you put into people – and they’re great people and you love working with them, and all that – and then you work them to death, and destroy families, and they leave, and you have to pull somebody else in and retrain them.
It has to be a top down vision of how we’re going to do this better than any other place else that’s done it, and make sure that it’s a quality place to work, and a place to work with integrity, where people love coming into work. You attract that kind of talent, and they attract even more of that kind of talent. You get better and better at that model of how you start to release products. I’m not saying that it’s easy to do that, but I’m saying that the industry is right for somebody to make the commitment to do that the right way and stick to it.