What's the company’s creative goal right now? It sounds like you’re creating a world, and then moving the pieces out into game bits and franchise bits and things like that.
RS: I don’t think I’d put it that way. The way I like to think of it is that we’re taking all of these threads, and we’re building and winding people up. My job now is to take all of these talented people and get the content, and mechanics, and the artists, and make sure that we’re all on the same canvas, so we’re painting the same picture. We're trying to build a world that is consistent, and makes sense, that’s rich, and it’s deep, and has a long, long history, and also has an overarching story that we’re going to look at and say “this world is dynamic, it’s moving.”
The one thing that I’m always very aware of in an MMO type of setting, or whatever -- when I write a book, I take a group of characters and I send them on a journey, and you vicariously go on that journey, that adventure, with the characters. In an MMO, that would never work. In a computer game that doesn’t work. You want to write the book.
“You” as the user.
RS: You as the user, the player. That’s the character that’s important. It’s the one you create, it’s the user. So from the creative point of view, what we’re trying to do right now, is just build a world that has so many of those threads behind the canvas, that it’s so rich and so real and consistent, that people want to live there, and want to play there.
If the MMO is the main target there, how do you extend that to handhelds?
BC: We’re building a world that is founded on this intellectual property that Bob is helping to drive, and Todd’s artistic direction. That blurs out into a ton of different areas. The culmination of it? Approximately a year from now we’re going to start releasing tidbits of that intellectual property, either through graphic novel stuff, Todd’s figurines, things like that. A couple of videos-on-demand. People will start to get a glimpse of what this is all about. What the intellectual property is all about. What the style is going to be, things like that.
Then it’ll explode when we actually release the massively multiplayer online product. But there are a ton of different ways that will blur out into, whether or not it’s cross-platform, console, PC, you’ll see presence as far as web-based, on your TV, video-on-demand, wireless, cell phone. There are a multitude of directions that we’re already looking at taking it.
Back to your question, we’re in the concept phase. We’re starting to solidify the artistic style, as Bob said, we’re solidifying the literary translation from his high-level tapestry, high-level story landscape, down into the gameplay aspects, and pretty soon we’ll go into prototype stages and start validating a lot of those things.
RS: How many times do you see a company come out with a computer game, and then it does fairly well, or it does really well, and then two years later they say, “boy, we should start a book line”. We’re never going to have that problem. We’re tying all those knots early, to figure out how do we want to approach this from the ground up.
BC: Another thing is that if you look at the other products out there, and look at our IP, and our entertainment products -- specifically the MMO -- we’re uniquely positioned. The MMO products out there right now are essentially grinders where people get in, they level up, that’s one aspect of it, and they get hooked up with their friends, and that’s what they do. It’s those two main things.
There’s nothing out there that really has this story overlay that keeps sucking you further and further through the experience, that presents this larger entertainment experience that keeps you engaged. You still have the other two: you still go wanna hook up with your friends, you’re still going to grind a little bit – although, there won’t be grinding in ours – but the larger pieces present an entertainment experience, with the story that unfolds as you interact with it. You’re going to see changes that impact the story, you’re going to see the story in a larger scope of what’s going on in the world, so you have context to get what you’re doing. Nobody’s doing that. It’s sort of the difference between basic 3D shooters, and say, Half-Life 2.
Andrea Schneider, 38 Studios PR: The way I’ve been explaining it to people when I’m talking is the company’s creating this IP, which is kind of like the nucleus, and then orbiting around it are all these different mediums, with the MMO really being the big orbit. Then you have all these other little things, but the IP is really the nucleus, not actually the MMO.