Right before Electronic Arts announced that its EA Montreal-developed duo-focused military action title Army of Two would now debut in 2008, we had a chance to speak with two men who contributed a lot to the project from different perspectives.
Woodie Mister, the game's military consultant, has a background that includes being a Navy SEAL and working for controversial military contractor Blackwater. Here, he speaks about his involvement with the game and his philosophy towards touchy issues like politics and violence in games.
This is followed by a conversation
with Reid Schneider, the game's producer at EA Montreal, which talks
inspiration, technology, and collaboration with other EA studios.
First of all, can you give me your background?
Woodie Mister: Background? Former Navy
SEAL. Did that for almost a couple decades. And I moved into the
private world, based just before 9/11. And went into, deeply, the security
firm business, interested in working with K&R stuff -- you know,
kidnapping and ransom stuff -- because I had hard skills they could
use. They could send a guy, they could teach a guy a lot of different
things on how to do that type of security issue, and then send him
into harm's way and have him negotiate that stuff.
And then when 9/11 hit, I went to work for different government agencies as a contractor. They hire contractors as soldiers for hire. And you can bounce around. There were other overseas opportunities as well but they didn't seem too legitimate, so, anyway, that's pretty much what I've been doing, and I've worked for a lot of different large firms. And some of 'em you've heard of; some are in the news lately, and some that you may not have heard of.
Are you alluding to Blackwater, or...?
WM: Well, Blackwater; I've worked for Blackwater before. Blackwater, I'll have to say, is one of the few companies that definitely is very professional, and they have definitely stepped up to the plate, and taken the fight to the bad guys on the other side of the pond -- you know, the Atlantic -- because we certainly don't want 'em here, fighting in our streets. So, you don't see many companies stepping up to the plate to do what Blackwater and their friends have done.
How did you get involved in this sort of arena, working on game consulting?
WM: I've always been a huge gamer. Because you sit around a lot, on these missions, waiting around to do different work, and playing games, and watching movies. So you become an avid gamer, if you will, and you start getting tired of seeing a bunch of movies and a bunch of games that are being consulted by guys that are in their 60s and 70s, and talking.
So I thought, "You
know what? Things have changed, and they need some good new blood in
there. Guys, guys with some serious hard skills, smart guys, business-orientated
guys who get out to make some good money doing this stuff." And so that's what drove me to start my own entertainment consulting
company, and I've been doing it since just before 2000.