Chicago is known for its famous hotdogs, and, ever popular with the tourists, locals know where to find the authentic version. In the middle of the city, there’s one such place, and it borders on West Roscoe, the world headquarters of game publisher Midway, possibly the only publisher to have a loading-dock as a prominent part of the corporate HQ’s architecture.
That dock remains from when Midway was a part of Williams Electronics – the latter still located on the same block, but now a separate company – and stands as a symbol that this publicly traded company has the hard-working, Midwestern-roots typical of Chicago developers.
On the right side of the street is the company parking lot, and a second building – two buildings, really, which have had extensive changes as Midway itself has grown and changed. This is where Midway Studios Chicago develops games.
Gamasutra took the opportunity to sit down studio head Scot Bayless to talk about developing for the Wii, what teams are like inside Midway Chicago, past adventures, future strategies, and, of course, Ed Boon.
“I never would have expected to be in Chicago,” says Bayless. “I’m a California boy. I’ve been in California for a long, long time. I never anticipated being here.”
Bayless recalls just how he got here. He started getting pings from someone representing Midway, who was looking for someone to fill the position, but “to be honest, I had sort of discounted Midway as anybody that I was going to be talking to,” he said. Bayless continued getting pings, but would reply saying he was busy and didn’t want to talk right now.
Finally the contact said, “You know what, David [Zucker, CEO of Midway] is going to be on the West Coast for an investor’s conference. Why don’t you guys just have breakfast?” Bayless agreed – breakfast couldn’t hurt.
Bayless went into the conversation as curious as anything else. “I sat down with David and said, ‘look I’m going to ask you a bunch of blunt, rude questions. I hope you don’t take it personally.’ And he said, ‘no bring it.’ And so I started asking blunt, rude questions.”
“And I got a bunch of really good answers,” says Bayless, “and that’s what lead to further conversations, and eventually wound up with me sitting here in Chicago.”
One of the things that tipped the scales was Zucker espousing the long term view of game development. “Midway, I think, is genuinely undergoing a transformation. Those don’t happen very often. Sometimes they’re kind of scary, but they’re usually pretty fun rides.”