If there’s one thing you can say about Scott Miller, head of 3D Realms, it’s that he has vision. From the days of Apogee to the very successful release of Prey, 3D Realms has weathered a few storms and always comes out looking better than before. We sat down with Scott to talk about his views on publishing, digital distribution, episodic content and a certain foul-mouthed badass.
GS: What's your approach to a PR situation as the publisher or developer? For example: Prey's release announcement came quite suddenly after quite a bit of silence. Will you take this approach with further releases or was that a decision for just that one product?
SM: You’re talking about when we announced Prey last year?
SM: Yeah, I think that something like that is how we’re going to go in the future, because it seemed like in the early 90s games didn’t take that long to make. It seemed cool then to announce a game when you started, because you knew you’d be done in a year or two. Now it’s hard to find a hit game that’s made in less than two and a half to three years. Some games go longer. Max Payne was a four and a half year project. So was Prey. These projects can go on for a long time.
Not only that, if you announce a game too soon, you lose your momentum. We’re going to wait until one year ‘til release. That gives you one year to get into people’s minds, and it’s not so long that they forget about it.
GS: Sort of the same thing that happened to S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
GS: While reading your blog lately, I noticed that you were talking about partnering with studios that might not otherwise get a chance to have a good start.
SM: Well, there’s a bunch of reasons. Where should I start? Just from our track record, lots of studios can see what we bring to the table. We bring funding to the table. We did two million dollars’ worth of funding for Max Payne and we did well over that for Prey. We’re an insurance policy that a game is going to get done to a level of polish that we’re happy with that maybe a publisher wouldn’t be happy with.
I don’t think that a lot of publishers really understand the importance of the final two or three months of polishing. A lot of games get released that gamers say, “with some polishing, this game could have been pretty nice.” We make sure they get that level of polish.
The biggest thing we bring to the table is we’re all about creating intellectual property (IP). We’re all about creating original IP. We’ve never done a licensed game and when studios sign up with us, they know they’re going to be making something original. If they go to a publisher and they’re not well established like an id Software or Epic, then they’re probably going to be handed some licensed IP. For most studios, that’s just not as fun as doing something original. In the mid to late nineties, it was easy for studios to have original IP, but now the tables have turned. So, we offer a way for developers to do an original project and also to have ownership in that project, which doesn’t work that way with most publishers.
Now, if the game’s a hit, that’s the holy grail: owning a valuable IP. If the studio owns a valuable IP, then they have lots of leverage and clout. They can reap financial rewards, call their own shots and make better deals. It changes the game for them.
By teaming up with us they get out of the rut of doing licensed games and make an original game. So far, studios that have worked with us have done pretty well and other studios have seen what happens and they want a piece of the action.