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Publishers And Developers, Living Together - NetDevil's Scott Brown On The New Paradigm
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Publishers And Developers, Living Together - NetDevil's Scott Brown On The New Paradigm


June 19, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next
 

How did the idea come about, to do a first-person shooter, when previously, you’ve done MMOs?

SB: Really, it’s an extension of physics. With Auto Assault, we’d done all that destruction. We said, ‘wow, this was cool and we really pushed things really far.’ But we were like, man, we want to push this a lot farther. If you want to go for the top end, that’s shooters.

Your market of the highest-end games, that’s the shooter market. That’s not really the MMOs. The MMOs that sell aren’t the ones that require über machines, the MMOs that sell are the ones that run on everyone’s computer.

It’s first-person-shooters that always push the edge. So we started talking to Ageia about working together to make something that could, for them, show off their hardware, and for us, give a cool, super-difficult task to see how much farther we could push it.

So you’d worked with them previously on Auto Assault?

SB: Yeah. We worked with them then, and said ‘let us help you.’ I’ve always been a big believer in just physics in games. So we just said, ‘what can we do? How do we help?

They’re fighting the chicken and the egg problem. Developers don’t want to support the card, because there aren’t a lot of cards out there. People don’t want to buy the card, because there aren’t a lot of games to support the card.

We were like, how can we work together and come up with something pretty cool? So that’s really where that came from.


Job well done: Scott (right) and Hermann (left), relax in the lobby of Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic during the 2007 Online Game Development Conference.


How does the publishing work? Do you have a publisher for it, or are you…

SB: No, we’re just going to distribute it for free.

So it will be free?

SB: Yep.

Free?

SB: And that’s what we were saying – do we do expansions that maybe we charge for? Do we do a weapon pack or a map pack? That’s what we’re still trying to figure out: how we’ll grow it from there.

So that’s how you keep the IP? You develop the game, then give it away for free?

SB: [Laughs] Yeah, I guess so. I don’t know where it’s going to go yet. We’re talking to a number of publishers about it, maybe they’ll pick it up, maybe we’ll do a brand new IP, but use all the tech we’ve developed. We’re not sure exactly where it’s going yet. But our focus is really online, so this is an online shooter.

How did the LEGO deal come about?

SB: They came to us. They were doing an evaluation of all these developers across the world. And they came out and did an interview process, met with us, and studied our development processes. It was crazy, the questionnaire was amazing. ‘how does your backup work, how often…’ It was this big old form.

And I think we really hit it off well with those guys. I think they appreciated our willingness to make different MMOs instead of having everything have to follow the same mould every time.

We have a lot of experience with physics, obviously this will be a very physical world. [chuckles] In the end, they told us it was just our desire that made them really interested. They were like, ‘you guys are excited. You want to do this with us.

I couldn’t say enough about how good they are. They’re so different than a game company. They just have a different approach. They’ve been in business longer, frankly, and they’re just a cool company.

For instance, they focus test everything. They’ve been doing that for years, on all their toys. And they know how to focus test, how to read the results of a focus test. That’s something they seem much better at than most game companies I’ve worked with before.

And so we focus test everything. ‘Here’s an idea, so let’s bring in some moms and some kids, run it past them, let’s show ‘em the visuals and tell them your idea.’ And then we just go from there. Everything we do is always focus tested, and has really great feedback. It’s a different process than we were used to. And it’s a good process.


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