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Toying With Games: Todd McFarlane On Halo And His MMO
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Toying With Games: Todd McFarlane On Halo And His MMO

November 12, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

Did you have any hesitation about getting involved with another game project or was that something you were interested in?

TM: You know, we'd been talking about it internally, developing our own game anyway, and it looked like we weren't going to be able to do that and do some of the other ventures that we already do, so this was a way of sort of having my cake and eating it too.

I went "Oh, good." I can get in on developing from the ground level up, have a say in the project, add some blood into the game, and not have to worry about preconceived notions of somebody's game that they've got a deadline and this is the budget, and you've got to get it out, which is what happened with some of the other stuff I was involved in.

Yeah, not to put too fine a point on it, but some of the game that you have been involved with have had checkered histories. The obvious examples are McFarlane's Evil Prophecy from Konami which turned out to be not the best game, to put it mildly, and then Ultima Online 2 ended up not even coming out. Did that give you pause?

TM: Yeah, well, because again, in some of those [situations], there were mechanisms in place that I couldn't control. Here, we're in control. So, I go, "All right." To be able to have input on how it's all going to develop from the get-go, that was it. That was really the biggest enticement for me, and not going, oh, I'm jumping onboard to this thing that's already built halfway, that already has its status quo, and then I couldn't do anything to change some of those boulders that are already running down the hill.

You know, there's a lot of talk -- I was just at the Austin Game Developers Conference last week, which was full of MMO guys. Some of the 38 guys were there. There's a lot of talk now about that space. Thanks to the phenomenal success of World of Warcraft, there's also a lot more competition upcoming. How do you feel about that?

TM: I see it as being the same as any place where people see there's an opportunity for business. Once there's one big success in one arena, you get fifty guys coming on board and they try to milk it a little bit. It sometimes can be a bit of a deterrent to that business because you sort of start cannibalizing from each other a little bit.

I think what ends up happening with that space is the same thing that happens here with videogames. But, you know what? The cream will rise to the top. The fans will basically pick and choose what they want. There will be a bunch of games that will come out, hang around for a little bit, peter out and then move on.

I mean, the movie business is the same way. Just because they put out a hundred movies, doesn't mean they're all successful. You could even spend all the same amount of money and that doesn't mean they're all going to be successful. Somebody's going to have to deliver -- 38 Studios included.

We're not just going to be able to sit there and go, oh, look at us, we've got a couple people who have reputations coming by. That may add a little bit of curiosity at the beginning, but if you don't deliver the goods, like we were saying with Evil Prophecy, once you get past the curiosity, if the game doesn't work then the game doesn't work! People will move on very quickly because they can spend their money better someplace else.

Are you confident so far with what you've seen with 38 Studios? The planning, the staff and everything?

TM: Yeah. The story's well thought out, the visuals -- and I'm not saying this because I'm doing them, I'm actually watching the kids do it -- are turning out to be some terrific stuff, and then we have a good crew of people who are paying attention to the logistics side of it. Brett Close, who's helped a handful of big games coming out.

Everybody has equal value and that doesn't have to necessarily be what you're going to end up seeing with your eyes. Even the mechanism of being able to actually generate that though a pipeline of IT -- all that data information that's going to go make those guys move the way you want. You've got a roomful of guys who work behind the skeleton that we build, that are right there going, "You can make it as pretty as you want, guys, but if we don't do our job then none of this works." So everybody's doing what they're doing and so far it's tracking.

Now, the bigger hurdles are going to come in the next two years as we get to some bigger, higher mile markers. Right now a lot of it's conceptual in terms of the artwork, and once we have to start making it 3D, rendering and moving, and make it all work in a space, then we're going to see whether we actually know what [we've got]. We're going to turn theory into reality and it's going to have to work at that point. But Curt was very smart in getting some very skilled people in those different divisions who have already lived this life over and over and over.

MMOs are most likely more complex than any other game genre to produce, so I'm sure you've been made aware of some of the pitfalls there.

TM: Well, the thing is we're necessarily trying to reinvent any wheel, we're just trying to polish it up a little bit, so the wheel exists and we're just kind of trying to cool mag, maybe put a kind of a bling spinner on the wheel. And just go, "The wheel works. We don't have to start all over, the wheel works. How do you present it in a way that's a little bit different?"

So have you guys made any details about the game public yet, or is that all sort of being held back until you get further along?

TM: No, not a lot. We showed our first visual at San Diego Comic-Con. So now people look at that and they go, okay, it's not going to be a sports game. Because in interviews, people were going, "Oh, Curt Schilling! Are you doing a sports game?" So people can now see that it's got a fantasy element to it, and we'll go into that area that already is hugely popular.

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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