Now I'm assuming it's full, multi-platform tech. This game is shipping on 360 and PS3 -- is it shipping on PC as well?
CB: Yep, there's PC as well. Then there's a PS2 version as well, which is developed out of house, and using the Mercs 1 tech.
So is the PS2 version actually basically a different game?
CB: Yeah. It has a lot of similarities, but it's really tailored to the capabilities of the PS2, much more. So, you know, it's the same basic storyline, it has the same sort of characters and setting -- it's set in Venezuela -- it has the same kind of core story.
The missions themselves, it's not like there's a one-to-one correspondence between the missions or the world layout, or anything like that. So it's similar, but it's actually its own game, to the point that, as director of the next-gen project, I'm very enthusiastic about when we ship this game. One of the things that I'm going to do on my vacation is play the PS2 version, so I can play a Mercs game that I didn't get involved in every detail of!
That's kinda cool. When it comes to generational transitions -- I guess the game I think of the most is, when the Xbox 360 was still relatively new, they shipped two different Splinter Cell games that year, and they were different games. It's kind of an interesting thing, when that sort of thing happens.
CB: Right. That's been a kind of fun part of going from Mercs 1 to Mercs 2, we're starting to see a lot more expressions of the game universe. There's a comic book now, there's a mobile game that is really awesome -- it's actually, I'm not a huge player of games on my cell phone, but the Mercs cell phone game is unbelievably cool!
It's like this really, really awesome, 8-bit kind of "Commando" Mercs, with like little 8-bit Mattias running around. It's really neat; it's really, really fun, just as someone involved in the creative direction of Mercs, to see other people starting to run with it, and seeing reflections of it in other places. That's a really fun thing.
Let's go way back and talk about -- this series started a few years ago; can you talk about where it came from originally?
CB: Yeah. Well, it's, the original idea of doing a mercenaries game, or a game with a mercenary as the central character, really came from Andrew Goldman, who is our CEO. And his title is CEO, but he really functions as kind-of -- I don't know what you'd call it, but he's the chief creative consultant of the company. He's got his fingers in pretty much everything that Pandemic's made, it has a little piece of Andrew's brain in it.
So he and I were talking, and we're really, we'd really gotten to think about, I guess what we would call... obviously we were heavily inspired by GTAIII at the time. We were just blown away by what Rockstar had done in, really, creating a new genre, and really opening up the structure of the game. We were really inspired by that, and we started talking to each other, and seeing that, wow, taking this into a more military environment -- so, you know, putting it in a war zone, and having the tanks, and helicopters, and focusing more on more epic destruction -- would really be a more interesting spin on that genre of game.
We started throwing around this "GTA in a war zone" kind of idea, and I remember Andrew just came to me one day, and he said, "What if you're a mercenary?" And we started talking about it, and it became clear that there was this really interesting freedom that came from that concept. You know, the freedom to work with whomever you wanted, the freedom to not follow orders, and it really felt like a way to not get sucked into being just another military game.
It really let us have the best of both worlds, in terms of taking stuff from a civilian world -- you know, a mercenary can drive sports cars, and can be in crazy drug lord villas, and do a lot of the really cool civilian stuff that you would associate with an action movie -- but then the merc is just as at-home on an open battlefield, with the tanks, and the helicopters, and the air strikes, and soldiers, and massive battles. So it was really exciting when we started thinking in those terms, and going, you know, you could basically turn up for the battle in your Lamborghini, or whatever, and we're going, "Wow, that's a really interesting idea." And there weren't a lot of games at the time, and there still aren't that many games, using that kind of premise.
Not really, I don't think.
And I remember at the time, I guess it was back in -- I don't remember when it was. But I guess it was in 2002, or something like that. Or 2003. And I remember, it was really like, for me, I was vaguely aware of the private military companies, and the Blackwaters, and the executive operations -- or the executive outcomes, I should say -- it's clear where the executive operations inspiration from Mercs 1 came from.
And I remember when I began to research that stuff, and read into it more and more, and learn about these very corporate, private armies, and these private soldiers. It's just a fascinating world. And once we'd gotten into that -- once we started looking into it, and started thinking about the gameplay possibilities, it just kind of snowballed from there. It became a no-brainer, you know?