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A Veteran With Character: Roger Hector Speaks
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A Veteran With Character: Roger Hector Speaks

May 22, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 8 of 9 Next

What do you think the reason was why the Saturn didn't do well? My perception was a lack of focus on the strengths that they had, and trying too hard to compete directly with Sony.

RH: There were several things that contributed to that whole situation. One was that early on, there was a commitment made to this NVIDIA chipset that... because we were directly involved with the creation of the entertainment software, we were just peripherally aware of what was going on in the hardware engineering of Saturn.

But one of the real failures that took place was that Sega was in a rush to get this hardware out, and there were no tools. There was no documentation. There was none of the basic stuff that you really need in order to develop something for it, and it wasn't there for a long time. Outside developers were totally left out to lunch. They didn't stand a chance. We had at least the small advantage of being able to pick up the phone and make phone calls to ask questions about things, but we didn't have documentation or anything either. It was very hard to develop for.

Another fundamental problem with Saturn was that it was a fairly complex system by design. It was intended to have a high ceiling above it, in terms of what could ultimately be accomplished. The strategy was that Saturn might be a little harder to work with initially, but with longer-term more and more use and expertise, developers could get more and more out of the Saturn that a comparable PlayStation.

That was the theory. The reality was that it was hard to work with. It took a long time to get there, and without sufficient help and support available, Sega also lost a lot of the ongoing support from the third parties. That was a big deal. Sony was doing an extremely aggressive and good job of being supportive to the third party community out there, and Sega wasn't. I think that really contributed a lot to the tipping of the scales.

At that point, is that when you went to Namco?

RH: No! (laughs)

What's next?

RH: What is next? Let's see. After Sega, some of the execs from Sega that had also left, went off, and found other things. Universal Studios was where one of them landed, who wanted me to come along with them and build up a game development entity within Universal. They didn't have anything in-house at that time. That's where I went next.

I didn't want to move to Southern California. I had already done Disney and working in a movie studio environment, and I was a little cautious of that, going in a second time. But we set up the digital arts division of Universal up in San Jose, which is where we live, and basically recruited local games talent from Silicon Valley in to develop games for Universal, at digital arts. I was president of that division. That was about a three-year run.

As it turns out, Universal at that particular time was a very challenging place to work, mostly because there was kind of a constant, steady turnover in management above our heads. I was there for three years. I had five different bosses. Most of those bosses had no idea what games were about at all. They had no orientation to it whatsoever. So you can imagine how that would be tough.

When my contract ran out, I had no desire to renew that. At that point, I went on kind of a hiatus. There were some interesting Silicon Valley startup ideas that I wanted to get involved with. I was a founder in a company called Enterprise Broadcasting, which was taking hi-def video projection technology and incorporating it into an e-commerce business model based in retail shopping malls.

It was entertainment mixed with retail, and was a new business idea. That was actually quite a lot of fun. It was a very interesting project. We managed to get some facilities built and constructed, and it did work, but it also got caught up in the dot-com bust. From there, I went off and wanted to do something totally different in that point. I have a background degree in automobile design.

Article Start Previous Page 8 of 9 Next

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