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Sounds like it was a very, very different way of working and a very different time in the industry compared to the kind of situation you guys have now.
EP: Yeah, I definitely think it was a little bit more raw, and in many ways that was a better experience than it is even now, because you get into a formula of how you do things; and a lot of times you're not coming at it with necessarily -- that's not to say that you're not coming at it with as much gusto or enthusiasm as you might have had, but, when you first start a company, there's a whole sense of passion that you just can't replicate after you've done it once. That feeling eventually goes away because now you're an existing --
WH: You're rinse, wash, and repeat on multiple titles, but you're not going to beat that first title.
EP: Yeah. It's definitely something that you cherish because it's hard to get a whole group of people to be so excited about something for the first time ever and to actually get it done, and ship it, and get the results that we had. It's hard to make lightning strike multiple times.
WH: Also, both Eric and I were deep in the trenches on that title. Nowadays, we are involved; we keep our hands in the cookie jar, so to speak, but back then we were --
EP: We were really doing the work, too. We were part of the team; not just administrators.
Talking to people who found studios and get to a certain point in their careers, you sometimes hear a little tinge of regret from developers who get into management The success is great, but you guys sound like you guys have sort of a similar perspective: you look back very fondly at the times when you were actually really doing the development work. Is that a fair assessment?
EP: Yeah, I think so. Unfortunately, it makes us sound like dinosaurs, but... Like, "Oh, these guys don't do work anymore," or "They're out of touch," or "They don't have the passion anymore for games" -- which is totally not true! We do -- it's just that we have all these extra responsibilities that unfortunately take up our time and move us a little bit further away from everyday development.
I would love for the opportunity to go back and continue to do that kind of work, and have that kind of input on a day-to-day basis because it's a lot more fun. It's who I am; it's why we got into the industry. It's what made us excited about being gamers and game developers.
When you start doing something that is a little bit more out of your spectrum of comfortability, and you're doing politicking and networking and administrative type stuff -- I'm doing legal work now, and things like that, I honestly never thought I would do.
I was an artist, and Wayne was a programmer; we got our hands dirty, and we were grease monkeys back then when it came to what we did with the game. Now, we just sit there and review it at different stages, and we have our input and say what we think is right or wrong; but we're not jumping in, getting our hands dirty. So that's kind of the big change for us.
WH: Yeah, it's weird. It's kind of like eight hours of work a day seems like a lot longer time than 12 hours of work did back then.
EP: Twelve? I mean, even 16! When we did overnighters and everything for Robotech, we used to sleep on the floor at the office; and honestly none of us really minded because it was so exciting. It was like, "Wow, this is great! We're making a game, and we're doing it on our own. We're out of the big, corporate element, the evil empire," type talk. You're thinking that you've gone rogue, and you're doing all this by yourself -- and you are!
But, again, later in life, where we are today, you're back under the corporate wing, and things are done differently. They can't be that way anymore. You have a different set of expectations and different goals. We're not, obviously, shopping for deals on the open market like we did when we were independent, so now we work on what we get and sign with the D3 Group, which is now owned by Namco as well. It just kind of got bigger and bigger; we went from being a very small independent to a larger independent to being purchased.
What year did you guys originally get together with D3?
EP: Well, we worked with them, again, as a developer-publisher relationship...
WH: We started in 2006, maybe?
EP: What was the first one we did -- was that Flushed?
WH: Yeah, Flushed Away.
EP: I guess we worked on the Flushed Away DreamWorks game initially. We were working with other publishers like Konami -- and of course we already mentioned Mattel at the time -- and that turned into TDK Mediactive...
WH: ...and Namco.
EP: Namco, yeah; even Take-2, and everybody. We were working on two things, actually: we were working on Dead Head Fred -- we got that placed with D3 in a similar time frame that we were working on Flushed Away, which was a DreamWorks movie-licensed game. We were doing a new IP, and we were doing a kids' title, a family title.
EP: We were acquired in June, 2007; I would say we worked at least two years with D3 before that.