When I first saw Dead Head Fred, I remember being really impressed because it was a very high-polished PSP game, which was -- is still -- a kind of a rare thing. The PSP market is obviously very different than it was when that game was in the works, but...
EP: Well, it was even different when we ended up shipping it because the market completely changed on us while we were in development, and really affected everything in the end.
Here, we thought that PSP was going to be this kind of an older audience handheld; something that was a little bit more savvy and slick and sexy, definitely geared towards the mature audience, and that's why we made Fred more of a mature game.
Of course, over the time of development things change; the landscape changed out there. One thing led to another: the game came out, and suddenly it seemed like the PSP was a little bit aged down -- the kind of games that people wanted to play.
WH: A fun experience, though, just getting to work on it.
There was a contrast to what was happening on the PSP at the time, which certainly was good for notice -- I don't know how you guys feel about the situation, but...
EP: Well, I feel bad that it didn't do as well as we wanted it to sales-wise, and it felt like not enough people got to experience that it was a good game because it just wasn't purchased. We got swept under the rug a little bit by the timing because we came out against Monster Hunter, and that was a very big game. A lot of people loved imports, and they wanted to play that game. It was a hot title.
Dead Head Fred
You talked about how, with Robotech, you had to roll your own tech; it was before tech licensing. But now you guys are a tech licenser. Was there a direct correlation between that -- you guys having a basis when you founded the studio, developing your own tech, and ending up licensing tech?
EP: I don't think there was any thought when we first started that we were going to ever do that -- and you could tell that if you were here and a programmer -- because the kind of tech we had on Robotech was really a slapped-together type experience.
We were moving as fast as we could, trying to get everything up and running; we had an editor and everything, but it surely wasn't as robust as what we have today, and it wasn't as streamlined, as compact, or data-driven.
WH: It had some data-driven features, but programmers were still typing in gameplay features.
EP: But what came out of that experience was the fact that we wanted to have changes in order to make things a little bit more data-driven to the point where we could enhance things in the engine but still be using all the tools and tech that would reside from game to game to game. I think that mentality and that shift is what eventually led us to the point of setting up the tech for somebody else.
WH: Yeah, there were a couple projects right after Battlecry that were started that really had a long lag period in the beginning, when we were trying to prep tech going from one game to the next, so a big-time goal of ours was to reformulate the technology so that we didn't have to do that anymore, and we succeeded.
And eventually that led into the licensing venue in 2005, when we were just trying to think of some interesting things to do with all the effort we had put into it.
EP: The licensing also came to be because of our PSP engine that we were developing for Fred. We did all that because PSP emerged, and we were like, "Wow; this is our chance to get into this handheld. It's so slick!"
Nobody was really doing tech for the PSP; everybody was so focused on everything else. So it was a perfect opportunity for us to kind of jump into that as a forerunner and say "We're going to do this tech, and we're going to sell for this," because we really thought that PSP was gonna boom.
Even though it did in some ways, and didn't in other ways, our whole purpose of being on the system and selling the tech for that reason had to start changing as well. We started covering other systems, and we eventually included every system under the hood, except for the Nintendo DS. So we had to kind of expand our thoughts a little bit and not just have the engine be for the PSP but for everything.