Mat@MDickie.com
Fan-terview














 


~ November 2004 ~
Following this Summer's controversial Hater-view, it seems a little unfair that the
legitimate fans don't get their own interview time too. So now we're back at the other side
of the spectrum with the first "Fan-terview"! One "Silent Assassin" is up first, inquiring
as a wrestling fan and aspiring game developer...

There's no doubt that your skills as a programmer have increased exponentially, have you ever considered rewriting some of your most popular games such as Federation Booker in order to make them more efficient, and if so, what do you think they could gain from it in technical terms?
Yeah, that seems to be the case with any creative endeavour. You're always getting better in one way or another, so it's hard to remain satisfied with your early work. I even noticed Eminem saying recently that he's embarrassed by his first album - so it happens to the best of us! Then, of course, you've got George Lucas reconstructing the Star Wars series every few years. I can definitely understand where they're coming from. However, of all the games I wish I could change, that 2D gameplay from Federation Booker doesn't bother me so much. My only regret about that entire series is the clumsy presentation in the menus, etc.. That's about the only thing I'd like to correct. The fact that it's a 2D game doesn't help matters either. I'm really not comfortable with 2D graphics anymore, so I don't think I could remake it if I wanted to! My 3D work is a much more likely candidate. We'll see a re-mastered version of the Wrestling MPire series before any other game...

Every fan knows that you have an admirably strong belief in yourself as a lone programmer, but have you thought about using something such as BlitzPlay to finally realize the idea of an online wrestling game?
Online play has been a popular request in recent years, but it's the one thing that I'm really not comfortable with. I don't even know how to play online games - let alone make them! For a guy that makes his living over the Internet, I don't know an awful lot about it. That's not necessarily ignorance, it's just that the Internet is still quite elusive in my world. It's something that you use with your eye on the clock - so I can't be running around spending hours playing games online. When things settle down and become more commonplace, then I'll educate myself on the matter and see what's there. I'd like to see performance improve too. I imagine it would be impossible to get Wrestling MPire running online without some major sacrifices...

I think it's clear to every WWE fan that there has been a lot of magic missing from the product, and this is reflected in the ratings, and indeed your actions/reactions, but with the launch of The Wrestling Channel, have you regained any faith in the sport?
The problem, for me, is that WWE is the entire wrestling industry in the Western world. If that's not firing on all cylinders then everything else becomes hard to get excited about. They're definitely suffering from a lack of competition. It also occurs to me that Vince is paying for the dishonourable direction that he took things in. He wanted WWE to become "shock TV", and now it is - something that nobody takes seriously! Instead of a good sports show, it's a bad soap opera. Japan is all that remains of the wrestling industry that I loved. They've always marketed it as a sport over there - an honourable one at that - and that's what appeals to me. They worked harder for their popularity, instead of selling out, so it's a popularity that can weather the storm. If you attract fans for the right reasons then they stay forever...

You recently wrote on your website about nearly wanting to return to wrestling games, when (and if) you do, what new things do you plan on bringing to the table?
MD: Yeah, it's practically guaranteed - whether I like it or not! I feel ready to do some good stuff now, but there's less demand for it while WWE is on a downer. If I'm going to go through all that hard work again then I need to time it perfectly. The graphics alone are enough to get me back in the ring. From the improved character models to the arenas, the next wrestling game we see is going to look fantastic. It'll even play better too. Every game I make seems to add a breakthrough to the list. So much so, in fact, that I've been keeping track of them in a special article here at the site...

Will you ever create 'super special' matches in you wrestling games such as the Hell In A Cell concept or even the (laughable) triple cage match from WCW, as the bumbling fools at THQ can't seem to do anything for the matches?
No, that's the one thing I can't offer my players. When you start getting extravagant, it becomes more like making a platform game than a wrestling game! Being a solo game developer, I haven't got the time or resources to take things that far. Not least because those novelty matches are merely "options" that people would ignore 90% of the time. My time is so precious that I have to balance what I want with what's realistic. If something is more hassle than it's worth then it's got no place in my schedule...

Do you watch any independent wrestling promotions, and if so, can you pick out some of the stand out ones that perhaps readers might not have seen?
Well, the independent scene was practically dead when I was last on the scene - so I'm not the best person to ask. However, I did hear great things about Ring Of Honour. They were trying to introduce the honour of Japanese wrestling to the West, and that's exactly what I had been waiting for. It has since been rocked by various scandals though, and I'm not sure how well it has survived. The FWA in my native England were onto something too, but I suspect they're also suffering from the industry's latest slump. However, they rather rudely rejected my offer to make a game for them - so they get no sympathy from me! Within 24 hours, I could have made them twice as popular as they are now - or have ever been - but now they must pay for their ignorance...

How does it make you feel when you continually push forwards the barriers of ingenuity, despite a (rather stupid and pointless) barrage of negativity from critics?
It used to drive me absolutely crazy. I'm the type that likes to please everybody, and it took me a long time to accept that it's not possible. There are people out there that simply cannot be reasoned with. I could drag them out of a burning car and they would still find a reason to criticize me for it! Some people are so weak that they can only be heard by criticizing others. That's it. That's all they bring to the world. My stance now is to completely ignore people like that. As far as I'm concerned, criticism implies that you can do a better job. If that's the case, then be my guest! If what I do is so lame, then by all means do it better, quicker, and cheaper. If you doubt my character, bring me a question that I cannot answer. All of the above is impossible, and I'll happily dedicate my career to proving it. At the end of the day, I know I'm a good guy doing good, positive work. Anybody who doesn't see that has got so little integrity that their opinions don't matter...

You mentioned a while ago that you received some kind of contact from a certain famous group, asking about you making a game (or variant of an existing one) geared around hem. Has anything further been done for this, and how did you feel when the contact was made?
I get contacted by Z-list celebrities all the time, because they figure I'm small enough to be manipulated. However, they're often dismayed to find that I've got no respect for "celebrities"! I don't care how famous you are, if you're not the king of your chosen profession then you've got no reason to be arrogant. After Michael Jackson's game though, the bar was raised a little bit and I started to move in more interesting circles. That culminated when I got a lead on Shady Records and pushed for games to be added to their CD's and DVD's. Nothing came of that, but it was definitely a confidence booster. I even got an e-mail from Eminem's biographer saying my stuff was "cool" and to "keep at it". These things always falls apart when it comes to money though, because I don't play with millions of dollars. I wanted to focus on the creative aspect and give the fans a series of free gifts, but that doesn't fly in such a money-driven industry. Even if the artists aren't like that, you can bet their bosses are...

Can you explain the concept of your next game to us, and why should we buy it?
Well, building on that last point, I should say that I'm not a money-orientated developer. I'm not in the business of tricking people into buying my games. I'd rather have a few thousand happy fans than a few hundred thousand that feel cheated. I've even been known to tell people NOT to buy my games! If you don't like wrestling, don't buy Wrestling MPire. If you don't like music, don't buy Popscene. That's why my previews at MDickie.com are so detailed and honest. It would only come back to haunt me if they weren't. With that in mind, I won't be telling anybody why they should buy my next game - but I will say it's one of my most interesting concepts yet. Wrecked is like a cross between Tomb Raider and Age Of Empires, as it combines action-packed gameplay with resource management. As ever, it should be another unique game. Even if it doesn't come off right, you've got to give me credit for trying! That's pretty much what my whole career has been about...

Finally, Who are your favorite 3 wrestlers, and why?
At the risk of being predictable, I've got to throw The Rock up there. For a guy of his stature, he put so much work into improving himself - and obviously had a genuine passion for the business. I'd like to see that continue throughout his movie work. Bret Hart should be in there too, for being a tower of integrity in an industry that's had a lack of it. I love the fact that he mastered his profession so well that he never injured anybody. It puts stuntmen like Mick Foley to shame! I'd give the final slot to Japan's Jushin Liger. I can't claim to know an awful lot about the guy's character, but he's just plain impressive. He's been involved in dozens of the greatest matches of all time - and that's no coincidence...

My closing message to you is that for a beginning programmer, you have been a major inspiration to my endeavors, and no doubt many, many other programmers as well, and I hope to see many more games from you in the future.
Thanks, it's always good to see the inspired developers out-numbering the intimidated ones...

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