Mat@MDickie.com
Wrestling Gamers United Interview: Part 2














 


~ March 2004 ~
Wrestling Gamers United is a website dedicated to making the wrestling genre a better place.
In between Wrestling MPire and Booking MPire, I talked to them about my very same mission...

With the success of your 2D games, why did you feel the need to make the jump to 3D with Wrestling MPire? Did it have anything with Spike also abandoning the 2D format? Have we seen the end of 2D wrestling games in your opinion?
Strangely enough, 2D games are harder to make. When you consider that they're 10 times less impressive, moving to 3D was a no-brainer. I've always thought that making 2D games is like making a beautiful Disney animation; whereas 3D games are like directing puppets or actors. The latter is much less daunting! If nothing else, I guess it's just the natural evolution of my career. I progressed from text to 2D graphics; now I'm progressing from 2D to 3D. My first album of games, "Evolution Of The MPire", will tell that tale...

You recently posted a public service announcement in response to complaints from parents that thought your games were causing disruption in their kids' lives. What do you believe is that magic quality that keeps people coming back to games like yours day after day?
Ha, I think a lot of parents would disagree with the term "magic quality"! Whatever you want to call it, the one thing that hooks people into my games is that they're so different. I've dedicated my entire career to doing things that nobody else can or will do. That's for my own sanity as much
as anything else! I can't get excited about a game if there's no reason for it to exist. The result is that my players get something that they can't find anywhere else. That's a very addictive situation...

Speaking of your career, your success as an independent game developer has obviously resulted in offers to work full time in the industry. How do you resist such offers?
Funny you should mention that, because I'm on the radar of THQ as we speak. Wrestling MPire has really put me on the map as far as the industry is concerned, and has a lot of people talking. Where it will lead remains to be seen. I'd feel like a sell-out if I did become a cog in the machine, so don't look for that to happen too easily. I've got strong feelings about what the games industry should be, and the mainstream certainly doesn't share them. Plus, I pride myself on being this unique one-man-show! I've got a lot of innovating to do yet, and I don't want anything to interfere with that. Never say never though. After all, we're talking about an industry where you've got Eric Bischoff walking the aisles of WWE...

You raise an interesting point, Mat. The next logical step for MDickie at this point could go one of three different ways. You could accept a job at THQ at the risk of having almost zero input in the quality of the product. You could hire a team of your own to take your series of games to the next level, faster than you could do it yourself, but once again risk diluting the magic quality that makes your work so special. Or you could continue being the only one man show in the wrestling game industry, and make and break your own rules. Your fans want to know, what will Mat do?
Oh, I've definitely got my heart set on tearing up this industry as a one-man-show! The only problem is that it's proving to be very risky. You need the support of a publisher to make it big, so by shunning them I'm making life very difficult for myself. It's like Eminem working without a record contract! I'm barely making a living with my smalltime status, so unless I blow-up within the year it will be very tempting to accept a secure job. I'd feel like a failure if it came to that though, so rest assured I'll fight as hard as I can to prevent it. The industry needs me to make a success of independent game development. They don't realise it yet, but it's true...

What would you say to a kid who came to you for advice on entering the game industry? Would you advise him to take the MDickie "one-man-show" approach, or go the traditional route and choose a field to specialize in?
I've had to give that a lot of thought over the years, because many of my players do indeed want to follow in my footsteps. I have mixed feelings about it all though. It's obviously flattering, but at the end of the day I'm not so sure it's possible. If you look around, I'm the only person in the history of this business that's doing what I'm doing. No one man has ever taken things this far, and if you aim to repeat it then you've got your work cut out! However, another part of me thinks that I could be a pioneer and break the barriers down for everyone else. It's no secret that I don't like the games industry that we have now, and I'd love to inspire the revolution that makes it more interesting. I'd love to see it become more like the music industry - where there are dozens of "solo artists" running
around doing their own thing. Hell, I'd like to sign them all up to one label so that I could release amazing compilation CD's and collaborations! That's just a pipedream at the moment though. Very few independent game developers have got my talent, and very few mainstream developers have got
my spirit. Until I bridge the gap, I'm stranded out here on my own little island...

Do you think kids are fooling themselves by thinking they can make a living at independent game development? Obviously not everyone can attain your level of success. Should kids be more realistic about their goals, or can they indeed make it on their own financially by producing games?
Never mind the kids - I see a lot of adults that are deluding themselves! We find ourselves making games and then assume that we deserve to be rich. The truth is that independent games are always going to be a huge step behind everything else - and to make it work you have to break
the mould. You have to use your freedom to make games that can't be found anywhere else. That's what I've dedicated my career to - and let's face it, it's the only reason I get by. As long as kids bear that in mind then they've got a shot. Hopefully my work will prove that soon. It's very easy to dismiss independent games at the moment, but when I'm done they'll be the toast of the industry! I'd like to emulate the success of rap music - whereby you've got this crude, cheap style of entertainment that's got so much personality that it can't be ignored. It's not pretty, but it gets by on its spirit. I find myself taking that exact same approach to games. And just like rap music; if I can make a success of it then the gates will be open for everybody else. Before you know it, solo game development will be the norm...

You make a lot of references to rap and you do all your own music for your games. Are you hiding another talent? Are you a closet rap artist too?
No, I'm not that multi-talented! Putting together those basic tunes is as good as it gets with me. I could never produce a decent song, but I've got a lot of respect for those that can. I guess I'm just a very impressionable person. Whether it's music, movies, or art, I'm inspired by anybody that's the best at what they do. That's particularly true of the music industry. I've grown to understand that as much as the wrestling business for some reason. And sure enough, that's what I'm moving onto next. I want to do for music what I've done for wrestling...

Mat, don't tease us! At least give your fans one little hint about what you're up to, please?
Hey, I'm not up to anything just yet - it's only an idea! I'm still concentrating on Booking MPire right now, so I can't get too far ahead of myself. It's fairly self-explanatory though. Just imagine the same
super-detailed concept of Wrestling MPire combined with the world of music. Recording sessions, concerts, video shoots, collaborations, disputes, scandals, million dollar contracts, award ceremonies... the possibilities are endless. You've got me thinking about it again now! Don't blame me if Booking MPire suddenly gets "cancelled"...

That is a fantastic idea! Nothing like that has ever been done, and it would be another first for MDickie and the games industry. Because Wrestling MPire was the pinnacle of your wrestling game franchise, how much farther do you really think it can be taken? Will you ever retire the franchise?
Yeah, I'm very excited about side-stepping into the world of music. I wouldn't agree that it's "never been done before", but it certainly hasn't been done "well" - and that's where MDickie comes in! It's similar to my work with wrestling games, where nobody else dares to tell it like it is. I just need to develop a passion for something, and then it's mine for the taking. I really feel like that about music at the moment. I've got the exact same passion that I had for wrestling in 1998 - and we all know where that led to! The flipside is that I'm falling out of love with the wrestling business. I don't take any pleasure in saying that but I think it's true. I'm working on Booking MPire as we speak and, as good as it is, I've got to admit that I'm forcing it. I'm "going through the motions" for the first time in my career, which isn't a good sign. After 4 years of dedicating myself to the sport, I guess I'm just burnt out. So yes, this 3D series might very well be my "retirement match". Even if I was still high on wrestling, my skills are exhausted too - so I couldn't improve it anytime soon if my life depended on it. Whichever way you cut it, I need at least a year away from wrestling games - and the clock starts ticking after Booking MPire...

We understand. As much as it will crush your fans to hear about your plans to take a break from wrestling games, who can blame you? You've done so much for the community and you deserve a break. Does your loss of interest relate to the general state of pro wrestling itself? Do you still watch wrestling, or have any favourite federations or wrestlers that still excite you?
I'm tempted to lay the blame on WWE and Vince McMahon. I'm from the Bret Hart camp, and I don't appreciate where Vince has taken the sport (focusing on "soap opera" storylines and soft porn, etc). I know they've emerged from that with guys like Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero on top - which is great - but I still can't help losing respect for the company. They've got so many black marks against their name, and so many botched angles, that it's ruined the WWF legacy in my eyes. The name change doesn't help matters either! I don't feel anything for that castrated "W" logo. Unfortunately, they ARE the wrestling industry in the West - and if you don't like their product, you don't like wrestling. I do still love the business itself though, and I always will. It's just that I have to look to Japan for that sense of honour and tradition. I'd like to think that Wrestling MPire keeps those qualities alive too...

I appreciate your honesty and openness, and thank you once again for a great interview. Your fans hold high hopes for Mat Dickie and deep down we all know you've only just begun. Anything you'd like to say to your fans before we wrap things up?
Thank you for asking the questions that needed to be answered. As ever, I'd like to thank my fans for getting in on the ground floor. Things might be a little quiet now, but it's only a matter time before it all takes off. There's some major publicity on the cards - and when it's all said and done I'm going to make you proud to be MDickie fans. You'll be able to say you were here first! And don't worry about my break from wrestling. Booking MPire is off the scale, and it's going to be the perfect finale. The complete series will keep you hooked into the wrestling business for years to come...

Copyright MDickie 2000 - 2004