Mat@MDickie.com
Bernard Randall's Interview














 


~ December 2008 ~
As my gaming career draws to a close, I let Bernard Randall speak for
the fan community as he gets the answers to a few final questions...

What is the real aim of releasing The You Testament as your final release and do you want it to be a major part of your legacy?
Contrary to popular belief, The You Testament has nothing to do with me and nothing to do with games. It was my intention to provoke debate about religion in the same way Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code got people thinking twice about what they thought they knew. Don't get me wrong - that book was a tawdry piece of work and I don't have any time for it. It seemed to cast doubt on Jesus' divinity and groveled to a secular agenda, whereas it was my intention to endorse religious principles and make them easier to understand. It saddens me that religion is SO misunderstood by SO many people - whether it's those that love it too much or those that love it too little. I wanted to bridge the gap and steer people away from either extreme. I wanted to make it common knowledge that Jesus practiced meditation. Not only is that the key to understanding what he meant with a lot of strange things he said or did, but it's also the key that unites every religious movement on the planet - from Hinduism to Scientology. I could think of no better way to spend my last breath, and no better gift to give the world this Christmas...

You mentioned a book documenting your independent gaming career. When will it be released?
The text itself is finished now, but I can't vouch for its release because I've never published a book before and I don't know how long it will take. I hope it'll be available to buy some time in January 2009...

What is your favourite major game and how did it influence you?
I stopped playing games like a normal person would a long time ago (pretty much the minute I started making them for myself!). I just have a few classic PC games that I return to from time to time. Those are Jagged Alliance, the Age Of Empires series, and Sid Meier's Civilization series. They're all strategy war games, which is quite odd when you consider I never visited that genre myself as a game designer. A lot of the stat-based stuff in my work was inspired by Jagged Alliance though. You put together your own band of characters and you see their stats slowly rise and fall over time. A lot of my games touched on that idea...

What is your personal favourite game that you have made?
Philosophically, I have to say The You Testament because it's the culmination of every other game and explores themes that I've always wanted to explore. In terms of entertainment, however, I'm most proud of Reach and Wrestling MPire 2008. People look down on WM2008 because they're tired of the concept and can spot the recycling, but if you had never played my games before then that would blow you away. One man has no business making a game of that size or sophistication. You'll never see something like that achieved ever again. Even a TEAM of independents would have their work cut out. I take the criticism as a compliment because all people ever do is compare it to mainstream wrestling games - games that were made by hundreds of people on a million dollar budget. I did such a good job that people forget it was an independent release! When it comes to solo efforts, it's a miracle you're not playing something that looks like Pong or Space Invaders...

Do yo think that the fans of your games are the reason you kept going?
Absolutely - they were like the blood that flowed through my veins. All I ever wanted to do was entertain an audience. Trust me, there's no other reason to do anything at this level! There's not a lot of money to be made, and even if there was that's no substitute for passion. You can't fake that for all the money in the world. But somewhere along the line that blood turned cancerous and was in short supply. It started doing more harm than good and made my work miserable. Reading my mail and corresponding with my fans used to be the highlight of my day, but now I dread it and can't wait until it's no longer part of my life. The Internet has become a toxic place in recent years. It's the YouTube generation. People hide behind their keyboards and say things they would never say to your face. It seems to bring out the very worst in humanity. Every once in a while you get a kid that rises above it all though, and that can make things worthwhile. I tend to have some great people as fans, because it takes a lot of integrity to look past the flaws in my work. The average person doesn't get it, so it's like a secret society! My fan mail is my most prized possession that I'll take from these years. I have it all printed off in a huge folder...

Who is the most famous person you have met on your travels?
I came close to meeting Michael Jackson, but there was no cigar there. Even when I do get to do business with people, I don't "meet" them in the traditional sense because my presence is a virtual one. The most famous people I've ever corresponded with directly are Eminem and the Ultimate Warrior, who I was a huge fan of as a child. I saw him perform at Summerslam 92 at Wembley, so it was surreal to talk about making a game with him as an adult. In the course of my work, I've also had the pleasure of talking to some notable journalists and have appeared in the very publications I used to read...

Who gave you the most trouble during your long career?
The whole point of making the games single-handedly was that no human being could affect my career. The biggest THING that gave me trouble was computers themselves, which always crashed or broke at the least appropriate time and gave me a few heart-stopping moments in the middle of a project! Compatibility issues were also a nightmare. No two computers are the same, so it was impossible to help people when they had a problem. It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Not being in stores was also an uphill struggle. You have to REALLY want a game to go through the hassle of ordering it by mail, whereas you don't think twice about picking up a game from a store. I always had to survive on word of mouth and was doomed to be an underground oddity...

If you had the chance to do anything different in your career what would it have been?
It would have been nice to PLAY more games instead of making them, because I spent half of my time being out of touch and lived in my own little world. That's what made me so innovative though, and it ensured I was focused on getting my own work done. In general, I wouldn't have let making games dominate my life quite so much. Now that it's over, what I was doing doesn't seem that special or important - so it probably wasn't worth sacrificing a normal life for. I would've liked to have been more humble too, instead pissing everybody off by playing a rebellious character. That's not really in my nature. I only did it to make my act more interesting - like Muhammad Ali getting you excited about a fight. It's all part of the story though. Mine was a unique experience that has made me a unique person. You can't regret your past if you love your present...

Here is a very controversial question. Which is your favourite MDickie fan site - MPire Mall or Encore Mall?
I don't like reading about myself on the Internet, so I'm ashamed to say that I'm not familiar with either of them. Whichever one is most positive and keeps piracy under control would get my vote. Although in my experience, no public forum falls into that category! Get me the links and I'll do a better job of promoting them now that I don't have to worry about them affecting my career...

What is next for Mat Dickie?
That would be telling! All I can say it has nothing to do with making games. You'll have to read the book for the full story on that...

Copyright MDickie 2000 - 2008