~ September 2016 ~
My games may not be on
Steam, but this interview was! Longtime fan (and sometime
critic), Pedro Santos, grills me on the conflict between PC and mobiles:
Hello MDickie, thank you for
accepting this interview for my blog. Before we begin, could you explain a bit
Since the turn of 2000, I’ve been
making games on my own terms with as little outside involvement as possible.
For the first 10 years, they were exclusively for the PC with mixed success –
but I branched out into mobiles in 2012 and found my calling with audiences
who saw my retro style as a positive instead of a negative.
Developing games can be hard for a one-man team, what's it like playing all
roles in game development for each project?
It sounds hard, but it’s actually
easier in a lot of ways. Not compromising with anybody makes it more creative,
not relying on anybody makes it quicker, not employing anybody makes it
cheaper. Plus on a personal level, I get the satisfaction of doing something
different from one hour to the next. If I was doing the same thing all day, I
suspect it would drag like a normal job!
Despite your preference to work alone, do you recall any situation in which
you would be better off with some help?
As much as I’ve enjoyed composing my
own themes, music is usually the most harmless area for me to delegate. As far
back as 2001, I recruited a university friend to produce the music for a
boxing game. And then more recently, I used Sick Logic’s “Broke” track in the
Wrestling Revolution franchise and bought in cinematic music for Super City.
It was fun to go hunting for the right track instead of putting pressure on
myself to produce it out of nowhere. And the results were superior to anything
I would have come up with. But music is easy to incorporate because it’s
something you tack on to an almost finished product. I’d hate to send out for
art and sit there waiting for each frame of animation to come in so that I can
start programming with it. I like to keep the creative process as quick as my
You've been creating games for at least 16 years now, what would you consider
your biggest achievement?
Wrestling Revolution 3D is demonstrably
my most successful game with over 30 million downloads on Android alone. But
it’s also my biggest achievement on a technical level. It’s easy to forget
that was the FIRST mobile app I ever made in 3D, so to dive in at the deep end
and come out at the other side with a wrestling game on that scale was against
the odds. To this day, its content has not been matched by any other mobile
developer and I don’t see it happening in the future any time soon. I worked
so hard on it that I’m not even sure I could do it again myself!
Out of all the games you've created up until this moment, do you have any
I actually like the more simple arcade
concepts like Sure Shot, but nobody shares my enthusiasm for those!
You've made an impressive transition to the mobile market, with your games
reaching millions of downloads. What was the biggest obstacle in that
Compiling them to work on all kinds of
different devices was – and still is – the biggest obstacle. There are
literally 11,000 different Android devices, and then dozens of different types
of iPhone or iPad, so to get one file working properly on them all is
practically impossible. It’s frustrating when people bring their compatibility
issues to you, because oftentimes all you can do is shrug your shoulders and
say you’ve tried your best. And then getting an app approved by Apple is a
whole other adventure. I still remember marking out when I saw the green tick
that said I had successfully uploaded my first app! I had to trick my PC into
thinking it was a Mac just to jump through their hoops.
Many PC users (including myself), felt a bit left out for not getting more
games from you on this platform, what are the main reasons for the absence of
PC games and the increase of mobile exclusives?
PC versions of each game exist, but
there’s simply nowhere to distribute them that compares to mobile app stores.
Steam have a monopoly on that right now, and both the users and the management
have made it clear that they’re not fans of my work. All I could do is give
the PC versions away for free on my own website, which would undermine
everything I’m trying to achieve with these active commercial properties. My
games are already being played by more people than they could ever reach on
Steam, so I’m not motivated to fight for the right to be on there.
On what terms would you agree with big digital distributers on PC like Steam
and GoG to bring back your games to the PC platform?
As the developer of 9 different
franchises that have surpassed a million downloads, I feel I deserve better
than the indignity of Steam’s “Greenlight” voting process and will not be
submitting my games there until it becomes truly open. Historically, anywhere
that somebody gets to pass judgment on my work is not a place that I will
thrive! My “independent” outlook extends to how games are marketed as well as
how they’re made.
What is your opinion on the growth of indie wrestling games in recent years
with projects such as Pro Wrestling X and 5 Star Wrestling?
I’m genuinely pleased that so many
other people have taken on the challenge of beating WWE at their own game.
I’ve certainly proved there’s a market for independent wrestling games, and
there’s more than enough room for other content providers to tap into it. It’s
cool that there’s no animosity between the different camps at all. We’re more
like a stable that respect and support one another - especially since we’re
each on different platforms and have different approaches to the task. In a
lot of ways, they’re already transcending anything I could offer. They’ve
invested in professional art and animation, and they’ve managed to cultivate
relationships with real promotions – such as Dave Horn bringing Action Arcade
Wrestling to Chikara. They’re DOING the cross-promotional work that I only
ever dreamt about. If I did millions of downloads without that infrastructure,
it’s exciting to contemplate how much further they could go.
As a man who always looks into the future, what is next for Mat Dickie?
I’ve still got more ideas than I could
ever make in one lifetime, so I’m always looking for the right opportunity to
give each project a chance to shine. Modern gamers would have me “updating”
the old ones for the rest of my life, but you have to draw the line somewhere.
It’s OK to glance in the rear-view mirror, but if you stare at it you’ll
crash! As much as I appreciate the support I’ve had, I don’t feel I owe
anybody anything after working overtime for 16 years. I’ve been taking it a
little easier this year and that’s how I envisage things going forward. That
said, I have set myself the challenge of learning a new game engine in Unity –
so we’ll see what comes of that.
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