David Perry Talks Consoles & Gaming
Shiny Entertainment is almost 7 years old now and in that time Dave Perry has taken the company from a small development team with an idea to one of the most respected development teams worldwide. Their first title, Earthworm Jim was a huge success on the MegaDrive helped with its superb animation and wacky sense of humour. Soon enough a sequel was developed and Shiny signed three lucrative licensing deals for the character to create action figures and even a TV cartoon series.
Their next major title was the phenomenal MDK on PC. It was a risky title in a market saturated with underperforming titles. Interplay backed the company and published the title, which sold a massive 500,000 copies only months after release. Even the press showered praise on the titles.
After success on the PC Shiny returned to the consoles and developed an action game (Wild 9) and a flight simulator (R/C Stunt Copter). Both games received mixed reviews in the press although both were technically equal to anything else on the market. Yet another technically impressive but ultimately disappointing game, Messiah was released in early 2000. Shiny's latest game, Sacrifice, was widely accepted as one of the best games at the recent ECTS and should be one of the biggest titles in the next year.
I managed to get a hold of Shiny's President, Dave Perry, for an interview about games and next-generation consoles.
Firstly, can you tell everyone what it was like in the early days when you started Shiny Entertainment?
The industry was booming with licenses dominating the charts. It was an exciting time and I still get blamed today for being one of the guys that started the exodus of developers jumping ship on their publishers, then proving you can flourish.
Do you think that setting up a small development team these days is feasible?
Personally I think you would be insane. It's all about talent, that is expensive and I see endless 'small' teams borrow money, make an OK game, then losing their company. I have seen some people do it 3 times in a row!
How many people now work at Shiny?
We are close to 40 people now. Our office is full, but we are not moving so that's our maximum size.
Earthworm Jim was a huge hit. Do you ever want to go back to the series and do another game?
We will someday... Jim was a LOT of fun to make.
What is your impression of Sega and the Dreamcast at this stage?
I LOVE the Dreamcast, it is the console I keep reaching for to play. I am concerned that Sega is not taking Playstation 2 and X-Box seriously and they should have dropped their price to $US99 six months ago. They need penetration and they are not managing to inflict the damage they need to.
Did you play MDK2 on the Dreamcast and what did you think?
I originally did not want Bioware to make the game as they are known for RPG style games, but when I saw it, I was REALLY, REALLY impressed. I hope they want to make MDK 3. :)
Did you spend any time with Bioware to give them hints on the title?
Yes at the start, but during the development, they needed no input, they completely 'got' the MDK world and even managed to enhance it.
What titles are you porting to the Dreamcast?
None, we are not working on any Dreamcast titles.
It's a shame you aren't working on the Dreamcast can you elaborate as to why, with such an easy platform to develop on, you aren't working on the system?
We just ran tests on it and yes, it does run Messiah well. If anyone wants to see Messiah on the Dreamcast, just drop a line to Sega, they know where to find me. :)
What do you think of the system in general?
It's definitely a difficult machine to move onto if you are from the PC world. However as our core team is console compliant, we are actually enjoying the experience of getting back to the 'metal' and taking control of the machine.
I think you will be amazed at the games you see 2 years from now on PS2.
What about the lack of anti-ailising?
It's all down to the tricks you use.
Do you have plans to release games on the system and if so when can we expect them to start appearing?
We have not announced our plans yet.
Do you think that the lack of modem, narrow or broadband is a hindrance for the Playstation 2 compared to the Dreamcast?
It's not a hindrance, but I think it's a shame. I have been very vocal about my lack of excitement for 'broadband' strategies with machines shipping in 2000. They limit the worldwide market completely (based on hype) and I certainly won't be taking the broadband connection seriously right now.
Do you have any plans to port Sacrifice over to the consoles, or Messiah? (you've announced Messiah haven't you)
No, we have no plans to port any games.
Sacrifice is your latest game can you tell us what it is about?
It's a game designed for RPG gamers that like real-time action. It's intense 3D battles using magic and spells. Think of it as Quake meets WarCraft with a twist. The website is: www.sacrifice.net.
The reaction from the ECTS show seemed very positive. Obviously you must be very pleased by that. What makes the game so special?
Sacrifice won the official award for "Best PC Game of the Show". I think they liked it because of the massive spells, huge vistas and the fact that it's actually 99% complete. :)
When should the game be released and are there any plans for a console port from yourself or another developer?
The game is getting really close to finished, the team is now implementing the beta testers comments and so I would guess it should wrap up within 30 days.
How many of those 40 people that work for you actually work on game development?
90% of the staff at Shiny are working on the games, about 4 other people are admin.
Which game in your career are you most proud of?
I think it must be Earthworm Jim on Sega Genesis. That was the last game I was the lead programmer on and since then I slowly became a manager. Management is just not as much fun as getting your hands dirty. I am trying to move back to work more closely on the games.
Which systems do you own personally and which games are you playing at the moment?
I like playing on PC, currently it's Deus Ex and Swat III. In my bedroom I have a Dreamcast and am playing Virtua Tennis. (Great tennis game)
Speaking of Virtua Tennis, would you ever consider doing a non-action/platform title. Perhaps a sports or fighting game?
Absolutely... I can guarantee that we will keep making new games for you to experience... That means at some point even Tennis won't be safe from us.
What do you think about violence in video games? Do you enjoy games like Kingpin, Half-Life and Soldier Of Fortune?
Yes I really enjoy them and my mum lets me buy them, so that's fine. I personally support ratings, I think they should be more simple to read... Over here it's "M" for Mature... How is a parent supposed to know that at a glance?... They might think it means "M" for "MINORS!" They just need an AGE. (13 and up, 17 and up etc...)
In America, they now check your ID to buy an "M" game, so I think that should help solve this problem once and for all.
What is you favourite food?
Special Fried Rice from the Chinese Restaurant over the road when I am working late and am really hungry.
Thank you very much for you time....
David Warner ~ Future Gamez
Shiny can be found at : http://www.shiny.com
The Sacrifice web site is : http://www.sacrifice.net
I hope you enjoyed reading this interview as much as I did in conducting it. If you have any comments or questions E-mail me at : firstname.lastname@example.org