Author Topic: The Seamus Interview  (Read 2636 times)

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Offline manunited4eva22

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The Seamus Interview
« on: April 01, 2003, 01:03:53 PM »
Wow, now that was just long. Pretty interesting to see what Seamus had to say about games, even more amazing to see him talk to billy for that long of a period. Cheers to billy for such a great interview.

Offline Patch

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The Seamus Interview
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2003, 01:33:02 PM »
I was just about to post this very topic

Billy, that was utterly fantastic. Seamus is a very charismatic speaker, isn't he? I love that he really went in-depth with the business-side of the industry. He covered the issues, and he did so with real class.

Loved his comments on Nintendo - it was interesting to see that he is very-much committed to fun over quarterly profits. Plus, he really remained pretty impartial.

"I'm a booby-fan!" Hehe.

Great stuff. One for the PGC hall of fame.

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Offline John Squire

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The Seamus Interview
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2003, 01:45:23 PM »
Would it be possible to get a transcript of the interview?  Or would that take too much time/effort?  

Offline manunited4eva22

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The Seamus Interview
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2003, 01:53:49 PM »
Ahahahaaha

Hmmm I don't know I did 20 out of 30 minutes of the PA interview a while back, I might work on it a little.  

Offline PGC-Agent Cooper

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The Seamus Interview
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2003, 02:31:32 PM »
Thanks for the comments guys.  Glad you like it.  Transcript?  Hell no.  At least not from me.  It's better to listen to this anyway because Seamus is so entertaining.
Billy Berghammer
Founder -- Planet GameCube.com

Offline Grey Ninja

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The Seamus Interview
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2003, 03:24:07 PM »
I still have 10 minutes of stuff left to listen to, but I am going to the store to buy some Ramen to last me through the week, so I will listen to the rest when I get back.

I really have to say that I am genuinely surprised by all this.  I always saw the guy as a total moron before this (Trespasser, Xbox, Miyamoto doesn't know how to make games), but now he seems really rational and intelligent.  I disagree with him strongly on some points, but he makes for an interesting listen anyways.  I really respect his opinions and views, even if I myself do not agree.

But I do have to ask about this time that Xbox outsold GCN in Japan?  I remember no such thing.
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Offline baberg

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The Seamus Interview
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2003, 03:41:13 PM »
I also had quite a few reservations about Mr. Blackley based off of some other quotes, including the infamous interview where he accused Miyamoto of being uncreative and stale, holding the industry back...  But listening to this interview, and his clarification of his quote, I realized that's he's just another gamer.  Listening to him talk, I felt like I could be having this same discussion in a chat room or a gaming store.

It still feels like he's trying to "sell" his Xbox, but I know that if I designed and published and put so much of myself into a single console, I'd constantly try to "sell" it too - kinda like a parent defending his child.

Kudos again to PGC.  You guys rock more than... something that rocks very hard.  Keep it up.
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Offline RickPowers

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The Seamus Interview
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2003, 03:59:10 PM »
I just want to say this.  All of you that think that Blackley made disparaging comments about Miyamoto ... go read that interview again.  And when you're done, READ IT AGAIN.  And then, you just might realize that he was complimenting Miyamoto.
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Offline manunited4eva22

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The Seamus Interview
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2003, 04:07:09 PM »
Edit: About 9 minutes now:

Billy: Its Billy here live at G, well almost live here I guess, well live on tape, is that cool?
Seamus: That’s cool

Billy: could you please introduce yourself and tell us who you used to work for and whom you are working for now?

Seamus: I’m Seamus Blackley I used to work for the man and now I am simply a has-been.

Billy: A has been?! Why would you say that?

Seamus: (laughs) indeed. We have a production company called Capital Entertainment, the video game industry’s first production company

Billy: That’s cool, now why go into the production company after coming out of Microsoft?

Seamus: Well when Xbox was sort of in a can and it was clear that everything was going to be okay with launch and there were a bunch of good games, this sandwich had been eating at me as I visited almost every developer in the world, about being jealous of every company that was making games and I wasn’t making games and I used to make games, but I no longer make games, and I started feeling kind of un-cool, and uncreative. I started saying things to Kevin, one of the other Xbox founders, and I said, we need to make a game company, and he said, “Are you insane? This is a really hard business!” So I said, we should be a publisher! So he said, “Are you insane? Are you going to pull that money out of your butt?!” You know fourteen, fifteen million dollars. So we were kind of wedged because there were a lot of things in development that were wrong and we wanted to change. A lot of things as gamers there’s not a lot of new stuff out there, its pretty frustrating, people blame a whole bunch of stuff but how the game industry works right now it holds developers down in a whole lot of developers down and pushes down a lot of fresh ideas from coming out. You know so we thought, “We’re super arrogant smart jerks, we can fix this!” We can start a company that is not subject to these pressures that causes games to not be as fresh or creative or cool as we want them to, or frankly as developers want to make them or as cool as publishers want to make them. So Kevin and me met with Gene Morrow, our partner, who knew how to raise money and knew about the business and we talked about how we wanted it to happen, along with our partner Mark Hood, who ran all of the studios for Sierra in Europe for fourteen years. He had seen the business as a developer and then as a publisher, and all together we realized we had what it took to make a new kind of business, as a new type of publisher. SO we have a big fund, many millions of dollars, which we use to completely fund the development of games. Totally fund them from start to finish with none of the pressures that developers typically talk about. A lot of the officers have told me, “You have heard of a 300 page design document up front and then we will divide it into milestones and then we will decide whether to green light your or not. Obviously before you make a game and having to spec it all out is ridiculous, because you have to work on it and play it to see what is cool, and only developers who are afforded that luxury have a shot of making a great game, but under this milestone system, as things currently stand, you have to make it up to that milestone, and so you end up having to end up all the features of the milestone to get paid and to live. Independent of whether it is the right substitute for the game. Frankly, as anyone in the industry who has been there for anytime, with any experience will tell you, most great games if all bear very little resemblance to their initial design document. Look at Lugi’s Mansion that was a Tech Demo. Things evolve and their fun, and its like oh god, this thing is really fun and people really like playing it, and you go for it, you do iteration on it, you keep playing. One of the great hallmarks of Nintendo’s first party development is that Miyamoto-san has created a place for him where he can do that reiteration design, it’s a safe place for his people where they can be creative. To come up with ideas that nobody would ever find in the US in the 3rd party business or in Europe. And they can iterate on it until they come out really nicely, and then when you have a functioning product that does something totally new, everyone says “Oh yes of course!” but if they saw that as a design document, they would reject it. I’m babbling on, I hope you can edit this and get something useful out of it
.
Billy: Oh no, I’ll just edit out everything until we get to the really good stuff. Seriously, do you think time constraints are one of the main reasons why a lot of the games that come out now well for lack of better words, suck?

Seamus: Its not time constraints, under the milestone system you have to write your design upfront. You take a guess, like a 300 page month long hellish process of guesses what your game is going to be, more or less. And then that design document is broken up into milestones, and a developer is paid according to whether they make the milestones. So every month you have to make a choice between quality and being paid basically. Its like in the spec it says we need these ladders, and we are going to have these battles on the ladders, but everyone hates the ladders. But they really like the rocket boots so what we should do is take the ladders out and just use rocket boots because shooting with the rocket boots is really awesome and we think that we should make a minigame just with the rocket boots and actually Jeremy stayed late last weekend and he made this awesome minigame just with the rocket boots look at this everybody loves it! As the manager of the company you have to say you know what no we have to implement the ladders or we don’t get paid. And so you see really good developers who put out products that don’t really show their skills, that piss off us consumers and the terrible thing is that our business is so complicated and its so arcane with the milestone and how approvals work system that most gamers don’t understand the pressures, so to them it may seem like the developers are screwing them or stupid or the publishers that or something is that, its not like that. Its really interesting because publishers aren’t stupid, publishers are gamers, game companies are huge fanatic gamers. Everybody knows if something is really high quality or not. It is the ultimate torture to work on a game that is not achieving what it should. And a lot of people are held in their spaces right now. The talk I gave at D.I.C.E. it was like a weird confessional. I’ve had people from the industry coming up to me none stop all week saying god thank you for saying that! It’s like a big ugly secret in the game industry that no one is willing to talk about that is sort of the way in the industry has evolved and how the products have been funded has put us in a state where it is nearly impossible to be innovative its nearly impossible to spend the time it takes to spend the time it takes to create a really high quality game. You get in situations where people complain, “well developers are always late! There always screwing stuff up!” Well in a lot of cases they’re late because they should be modifying their schedules as they go to reflect the reality of the design the reality of like you know. “Hey you know Dan, our physics programmer, girlfriend broke up with him and he went back to Australia, what are we going to do about it?”   Instead of being flexible about it you are still on the milestones so you better get the Havix physics license and you know well that makes everything else a little screwed up, but it keeps you in business.  That’s a real problem and its totally indented. If you talk to people at a cocktail party in this industry it sounds like a sad story, but almost everybody is under that kind of pressure and that’s really a problem.

Billy: Now starting a new videogame production company, because that is a new kind of businesses for the video game industry, what do you think your biggest challenge is right now?

Seamus: Well the biggest challenge first is explaining to people what it is. (Billy laughs) In other businesses: music, film, there has been production companies for 30, 40, 50 years because it makes sense. One of things people have to understand that publishers are mostly publicly traded companies.  So they have revenue targets, growth targets, and a lot of investors that want predictable revenues. SO every quarter there has to be a certain number of titles that come out each quarter to make predictable revenue. A lot of people who don’t really understand the business are predicting that Nintendo will go out of business because they see quarters, products, and blah bleh blah bleh, its sort of short sighted. None the less, these pressures are very, very serious and they drive a lot of the decision making process about products and they drive that milestone system we were talking about earlier and some other things as well that have harmed development. In that when you get a game approved instead of what a lot of people think happens, saying this game is going to take about two and a half years to make once we look at everything that needs to happen and innovation. What happens is the publisher will say your green lighted, but we have a hole in this quarter so you have to finish in a year and eight months. So modify your designs so you can finish in a year and eight months. So the road to hell begins. The publisher know that is hard and it is not the right thing for the game, but they don’t have any choice because to get the capital they need to continue making games, because games are expensive. They have to get revenue in that quarter. So now you have this artificial schedule, coupled with all the design up front, and the milestone system and you create a situation where it is nearly impossible for an awesome game to be made, no matter how hard you try no matter how hard the publisher wants it, no matter how many nights you stay up working on a game. If you look at most of the games that are really great and have changed the industry, there has been sort of a random circumstance that has given these guys a chance to not be under that stress. If you look what happened to Valve, Sierra is purchased and the new company loses track of the game, and Gabe was able to tune the game the right way, for like a year, and when finally the publisher comes back and pays some attention its this awesome game! The publisher brings back the producer again and blah blah same things happen.

Offline PIAC

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The Seamus Interview
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2003, 01:43:45 AM »
yes!!! that was a class interveiw, seamus seems like he could have fun in almost -any- game made, a true gamer, i think hes a really cool guy, im glad you did that interveiw billy! right near the end was classic with the whole f*ck you thing about zelda hehehehe, a top interveiw!