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Dragon Commander Post-GamesCom Update
Development Info - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Wed 7 September 2011, 17:31:30Tags: Larian Studios
Swen Vincke posted another status update on the Larian forums. Read about the difficulty of finding a publisher for Dragon Commander.
As he politely started explaining to me why Dragon Commander would be a total failure, memories of a similar conversation popped up in my head, where I was equally politely told by the same guy that maybe I should focus on our kids titles because clearly we had nothing to seek in the “real game” space. He didn’t remember that I think, or didn’t want to remember it as the success of the Dragon Knight Saga was too tangible a proof that his predictions had a tendency of being iffy. So as I was waiting for him to tell me that “jetpacks might raise global warming issues among the audience” (which to his credit he didn’t say), I suddenly realized that the best endorsement I could get was this guy telling me that it was going to be a complete and utter failure! Or so I liked to think.
And it continued. I met major publisher after major publisher, meeting completly risk averse people, seemingly brainwashed by their marketing departments and thinking about games as SKUs. I had to look up what a SKU was, so for the equally ill informed, a SKU is a number or code used to identify each unique product or item for sale in a store or other business (at least according to Wikipedia). To be blunt, my feelings about thinking about a game as a SKU can be summarized as - Yuk! Yuk! And Yuk! But that’s just me. It’s cliché to talk about majors like that, but hell, why do they have to honor those clichés ? A little bit of out of the box behavior would make these meetings a lot more fun!
After a couple of these I said to myself – right, before sinking into complete depression, remember that you’re doing this because you wanted to hear their thoughts and learn from it – not because you actually want them to buy it because the only thing they’ll do is swallow your studio and spit out the remains afterwards like they’ve done with so many of your peers, the last thing you want is some executive producer stepping in and making it his game, not yours, and besides, you don’t need their money anyway in order to finish the game.
If the latter part of that phrase comes as a surprise, we really did sell a lot of Divinity II’s, putting us in the comfortable position of being pretty stubborn about what we do and don’t do. I think the best example of that was one of the majors coming in to tell me that I should rejoice, because they had an add-on for a well-known brand that needed to be made, and they were thinking of us ! I was flattered in a way, because it really is a cool brand on which I wasted many hours of my life, but I was also insulted, because it was for the add-on, whereas I thought Larian could make the original game a million times better.
The contrast was enormous with the sub-major labels. They were all over it – distribution deals were signed – proposals were made and in general the reception I got was similar to what Farhang was experiencing when showing the game to the journalists, of which at least a large proportion I suspect are still gamers at heart, looking for something different than the same old formulas regrinded, covered with some idiotic innovation presented as the next big thing such as “now with true dual wielding !”. These sub-major labels are small enough that there is still some idealism left, even if they too obviosuly need to focus on the money to ensure they stay in business, just like ourselves, but at least they don’t call a game a SKU, and in my book a big +1, they expressed their enthousiasm about the game we were trying to make rather than tell me why it was doomed not to work.
Spotted at: Gamebanshee