View Single Post
Old 11-17-2005, 09:09 PM   #1   Add To Ignore List  
2K Games
Joined: Jun 2005
2K Sam is offline
Default Answering your questions

Hi Everyone,

It's me again, 2K Sam. First, I'd like to say thank you for your comments both good and bad. Since a lot of you asked the same questions I'll give the over-arching answers to your queries.

Also, I had intended to reply earlier, but I couldnt find my original thread. I needed Jason's help to find it again. (He's the moderator). And I have to say I'm not really keen on the style of this message board tech. I read and post blogs regularly (nothing video game related) and am used to replies being threaded so I can answer to each of you individually. Jason suggested this method. It's also a small reason why I dont respond so quickly to this stuff. Anyway so here goes:

I am the Product Marketing Manager for Serious Sam 2 at 2K. I am responsible for all the marketing (packaging, ads, managing the budget) and providing assets (screens, videos) to our PR department. I work closely with Croteam to get what's needed to market Serious Sam 2 as best as possible. Yes, I've played Sam 2 from back when it was almost unplayable to finished product and while there is a special place in my heart for Sam 2 (as with all the games I work on) I will not pretend to be as close to the game as you guys and gals. You are the driving force, my job is to take it beyond the "core" fans and appeal to others. Ultimately, we want to sell as many copies as possible. And as hindsight is always 20/20 there are things I would probably do a little differently.

A bunch of you asked why there was no DVD version released in the US. We were going to release a DVD version, but it was canned. Here's the situtation: Many, many, many people do not read labels on boxes. I myself have been at an EB where someone was trying to return a copy of the Sims on PC because it wouldnt play on their computer. The reason? They have a CD drive and it was the DVD version. It sounds stupid, but well... it is what it is. Basically, there was a lot of back and forth internally (at 2K/Take-two) about what format we should release on. The retailers said we need to provide it on CD. We were going to do DVD only at EBs and Gamestops and CDs everywhere else. Well, the preorders weren't that great for the DVD version so the retailers didn't order any. As such, we cancelled it. And, it would have been cheaper to manufacture on DVD. So that was all out of our hands so to speak. It basically came down to a question of demand.

Regarding things that were cut from the game. This is a tricky one and touches on the "why was this game rushed to release" and "why not release it 'when it's done'". It's also a bigger issue with the industry with relation to the publisher/developer relationship. I'm not going to go into the details of the T2/Croteam relationship because 1) I dont know them 2) it's not my place to divulge them. In general terms, typically, developers who want to make a game shop their concept around and publishers pay them to finish the game by a certain time. Developers, especially smaller ones, usually have a very early demo to show off of the game and it's features. Larger, more well known developers who have a track record of successful hits can usually pitch their concepts without showing anything but a concept document.

So agreements are made that a game will be done by a certain time. The publisher plans their finances around that date forecasting a certain number of sales and revenue. To keep things on track publishers hire producers to work with the developer and manage the development process as well as give gameplay feedback, etc. The publisher pays the developer based on milestones where the developer is contractually obligated to have certain things in the game working. Now, we all know that things dont always work out as planned. It's happened with A LOT of games. Features get cut, release dates slip and bugs get left in. It comes down to economics - at what point can the publisher no longer push a game back and have to release it in order to make money or, at the very least, break even? It's different for every game and it's not always fair, but it is what it is. Also, with PC titles this is even more lax because you can always patch it later. Now, this isn't to say that publishers dont want to put out quality product. Of course we do! But, if there arent deadlines then some developers will just keep on going. There are so many factors involved with this that I cannot even begin to breech - terms of payment and the contract, forecasts, state of the game, etc. Not the answer y'all want to hear I'm sure, but that's the answer, or at least, the reason why features get cut.

"cartoony" look and graphics. Y'all have mentioned a lot of stuff that is development oriented. I dont want to be so presumptious as to answer them since it is Croteam's purvue. Sam is their baby. I know the Croteam guys talk on here (no I didn't rip out their vocal cords!) so I'll leave it up to them to reply. However, I will forward all your thoughts about things like the humor, graphics and weapons onto them. Also note, that some of you liked and some of you didnt. You can't please all the people all the time...

The "bad" demo and no marketing. We thought the demo was good. Demos are a tricky thing. You dont want to give away too much where the end user will think "that's all I need" and not buy the game. On the other hand, you need to give out enough to entice people to buy the game. The demo has to be good enough to do that also or you risk turning a lot of people off. In short, lesson learned on my part. As far as the lack of marketing, I ran print and online ads. In hindsight I may have waited until after launch. I probably should have focused more on the PC market too, but there were other factors too that I cannot mention. Sam is a unique property and I should have pushed more for certain things. That's all I can say about this.

Linux client, deathmatch and the editor. Hooboy. Ok. Yes, they are in the works. No, I dont know when they will be available. I'm supposed to find out in the next couple of weeks. When I do, we'll probably announce the details through the usual PR channels, but I'm going to push to let you guys know first. No promises on that one. I have people that need to approve what I do too.

The old console vs. PC debate. Sam2 could not have been released for 360 instead of xbox at the same time because they are two totally different sets of hardware. Believe me, I think Sam2 would have kicked ass as a 360 launch title. Also, some of you thought that Sam2 was developed for Xbox and ported over to PC. You are half right. It was actually developed for the PC and then scaled to fit the Xbox. Side by side you can see that Sam2 PC looks alot more detailed and such than the Xbox version especially if you are playing in a super-high-end gaming rig with all the graphic bells and whistles turned on.

Finally, I wanted to reply specifically to ZEN who struck me with his post about "getting involved in the community". I WISH I could do a conference call. I WISH I could do a lot of those things. However, I don't want to take on these things and have nothing come of them. It's not fair to you. What if we had a big call and I took down all your recommendations for the game and handed them off and none of them were implemented? Believe me I am a big advocate of the open source model. I've been asking to see if we cant do a project where the fans decide and create art, models, features, etc. Unfortunately, it doesnt look like that will happen for a host of reasons. Also, I'm new to this site and community and don't know about the polls and stuff going on. (I also dont think this message board is very user-friendly, sorry Jason.) I do not believe I've misdirected or mislead you in anyway. I give you that I may have said something on here that was later changed, but never intentionally. You guys had great ideas and I did what I could to carry them out. Marketing ideas anyway. Also, I want to reiterate that I am not the fan that you guys are. You live and breathe the end product while I work very had and long to get that end product to you, as does Croteam.

It's also lame that I dont always have time to come on here and chat, but when deadlines loom and things are crazy...

Anyway, I appreciate your candor and you do have valid points. I cannot just insert myself into a community and come to you at my leisure. I broke the fundamental rule of grassroots politicking - don't take the community for granted. Cooping with you guys is a fantastic idea. Not that I can do anything regarding game development (I'm all marketing), but it still would have been cool. (sigh)

All right, so that's it. I'll check in from time to time, but I'm working on a whole bunch of other games that are coming out real soon. I'll see if I can arrange something with croteam so they can answer your development questions.

It was a wild and crazy ride, but for now it's over. You're all great. Croteam reads these boards so your opinions aren't going unnoticed and I will give them a wrap-up too. I did my best to involve you guys, unfortunately it was a little late in the game. Woulda coulda shoulda.

Life is learning and this was a great experience.

Peace, love and recycle yo...

  Reply With Quote