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Victor Ireland E3 '98 Interview

Victor Ireland E3 '98 Interview
by Rudo and Webber
This is the first part of an extremely awesome interview Rudo and Webber had at E3 with Victor Ireland of Working Designs. He covers a wide range of subjects; this first part mainly covers the slow death of the Saturn and the upcoming Sega Saturn RPG Magic Knight Rayearth.

Webber: You don't like to have your picture up anywhere, we've never seen it.
Vic: I don't like pictures of the actors; I don't like pictures of me, because it takes the focus away from the game. It's not an ego thing, a lot of these people are in it for the prestige.

Rudo: Like the Bernie Stolar Superman Picture! Webber: He looked like an idiot in that picture!
Vic: The majority of SOJ was mad about that picture; they didn't want their CEO portrayed like that. Phil Harrison, for Sony, and he looks like you expect a CEO to look in his picture, in the same issue [Next Gen]. He looked really in command and really great, and you've got Bernie leaping off a desk with this crazy look on his face. Thatís the whole thing with pictures...

Webber: How is Magic Knight Rayearth coming?
Vic: It was supposed to be right here [E3], but our Saturn got left back at the office. It will be here tomorrow [Friday]. Thatís where I was this afternoon, frantically driving all over Atlanta trying to buy a Saturn, and there are none to be had in this whole city.

The text is 100% done fourth draft. We really only have about one more draft to go with the text part. Did you read about the Diaries which are all spoken in the US one?

We made a trade; the Japanese one talked a lot in the game, but you couldn't skip it (the audio). I know people are gonna be mad that we took a lot of the audio out in the middle. The thing that pissed me off was once you talked to the people [NPCs]... If you were going around town cleaning up, trying to talk to everyone again to make sure you didn't miss somebody, every person you talked to, you got the same speech over again and you couldn't speed it up. So, we just dumped all the audio in the middle. The opening was like 45 minutes long; itís a blend of anime and actual gameplay. We kept that, that is all audio. The intermissions which you get with Innova at the castle, in between parts of the story, those are all spoken, those are intermissions and you can't play them, and it felt like to move the story along they had to be spoken, and Innova's voice is great.

A lot of those [intermissions] are recorded, some of the intro is recorded, all of Fuuís diary is recorded, part of Hikaru's is recorded, and Umi's is gonna start when we get back. We are probably about 40% done with the audio, but I haven't really been trying that hard with the audio because I want to get the text really clean before we actually went and recorded it.

It should be out July-ish, but we are basically just moving the games we are making money on, because Rayearth is going to lose buckets, but it has to come out, so we are releasing it. It basically is being released when its ready. Itís almost a no pressure thing because it's not going to make any money, so there is no pressure for a timeframe.

Webber: I think now everybody accepts that.
Vic: We wanted to make it the last Saturn game released. We wanted to make it so far out that there are no other games coming. So that all the people who said we suck, "You ditched Sega". Well, hey we stuck with it till the very end, beyond anyone else. You know everyone was jumping ship, they just weren't saying it publicly, they were all doing it privately, but I'm too retarded to keep my mouth shut.

Webber: Everything else is getting canceled now, even in Japan!
Vic: Itís dead, well especially in Japan. Japan, actually, it's a healthier market, its number two in Japan.

Webber: Six million units!
Vic: Nintendo 64 is a distant third. That shows you how bad Nintendo 64 is doing in Japan.

Rudo: When you check the top ten selling games in Japan, every week there are Saturn games in there: Last week five Saturn games out of ten.
Vic: Especially in Japan, where they are introducing Dreamcast. Saturn is seriously dead over there, and it had a lot more games announced, so it has a lot more games to be canceled, where as in the US it had already dwindled quite a bit by the time people got hip to the fact that it [Saturn] wasn't going to be around, so there wasn't a lot to announce cancellation-wise.

*Now Vic explains more on why Rayearth has taken so long to be released*

Something people don't understand about that game, when we got it, it was in seriously bad shape. They had a server crash in Japan, and they lost a lot of data.

Webber: They didn't have it backed up?
Vic: This is the dirty little secret of game development; they are just as bad about back-ups as everybody else in the world.

Webber: That explains a lot!
Vic: There was a lot of stuff that was missing, and one of the things that was missing and is still missing and we are trying to fix right now and having trouble, is the opening animation! The opening animation we have here is off the LD, just for a place holder, because the source animation without the title credits on it doesn't exist. We have to rebuild it; we have to make it from scratch....

They lost several important files, a lot of lip movement files for lip-synch, and some graphic files were missing or corrupted, and some animation files, most notably the opening, which was just gone. We don't even have the source for it, so we are trying to rebuild that. There are just a lot of technical problems in addition to all the other problems....

Webber: Seems like almost full game development just about.
Vic: It's a lot of work; I wouldn't say it's full game development. It's a lot of work though.
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