Ten Years Ago: 3D Realms’ Scott Miller

Ten Years Ago: 3D Realms’ Scott Miller

miller.jpg So, we’re continuing the “Ten Years Ago” archival interview series we started yesterday with Valve’s Marc Laidlaw.

As I noted before: “I thought it might be fun to reprint highlights here on Kotaku, and compare and contrast them to what’s happened to their careers since then – and how their statements have held up over time.”

For the second instalment, let’s check out a chat with 3D Realms’ owner/partner Scott Miller, originally conducted in 1997 by me for Videogamedesign.com, and discussing Max Payne, Prey, John Carmack, and the Duke Nukem franchise. How did Scott’s prognostications work out, a decade later? Let’s see…Does having a major Apogee/3DRealms external developer like Remedy such a darn long way away (Finland!) make things tricky? How have you tried to get round this problem?

It’s not too tricky, thanks to the Internet and email. Plus, they’ve come to visit several times and we meet at every E3. The Internet has compressed the world into a much smaller space. We get milestone CD burns from Remedy every month, and have a round of discussions based on the current state of the game. Mark my words: Remedy will soon be recognised as one of the world’s leading independent PC developers.

(Thanks to the success of Remedy‘s Max Payne and its sequel, Remedy still has a reputation as a leading developer – with many eagerly awaiting 2008’s Alan Wake. Good pick, Scott.)

If you could steal one coder for your company, who would it be?

I have the utmost respect for John Carmack as a coder. He amazed me back in 1990 when Apogee first brought id into the shareware industry. Over the years that we worked together I spent a lot of time talking to John picking his brain and trying to figure out how he came upon his innovative solutions to problems other coders couldn’t solve–trying to understand his genius. He was always three steps ahead of anyone else in the industry. His strength is not in his programming skills–it’s in the fact that he’s very accurate at predicting which future technologies are most important and appropriate to pursue. John probably has better binoculars than anyone else in this industry.

(Already legendary by the time of this interview, Carmack would still be many people’s top pick for a coder to steal, ten years later, thanks to his new work on the Rage engine.)

Do you think you started promoting “Prey” too early?

Not at all. Prey is actually two projects. The first one was cancelled after a year of struggling with which direction to take it. The second and current Prey incarnation has very little to do with that first project called Prey, because it has entirely different objectives, and a new staff running the show. When Prey is released, it will have been a two year project, which for a game as ambitious as this, is not too long. Plus, unlike some games long in development, like Stonekeep and Descent to Undermountain, Prey when released will be a cutting-edge game in both gameplay and technology.

(Oh boy, those games being used for comparison! Prey was subsequently canceled in this second form (and a partial third form), before being resurrected by 3D Realms and Human Head. It was finally released 9 years later, in 2006. However, Miller was somewhat true to his word – Prey was ‘cutting-edge… in both gameplay and technology’, in many ways. So goodish things really _do_ come to those who wait, eh?)

Why so many add-on level packs for Duke Nukem?

Simple: They keep selling.

Our marketing manager at our Duke Nukem publisher, GT Interactive Software, recently remarked that anything they slap “Duke Nukem” on sells. If you combine all the different Duke versions, Duke add-ons and the number of Duke games that we sell direct, Duke would be the top selling game since its release nearly two years ago. As an game property, Duke is probably one of the top five in all of gaming, right up there with Mario, Lara Croft, and Flight Simulator.

(OK, this one is a bit close to the ever-fabled Duke Nukem ‘Forever’ territory. Still, it’s an interesting question – is Duke Nukem still a leading game character, even now?)

Original Interview With Scott Miller [GameGeekPeeks]


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