The iconic MicroProse is back - and it's being headed up by an Australian. But how exactly did an iconic British publisher, responsible for the early Civilization games, a long list of classic flight sims and strategy games like Sword of the Samurai, end up being restarted by someone living in the Hunter Valley? To find out, I had a chat with David Lagettie, the new CEO of MicroProse.
Lagettie has been the CEO of MicroProse for over two years, although it was only recently that the brand caught the spotlight. It's fitting, in that Lagettie himself is a long-time veteran of the Australian development scene that has flown under the radar.
Lagettie has a highly successful background in military simulators, having run the Australian branch of ArmA makers Bohemia Interactive for almost 7 years. The Australian arm of Bohemia was responsible for creating Virtual Battlespace, a training spin-off of the ArmA engine that was sold to armed forces in Australia and around the world. Bohemia was even one of the rare game studios to receive support from the NSW Government, having won a grant to relocate into the Williamtown Aerospace Centre in 2014.
In 2008, Lagettie founded Virtual Simulation Systems, and then Titan IM in 2011. Lagettie is still serving as the CEO of both companies, while heading up MicroProse at the same time. So to get some clarity on how all of this came about, and where MicroProse is headed, I had a chat to Lagettie over email.
Kotaku Australia: How did the discussion about acquiring MicroProse/reviving the MicroProse name and/or IPs start?
David Lagettie, MicroProse CEO: MicroProse has always had a large influence on my life, and is a driving force behind my career building the two biggest [military simulator] training software systems in the world. Back in the early 2000s when MicroProse disappeared, I was very disappointed like many others.
For the years following, while building actual military simulations all over the world, I would often find myself searching for any information on MicroProse’s status and potential future. At first I just hoped to see it come back to life and start producing great simulation games once again, but eventually I thought, “If someone is going to resurrect MicroProse, why not be me?”.
I find this hard to explain but I had this burning ambition to make it happen and would not stop until it did. I’ve been working hard towards that goal for several years now and had to overcome many, many hurdles, but it was more than worth it.
How did the relationship between David and Bill Stealey come about? Can you explain what Stealey's role as a consultant will entail exactly?
Lagettie: Some years ago I reached out to Wild Bill Stealey and we had many discussions about the history of MicroProse. He was likewise extremely interested in our world-rendering MilSim software, Titan Vanguard, and our friendship grew from there. Wild Bill’s role today in MicroProse is an advisory one in many aspects of MicroProse.
Wild Bill has an incredible amount of experience and insight, and he loves what we are doing with his ‘baby’. He is also regularly playing many of the new games we have in development and is not shy in giving advice on how to improve the player’s experience further!
The release mentioned "remaking select classics from its past" - what studios will MicroProse be working with on that front, and what titles is MicroProse likely to look at remastering first?
Lagettie: We have in motion a couple of classics that many MicroProse fans are asking for daily. We will be making some more announcements soon enough on this very topic.
What are the plans for working with some of MicroProse's IP that had various licensed agreements (Falcon series, Grand Prix, Magic the Gathering) - is it still possible to remaster those?
Lagettie: Anything is possible but we are balancing revisiting the past with pushing forward on new IP. As I mentioned, aside from the many titles MicroProse has retained we are currently in discussions with companies about remaking other MicroProse titles and I have no doubt you will hear more about this in the future.
How much original source code and assets does MicroProse still have?
Lagettie: MicroProse still retains a lot of original IP, not all of it of course but some key pieces, and we are always in communication with various companies who hold some of the remaining original MicroProse IP. In saying this, we are not just looking at our incredible past but are equally interested in creating future MicroProse classics with original IP.
You're currently still listed as the CEO of Virtual Simulation Systems - how exactly will it work being the CEO of both companies?
Lagettie: That is correct, and I’m also still CEO of www.titan.im as well! I have an incredible team of personnel in those companies that allow me to spread my time where it is needed. VSS builds some of the most advance training simulators today with systems in many countries, and Titan Vanguard is a complete global rendering training system capable of simulating just about anything.
The combination of the two companies has produced some incredible things, by far the global leaders in multiple fields with the highest military accreditation possible. Having these companies in the background certainly helped shape some of our future MicroProse titles.
Being Australian, does MicroProse have plans to outsource or work with any other Australian developers on new projects or remastered projects?
Lagettie: We currently have an incredible development team in Australia, including several senior studio veterans. Co-operating with other great Australian studios is something we are actively looking at.
Has the Australian or NSW government provided any support for the revival of MicroProse?
Lagettie: We haven’t needed any government support but it’s good to know that it may be out there. We may look into it for any culturally relevant projects in the future, but at the moment it’s not a priority.
How would you characterise the state and federal government's support of the local video game sector?
Lagettie: To be honest, we haven’t had any approaches from the government and couldn’t personally say what their support is like. We do think it’s important for the government to support local creative industries though, be it film, art or games!
The new MicroProse has announced three games so far: a hexagonal, stylised Second Front turn-based game, the naval combat title Sea Power, and the single-player Task Force Admiral naval game.
MicroProse is back, and it's headed up by an Australian. That's good news, but not as good as the news that the company is looking at remastering some of its older classics. While that doesn't mean we're liable to get a remastered Civilization 1 or anything, the iconic publisher has a ton of great games that definitely deserve another day in the sun.