Spiderweb Games - Interview with Jeff Vogel @ Gamebanshee
Gamebanshee's Brother None (Thomas Beekers) interviews Spiderweb Software president, Jeff Vogel in a feature about the history, business model and future plans of the company. You can read the whole article here.
GB: Spiderweb Software is the oldest and most steady presence on the indie cRPG market. Does that mean others should try to emulate your business model?
Jeff: Possibly. I have the advantage of coming to the party early and possessing the tenacity of the cockroach. However, I sell most of my games myself, over my own web site. It's really hard to get enough publicity to attract that sort of attention.
I would probably recommend to a young new developer to design a more casual-friendly RPG and try to get it onto portals like Big Fish and Yahoo! and RealArcade. My niche is old-school RPGs, and I've done very well with it, but there are great opportunities for more casual titles now.
GB: Spiderweb's new releases typically use a lot of previously released assets (engines, animations, etc.). Why?
Jeff: Survival. Time is the most limited resource we have. Just producing the material we do stretches us to the limit. That is why, for each game, I only replace the worst third of the graphics. We don't have the time or money to replace everything every game, and I think that, if we did, it would be phenomenally wasteful.
I think another good question is why other games companies don't reuse their assets. Making games has become very time-consuming and expensive at all levels. A lot of the reason for this, I feel, is that every time a game is finished, everything gets thrown into the trash. What a waste! I honestly don't think anyone cares if they saw the orc model in another game a year before.
Nobody smart writes their own engine anymore. They license something like the Unreal engine instead. I bet, someday, people won't bother to make their dragons from scratch either. Not when they can rent the standard dragon, tweak it a bit to make it distinctive, and save themselves a ton of work....
GB: Do you worry about the people who do not play your games due to the graphics or are you not that interested in their market potential?
Jeff: Don't get me wrong. I love nice graphics as much as the next guy. I make our games as pretty as I can. I'm not ideologically attached to low-budget games. It's just all I can do.
But if someone wants a pretty game, I will not be able to please that person. And if I spend a bunch of money and an extra year making a game as pretty as I possibly can, I still will not please that person. The big companies use cutting edge engines and art departments with dozens of talented people, and they spend years working on one title. I will never ever, ever, ever be able to compete with that in the slightest way. So I don't.