CEO Dan Connors assesses chapter one and previews chapter two.
VideoGamer.com: You mentioned the remake of Monkey Island on XBLA. Have you had a chance to play it?
DC: I just got a demo of it over at Lucas. I thought the art was beautiful. To have the people go in and have the talent that they have over there, and they're repainting all of those scenes, is just amazing. Of course, hearing the voices inside of the Secret of Monkey Island, which I don't think has ever been voiced, really added a different level to it.
It's so funny, if you go through and play it, if you think of the involvement of Tim [Schafer] and Ron [Gilbert] and Dave [Grossman], it's just amazing writing. A lot of the jokes and the situations still read. What I've seen of it I really liked. It'll be interesting to see how a new generation of game players responds to the complexity of it. But I think the hint system and Achievements are a couple of ways to make it more accessible.
VideoGamer.com: You can play the game with the classic graphics or the redrawn graphics. Do you have a preference?
DC: I would play it in new for sure. I'm not really nostalgic for the old graphical limitations. I think the artists can do a lot more. Maybe some of the painted scenes, I would go back to the old ones just because I love the artists who created the original work as well. It is neat to see that painted rendition of Guybrush and Elaine, and the way they visualised Guybrush in that first Monkey as kind of a young boy, and Elaine as a young girl. It's really nicely done.
VideoGamer.com: Last time we spoke, which was about a month ago, you mentioned that you were just starting to look at the process of using Microsoft's Natal technology. Have you had any cool ideas since then?
DC: No unfortunately we've been really busy at the moment! But we're certainly looking at building out some of the R&D parts of our company to continue to look into that stuff. It really feels like a natural fit.
VideoGamer.com: Although the idea of playing Sam & Max with motion sensing I think you mentioned might be a bit out there.
DC: [Laughs] You know, I think the game industry is one where out there still works!
VideoGamer.com: THQ's CEO Brian Farrell said in a conference call that Natal is coming late next year. Does that sound about right to you? Have you been exposed to that information?
DC: He might have more information than I do on it. I haven't talked to them for a bit.
VideoGamer.com: You haven't talked to Microsoft for a bit?
DC: Well about Natal anyway.
VideoGamer.com: At the Develop Conference in Brighton, self publishing digital download games was described as the sex pistols of the games industry. As self publishing, digital download pioneers, do you think it's as revolutionary as everyone thinks?
DC: It's definitely a major change. What you're going to see now is companies focussed on taking advantage of it. You're going to see it continue to grow, and you're probably going to see a transition to even more digital distribution with the next round of hardware. The companies that are in it now are going to have a real opportunity to grow.
At some point there's going to be new people that own the channel, and they're going to have great control, the same way Wallmart or Game Stop or Best Buy does. That doesn't exist yet, so there is an opportunity in time right now for people to get a foothold in and it's very democratic. That's probably going to shift in the next few years, but for right now it certainly is a huge opportunity for everybody.
VideoGamer.com: Is digital distribution where you'll find innovation over the next half decade or so, as opposed to in the traditional blockbuster sequel?
DC: In one way the fastest iteration and the quickest innovation and most volume of innovation is going to happen through digital distribution. You can get out and you can get to a very targeted audience and you can experiment with that audience and try new things. Telltale's whole changing the way the dynamics of a game works from a single shelf product to something that occurs monthly is a pretty huge innovation that relies on digital distribution. The huge Spore style innovation is still going to require certain individuals getting large budgets to pull off that level of innovation.
VideoGamer.com: Do you see innovation occurring in both digital distribution development and big budget development?
DC: Some innovations just take $25m to do it in. There are some innovations that require 150 people to make it happen. From a graphical standpoint even, or a completely new massive multiplayer experience – those are going to require huge investment and huge retail returns in order for it to happen. But I think digital distribution allows for more rapid prototyping and rapid iteration and more volume of iteration.