Paul Wedgwood lives every bedroom coder's wet dream. He started his time with the games industry as a mod maker, just doing it... you know, for the love. Several years and a couple of triple-A games later and he's running his very own studio – Splash Damage - specialising in hardcore shooters.
He would seem to be doing a pretty good job of it, too. Both Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
were critically lauded and Splash Damage continues to move onwards and upwards. In a time when it seems like the entire UK games industry is consolidating or upping stakes and moving, Splash Damage is growing. Not only that, but the developer is signed up with Bethesda to work on a brand new property.
None of that success, however, stopped him from being rude about my voice recorder when we met to chat about his studio, the games industry at large and indoor slides...
Hi, my name's Paul Wedgwood and your iRiver sucks!
No, it's lovely, it's a great shade of green.
What are our readers going to think now we've started the interview like that?
So, as the real Paul Wedgwood, not the fake one who was just talking complete rubbish...
So... thanks for sitting down for this. The big news with you guys at the moment is the expansion. You're doubling your team?
We're in the process of doing that. We've been with id Software for about six or seven years, working with Activision, and around Christmas we signed a new deal with Bethesda Software – I'm sure you're familiar with Bethesda and everything (If not, check out our recent [i]Fallout 3
hands-on cum interview here)[/i]
- we knew that we couldn't just continue to make PC-focused games alone. Not least because the entire company wants to work on lots of different platforms and have loads of fun and stuff.
So, we started thinking about what it would take for us to become a really good cross-platform development company. And we'd always recruited pretty much from the hardcore mod-making community, online and stuff. So, we wanted to make this transition and we knew we had this tonne of experts with shooters and stuff – we've done really well with Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
, but there's obviously a big difference between playing console games and actually having the experience of shipping.
To quote a really simple example: going through all the conditions for release with say Microsoft or Sony is an entirely alien concept to a PC game developer.
So, we started strengthening the team first with senior managers who were very experienced at console development, but also were Triple-A developers in their own right, that had a track record of having done really well in the past.
We got people like Olivier Leonardi, who was the art director on Rainbow Six: Vegas
and Prince of Persia
, Chris Dawson came in as a new producer – first time as a studio (and we've shipped two games and never had a producer before!) - that was a new thing for us.
Chris Sweetman's come in as our new audio director, he was the award-winning guy who did all of the audio for Black
, and Tim Appleby, who's our new lead character designer, (he) did the character designs for BioWare. And we've continued since then to just focus on staff that have 10/12 years experience in the industry, working with triple A titles and big intellectual properties.
The other big thing for us is that, although we'd created this new franchise (what a horrible word) for id Software in the case of Enemy Territory
, it had nevertheless been in the universe that already pre-existed the game – Wolfenstein
. What we wanted to do was create something completely new.
We didn't just want to be a sequel house and we've never done ports or expansions or anything like that. So, that's the other thing about signing with Bethesda, it's given us the opportunity to create something completely original.
We're gonna leave it to Bethesda for when they announce the game and what it is and stuff, but we're definitely having a lot of fun developing on the PlayStation 3 and we've made quicker progress than we thought we would, trying out stuff and trying out different ideas.
We haven't decided what platforms the game's going to be on yet, but we're experimenting with PlayStation 3, 360, and just having a load of fun with it, really enjoying developing in a different way.