Southend Interactive - Deathrow and the Future
|In 2002, Southend Interactive released their very first game, Deathrow. We talked with founder and Lead Programmer Daniel Jeppsson about Deathrow and the future of Southend.
|05.02.05 - 7:48 pm
XG: Could you tell us a little about yourself, what you did on Deathrow and how it has been to develop the game?
DJ: Hi, my name is Daniel Jeppsson and I was lead programmer on Deathrow and also one of the founders of SouthEnd Interactive. I'm also a longtime gamer and have been playing computer games since the Sinclair Spectrum.
XG: Deathrow was your very first game and it must have been your little baby. How did you feel when it finally went gold and you had to let it go? Did you have any expectations to how the gamers and press would welcome the game?
DJ: It was a great feeling to finally release our first game. We all felt the game was good but we were aware it was pretty hardcore so it was never a given how reviewers would like the game. We still have a huge list of features we would have liked to add but I think the game itself turned out better than most people expected. Especially since it was our first title.
XG: Unfortunately Deathrow didn't get much publicity at all, not even when the great reviews began to appear. How do you feel about that and do you blame anyone?
DJ: We were aware that the game itself would be hard to sell. It's very hardcore and futuresport games have traditionally never sold that well. So getting a publisher to trust a first time developer AND publish this kind of game was probably pretty lucky. That said, I had hoped our publisher would have pushed the game more than they did, but in the end it is a business descision. It's just sad that non-mainstream games have a hard time getting enough marketing.
XG: So what was it like to work on Xbox and do you plan to continue Only on Xbox?
DJ: We all loved working with the Xbox. Getting all the advantages of a PC (API, harddrive, shaders, etc) with the advantages of a console (fixed platform, specialised code, unified controls, etc) is awesome. And with Deathrow we really didn't have time to get all the cool stuff in that we wanted to have but still ended up with a good looking game. We will continue making games for the Xbox, that is for sure! Other platforms might be added to our engine and we already support PC/Windows so future games could be multiplatform. We would never let one system limit the other versions though. That is why we create all graphics and sound in very high detail so we can instead optimize the different platforms after their specific capabilities.
XG: Deathrow is a great game - something both gamers and the press agrees on. So did the game turn out as you expected or was there some things you wanted to include before releasing it?
DJ: Oh yes! We had a huge wishlist with things we never had time to include. Xbox live and a Franchise/Tournament mode to name two of them. But I am very happy about the number of things we did have time to add. Especially since it was our first game.
XG: You're a swedish developer and since there's no truly big publisher in scandinavia, was it difficult for you to find one? Did it affect the development of Deathrow?
DJ: Actually, we put up some information, screenshots from our engine and text about our game on a homepage and the very next day we had email from most of the major publishers in our inbox. That was really incredible. But getting from first contact to a signed deal took much longer though.
XG: What is your view on the three-way battle of the giants [Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony]. Is it good for the games industry? Who do you think will win?
DJ: Yes, I think it is good to see real competition in this business. Hopefully once the nextgen consoles come the battle will be even more even. That way the consumers win!
XG: Since Xbox has a built-in harddisk, you do have the possible to release new players, teams and other unlockables. Are you planning on doing that?
DJ: That is up to our publisher at this point. Our next game will definitively support Xbox live in some way and downloadable content. However at this time we need to focus on our next project and can't afford to develop add-ons without funding.
XG: Xbox Live is very popular at the moment and many gamers feel like that's the only thing Deathrow really needs. Is there any way you could implement Xbox Live in Deathrow and are you considering it?
DJ: Also up to our publisher. I would prefer an all-out sequel with Live and all the other stuff we wanted to add. Deathrow on Xbox Live would rock!
XG: Now that Deathrow is out on the market, life must go on. So what are you up to now? Can you give the first details on your future project?
DJ: We are currently showing different concepts to publishers and continue developing our engine and technology at the same time. It's still too early to show though but it looks very promising (in my totally unbiased opinion ;)