American McGee: The GamesRadar Interview (Part 2)

GR: You've had some games that didn't quite make it through production... we understand you had some early production work on a game called Oz. Has Bad Day LA benefited from any of the early planning or concept work from those?

AM: Oz was picked up for development by Atari/Infogrames. We got some way into production, had a great-looking game going, and then got a phone call informing us that Atari had "run out of money." I guess they spent it all on Cokes and nachos or something. So, the game was put on hold. Since then, we've been unable to find another publisher for the title, mostly due to the fact that no one wants to pay Atari back for the money spent thus far. I figure Oz will get going again eventually, either when a movie gets made, or when Atari finally evaporates.

GR: Alice and Oz had both been tied to movie deals. Is that something we could expect for Bad Day LA?

AM: Yep. We're already talking to several studios and television networks about film and TV deals. I'd like to see Bad Day LA made into a sort of 24 spoof, with characters all dealing with a single day of disasters. And we would want to keep Anthony Williams, our homeless hero and sort of mental-patient lead.

GR: Some years back, you were named one of the next ten Gaming Gods. How applicable do you feel that title is today?

AM: I use my "Gaming God 10% Discount Card" wherever I go, but to tell the truth, I always feel a little guilty about it. I think I'd just prefer "Gaming Guy" or even just "Guy."

GR: You've been a part of a pretty wild developer royalty phenomenon, where developers (specifically designers like yourself) have been hailed as kings of the industry and rock stars. Got any crazy stories about your experiences at the top of the gaming food chain?

AM: I try not to live like "the legend." I'm just a normal guy. At the moment I live in a quaint little fishing village on a tiny island off the coast of China. I like it because people don't know me, they don't recognize me and that makes it much easier to steal their wallets and cell phones.

GR: The industry has undergone some severe changes since you've been around. What kind of issues face the small creative developers of today and what do you feel is their best course of action?

AM: Any small- to medium-sized developer out there needs to be working on "blue ocean" strategies that stay far away from the territories marked out by companies like Sony, Microsoft and EA. Develop innovative game titles using innovative development techniques. The bright side is that these are happy days for small developers - episodic and casual games are taking off, web based and MMO titles are ruling the world and the big boys are in a bloody battle to the death in an arena that most cannot and should not attempt to enter. My thought is that during a war like this you either want to be making the popcorn entertainment that keeps everyone's minds off the bloodshed or making the bullets and tanks that the big boys are using to blow each other up. That means you do casual or innovative games and/or get involved in outsourcing to serve the giants.