Interview: R.W. Bivins of Oldergames

December 19, 2002 9:01 PM PST

IC: Good evening! Thanks for taking a coding break!

R.W.: No problem. I was actually working on KII, and some models in 3Ds Max.

IC: People are starting to talk about Hell Hotel. But nobody *really* knows what the game is about? As far as I know, the game is an FPS located in an abandoned slave plantation. Care to explain further?

R.W.: Aaargh! Itís not a shooter. Itís a first person adventure game mixed with live action game play and minigames inside the main game.

IC: Heh...sorry, my mistake.

R.W.: The game is based on a storyline involving land that was once part of a slave plantation in Louisiana where a hotel had been built after the plantation was burned down. The gruesome murder of a voodoo priestess (one of the slaves) by the evil plantation owner placed a curse upon the land in which it is said death and torment will be the fate of all who walk on the tainted soil.

You begin the game as part of an elite paranormal research and investigative group that has gone to LaBonafia to investigate the disappearance of a colleague who went missing after what was supposed to be a short trip to investigate the hotel.

There is a lot, a whole whole lot more to it than that and it will be very different from anything before it. Each member of the team has special psychic skills that they can use in the game: Object sensitivity ďto touch something and see events related to that objectĒ, Communication with paranormal forces ďtalking to the deadĒ, sensitivity to presences etcÖ

This is honestly a game you will have to actually see to understand.

IC: Sounds a bit like a WARP Inc game...this is your first title for an Ďactiveí console (well, at least active in japan). Does that mean you had to acquire a license from Sega this time around? Or will this be released as an outside product as your previous 3rd party releases were?

R.W.: Sega DTS is dead. Iím using official tools we legally acquired but I never said this was an official release and donít know where this rumor started. It will be a professional level game though and every pixel on the screen will be of the same quality youíve come to see in our first few screenshots.

I have contacted Segaís corporate offices and have gone as far as to get in contact with their legal department. I know the future of the dreamcast can be changed, and eventually they will give in and show future support Ė it just needs to be feasible to them in a broader business approach and thatís what Iím currently trying to do.

In my talks with them Iíve even gone as far as to discuss the possibilities of us releasing the entire DC development knowledgebase consisting of thousands of pages of documentation and hundreds of tools and code libraries on the web for free to the community.

I even hold the exact copies of Half Life and Propeller Arena locked in my safe that were approved and stamped with Segaís seal of quality assurance from Sega dts itself. This is an all too common story with dropped consoles and we aim to change that. < Editor's note: [!!!]>

IC: On a related note; I know youíve got the official dev kit, but what of the GD roms? Will you be pressing the game on GDs or regular CDs this time round? If the answer is GD roms, where did you aquire them/who will press them for you?

R.W.: Right now itís just normal cds. We have a possible contract for gdroms but I honestly doubt that will happen. SEGA will need to get involved somehow and only they can change that. Our goal is to change their minds on this issue.

IC: Who besides yourself is on the Hell Hotel team? I know itís not anywhere near completion, but it seems like a pretty ambitious project.

R.W.: Iíve lead all development myself to this point. I will be bringing in Gerard Young for additional game design stuff, Steve Stoll from Musicman Records to do some soundtrack elements along with myself (a professional musician = hard rock on the piano) and quite possibly get Columbia Records recording artists ďStereoMudĒ involved in the main theme somehow.

I will also be bringing in some 2D artists, and a group of 3D artists who Iíve worked with before on past projects and who are close to me that I know can do the job right.

We will be filming video on Location in California at an unconfirmed Victorian setting and the team will probably build itself to about 10-20 people strong in the next 2 months.

With my strong contacts in Hollywood, and the music industry you can expect some major label artists and cameos of some Hollywood personalities to show up somewhere in the game. we are currently auditioning actors from a local theatre organization that performs in our area to be in the game as-well.

All-in-all I am only just beginning the assembly of the HH team but it will be one which I know will be able to not only accomplish such a project, but display the collaborative creativity of a unique group of people who all have strong backgrounds and talent to bring to the project.

IC: So, with your acquisition of the Super Fighter license pending, for which platforms will you be releasing the title?

R.W.: Our friend Charles Doty has been working on versions for: Sega CD, Turbografx/Duo, NeoGeo CD just to name a few. Iíd like to also get a port or two out for the Dreamcast and the Philips CD-I.

Weíve also considered (depending on the deal made) creating a sequel and putting it out for the GamePark GP32 handheld console in addition to some of the above. I feel the GP32 has one of the best chances weíve ever known to give Nintendoís GBA a good run for itís money. Super Fighter for the GP32 would be a very good leap for the console in that direction.

IC: Can you outline the planned differences between each incarnation, and what percentage has been developed thus far? Planned release dates?

R.W.: For the most part the game will remain true to the original version with some overall graphical enhancements. And some soundtrack updates.

The ports themselves are quite easy to do and the guy who has been working very hard on them says itís only a matter of a few weeks once an answer is given and itís all thumbs up.

Once again though this is all a ďif and whenĒ type scenarioÖ

IC: Now the Neo-Geo CD version, will it bear the SNK or Playmore name, or will this be another 4th party release? Any plans to construct a Japanese version for the overseas market? Youíve plans for PAL support, right?

R.W.: We support a worldwide market with any of our releases and always will so PAL is always going to be supported with anything we do.

As for the other questions Ė itís too soon to get into those, and those Wheels havenít even begun to turn because as you know we are still inking a deal through a confident mediator. The good news is I got an email from him yesterday saying we are just about a week away from a definite answer now.

I will be in contact with former execs from SNK and so forth. You can rest assured on that. ;-)

IC: As far as new characters for the series, what about having a character creation contest?

R.W.: I think that is an awesome idea and Iím all for it. The only thing is we are still negotiating these fine points and canít even think about changes or sequels etc.. until some understanding on where the license thing is going to go first.

IC: Citizen X for Sega CD, how did this game come about? It was acquired nearly complete, if Iím not mistaken. What was changed/added to the game if anything?

R.W.: It was actually under negotiations for years by GoodDealGames which we are partners with in many of our publishing efforts. We basically combine our efforts as 2 leading companies for the sole purpose of getting games out using our combined resources.

They sent me in with guns flaring ďlawyers hate me by the wayÖĒ and I was able to close the deal and secure rights for GDG & OlderGames to publish it.

Iíve pretty much beaten it and itís never crashed on me so I think of it as a pretty complete game really. We are custom developing a PAL conversion Ė GDG is on that project right now and almost done.

Mike Thomasson and I did the artwork for the release and that was a wrap. =)

IC: What can you tell us about your other upcoming releases? (P&T Smoke & Mirrors and Weird World specifically)

R.W.: P&T is another one GDG was stumped on. Itís a matter of a few months from now. some paperwork is being finalized and other legal crap is going on. Once the dust settles you can expect the game to be our next joint release.

Of course I cant ďofficiallyĒ say itís coming soon, but the gamer in me says this game is definitely worth the 4-5+ years people have waited for it. ;-)

Weird World is %100 done, Iím just too damn lazy to get it out and HH in addition to KII is taking up my time these days.

IC: Now for a few more abstract questions:

R.W.: Uhmn ok.

IC: Why so many CD-I releases? How did you come across these cancelled titles?

R.W.: Well letís think about thisÖ OlderGames was born to bring new life to forgotten consoles and develop new games as a side business. If there is one system that had lied dormant and forgotten it was the CD-I. The system was dead, kaput, nada and yet Itís alive again. We accomplished something Ė We brought it back from the dead.

This is the OlderGames mission. We ďareĒ ďOlder GamesĒ and serve only one major Purpose = to breathe new life into all of our favorite systems.

As for how we got them: Iím a sneaky little bastard.

As for how much: We could sell 1,000+ copies and will never see a cent of profit.

And guess what? I donít care because the ends justified the means and those games are finally showing what they were made for = being played and enjoyed by gamers. ;-)

IC: What happened to Kfoolio 1?

R.W.: It became KII!

We bought the entire game, and website from the origional author who Is also going to remain on board as a contract staff and extended part of the OlderGames team.

He wanted someone to take it to the next level and we fit that role. Iím addicted like hell to this game, and am kicking some serious ass. I have like 10 command centers and a ton of allies. LOL =)

Blatant Plug = Itís FREE so visit damnit! ;-p

IC: Any more plans for PC engine or PC-fx development?

R.W.: There's SuperFighter, and I also originally planned The Ripper (canned) and Time Control (also canned) for it.

Iím working on something later on down the road, but the TurboDuo and itís various forms are well within the OlderGames radar for a few releases.

IC: Anything else we should know about Oldergames or your products?

R.W.: Yes! We love doing what we do and are not going anywhere.

Also: When you donít see me updating our site itís pretty much a guarantee that something big is in the works for the future. On any given week we have 50 things floating in the air.

It can sometimes be a daunting task to get all my work done but I enjoy it nonetheless. Growing as fast, and becoming a major leader in what we do has also made my workload grow to a sometimes impossible load. We never take what weíve accomplished for granted and never will. We will continue to bring new games out as long as gamers exist and we will continue to support older consoles as long as there is a good reason to remind the industry and the new generation of gamers that the older systems still have kick and are worth dusting off.

When the XBOX version 8.0 comes out, the Playstation 12 comes out Ė We will still be here doing what we do because we love it, and we love video games. ;-)

IC: So...Propella Arena and Half-Life. What's the chance of a release? <editor's note: fun pic here>

R.W. I wouldn't touch that question with a 300 foot pole. But one thing we are more than happy to share is that we are going to be taking it on tour with us for people to play at our booth starting at cge2k3 and probably every other classic games convention.

R.W. That way the urban legend can be put to rest and even though it's doubtful we would get a chance to release the Half-Life, or Prop Arena games anytime soon at least people will get a chance to play them in their full glory for free. =)

IC: That should just about cover everything! Thanks for your time!!!

R.W.: Game on brother, Game on. =)

Brandon Sheffield