We recently had a chance to talk to Dean Martinetti, who has been working on Turning Point: Fall of Liberty.
THE GAME REVIEWS (BEN): So we were talking about this earlier: do you think the potential of the PS3 has even been tapped?
DEAN: Na, not even close.
TGR: Not even close, really?
DEAN: What my PS3 engineer says is we’ve maybe tapped 2%.
DEAN: …it’s all the architecture … you have to make a game that goes to that architecture. Look at Uncharted. Uncharted is gorgeous. I mean not just drop dead gorgeous like the game, and I mean the game play as well…
DEAN: Now imagine, you give a developer 3 ½ years, which is a long freakin’ time, but 3 ½ years and a good budget to make a game for PS3, and you just say, guys have at it. Here is the technology, here are the tools kits you need, here are the SDKs you need, what ever else you need, and we are there for you 24/7. You get that kind of support from your publisher and from Sony first party; you’ll be knocking home runs out of the park. You’ll be the Barry %#@$ing Bonds of the gaming industry. You know what I mean? Which is cool, as it is what we all want. This is what Sony wants and what Microsoft wants. I think the biggest problem there has been is everybody is rushing to get the consumer dollar. They are forgetting the core point of this whole thing. We have to make entertainment that is quality enough that the player is going to like it.
DEAN: People are not idiot’s.
TGR: So they bust your balls?
DEAN: We’re sheep to a certain point. No, Sony never busted out balls, ever. They were always cool, they were just kind of slow, you know, but I mean they were slow with the PSP when it first released. Then all of a sudden, second generation, I mean you got all the support you ever needed plus, you know? So, who knows, but as far as like game development and what-not man, you’ve got to start looking at it as the entertainment like you get at the movies, right? With movies, they look at receipts from past movies, they see what’s hot and then they make IP off of that, right? What we’re doing in our industry, we’re becoming a little stale. We are rehashing old ideas again. If I see another Halo, I’m going to throw up, like I’m done with that. I don’t need it. Another Gears of War type game, if… I mean, the one thing I will say about Epic, I love them, but every game they’ve made… They all have their armor on. They’re all like these big burly dudes with you know, which is really cool for like the first generation, but…
TGR: So what’s different about Turning Point Fall of Liberty?
DEAN: He’s just a regular guy. He is just an average dude, he is a construction worker. He doesn’t want to fight. He doesn’t want to get involved in war; he just wants to be left alone. That’s the whole thing: we give you like an average guy’s perspective on what’s going on. He gets sucked into this whole thing against his will. He fights because he feels like now he has to because his backs against the wall. Otherwise he would just rather go home, drink a beer, and watch TV.
We did a lot of research on WWII history, the what-if scenarios. There are a million books out there on what-if scenarios. So we tapped into that and we, well you know, we looked over those resources. But we just wanted to keep it simple man. That’s honestly the big thing here and lot of people… some hardcore gamers are like, “I don’t get it, why is he you know, why is he like this, how come you don’t have that? Where is co-op?” We wanted to keep it simple and fun. I wanted everybody to play this game; that was our mission statement…
TGR: Simple and fun has been a really persistent theme.
DEAN: And that’s that theme that we are going to keep with this game, and we wanted to keep with this game. Dude, I mean there’s some really cool games here, but there really difficult for the casual gamer to pick up and go with. They don’t know what the hell they are doing, you know. One guy complained that one of the games was too realistic, that he just wanted to get in and shoot $@#%, and I’m like, “Well dude, get in, shoot $#@%.” That’s what we made this game for. You know, just get in and have a good time, and you can laugh a couple times while playing our game, or you see a couple things and you go, “Holy $@#%, I can’t believe I just saw that, we won. We did our job.”
TGR: I like those zeppelins, man.
DEAN: Yeah thy’re cool as hell and the fact that you get to blow them up later on and watch them like burning in flames, screaming into the ocean… is a killer.
TGR: You know what man, during that intro scene, you should be able to shoot the parachutes.
DEAN: We messed around with cloth. The biggest problem with this, and this where I’m probably going to get $#@% for it, but I’ll tell you anyway. We messed around with cloth and at the time when we were putting that into the game, it wasn’t ready in the engine, and we didn’t have time to write our own shelf for it. So we had to let it go. We let a lot of something’s go, but we’re still happy with the game.
TGR: I read a lot of WWII history, parachutes got shot all the time and they did just collapse, right?
DEAN: They don’t. That’s kind of a fallacy. You can’t shoot a hole in a parachutes, and it goes poof… that’s Bugs Bunny. And that was the other thing too, we actually asked the WWII vet guy if that was even possible, and he just started laughing at us. Beause we went to people that were in WWII…
TGR: It wouldn’t just collapse?
DEAN: You would just start going down a little bit faster, yeah. You would have to rip the shit out of that parachute in order for it just to make you fall.
TGR: So the PS3 version looks better, even though it was harder to develop for?
DEAN: Well in HDMI. I’m sure if you have a 360 with HDMI, you’re going to see the same things I saw in my PS3. I have component on my 360 at home. Even on my dev kit at home, it’s going out component. So I lose a little bit of it. When I have my PS3 tester at home and I had it on HDMI, yeah I saw everything. It was oh my God. But that’s because I’m going from HDMI to component. It’s a less loss cable. There is a big contrast. But the HDMI on a 360, you’ll probably get the same results as I got on the PS3.
TGR: Yeah I’m using actually component on 360 and HDMI on PS3.
DEAN: The 360 was our lead SKU, we ported everything over to the PS3. We made a couple little changes to fit within the memory, hold out a couple of things. We bumped up textures in some spots, but the 360 got everything that we did on the PS3. So we are not favoring any SKU. We treated all three of them with the same love and respect. I mean we do. We wanted everybody to just enjoy the game. Honestly, that is the biggest thing, and like I said, we had developer issues, and we had issues with getting it out the door, but I mean what game doesn’t man? Find me one game that didn’t have an issue. You know, they had to redo Metal of Honor from scratch, for God sakes.
TGR: Are there ever chances or choices that a developer gets to republish a title later with more?
DEAN: Na, I mean you can do that, but then it’s like the consumer looks at it like you’re trying to squeeze money out of them. I mean I know I do. You know when they released The Best of the Game of the Year additions, I’m like, “Get the %@#$ out of here.” I’m a pessimist: I’m like if I buy the game once, it should have everything I need just to play the game. If a Game of the Year edition comes out, then it’s got have something like a free T-shirt or something when you buy it, otherwise I don’t want to hear about it, swear to God.
TGR: So tell me a little bit about you, Dean. How did you get into this gig?
DEAN: Luck basically. I quit the music business, and I just wanted to do something different, so I started a game company. I don’t even know what the hell I was doing, but yeah. But luckily, I met John Romaro, Iron Storm. Well, he gave me a lot of good advice. He introduced me to Mike Wilson, Gamecon gathering and developers, and he introduced me to Jamie King of Rock Star, and both of those guys I became friendly with, and I showed them my passion and my drive and approach, you know I just wouldn’t leave them alone, and they finally gave me a job. Once my dev studio folded, they gave me a job in publishing at Take 2, where I worked for a little while and then I went over to Majesco, and I was there for about six years and then I came to Spark about a 1 ½ ago and now I’m helping Spark get it out there.
I mean it a great company, great people that work there, really, really ambitious. Like they have great ideas, the design team is probably one of the best design teams I have ever worked with. They just have like so much passion and drive. These guys live and breathe video games, it’s ridiculous. Like, I thought I was a gamer, these guys school me. I don’t even talk to half the guys; I’m like, “You know what? I already know that you are going to tell me something that I don’t know like I’m a %!@$ing idiot.” But, I got some of the best engineers I’ve ever worked with and the best designers I have ever worked with. Their passion is unrivaled by anybody else. They work ridiculous hours, even if they don’t have to. They just stay at the office, they come in on weekends. They’re always pitching new ideas and new concepts, you know what I mean? They’re always in a good mood. It’s a dream man, it really is and the CEO from Spark, Craig Allen, has got like amazing ideas to push that company into a better direction, which I’m really excited about, because he is thinking about #$#@ that you know innovators think of. So hopefully we will be able to that stuff, cause if we can that would be really hot.
TGR: Well the future of gaming is hot. Seriously.
DEAN: Yeah, very hot. It’s very hot. I’m really excited about the next five years, I think it is going to be great. We just need to harness the power of the hardware. I mean you know a lot of us are still newbies with the 360 and the PS3 and if… you know what, this you can definitely quote me on. This is probably why we ran into most of our problems, because we were still learning the architecture. PS3, yeah it’s a baby still, man. You can’t blame Sony, it happened. I mean you could if you want to be a pussy and put the blame on somebody else, but the reality of it is you have to learn the hardware. You’ve got to master it before you can master what your building, right? So our first game out of the gate on the new hardware, it’s a good game. So it’s not a Call of Duty 4 or not a Halo 3, but it’s a good game, right? Our next game… our next game will be a Call of Duty 4 or a Halo 3. I’m telling you, our next game is going to be a BioShock. Yes!
TGR: What’s it about?
DEAN: Can’t even tell you. It is so exciting to be in on the meetings because the things they are coming up with are so #$@%ing cool and some of the ideas they are coming up with… I don’t want to use the word revolutionary cause that’s a crappy word, but their really interesting and their really cool.
TGR: Sweet. Thanks again for your time Dean.