Vince Desi is the President and CEO of Running with Scissors, the makers of POSTAL and POSTAL 2. They have gone through a lot and have made two of the most influential games of all times (for various reasons) all while staying true to their small developer size and having the desire and passion to create that which they love. I was able to ask Vince a few questions:
Hello Vince, Thank you so much for doing this. First question, In 1996 you formed RWS from a group of developers from Riedel. When you had that first meeting among each other what were some of the ideas for games that were thrown around amongst all of you before you came to the idea for POSTAL and what made you decide to make a game like POSTAL in the first place?
The company was called RSP, and we were very successful making edutainment games for big companies like Sesame Street, Disney, and Hanna Barbera. The idea was to create a game that no one had ever seen before and make it our own. The arcade game Robotron was very popular in our office so it was clear we were going to make a non stop shooter from the very beginning, we then thought about themes and story and going postal just made clear sense.
You obviously angered many people with the over the top violence when POSTAL released. How pleasing was that to you? What was going through you and your team’s minds while all those events transpired including the copyright suit by the US Post Office? Why did that suit take so long in the first place?
We had no fuckin idea what was about to happen. I knew it was over the top for the times and we fully embraced the concept of being a true indy developer. There was no real way to gauge what was going to happen, we just believed that since we thought it was so much fun and different that there would be other gamers that would feel the same way. As for all the crazy media shit that was a real learn as you go thing. I had no experience dealing with the media. The lawsuit was totally insane, what a waste of tax payer dollars, all for stupid political correctness. It took a long time because it’s how the government works or actually doesn’t work.
Soon after your release of POSTAL you started development on POSTAL 2, which you’ve continued to support with new content patches even to this day. What was it like to work on a project like that especially when I’m sure you wanted it to be an amazing game that far out did the first? Was there a lot of pressure to deliver or was it laid back?
Actually after the release of the original POSTAL we made a Christmas add on pack and then we took a break because legally we couldn’t make another POSTAL game for some time. Our publisher was Ripcord Games (great folks) but they were really a brand for Panasonic Interactive which was and is a conservative Japanese corporate giant. When they failed to back us up they paid us to go away, so we took that time and money to plan for POSTAL 2. POSTAL 2 was a completely different effort, larger team, much more thought in design and production and marketing.
After POSTAL 2 came out you decided to outsource the making of POSTAL III, why was that exactly? Why has it been such a problem to get the source code from Russia for POSTAL III? I’ve noticed that a few modders are also converting POSTAL III to the old Unreal 1.5, are you helping this in any way? I’m also interested in your expansion for POSTAL 2, Paradise Lost. Your release game a lot of info about what it is going to be however the release date of fall 2014 is starting to pass. Are we still going to see it released this year or is it going to be possibly next year?
Paradise Lost will come out early 2015, it’s a massive expansion and I’m very proud the team has taken on such a HUGE thing all for a game that is over ten years old. We’ve always believed the Fans come first, period. We have nothing to do with POSTAL III, it was a real shame cause the folks we worked with at Akella are really good people. The Russian economy took a dive and with that business across the board in Russia was hurt, and the management at Akella made the decision to release a game that really wasn’t a game yet. Capitalism is a strange poison, you have to develop a real taste for it to be good at it, and most countries new to it make what we here would think are very basic mistakes. Except here in the USA we simply call it greed, not inexperience. If it was up to me I would release the source code for POSTAL III to the fans and lets it be. As for why we outsourced it to begin with well actually we RWS were responsible for the design and art and they were going to do the coding but after the first year it all started to go downhill, they lost their A team and then the design was aborted and it became an evolution of shit. Once you crap out you simply can’t put it back together.
I Would like to ask a more technical question because I’m a Software Engineer myself and despite me loving games, I’ve always had a fear of working for the games industry. What exactly do you look for in developers to join your team? Are there specific backgrounds? Languages? Logic abilities that impress you? Besides working with Unreal engine is there any languages your team uses to create what y’all do? How stressful can the development of game and content patches be for a small indie studio?
I will answer this question in a very personal way. First and most important we look for passion. Game development is a very intense process and not meant for pussies. Long hours and things not working as you planned is a norm so it takes true devotion and a natural willingness to work together. In a small studio there is no where to hide. I once hired a senior artist from EA, what a mistake, he couldn’t fuckin produce to save his life, fired him in a week. At the same time I’ve given many game dev pros their first job, and I’m very happy to see them grow and succeed.
More on to a few personal questions. I’ve noticed that with RWS, the only games you’ve ever worked on is POSTAL really (unless there is something I’m unaware of); if there was a game or genre you would like to work on what would it be. Is there anything that you really wanted to develop but wasn’t sure you could pull it off?
Sure we’ve had all kinds of ideas from sex to comedy. RWS is an old school indydev company and we support ourselves and self fund our games so we’ve been very blessed to be able to continue to build the POSTAL brand. Reality is the POSTAL brand was made the scapegoat of the industry from the very beginning so we never had the big cash windfall of other more popular mainstream violent games.
In the news lately for the last few months has been a giant controversy involving games journalism and censorship of a sort along with a hate campaign against gamers regardless of their sex or race. How is the general attitude in your studio about all of that and does the outcry of a small group like that impact your develop decisions while making a game? I’m sure your studio has a few female devs, do you consider their claim that the gaming industry is trying to push women out of involvement of games has any validity? Do other studios you talk to have the same feelings as your own in regards to #Gamergate.
I’m glad to see that the genie is finally out of the bottle. RWS has been a victim of bias and political correctness from the very beginning. It all comes down to the ABC’s of business, or in other words Corruption, Greed, Hypocrisy and Prostitution. All basic negative human traits that go back to the beginning of the history of man. I prefer and do my best to practice healthy business, WIN WINWIN, that is make games that are fun, gamers will enjoy them and it will lead to success.
We’ve been big supporters of the 1st Amendment and POSTAL was even used as the flagship title in the case before the Supreme Court (which is really ironic considering the industry has never supported us). I’m all in favor of transparency and ethics in business not just in journalism. What I don’t like and am absolutely against is the negative attacks and threats against individuals, this is the worst. You want to attack a company go right ahead but there is no place for seeking out individuals on a personal level. Let the marketplace take care of itself, the truth always comes out, just as it finally has now.
Recently, Destructive Creations announced a game called HATRED that I can’t help but feel like is similar to POSTAL. Does it please you to see other games follow in the footsteps of POSTAL with extreme violence? What would you say to devs that want to make a game as violent but are afraid of the controversy they might cause and the backlash against them?
It’s amazing to see new younger developers coming into their own and doing what they love. I fully support their right to make this title. Sure they will pay for it in ways to be seen, but on a pure creative and technical level I think it looks great. My only advice to new developers is to make a game that they believe is fun and remember games are to be played not only watched.
Finally a couple random personal questions. Favorite Movie?
Casablanca, The Godfather, A Clockwork Orange
Games you like to play outside of POSTAL?
What kind of Rig do you have at home?
Intel Core i7-5930k 3.9ghz
Dual NVIDIA GTX 980
32GB Quad Channel DDR4
And it comes with 12 cylinders
A tight pussy
And a tighter ass
What other hobbies do you have outside of gaming?
Traveling, cooking, reading
If you could do anything besides game development, what would it be?
Do you regularly go around asking people to sign a petition?
I do constantly ask people to do more for others
How is POSTAL 4 coming =]?
It will happen
I want to thank Vince so much for answering our questions and I think I can speak for most of us when I say I can’t wait to see a future POSTAL and the new expansion pack due out next year. You can find out more about RSP and POSTAL games here: http://www.runningwithscissors.com/main/ and also their forums are a great place to keep in touch with game development and mod support here: http://runningwithscissors.com/main/index.php?action=forum