Interviews

Interviews
Facebook Addict: Detonator Games Exposes Itself

Suzie Ford | 19 Nov 2009 11:26
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Detonator Games is set to blow Facebook apps sky high when its games finally hit the 'Net. Founders Corey Dangel and Matt Wilson, formerly of Sony Online, took some time to sit down with WarCry to expose themselves....er...expose Detonator's comprehensive plans for Facebook fun! Read on!

Follow the Detonator Games guys on the official Facebook page.

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Please introduce yourselves and tell about your positions at Detonator.

[cd] Hi Suzie (Kalia). Thanks for taking some time to talk with us. I'm Corey Dangel, co-founder of Detonator Games. All three of us wear several hats here but in descending order of focus I'm responsible for the Art and Art Direction, Brand Management, Public Relations, Marketing, and I collaborate a lot with Matt on Game Design.

[mw]I'm Matt Wilson, co-founder of Detonator Games. I'm the game design, business man, coder guy. My primary role is to drive our business development and creative direction at Detonator Games. In addition to those roles, I'm also doing our client coding on our first game. One of the most fun parts of doing a startup is that it pulls from all your talents of previous jobs you have had, and allows you to continue to build on talents you never thought you had.

What are your game development histories? What games have you worked on and for what companies?

[cd] I've worked at Microsoft for 10 years, Cavedog for almost 2 years, and Sony for 4 years. In that time I've shipped over two-dozen games. I was the first Art Director hired in the games division of Microsoft and a founding member of Microsoft's Internet Gaming Zone. That's where I met both Matt and John. Some of the more interesting games I've worked on at Microsoft include: Mind Aerobics with game design legend Alexey Pajitnov, Asheron's Call, Psychonauts, Dungeon Siege, and Mythica. At Cavedog I worked with another game design legend, Ron Gilbert, on Total Annihilation '99, the Boneyards & Galactic War, TA: Kingdoms, and Iron Plague. And at Sony I helped to create the greatly anticipated cross-platform action/MMO called The Agency.

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[mw] I have worked in the online gaming space for over 15 years and I have worked with Corey and John for 12 of those years. I worked for 10 years at Microsoft, and was part of the original DirectX team, Microsoft's Internet Gaming Zone, and part of the original Xbox launch. I met John and Corey at the Internet Gaming Zone where I was managing all of Microsoft's MMO's. After I left Microsoft, I started up a company called FireAnt Games (John Smith was one of my co-founders of FireAnt), and it was acquired by Sony and became Sony Online Entertainment's Seattle division. I worked at SOE for 5 years serving as the Director of Development and Creative Director for The Agency. Some of my favorite titles I have worked on include: Ultra Corps, Fighter Ace, Asheron's Call, Allegiance, Dungeon Siege, NightCaster, Sudeki, Mythica, and The Agency.

When was the decision made to leave SOE-Seattle?

[cd] I decided to leave Sony right around June. It wasn't an easy decision to make but it was the right one for me.

[mw] I left on July 3rd from SOE-Seattle, and co-founded Detonator Games on July 4th. I had been thinking about the social gaming space for a while before that time. When the opportunity presented itself this summer, I just felt it was the right thing to do. It was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make in my career, but now that I've jumped back in the pool it's time to start swimming again!

When was Detonator founded and by how many people?

[cd] We formed Detonator Games on July 4th, 2009. The 3 founders, John Smith, Matt Wilson, and I, share a common appreciation for the power of connected gaming and we want to bring our brand of over-the-top fun and excitement to as many people as possible.

The opportunity to make a big impact on the world of gaming is better today than it has ever been. Forming a company dedicated to connecting people through play seemed like the obvious next step for all of us.

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[mw] We founded our company on Independence Day, a day filled with lots of booms, blasts, and explosions. It just seemed appropriate for a company named Detonator. An additional benefit is that we get to shoot off fireworks for our company's anniversary each year.

May we see some nifty pictures of the new swanky Detonator digs?

[cd] Does that mean tidying my office? Oh dear.

Sure thing. Right now we work remotely about 60% of the time and we gather at my house for meetings and brainstorming. This way we can keep very flexible hours and enjoy the benefits of face-to-face communication when needed.

[mw] We have found that the tools for working remote are finally at a place where it actually works! Thank you Skype! Once we start growing we will be moving into a more permanent office, but right now Corey's house is a fairly swank place to work.

Was Detonator specifically created to produce games for social websites such as Facebook and MySpace?

[cd] Yes. Precisely. <whispers> You know...there's a revolution going on? Ok, it's not much of a secret: Social Media is now the number one activity on the internet, surpassing pr0n, with nearly 300 million accounts are registered on Facebook. If Facebook were a country it would be the 4th largest nation in the world! Now THAT's a massive audience! And we want to entertain them.

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[mw] Yes, we are targeting social websites, but I would contend we are still making MMO's, just on a smaller scale. The types of games we are interested in producing will still contain ongoing updates, community events, and a perpetual revenue stream with micro-transactions. We are starting with some very small experiments in this space, but our goal is to take our learning from the MMO space and continue to translate it to make very sticky, community driven games that have a live component after launch. You won't recognize our first few games as MMO's, but trust me, it's just the beginning.

On how many social websites do you plan to maintain games?

[cd] The plan of record is to at least hit the big 3: Facebook, MySpace, and hi5. But we'll evolve accordingly. I can foresee challenges in giving equal attention to all the different networks, but we love challenges. And having too many players is a problem we will gladly embrace.

[mw] As the market evolves, we will evolve our platforms. Right now, it's the typical social platforms, but I expect that to change to both the mobile platforms (iPhone & Android), and consoles over time. These will become social platforms of the future, not so far away.

What about mobile games?

[cd] We're very excited about the potential to connect the gaming experience between multiple environments and Mobile is a very important component of the social experience. I just read that 80% of Twitter posts come from mobile devices.

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[mw] The main issue with mobile right now is the distribution model. I expect that to change as they sort themselves out. Social platforms are an incredible distribution system, and I expect that to become the driver on mobile and the consoles as it has on the PC. Our goal is to be on as many connected platforms as possible.

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