Here follows the transcript from a meeting on 20/04/2012 at 11:30am, at Hayboos-Sarvez Incorporated’s new London office.
Okay, everyone, hush and take a seat. Keith! Spit out the gum, we're not fifteen years old anymore are we? No. Right, I'd like to welcome you all to the first meeting of Hayboos-Sarvez Incorporated's eighty-eigth division: Interactive Entertainment ventures. Now as I'm sure you're all aware, interactive entertainment, or gaming to put it in the common tongue, is an untreaded venture for us as a company, especially considering the previous eighty-seven divisions primarily deal in budget equipment for Russian and Eastern European plumbers and electricians.
So, what we have here is an entirely new product line for an entirely new audience, namely Western Europe and the America's. I would suggest Japan and other audiences, but I've seen that video of a CGI man riding another man like he's a segway, chasing a girl in a Transformer robot, and I just can't relate, so we're choosing our battles wisely.
So here's how I see it. We're a fresh faced new company in one of the fastest growing industries of the 21st Century, and we have bugger all experience with the medium. I did suggest to Frank upstairs a game about a plumber, you know, something we know about, but apparently, there is already a big franchise out there starring a plumber. And yes, Keith, I did pass on your message about a superhero who gains his powers from electrical substations and fights crime, but once again, it seems we were pipped to the post, and equally, no one would be interested in a game where you must fix the substation before using it. We're out in deep water on a raft with no oars. Now I hate to make it sound like I don't appreciate the talents all five of you bring to the table. Keith, you make a damn good cup of coffee. I really don't know how you do what you do with mere instant coffee granules, but it's pure magic. Penelope, your work with distribution centres in Romania is something I hold in very high regard, and Mike, loving the suit. Don't worry Ted and Prunella, I'm not forgetting your dedication through the U-Bend Recall of 2007. You guys really know your shi... sorry, overly appropriate metaphor.
The point is, we're up sh*t creek without a paddle unless we get some expertise on side. Luckily, I've just had the approval of the man upstairs to instigate two buyouts; thanks to our near unlimited funds due to the high profit margins brought on by Division 43's "Sh*tstorm of 2011", a very good year for them, we can pretty much hand over a blank cheque to any games developer, or publisher, or distributor we want.
So with that in mind, our first order of business; deciding on our first project. The man upstairs has ruled out any hardware manufacture, as it's a high risk venture which involves a software line up to get people excited, and we just don't have the manpower to deal with all the bribes we'd need to be giving out to get exclusivity. Therefore, it's software we'll be focusing on. A single game, with potential for a franchise, which really puts our name into the public's mind and their disc drives, or heaven forbid, their peer-to-peer file sharing software.
I'd like you all to turn your attention to Mike's report on open-world sandbox video games. Mike has gone to a lot of trouble to comrpise a thorough understanding of the genre as it exists today, having played a good deal of the big contenders in the genre, as well as researching public opinion on these games from relevent websites. Mike, the floor is yours. If you want to give us a twirl and show off your beautiful pinstipe Armani, I don't think anyone here would object.
Thankyou Mr McKraw. Now, the reason I've taken a look at this genre is the man upstairs is keen to deliver something pretty large scale right off the bat. I should also note that the focus of this report was on the single player elements of these games; we're keen to avoid complications with networking and hosting servers initially, though perhaps this is something our potential partners could put into place.
Okay, so if you’re going to develop a single-player open-world sandbox game, you need to take a look at Rockstar. You’ll know them as the guys that developed the Grand Theft Auto series, with Grand Theft Auto V being slated for release in the near future. Since 2001, Rockstar have given us Grand Theft Auto III and it’s related sequels, as well as Grand Theft Auto IV and its episodic downloadable content. Whilst the earlier games ambition was somewhat straight-forward; be a bastard in a city, they have evolved and crafted Grand Theft Auto IV into a more serious experience. Yes, you’re still a bastard in a city, but there is a central narrative, a front man to empathise with, and a wide array of things to do. This is an ideology that has been passed on to Red Dead Redemption, a critical hit of a game.
However, we need to note that not everyone was happy with this supposed growth of the GTA franchise. Many people missed the whackiness and simplicity of the likes of GTA: San Andreas and Vice City. Hence the dangers of altering your motives when delivering a new instalment of a franchise. Rockstar may well have alienated a fair chunk of their fan base, despite the games critical and financial success, and could affect its prospects with GTA V unless they seek to rectify what might be considered by some to be mistakes. So despite their obvious credentials, I don’t think the Houser brothers are the ones we want on board. Whilst they’ve achieved a lot, I think our attention is best placed elsewhere.
Another recent series commendable of its contribution to the genre is the Assassin’s Creed series. Ubisoft Montreal have done some real good work with a very unique idea (unless a recent court case from a disgruntled author is to be believed). Assassin’s Creed’s strong points are largely considered by fans to be its writing and its use of history, with a certain degree of artistic license. The original Assassin’s Creed has served well as a platform to produce a series of regular instalments, which are generally well received by critics and gamers alike. In my opinion, after playing through the strangeness of Saints Row 3, the short sighted but still commendable The Saboteur, the superhero contributions of Prototype and the infamous series and somewhat disappointing LA Noire, I can say with some certainty that Ubisoft Montreal should be a target for acquisition, taking into account not only Assassin’s Creed, but also the likes of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, one of the best critically received games of last generation, The Splinter Cell series, and Rainbow Six.
Presley notes: I don’t think much of their offices. Presley McKraw:
Fantastic work Mike. Give us another twirl and take a seat. So, based on that report, Ubisoft Montreal could deliver a well written open-world game, further boosted by their experience with the stealth genre, platforming, cover-based gunplay. I like it, draft a takeover proposal and have our people start yelling numbers at their people. Penelope, you’re up. Tell us what the man upstairs has asked of you.
Well, Mr Upstairs had requested I look into developers who are pretty good at multitasking. A group who can manage a healthy online community for future projects, who have a lot of experience in digital distribution, and whos own games are highly regarded as well written, well crafted experiences for all types of gamers. And I’m pleased to say one name did pop up in the search engine.
Valve are best known for the Half-Life series and for Steam. Half-Life is a series of games where the player takes on the role of…
No need Penelope. We know about Half-Life and Steam. Just get to the good bits.
Of course. Needless to say, Valve have a very good consistency at delivering games of a Metacritic rating of over 90, are masters of competitive online via Counterstrike and Team Fortress 2, and co-op gameplay through the likes of Portal 2 and Left 4 Dead. Their ownership of the largest digital distribution platform for the PC and Mac will also be a big boost to our company, easily replacing that ghastly DRM that Ubisoft Montreal would want to wheel out. Their single player experiences are well remembered by all their fans; the bleak war fought in Half-Life 2 against the Combine, not to mention the particularly fantastic job their writers did with Portal 1 & 2, they truly are the masters of the effective use of set-pieces, all adding up to a memorable experience. With Valve under our belts, we can deliver a well written, expertly designed single player experience, with opportunities for multiplayer expansion down the line.
Presley notes: I like this guy. Real attention to detail. Presley McKraw:
…is that all you have?
Fair enough, luckily I did my own better report, so am fully aware of Valve and their work. I agree that they would be a fantastic acquisition. Again, proposals and number shouting on the double!
Now I asked Ted to throw together a project idea based on your two reports findings.
Yes, I have the draft press release we can pitch to the two companies here:
Hayboos-Sarvez Incorporated is pleased to announce a collaboration from their new partners Ubisoft Montreal and Valve. Slated for a 2014 release (Valve time), Assassin’s Life: Left 4 Persia is a single player experience like no other, featuring the writing talents of Erik Wolpaw and Corey May. Player’s take the role of Gordon Firenze, a thirty-two year old retired assassin residing in Tehran, who following the kidnapping of his daughter must retrieve an ancient artefact known as the “Sands of the Two Thrones” from a shadowy organisation known as “The Third Combined Templar Echelon”. Assassin’s Life: Left 4 Persia features the first accurate modelling of Tehran, the Iranian capital in any video game, and will feature varied gameplay that will see Firenze assassinate targets, infiltrate highly guarded locations using state of the art gadgets and weapons as well as “free-running” and acrobatics, and engage in thrilling gun play sequences. Featuring the voice talents of Nolan North and Stephen Merchant, and using a hybrid engine of Source 2 and the Anvil engine, Assassin’s Life: Left 4 Persia will also feature optional four player co-op unlike anything you’ve played before, unless you’ve played Left 4 Dead. Presley McKraw:
Perfect! A very well written open-world assassination game with shooting, stealth elements, platforming, comedy, great set-pieces that I’m sure these two can deliver. And hey, maybe we can have Assassin’s Life: Brotherhood of Portal and Assassin’s Life: Rainbow Fortress before long too, judging by how quickly Assassin’s Creed II and Left 4 Dead got sequels. And they’ll be damn good sequels too. Very good. Lunch?
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