Most game projects are controlled by someone in
management who is not a developer, and doesn't hold development priorities above financial
and business considerations.
But not at 3D Realms Entertainment.
3D Realms, a division of Apogee Software, Ltd., is owned and managed by developers with a
lengthy track record of successes and innovations. "Design is all that matters
here," says George Broussard, head of 3D Realms. "We don't even make game
budgets. Never have, never will. They're not important to us because we just won't release
a game until it's done to our high standards, regardless of the extra money it will cost
Continues Broussard: "Look at most publishers and development houses--is the top guy
a developer or a bean counter without any development experience? I've noticed that
business and financial types ride the lead wagon at most game companies, which to me
explains a lot of this industry's problems with shoddy game releases."
Apogee's head, Scott Miller, agrees, "Game development is not an endeavor that can be
finished within arbitrary financial quarters. It requires ongoing research, testing,
polishing and even tossing away of work and ideas that don't work after being implemented.
Because of game development's inherent unpredictability, we never attach a release date to
our games until we're within a few days of launching, and even then we won't hesitate to
miss the date if it means improving the gameplay."
Another key factor at 3D Realms is that all developers are important to the creative
direction of the project they're working on. "I like to say that developers rule at
3D Realms," says Broussard. "We don't have one person in an ivory tower handing
done game design specs to the remaining developers, although we do have project leaders
who guide development and help filter the bad ideas from the good ones. Overall, we design
games bottom-up rather than top-down, which allows every developer more personal influence
over the game's direction and content. Personal influence translates into deeper passion
and caring in how the game turns out."
Apogee and 3D Realms are run by Miller and Broussard respectively, and both have a long
history in development. Miller and Broussard, friends in the late 1970's, both owned home
computers and wrote game programs for fun until the mid-80's when they both began to sell
their games commercially through publishers and game magazines. They also teamed up to
write a book on beating arcade games like Asteroids and Missile Command in 1983, titled
"Shootout: Zap the Video Games!" Miller went on to write a syndicated computer
column title "Computer Fun" for four years, and dozens of articles in national
gaming magazines, such as COMPUTE! Before stating Apogee in 1987 they both also spent
several years as managers of a Dallas-based arcade chain, Twilight Zone.
"We've both been very involved in the arcade and computer game industry for nearly 20
years each, as developers, participants and fans," states Miller. "Try to find
this kind of experience and background leading other game development businesses? I bet
it's hard to do!"
Broussard adds: "In the end it all means we're a very developer and development
oriented company. I think we're one of the best places a developer would want to work, and
the structure we develop games under--ignoring arbitrary business and financial issues--is
conducive to us making many more hits in the future."