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Heatwave Interactive
MMORPG | Setting:Historical | Status:Cancelled  (est.rel 06/21/11)  | Pub:Heatwave Interactive
Distribution:Download,Retail | Retail Price:$49.99 | Pay Type:Subscription
System Req: PC | Out of date info? Let us know!

Interview with Tim Schubert

By Jon Wood on February 23, 2010 | Interviews | Comments

Interview with Tim Schubert

Can you tell us a little bit about Heatwave and the people who are working there?

Tim Schubert:

We started Heatwave about three years ago with an ambitious objective – to create a world class cross media company. We have assembled a powerhouse team of Hollywood insiders, an amazing video staff, fantastic artists, and a top notch business development and marketing crew.

Game development is our wheelhouse, though, which is readily apparent when you look at our staff. We have folks that have worked at Origin Systems, Electronic Arts, NCSoft, SOE, King’s Isle, and Codemasters. We have experience from dozens of titles including Dungeons and Dragons, Lord of the Rings Online, Ultima Online, Tabula Rasa, Star Wars Galaxies, DC Universe Online, Wizard 101, not to mention Gods & Heroes itself.


Can you tell us a little bit about the studio’s overall philosophies regarding MMOs? How, for example, does the company feel about the various popular revenue models available in today’s market?

Tim Schubert:

Our feeling about MMOs is that they’re lifestyle games people tend to dedicate themselves entirely to. Players find an MMO they like and find themselves entrenched there - occasionally peeking their head out to try another game but ultimately returning home to their regular MMO. This demonstrated by the resilience in subscriber numbers in MMOs as others come out; a new MMO may siphon a few players off an old one, but the core player base is steadfast. This contrasts a lot in comparison to other genres like first person shooters where players migrate regularly.

What this means is there isn’t a lot of tolerance amongst MMO players for a flawed experience and you have to make the game right. New MMOs have to have something new with a reasonable barrier to entry to draw players in. The core mechanics have to be rock solid, compelling, and fun to play for a long time. The world has to be immersive and interesting. The storytelling and characters have to be provocative. The production values have to be top notch across the board. If you can accomplish this you will find an audience - and if you treat them right they’ll become your dedicated customers.

Then there are those that have not yet found themselves absorbed by the MMO experience. Those same standards are required to capture this large untapped market, but there are other things holding them back. Many would-be players are put off by the amount of time they have to put in to succeed in an MMO or the logistics of playing with others. Many simply find the story and mechanics of MMOs less captivating than they find in other game genres. In reality, there’s no excuse for an MMO to be less accessible and exciting than other games and we’re not accepting any!

As far as the revenue model goes, the team at Heatwave has experience with a wide variety of pricing models ranging from traditional subscription to free-to-play micro-transaction games. Each model has its place in the market and each is suited to different kinds of projects and demographics. We haven’t settled on how exactly Gods & Heroes will be structured but we are considering every option. It’s important to us that we find a pricing model that’s not just profitable but also works well for our customers and gives them an honest value proposition.

What, if any, is the relationship between Heatwave and the former Perpetual Entertainment and P2?

Tim Schubert:

Heatwave has wholly acquired Gods & Heroes and will be focusing on bringing it to market independent of Perpetual/P2. However, wherever possible, we are using our business and personal relationships with former Perpetual staffers to get the development on Gods & Heroes rolling and ensure it becomes the best game it can. As you can imagine there are a lot of people that worked on this who want to see it launch successfully and we’re lucky to be able to bend their ear for input.

Will anyone from the original development team of Gods & Heroes be working on the title moving forward?

Tim Schubert:

We already have one member of the Gods & Heroes team on staff and they may well not be the last. Most of the Gods & Heroes team has moved on to other projects all around the country. Game development is a rather nomadic industry so this is normal. As we start to spool up our Gods & Heroes team we would be glad to see some of them come help out.

What specifically drew Heatwave to this particular title that has been dead for over two years?

Tim Schubert:

Gods & Heroes is a high quality project that was full of potential and therefore had a large enthusiastic following. We shared the players’ zeal for the Roman theme and innovative minions system and found it easy to imagine what the game could be. Gods & Heroes also presents an IP that can go beyond the game itself which suits our cross media strategies well. Financially, the cost of acquiring and finishing Gods & Heroes presented a very reasonable investment cost when compared to the revenue we expect it to bring. When you take these points and consider that we have the experience in house to confidently push it to release it makes a lot of sense to do the acquisition.


Do you plan to pick up development of the game where Perpetual left off, or will you start from scratch retaining only the IP?

Tim Schubert:

While we have some thoughts on new features and timely improvements for the game, we intend to continue the development where Perpetual left off.

How do you plan to bring the game “up to date” with the expectations of gamers in 2010 as opposed to 2007?

Tim Schubert:

Gods & Heroes has aged surprisingly well and still feels and looks great. While there are some things we need to do to make sure it meets modern day expectations it is in really good shape. You’ll have to stay tuned to discover our specific plans, though!

How do you plan to avoid the pitfalls that led to the game’s first cancellation?

Tim Schubert:

The key to ensuring the game launches successfully is to control the scope of what we hope to accomplish, be smart about developing it, and maniacal about polish. Our first goal is to get the game to a shippable state and keep it there as we progress through development. Then it’s a matter of encapsulating tasks in development sandboxes and iterating on them to completion before pulling them into the mainline. This “always shippable, always evolving” mentality protects us from running out of time while letting us stay ambitious.

Next, we have to make sure we keep our priorities right, which is where agile product development methodologies come into play. Heatwave has an astounding amount of MMO development experience and ties to developers all over the country. As long as we keep our focus on the right objectives, maintain high internal standards, and stick to our key development tenets we’ll get the job done and the game will be spectacular.

What, if any, initial changes do you plan to make to the game’s original core design?

Tim Schubert:

We intend to keep most of the existing core features of the game though they may evolve a bit. We’re not talking about specifics yet, but we intend to leave the soul of the game intact.

When do you expect re-development of the game to begin?

Tim Schubert:

Soon - very soon. At the moment we’re still surveying the project and making sure we know exactly what we want to do and figure out our priorities. Gods & Heroes is a big game with massive scope, so this will take some time. After we have a comprehensive preproduction plan completed we are going to quickly dive into full-on production and things are going to start moving very, very fast.

How long before players are able to get their hands on the game either in a launch of beta form?

Tim Schubert:

Since Gods & Heroes is so far along the wait will certainly be a lot shorter than you’d expect for an MMO starting from scratch. We have quite a bit of time slated for closed and open beta periods towards the end of the development cycle, but we’ve all been in the business long enough to know not to say when that’ll be!