Friday, May 4, 2012

The interview in full.

Today on Eurogamer there's an interview with a bunch of the old Free Rad people on it's demise... it's been another sad day for me reading it and having to remember annus horribilis of 2008.

As I'm such a massive big head...a massive head?  I've decided to put the whole blurb I answered for the article here.. and try and move on with nicer things.

There are many positive things in this industry, and although as with everything in the media, no news is good news, sometimes our opinion can be skewed by reporting.

For the most part, Free Radical was an incredibly happy and creative period of my life.

The following outlines some of the less good times.

Interview questions by Rich Stanton

  • 1. You were one of five folk to leave Rare in early 1999 to make up the new Free Radical Design. Why?
            Why did I leave Rare or why did I set up Free Radical Design ?
            Why did I leave Rare... it wasn't an easy decision to make... and I was yes and no to the whole idea for a long long time..  I went back to work on 1st Jan 1999 with the
            firm decision to stay and make a go of it and fate dealt an impressive hand that day and completely switched my decision.

            Also, it was the perfect window of opportunity. Rare were at the top of their game in the 90s, Goldeneye was the game that the man on the street knew about and
            Perfect Dark was highly anticipated. We (as in the five folks) had the bargaining power to open doors and cheque books.            

  • 2. Did you get to build your dream studio as part of the deal?
            Hehe... no.
            Unless my idea of a dream studio was sharing a cramped room with 9 other guys in the blistering heat without A/C... then yes, it was all I ever wanted and more.
            We moved offices 6 months later, and things slightly improved some what.           
            Also spending wise... in the early years at least, we were quite frugal with our money. We didn't want to be the company that crashed and burnt after spending the publishing
            advance on ridiculous cars and gold offices.

  • 3. I visited Free Radical when they were in Sandiacre – I remember it being pretty high tech, and noting the presence of fresh fruit (still not very common in developers' offices). What was it like as a working environment?
            The fruit was an odd one... The government makes it expensive to keep the workforce healthy... they wanted to tax the fruit as a benefit in kind. We could however feed our staff
            pizza without any such taxes....

            Work wise, things improved the more we progressed. In the early years when we went from 20-30 people to over 200... it took a while to adjust to such a change, losing the small
            family environment to such a huge outfit but it was a joy to work at. So many creative and talented people under one (or four) roof.
  • 4. From April '99 to the release of the first Timesplitters was a year and a half – what can you remember about that time? Was it all about hitting the PS2 launch from the start?
            Not in April. At first we were working on Second Sight, that was the game that we set up Free Radical to make. However, a few months down the line, Dave had an idea that
            pretty soon, we'd have a very playable multiplayer element. How about going for broke...making a fun, fast and arcadey multiplayer game for launch... Eidos thought this was
            a fine idea indeed.

  • 5. Timesplitters 2 – the character R-107. Clearly a Kraftwerk tribute, anything to do with you?
            Not guilty. That would be from the mind of Ben Newman. Although for TS:FP I did translate the first line from Kraftwerk's Robots for his pick animation.
            Ja tvoi sluga (I'm your slave), Ja tvoi Rabotnik (I'm your worker)

  • 6. The years of Timesplitters and Second Sight saw FR scoring commercially and critically with every release, and the studio steadily increasing in size. You were being nominated for BAFTAs, lauded as one of Britain's big upcoming tech companies, and making great stuff. What was it like to be a part of something like that?
            As you can imagine.. amazing. You don't realise what you had until the time has past of course. After every game, I would angrily make lists of all the stuff that had gone wrong,
            but if you don't do that, you'll never improve and there is no time for resting on laurels in the video games industry, you've got to be constantly moving and improving.
            Looking back though from a purely selfish point of view, I am incredibly proud to have been nominated for Bafta's for TS2... even though I didn't win haha.

  • 7. The feel of Second Sight was something new for FR, and I adore the eerie score you came up with. Everything about it is different – was this a consequence of the material, or was it more about seeing what freaky distortions you could tease out of synths?
            What can I say, I like the dark stuff! Second Sight was perfect for me from a scoring point of view. I wanted to make playing the game feel like watching the Shining.    

  • 8. Haze is missing lots of stuff that was intended to be in it. From the outside, with the switch from cross-platform to PS3 exclusive and the development delay, it looks like a pretty chaotic development. What was it like on the inside?
            Trying to get anything into that game was a battle of wills. Another audio guy said that trying to get sounds into the game was like wallpapering a wall whilst the rest of the house was
            burning down.
            New consoles, a completely new engine written from the ground up, written by too many people and not under enough control made it a bit of a wild ride that was no fun and everyone
            wanted to get off.
            Haze had high ambitions and potential but the engine killed it.
            We should have kept the TS engine... which was resurrected for Timesplitters 4 (as it was back then) and was looking fantastic. Running at a constant 60fps and with more lighting
            effects than we could even dream of in Haze.... too little too late unfortunately.

  • 9. Everyone's seen the footage of an incredible looking Battlefront 3 that FR were working on. I've been told that Lucasarts dropped it because Rebellion gave them a cheaper quote (which they couldn't deliver on). What do you remember of this time? Is that something you'd ever experienced before in the industry?
            You're have to ask those fine gentlemen the Kingsleys about that. I only know what I heard from inside Rebellion but it would be cheap and nasty to tell tales,

  • 10. It is generally thought that the poor reception of Haze did for Free Radical. Would it be more accurate to say that it was losing the Battlefront 3 contract?
            There are so many things that could have happened that may have changed the course of Free Radical, if Haze had been better or sold better, Ubisoft would have wanted a sequel
            (there had been some planning for a second), if a publisher had picked up Timesplitters 4 or Wii Self Defence. If Activision had given the Goldeneye remake to us instead of Eurocom,
            and who knows what else I've forgotten. Ultimately though... with a company of 250 staff... you need a lot of money per month to keep it going. Lucas Arts hadn't paid us for
            6 months refusing to pass a milestone by changing the deliverable content so we would limp along until the money finally ran out. They knew what they were doing, and 6 months
            free work to pass on to Rebellion wasn't to be sniffed at. Lucas Arts had gone through some restructuring and we were told that, they had suffered, now it was our turn.

  • 11. The news of administration came as a surprise, and I recall on the morning of it FR staff turned up to a locked office – clearly the company knew it was in a tough spot, but was the decision to enter administration its own or forced?
            We took legal advice and wanted to do the right thing. We could have carried on regardless, not paid people and hope that people would carry on working for free until the money came
            in... illegal but not uncommon according to our administrators who then have to pick up the pieces.

            We did it by the book and everyone involved had one of the shitest Christmases ever.

  • 12. What words would you like to see in FR's obituary? (apart from 'loads of us are still here under a different name!')

                They made some nice games then it all got a bit hazy.


  1. A very sad story. It's a pity that most people don't know how publishers can be so rough with developers. At least those who have read the article know that Free Radical has remained true to themselves all those years!

    RIP Free Radical Design

    Love live to Crytek UK

    Hope to see a open-minded Crytek in the next years for real inspired games from their UK developers.

  2. Ive been reading up on all the recent articles about you Free Radical guys and man is it depressing. To hear that Timesplitters 4 was shopped around so much and got no takes from publishers is just so awful. I am a huge fan of your guys games and sense of humor. Timesplitters 1 to Future Perfect are amazing and I play them to this day. I own Second Sight but havent got around to playing it yet, heh. I will get right on that though. I dream, and so do tons of other gamers, that somehow, someday our dreams will come true and Timesplitters 4 will be made. To hear that you guys had it running at 60fps again makes me even sadder its not out. So man games, first person shooters especially, these days run like crap and are as colorful as the result of a bowel movement. I just hate that developers like you guys suffer in this game industry. Hope one day Crytek lets you make Timesplitters 4. Tons more people over the years have been discovering the series and realizing that it's such a unique series, especially nowadays when most shooters are military themed and take themselves so seriously. Ill admit Im a bit sad to here that Crytek Uk is working on Homefront 2, the premise of that game is just so generic and I wish that you would get the opportunity to do something more your style. I am still hopeful you guys can make something fun and unique though. Ok Im rambling too much now. I hope the old Free Radical members and the people at Crytek UK can unite and find some time to split, once again!