They went on to make the classic Kiss: Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child,
because the gaming industry is funny like that.
Matt told us one story that summed up the problem with the turnover perfectly:
"During a meeting I explained to John that I was working on the end-game cinematics with Kage [the antagonist]. I pronounced it 'Cage.' Romero giggled. 'Who? What? What are you working on?' I said it again. Now everyone was laughing at me. Romero: 'Who? Say it again!' Me: 'Um ... Kage?' Romero: 'No, dude! It's pronounced Kah-gee!' Me: 'Um ... well, you better check the voiceover recordings, because it's 'Cage.' And suddenly Romero's face turned white. Half the audio in the game had his name pronounced wrong, and it was too late to fix."
Each character's dialogue had been recorded separately, and no one on the old staff had told the new staff about the proper pronunciation. It sounds like such an easily avoidable error, but that's what happens when your employees are disappearing faster than a magician the day rent is due.
Daikatana Inadvertently Changed The Way Games Are Advertised
Much like the first time you had sex, game developers back in 1997 didn't know there was such a thing as too much excitement and anticipation. That's a lesson the industry learned quickly after Daikatana. As Zach points out:
"Projects are announced and revealed in a much more cautious way now. There's not the same urgency to get hype started early. A lot of people at that time thought that anticipation could only be positive, and [Daikatana] was the first time we saw anticipation turn bitter."
You will never, ever see an ad like this again.
If you keep a project relatively secret, you can make as many changes as you need to ensure the final product turns out good -- that's why Cracked's new rap label is evolving nicely. Zach worked on one game where they changed the main character a third of the way through production. They had to throw out a bunch of hard work, but it was necessary to improve the final product. But once you've announced, say, four time periods and dozens of monsters, you're committed to delivering them. As Zach explains:
"Once you have the people with their money spend their marketing dollars, they see that as a commitment. Especially since games have become much more expensive to market. It's become even more essential that you have a very clear message, and you're not going to have people spend their time promoting something too soon."
Just yelling, "Explosions and shit! Time-travel, whoo! Sidekiiiiiicks, fuck yeah!"
doesn't cut it as a marketing strategy anymore.
Video games still hop on board and derail the hype train today, of course (*cough* Destiny *cough*), but Daikatana was hyped up in a way you'll probably never see again. Zach thinks that, had it been made in a different climate, Ion Storm would have quietly killed a whole bunch of ideas before announcing them, gone with something more modest, and given us a perfectly fine game that we'd never know was almost an insane screeching fireball of a failure.
You can check out Matt's portfolio at his website.
For more insider perspectives, check out 6 Inside Facts About Jeopardy From A 74-Episode Winner and 6 Ways Prison Is More Horrifying Than Movies Make It Look.
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