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In response to "Conan's B-List Problem" from The Escapist Forum: I agree wholeheartedly with this - gaming needs to not just probe the realm of expression and intellectual challenge, but charge in headlong and do someting crazy.
Admittedly, some of these tend to lack financial success, just look at Psychonauts and Giants: Citizen Kabuto. Both were incredibly interesting, fun and imaginative games, but lacked the financial success over, say, Shoot Them In The Crotch III: This Time They're Slighty Less Pixellated.
One notable exception is Bioshock, drawing from some really interesting literary and philosophical sources, it also delivered in gameplay and value for money (overall, don't start bashing my opinion of this).
So, what to say? We can push for more challenging and engrossing styles, plots and characters, but if it doesn't bring in the readies, you won't get past the front door. We need to take baby steps into new territory, not giant, blind leaps.
Hi! I'm the Tom Smith mentioned in the article. I was Creative Manager on this Conan.
Nice article. I'm a big fan of artistic games and love playing them. Using the REH Conan method and sneaking deep meaning into otherwise popular entertainment is a good concept that games like Bioshock exemplify well (as Surggical_Scar mentioned).
When I said that our game isn't a deep philosophical exploration of REH's themes, I wasn't saying that such a thing couldn't be done. Heck, I'd welcome it. But it wasn't the direction we took. For various reasons, we were just making a philosophically simple, fun game with a light touch of REH's themes on top.
The_root_of_all: REH's Conan was a little bit of everything - inexperienced thief, pirate in love, warlord, but always a barbarian at heart. But Groo, that's a B-list (C-list?) with some deep philosophical underpinnings. See, cheese dip is a metaphor for capitalist materialism, and...
LB/Narrator: Some of the themes PopMatters noticed were intentional. We did try to carry a little of REH's philosophy into it. Admittedly, that article finds more than we intended, at least from the discussions I was part of. But thanks for bringing it up.
General Ma Chao: Definitely go back to the REH stories. You'll be surprised. There really is a lot more depth there than in any subsequent version of Conan, in addition to some excellent action scenes and half-naked women. Those stories rock.
And for the record, I'm 'a' Creative Manager at THQ, not 'the' CM - there's one for every project or two.