July 7, 2008
WarCry: Please introduce yourself and your role at Nemesis Studios. (If more than one person, introduce all!)
Justin J. Gaughan: I am the president of Nemesis Studios Entertainment, and
the original visionary behind Goon World: Organized Crime Online. My duties include, but are not limited to, marketing, business relations, business development, and overlooking the entire project from every angle necessary.
Bart Wiltenburg: I’m the lead character artist for Goon World: Organized
Crime Online. Justin came into contact with me after seeing my previous work on the MMO: The Chronicles of Spellborn. Being familiar with a cartoon style and bringing in experience, it’s my duty to make sure the character team makes the characters of Goon World come to life and fit into the style envisioned by Justin.
Ibrahim S. Amin: I’m the lead creative writer for Goon World. Writing for a
successful videogame project has been a goal of mine for a long time. Goon World immediately caught my attention with its unique style and lavish concept art.
I’m also the lead game designer, though the entire company contributes to that side of things. One of the great strengths of indie projects like ours is that everyone’s input is valued, and the game benefits from the best ideas each of us can come up with.
Jaap Visser: I am the lead audio designer for Goon World. This project is a composer and sound designer’s dream come true. The concept of the game provides a lot of variety, allowing me to work in a range covering old style jazz to heavy orchestral epic scores. I am also working with my audio team on developing a great adaptive system for our music and sound, so that all the sound and music that you hear in Goon World will add a lot of value to the player’s perspective.
Shawn Gaughan: I am the vice president of Nemesis Studios Entertainment. Justin and I often work side by side in determining the goals and requirements for Goon World. My primary duty is to work with the lead programmers to ensure that a quality product is created for all to enjoy.
Denis Koronchik: I am the lead engine developer for Goon World. Justin contacted me one day when he saw me helping out beginners in an IRC channel. I’ve been working on the team for a year now. The concept of the game requires a lot of effort for the developer team to create a well balanced and optimized engine with a large list of features. I’m considering engine features with the lead artists, to make the game match the style of the concept art. I’m also working on engine development with the server developers.
Chris Zdana: I am the lead environment artist for Goon World. I learned about Goon World through a random chat with Justin one day. I had originally intended on recommending a friend for an artist position, only to find out that this was my dream project. The appeal of Goon World, for me, stems from its extremely stylized and well realized environments. Much like the characters of Goon World, the world has its own unique personality.
WC: When was Nemesis Studios founded and where is it located?
JJG: Nemesis Studios started in late 2004, and was registered as a limited liability company in 2006 under the name Nemesis Studios Entertainment, LLC. A select group of us are located in the Greater Pittsburgh Area of Pennsylvania. The rest work remotely, but effectively.
WC: How many developers are working on Goon World? Have the team members worked on any other MMOs/games?
JJG: We have over thirty developers. Although this is our first game as a collective group, several of our staff have industry experience – including work on popular MMO titles.
WC: Please give a brief overview of the backstory for Goon World.
ISA: Empire City is in the grip of the depression. Many rich men have been left broke, and poor men broken. Factory workers brawl for jobs, and those who don’t belong to the powerful unions are left bleeding in the dirt. Politicians and gangsters sip cocktails together as money is passed from hand to hand, carving up the city like a maggot-infested pie. And here you are – a lone goon trying to survive and triumph in this broken world.
Perhaps you will join one of the powerful families who dominate the criminal underworld, and seek your future in their ranks. Or maybe you will form your own gang, and wage war against them. The choice is yours. But one way or another, you are going to leave a mark on this city…
WC: Are you all fans of the Godfather trilogy?
JJG: I enjoyed the Godfather flicks, but I have enjoyed many other mafia-centric movies as well, such as Dick Tracy, Casino, Goodfellas, Scarface, The Departed, On the Waterfront, A Bronx Tale, The Untouchables, Analyze This, and of course Road to Perdition to name a few.
BW: I like the Godfather movies, as I like any good gangster/mafia movie.
I enjoyed classics such as The Untouchables, A Bronx Tale, and also lesser known ones like The Last Days of Frankie the Fly. Right now, any movie relating to the 1930’s era will be a favorite of mine since it will be used as study material to create the best possible looking characters in the Goon World universe.
ISA: I love the first two Godfather movies, both in their individual forms and in The Godfather Saga. Mario Puzo’s novel is also excellent.
JV: I really like the Godfather trilogy. Contrary to the other mafia movies I like (Goodfellas, Scarface, The Departed), the Godfather movies really point out for me the importance of family values, and are done with a style and tempo that you don’t see often anymore in movies.
SG: The Godfather trilogy is nothing short of a masterpiece. You will be sure to see some references to The Godfather along with some other great movies while exploring Goon World, but you may have to keep your eyes wide open to notice them.
CZ: You can’t deny the genius behind The Godfather trilogy. However, I’ve always been more partial towards the over-exaggerated mobsters in the Dick Tracy world.
WC: How did the idea for an MMO based on 30’s Mafioso-type gangsters come about?
JJG: We thought it would be interesting to bring this new world, the world of the mafia, to the MMO genre, which is typically filled with either fantasy or science-fiction. We wanted Goon World to be a breath of fresh air.
I originally envisioned a photo-realistic game. Then one night I had a nightmare. Cartoonish gangsters were chasing me, trying to kill me. The moment I woke up I knew that was the look I wanted for Goon World.
BW: To add to that, we ultimately also decided to go for a cartoonish look because we felt it would enhance the Goon World experience greatly. The chosen style allows for more immersion of the player into this wonderful world. It allows us to take liberties that wouldn’t work in a truly realistic universe. The benefit of that is greatly enhanced gameplay. We can put players in unusual situations, and still have them work in the overall scheme of things. The style itself might be cartoonish, but by no means will it be for ‘kiddies’. Goon World is a gritty world. Sure, it’s colorful… But still, we’re talking mafia here, people.
SG: I would just like to add that I think Justin has been watching too many Roger Rabbit like movies. But the style of Goon World is sure to amaze everyone who gazes upon it.
WC: Why did you decide not to include famous “goons” like Al Capone?
JJG: I think the reason we decided not to use historical figures from organized crime is simply because we felt that we could open the doors to the imagination much more. And when players play MMORPG’s, they want to escape from reality, and throw themselves into a fantasy – and that is what we are providing, but with limited use of dragons and orcs!
ISA: From a creative point of view, populating the world with our own original characters felt much more satisfying. We could ensure that they suited the tone and atmosphere of the game, and make them just the way we wanted them.
Historical figures come with certain limitations, if you’re going to really include them rather than just borrowing their names and slapping them on random NPCs. You have to make them act in certain ways, and do certain things. Otherwise there wouldn’t be any point in putting them in the game at all.
JV: I would add that although we’re creating a game that is inspired by the mafia era, we certainly don’t want to put historical figures like Al Capone on a pedestal. We realize what horrible crimes they have committed, and we don’t want to endorse that kind of behavior in the real world. Our game is meant to provide harmless fun, and although it was inspired by a period in history that was full of violence, we don’t want to make people think that we’re praising actual criminality. Crime isn’t a joke when the victims are real.
SG: Simply put, it’s Goon World. We want our vision to come to life and we do not want to take away from our vision by adding famous gangster names. When you go to purchase Goon World, you will be purchasing our vision and our story that you, the players, will help control.
CZ: The idea behind Goon World is for players to create their own mobsters, their own families, and their own legacy. Though some players may take enjoyment from playing as their favorite criminal, I believe most people would have a much more rich experience playing in our world as their own idealized criminal selves.
WC: What will be the naming protocol for player characters? Will they be able to name characters after famous gangsters?
JJG: In addition to the usual blocks on profane and ‘leet’ names, and those under copyright, players will be prevented from using the names of famous gangsters.
Obviously some players are going to get around the filter by using names of more obscure mobsters, or altering the names of famous ones. I expect to see people with names like Mal Hambone around sooner or later. But that kind of thing is more tolerable.
WC: In the FAQ on your site, you indicate that there will be no classes. What precipitated this decision? Will all characters begin with the same basic characteristics?
ISA: At the start of the game characters will have different physical attributes depending on their chosen body-type. Beyond that they will all be in the same position, with the same abilities. It is up to the players how they take things from there, and how they choose to develop their goons.
Classes can serve a purpose in some games. They can even be essential. Imagine a warrior in WoW who could also cast warlock spells on his enemies, and throw priest or paladin-type heals on himself. He would be insanely powerful. In a more realistic game, however, where there isn’t sorcery, this is less of a problem.
If you can fire a machinegun, throw a stick of dynamite, pick a lock, and crack a safe, that might make your life easier. But it won’t make you overpowered. The real world, or even our fictionalized version of it, just doesn’t work like that.
In broader terms, it is sometimes necessary to impose restrictions on a player in one way or another. But where there is not a pressing reason to do so, we prefer to err on the side of freedom.
SG: I personally feel that classes take away from a player’s creativity and restrict the player into following a few set paths. We are aiming to change that dramatically.
WC: How will leveling up work? Is there a level cap? If so, what is it?
JJG: Leveling? Who said anything about leveling?
SG: Oh yeah, there will be “caps” – they are ejected from guns when you fire
WC: Where do you envision Goon World fitting into the whole scheme of the MMO world?
JJG: Since our game is being built in a previously unexplored territory, two things could happen: We could end up having a smaller and more dedicated fanbase, but still be considered successful in the business world. Or we could become a phenomenon and exceed the expectations of the industry. It’s up to the players, and how much they enjoy what we have in store for them.
ISA: We certainly don’t have any delusions about achieving the same level of success as WoW. We’re just looking to produce a viable alternative for MMO players who are perhaps a little tired of the high fantasy settings which dominate the genre, and would appreciate something like this.
SG: Goon World will grasp many types of players due to its intensive gameplay. I don’t think Goon World will have any problem turning gamers into insomniacs. Gamers are getting tired of the standard fantasy type games and need a change. This game will provide them with that change.
CZ: Goon World will offer a completely new experience to MMO fans. While players will feel at home in our vast world, they will see that Goon World has changed how they play and look at MMOs.
WC: Goon World was announced in 2006. Where are you currently in the development cycle?
JJG: From a business perspective, we are still early in development concerning any type of release. However, we are progressing quickly and efficiently in all areas of development. We have had a few minor and major bumps that we have had to smooth out, but these types of setback are inevitable in this kind of project. We are very pleased with our progress thus far, and hope to provide information and media samples to the public strategically as we move forward.
SG: From a developer’s perspective we are progressing. As Justin stated we have had a few challenges that set us back, but overall we have overcome them. One of the early problems that we have faced was finding the technology required to create an MMO, but after many painful months of testing using various engines and hybrids we made the ultimate decision to build our own game engine. And thus the Nemesis Hybrid Engine was born.
DK: In addition, all the challenges that set us back gave us major experience in some areas of development. We experimented with a lot of different ideas to make our character system and game engine more flexible and well balanced. For example, the character system will give great freedom to players. They will be able to change many properties of their characters, like body type, head, clothing, changing colors etc. We are working on new technology that gives a lot of freedom to players, so it is proving challenging and very time-consuming.
WC: Add any other information you’d like others to know about the studio, the development of Goon World, the developers or the game.
JV: With the addition of our new composers and sound designers we have an incredible audio team. All of our composers and sound designers are extremely talented and they all have a special skill-set that is fulfilling the needs of an extensive project like Goon World.
What we want with the sound of Goon World is for people to see it as a natural thing. Not something that is irritating, that you will turn off to put on Winamp with your own music. What we are trying to achieve is a dynamic audio environment that will cover all the needs of the game and drag you into the world with the feeling that this sound has to be there. The sound of Goon World is not just the icing on a cake. No, it will be an essential part of the cake. Sometimes you know it is there and sometimes it is so well integrated that you don’t even notice it – but it adds to your experience all the same.
Besides good functionality, we want the music to be fun, something you can also play with. I can spoil one little feature and that is that you will be able to use instruments in the game. Even if you don’t play a musical instrument in real life, it will be fun to play around with one in the game. I cannot go into much detail for now, but you will be able to use this system as a functional part of gameplay.
BW: The art side of things is taking great strides. We overhauled a big chunk of tech and we’re still optimizing and testing new systems. Right now we pretty much have the fundamentals in place and are working them out where needed. The character system is turning out to be amazing, and will allow for great freedom. Players will have a blast with their characters. Next to that we’re unifying the overall style, making sure everything will be consistent so players will enter a seamless world where everything is a whole. A breathing, living world. All in all the progress is amazing and we’re moving full speed ahead. We’re expecting great things to happen.
ISA: I’ve managed to put together a small but versatile and capable team of talented writers, so the literary side of Goon World is coming along well. As a gamer myself I firmly believe in the primacy of gameplay. However, I hope that the characters, locations, and storylines we are creating will enhance our players’ enjoyment of the game.
SG: All I can say in closing is that I am delighted and grateful to be a part of this talented team, the Nemesis Family. All of our developers have proven to be dedicated and passionate, and those key elements are what mold a great project like Goon World: Organized Crime Online.
DK: All that I can say is thanks to the whole of our team for their amazing work. You just need to listen to the music or the ideas of our developers and you will be enlightened. I hope that people will like to play this game. We are working on the game day and night so that one day our vision will come to life for all to see.
CZ: Thank you for taking the time to interview our team. I look forward to showing our continued accomplishments to our fans, and finally giving them a solid game that holds up to their highest expectations.
JJG: We would like to close by thanking you for this interview, and for giving us the opportunity to tell our fans something about Goon World and about ourselves.