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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Richard Wyckoff Skullgirls Interview

by Jonathan Bilski Editor of TTDILA

CEO of Reverge Labs Richard Wyckoff was nice enough to answer a few questions about the smackdown of violence and sexy women that is Skullgirls, a over the top 2D video game fighter. The title had some recent buzz with added DLC it earned through online fundraising which include new playable characters. 

All artwork in this post is from fans of the game.

Jonathan your Editor: Where do you guys get off coming up with such a strange, weird fighter. No really, how did this game come about? Can you explain your main role in this?

Richard Wyckoff: Shortly after we founded the company, one of my former coworkers from Pandemic Studios, Mike Zaimont, showed me the Skullgirls prototype that he'd been working on with Alex Ahad. 

Alex had been trying to get the Skullgirls game going for years, and with Mike's help had gotten a great prototype together, but as they said at the time, they didn't like handling the business aspects of game development. 

We brought them on board Reverge Labs, and took the game to publishers until we found Autumn Games.  Once we got the game funded, we built up the team, adding in all the additional developers and the dozens and dozens of contractors necessary to complete a console game.  Realizing the grand visions that Mike and Alex had took a huge crunch from a huge team compared to most independent development, and we're proud to have been able to finally get this long-awaited game into the hands of gamers.

You have some very strange characters? Where did the designs come from? There's a cat girl who can take off her head, just saying and I do like it.

Only Alex Ahad can explain these inspirations!

(Hopefully, he will. I asked Zero Lab Games, where Alex is now, a few questions too)

Your LA based, does that change anything or mean anything to your game company.

Los Angeles is actually one of the top cities for game development in the US.  Although it's expensive to operate in Los Angeles and California in general, we chose to stay here, where we already lived, to have access to all the great developers here.  It's hard to make games when you can't find anyone to hire!

Now I've had a little trouble with this myself, can you explain what happened with Reverge Labs and and Lab Zero Games? Also, it this game co-published by Konami and Autumn Games?

As we've explained on the Reverge Labs website, not long after Skullgirls shipped, Autumn Games stopped funding future work on the game.  As beloved as the Skullgirls universe is, the game itself does not appear to have sold enough copies to make significant money for Autumn (we don't know exact details, only Autumn has those figures).  Unfortunately this meant that we had to lay off some of the Skullgirls team in June of 2012, a sad and all-too-common situation shortly after shipping a game that is anything but a breakout success.

Lab Zero is a new company that Mike and Alex set up, along with some of the other people who made Skullgirls at Reverge Labs.  Here at Reverge Labs, our staff consists of half a dozen people who were also part of the Skullgirls team, while yet more members of the team have taken other jobs elsewhere.  And don't forget the more than 140 contractors around the world who were responsible for completing all the amazing animation you see in the game!

Christina Vee of all things anime is the voice over director, how was it working with her? Did getting her have to do with you attending Anime Expo showcasing the game? Did getting feedback from fans help with the game getting made?

Christina Vee was already a friend of the Skullgirls team when we started working on the voice over for the game.  We were already planning to use her voice talents when she told us that wanted to try out voice directing, so we gave her the chance and it worked out perfectly.  I hope she gets to do lots more directing in the future!

It's amazing what an enthusiastic community Skullgirls has, and we did make a point of how we already had fan art in Japan when we were showing the game to publishers.  I am sure that was a part of Autumn's decision to publish the game, along with the incredibly polished gameplay.

What has it been like to see the game in the fighting tournaments? These can get pretty heated and the outcry by hardcore fighters in forums can be fun to see unfold.

Mike Zaimont's goal with Skullgirls was to make a tournament-quality fighter, so it's great to see it getting serious attention from the most skilled fighting game players in the community.

What's the future for Reverge? What are you up too? Does it involve more cat-fights?

We set up Reverge to explore new game ideas with new technology.  Hardcore fighting games was just the tip of the iceberg for us, and though we're not quite ready to say anything specific about them yet, we've got a couple new games in different genres in development right now.