First of all, could you tell us a little about the game and yourself?
I am someone who has always had a love for computers, especially classic ones such as the Apple 2 because these were the machines I grew up with. The time of the true BBS scene and the great things it ushered in will always stick with me, and you could easily say I never left those times behind.
Super Fighter was created in 1993 by the small Taiwanese company C&E Inc, but in recent years you bought the copyright for the game. Why?
You have my respect for bringing the game back from the dead, but why did you decide to release the game as freeware? You could, for instance, have tried to sell copies on the net for a small amount.
Hell, I didn't even pay for the game when it first came out. I mean, how *could* I have? It was released in Taiwan, and here I am in the USA. It naturally came as a shock to me when the president of C&E answered my, "Why didn't the game release commercially in the USA?" question with something like this, "We looked at the BBS scene in the USA and it was full of piracy. Our game [Super Fighter] was already being spread in the USA in Chinese, so I decided that USA was a bad place to sell the game in English." It was a slap in the face. I felt guilty for having contributed to the game not being commercially released in USA, despite the fact that my quest to preserve the game wouldn't have begun had I not downloaded it in the first place.
More on target with your question, though - we're working on a new version of Super Fighter, using new code, new graphics, new everything - and we'll be selling that one. To sell the original game would be rather counter-productive to my cause, especially since I set out to _freely_ distribute it way back when...
Have some of the old C&E programmers helped you in getting Super Fighter up and running? Are some of them helping you create the new version of SF?
Most of the team behind the making of Super Fighter left C&E over the next few years, and ultimately they had all left when the company stopped producing game software in 1998. I did talk with the original programmer, Mr. Cheng Chuan Soun, just a little bit, but he changed e-mail addresses too often and I eventually lost contact. I have the source code for Super Fighter, and the rights to the game, its characters, etc., but that's all the help that C&E as a company have given me, other than constant interest and well-wishing. It's not their job anymore, after all - it's now the job of Super Fighter Team.
Which brings us to the following question. Who make up the Super Fighter Team?
More or less, we're a small group of dedicated (read: rabid!) people with a common goal. The core team consists of a few regular folks that are just crazy enough to stick around and see what happens, while actual big game projects are split up over many different sources - contacts, volunteers, contract employees, what have you. But here are a few short bios for some of the regulars:
I'm Brandon Cobb and I play the role of president. I don't have any bodyguards though, nor a neato airplane with a "one" on it; just my trusty DOS-ready [!] laptop, a smile, and lots of willingness. I provide the project management, direction, some graphics here and there, a line of code every decade or so (What?! Nothing.) and iron-clad critique of all work.
Gilbert Cheung has been with us since 1998, when I started bugging him to translate all kinds of crazy things into Chinese for me. It was thanks to his Chinese translation of my first Super Fighter website that led to the game's original staff finding & contacting me (the game's lead artist, Chang Chih Kai, had been searching for his name on the internet and apparently found it on my pages!). Gilbert is a great fellow; I've always enjoyed talking with him about "whatever".
Yu-Chen Shih walked in on our Beggar Prince project early on, and I nabbed him for additional translation help. He's been on hand since, doing his own thing & being roped into our work when needed.
Every individual game project has a completely different staff; launching into all of them would be absurd, but you get the gist.
Super Fighter Team, as you mentioned, have recently finished a new game project; Beggar Prince. This is the first game in ages to be released commercially for the Sega Genesis - Megadrive, and has already gotten a lot of publicity. Did you ever suspect it would be this popular?
The goal was just to do it - to get a complete, huge-scale game completed and out the door for the Sega Genesis. Why? Because the system deserves new games. Great games. No one else is going to do it, so why not us? All recently released "new" games for the Genesis were always made for Sega-CD. Well, no one has a Sega-CD. Put a new game out on cartridge, you appeal to everyone who owns the system. I knew that a cartridge-based Genesis game would be hugely anticipated and cheered on, especially in Europe (where 16-bit hearts still burn). But... the media blitz and all? I didn't expect it to be so large, no. Not in 2005. I smile real big whenever I see one of our American videogame magazines placing a review for a Sega Genesis game next to all of the current-gen system titles. We must have been crazy - but you know what? We succeeded.
So now that Beggar Prince finally is in the box, will Super Fighter Team concentrate on creating the new version of Super Fighter?
We've been "secretly" gearing up for that the entire time Beggar Prince was in production. Heh, heh.
Our action-puzzle game Super Fighter Block Battle is in the works for the Symbian-based mobile phones. I designed the entire thing, and we had three artists (including myself) provide brand-new graphics for it. It takes the Super Fighter cast in a new direction: beating the tar out of each other through puzzle-solving. It is shaping up to be one of the most impressive mobile phone games of the times - and that's not just me talking. Trust me.
The next big step is to get a new edition of Super Fighter released on several game systems. I spent a lot of time conducting interviews for the perfect artist / art team to provide the massive amount of game graphics that would be required, being ultimately disappointed until one team in Asia blew me away. We've got them contacted now, and work is under way - so hip hip hurrah, right? Only if there were more than 24 hours in a day, friends.
Can you give us some teasers for the upcoming version?
The characters are being re-designed in key areas, based on the original artist's design sketches and some updated pencil work. For one thing, we'll focus more on overall character detail. Pho Huang will look more like a cunning and beautiful young woman in our new game, so the guys will be thinking "Whoa!" as she kicks them in the throat.
A new set of special and "super" attacks will complement each character, we have new and fresh voice acting and music, and I may go the usual route and introduce a couple of new characters. We'll see. I certainly won't ruin the story by introducing a bunch of people who clone the main characters, who are recolored ninjas, or whatnot, as similar fighting games have done over the years.
One exciting thing we'll be adding is a broadened moveset - instead of one kick and punch type per character, we'll have at least three - updating the fight engine to perform alongside other updated fighting games.
That sounds great, and I am really looking forward to its release! Seeing what the team did for Beggar Prince, I am confident that the new Super Fighter game will be a massive hit. Do you have any last words you want to share with us? Perhaps some advice for upcoming producers, seeing as you have done the unbelievable twice already?
You have to keep focused, and you have to keep your chin up. People are much more likely to e-mail you and say, "This sucks!", or "You're dumb!" than they are to share their appreciation and respect. It's like when I asked an employee of my local post office for a comment card (so I could compliment their speedy and accurate service) and got a worried look followed by the responce, "What did we do wrong, sir?"
It took me eight years of not giving up before I found C&E. Everyone, even citizens of Taiwan, told me my quest was crazy and that the company had likely gone out of business long before. I reached the end goal only because I had faith and remained set on finding these people and at least saying, "Thanks for giving me a great game."
I have a day job, just like everyone else, and I have an active social life. So stating, I was able to put this together without having to be glued to a computer 24/7. If you can contribute only five minutes to your dream per day, don't overlook it if it makes you happy.
In closing, I'll impart you with four simple words that hold me together during all of the ups and downs, the difficult times and the easy times - the very words which make up my company's motto:
Never let dreams die!
Thanks a lot for your time, Brandon. I'll let you get back to the production table now.