As you've probably noticed over the past month or so, we've been covering Matt Barton's series of video interviews with Interplay co-founder Rebecca Heineman (if not, here's part one, part two, part three, part four, and part five). Since there's some great information to be found within, Matt has since published a seven-page transcript of the interview on Gamasutra. A few such nuggets:
You wanted to continue making Bard's Tale games. Why did you make Dragon Wars instead of Bard's Tale IV? Great stuff. Rather than another sequel in The Bard's Tale series, how about a Dragon Wars II? I certainly wouldn't complain.
RH: EA wouldn't let us. What happened was that Bard's Tale III and Wasteland were shipping, and Interplay was a developer; EA was our publisher. So EA was getting a pretty big chunk of our revenue because that's the usual way it works with a developer and publisher relationship. We were coming out with another series of games; we wanted to do our own publishing. We wanted to use a company for our own distribution. This is where the rift began.
There was a bidding war going on, and Electronic Arts and Media Genic went to war over who would publish Interplay's products. We were coming out with Dragon Wars, Battlechess, and Neuromancer. On all these titles, we were really set to take off. The trouble was that we went with Mediagenic. EA was pissed off, to say the least.
The publishing deal we had with Bard's Tale was that even though we owned the code and the scenario and so forth, the name Bard's Tale was trademarked by Electronic Arts. So if we wanted to release a game called Bard's Tale, we had to pay a licensing fee to Electronic Arts. They wouldn't even let us do it.
They said, "Oh, you want to use the name? Publish through us." Push came to shove, and that's when Brian came to me and said, "Okay, we're calling it Dragon Wars." I looked him dead in the eye and said, "You do know there's no dragons in the story?" "Well, it's Dragon Wars now."
So I had to come up with, at the last minute, a story that had a dragon in it, and put little quips every now and then that said there were dragon wars in the past. But since the game was only a month or two away from shipping, I couldn't re-do the actual ending of the game to make a battle of the dragons. So, it's a running joke that we shipped a game called Dragon Wars with hardly any dragon it.
I saw where someone had asked you if you could design any game, what would it be, and you said Wasteland II. I know a lot of gamers who would love to see that. Is there any possibility at all that you might do it?
RH: Ask Brian.
He's the one with the keys to the franchise?
RH: Talk to Brian Fargo. Leave it at that.
Speaking of him, what did you think of his Bard's Tale game?
RH: [Sticks finger down throat, makes gagging noises.] When he first described it to me -- he wanted to do a parody role-playing game. In my opinion, the Bard's Tale that Brian released was The Princess Bride. It even had Cary Elwes as the bard; the humor and everything was The Princess Bride and was not Bard's Tale.
Bard's Tale is a game, a gritty role-playing game, with a party fighting monsters in a fantasy role-playing setting. It wasn't The Princess Bride or Shrek. Now, the game that was shipped was one Brian wanted to make, so that's fine. But to me that Bard's Tale game, I would disavow any connection.
If I were allowed to do Bard's Tale IV, I would do what I did in Dragon Wars but with the next technology. It would have 2011 technology. I would make something that would be pretty damn awesome. I just need someone to give me ten million dollars to do it. Unfortunately, my pockets -- let me look in my purse. There's fifty bucks in there.