50 To Watch
Highlights and More
1 Hitman and Zelda
2 Fable and Splinter Cell
3 GTA and Onimusha
4 DOAX and Metal Gear
5 Burnout and Tribes
6 Nintendo and MS
7 Square and Sega
8 EA and... Nokia?
9 Rare and the GBA SP
10 The Sims and GT4
by Kevin Gifford
The world of video games shifts and evolves far too quickly. What was impossibly high tech yesterday-surround sound, progressive-scan graphics, a decent Xbox RPG-is now not only common, but almost taken for granted by avid gamers. Graphics improve by leaps and bounds every year, to the point where even the most bog-standard platformer of 2003 can blow away anything seen on the last generation of game systems. To fuel this never-ending cycle of change and improvement, a lot of people are required. A lot of influential people. That's where this list comes in.
The history of 1UP has just begun, and what better way to start than to take an inventory of the industry we're covering? We've decided to pick out fifty people in the game industry-some you've likely heard of, many you've not-who we think will help define gaming the most in the next twelve months. There are plenty, no doubt, that deserve recognition and didn't make the cut, but we're pretty confident that you, as a PC or console gamer, should be aware of these guys. Disagree with us? Then take it to the boards!
Games starring hairless men are his forte
1. Jacob Andersen
He's the lead designer on Hitman: Codename 47, as well as 2002 sequel Hitman 2: Silent Assassin.
Oh, some Euro game, right?
Well, yeah (Andersen, who works for developer Io Interactive, is based in Denmark), but it's far more important than that. Hitman 2, which featured Agent 47 infiltrating targets and killing people in ways that'd make Solid Snake blush, was one of the best action games to come from Eidos since Tomb Raider 2. It ended up selling two million copies worldwide, saving Eidos' collective ass when TR: The Angel of Darkness was delayed.
So there's another sequel, then?
The name Hitman 3: Contracts was floated around at E3 and has since appeared on Eidos' sell sheet for 2004. The last game Andersen worked on was one of 2002's biggest surprise hits—one can't imagine what his crew's capable of now that they're better known.
What's the worst thing that happened during Hitman 2 development?
"The guard dog graphics got swapped by accident with the regular bodyguards. It looked quite funny having dogs standing around carrying Uzis and smoking cigarettes… scary stuff!"
The real brains behind The Wind Waker?
2. Eiji Aonuma
Aonuma (pronounced ah-oh-new-ma) was the director of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, as well as Majora's Mask on the N64. Shigeru Miyamoto produced both titles, but Aonuma was the chief design guy on them: "I've gradually gained the confidence to add my own little distinct touches, my own little Aonuma-esque touches, and [Miyamoto] usually accepts my ideas."
People don't still say "Celda," do they?
Not anymore, now that Aonuma and Miyamoto proved that cartoon-style graphics and Zelda-style gameplay really do work together. The Wind Waker is one of the prettiest games (from an artistic standpoint) of this generation, and the dungeon design is among the best the series has seen yet.
What's cooking for next year?
In addition to the full-fledged Zelda sequel that'll undoubtedly come, Aonuma is working on two multiplayer titles-The Four Swords for and Tetra's Trackers-that use the GBA-GC connection cable. "The [E3 2003] demos look like small games, but they're not. There are going to be lots of cool things in there, and they're going to be fully realized, Zelda-style games when they're finished."
What's he do for fun?
Just like Miyamoto, he's into music-though he prefers percussion to Miyamoto's guitar. "If you listen to the opening title theme [of The Wind Waker], that's Miyamoto's mandolin. It's not him playing it, but it's his instrument."
The man behind FPSes in general
3. John Carmack
Uh, who's that?
Nice try. John Carmack needs no introduction -- the mind behind DOOM and the Quake engines is considered one of the top programmers in the history of games. Nearly every gamer on the web has failed to understand one of his .plan updates at some point or another.
What's he doing today?
Probably the same thing he's done for the past decade: writing the 3D technology that will power the next generation of PC first-person shooters. As time has passed, though, Carmack's work has moved further and further away from the design end of things, focusing more strictly on technology.
Is there life after DOOM 3?
Carmack is on the record that he has at least one more 3D engine in him -- the advance of 3D graphics hardware is moving fast enough that there will eventually be demand for another engine after DOOM.
What's the rocket thing about?
In his spare time, Carmack funds one of the companies in the hunt for the X-Prize. In 1996, a St. Louis-based foundation put up $10 million as a reward for the first private company that could launch a rocket at least 100 kilometers into space. Carmack and his Armadillo Aerospace Group don't exactly need the $10 million, but he's said he enjoys the feeling of working on a startup project again, trying to send a two-man rocket past the edge of the atmosphere. For more info, check out the site.
Proving there's more to Fable than Peter Molyneux
4. Simon Carter and 5. Dene Carter
Who are they?
The lead programmer and lead designer (respectively) at Big Blue Box Studios, an independent developer owned by Peter Molyneux's Lionhead Studios.
Correct-and they're also the two chief people behind Fable, one of the most ambitious RPGs ever attempted. Grand Theft Auto may simulate a city with an emphasis towards car crashes and fistfighting, but Fable is trying to simulate your entire life. Plus, it looks very pretty. If it doesn't get delayed any longer, this could be the RPG to own in 2004.
Why is Fable on the Xbox only?
"Because," says Dene, "if you could see what our game would have to look like on one of the other consoles, you'd not recognize it." A PC port is slated for the future, though.
Random "Good lord, they thought of everything" factoid
In Fable, if you build an evil enough main character, not only will townspeople run away from him on sight, but he'll also be served free ale at the bar-because the master's too scared for his life to charge you money.
Hero to GameCube owners everywhere
6. Denis Dyack
Who's that guy that all the message boards love?
He's the head of Silicon Knights, the group behind the original Legacy of Kain. Since then, Nintendo bought them and they now make blockbusters such as Eternal Darkness, which has propelled Dyack to become one of Nintendo's most well-known personalities.
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. Nintendo made a big deal about Dyack at the press announcement for the game, putting him next to Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto and Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima. Quite the company. And with that pedigree, this could be the game that propels Dyack to true star developer status.
What about Too Human?
Ah, the project that's been on the Silicon Knights backburner for years now, right? Originally slated as a four-disc PS1 title, Too Human is likely too complex to finish up for the current generation Nintendo console-indications say it'll be a launch title on the next system. Either that, or Eternal Darkness 2, which, according to sources, Dyack has already written the story for.
In an interview earlier this year, Dyack referenced Metal Gear Solid 2 as an example of a game that was more visually exciting than Eternal Darkness. A few months later, the world found out that he was hinting at the upcoming MGS remake, even though no one had the slightest idea at the time.
The new ruler of Lara Croft's destiny
7. Rob Dyer
Hm, the name sounds vaguely familiar
He's the president of Eidos Interactive, the U.S. division of the London-based publishing giant.
America Vs. Europe
Eidos' fortunes have always been driven by the Tomb Raider franchise-when it suffers, so does the company overall. However, under the command of Dyer, Eidos' U.S. division flourished as the British parent company faced delay after delay with Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness. End result: AOD was a disappointment, and future Tomb Raiders will now be handled by Dyer's U.S. company.
In good hands
Crystal Dynamics has the distinct honor of developing the next Tomb Raider game. Interestingly, Dyer happens to be one of the executives that founded Crystal many years ago (he moved over to Eidos when his company was bought). Connection? You better believe it. And you better believe that Dyer's carefully watching over this game.
So what'll happen to Lara now?
With Adrian Smith and the rest of the Core Design crew out of the picture, the next Tomb Raider should be a much different beast from the rest of the series. A completely different engine will be used, and the storyline might come closer to Angelina Jolie's movies in the future.
Talented coder, Nintendo fan
8. Julian Eggebrecht
Is he involved with poultry?
No. He's the president and lead designer Factor 5, makers of the Star Wars: Rogue Squadron series. He was also involved in the development of the Turrican games-still one of the best-known side-scrolling action franchises ever.
What's he done for me lately?
Eggebrecht's team is one of the few out there that actually try to tax the GameCube to its limits. Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike, coming this fall to the Cube, features some of the best-looking forest scenes in game history: "Endor was the first thing we tackled… everybody was surprised with what we were able to squeeze out of the GameCube."
Spreading its wings
Next up for Factor 5? A new installment in the Pilotwings series for the GameCube. (Just for a second, try to imagine what Pilotwings could look like in the hands of these guys. Yikes.) Thornado's another Factor 5 project that's been on the backburner since the N64 days, but don't look forward to that one anytime soon.
The title "Turrican" came after flipping through the Düsseldorf phone book (the German city where Factor 5's headquarters is located) and stopping on the name of an Italian man named Turricano.
Splinter Cell - made in Quebec
9. Mathieu Ferland
Where'd he come from?
He is now one of the main guys involved with Tom Clancy games, having played a role in the development of Splinter Cell, Raven Shield and Rogue Spear: Black Thorn.
Splinter Cell 2. The group behind the PS2 and GC ports of Splinter Cell at Ubi Soft Shanghai are working on the first sequel, dubbed Pandora Tomorrow, while Ferland and his crew are at work in the background on another (potentially much bigger) sequel that could hit as early as the end of 2004.
He's French-Canadian, so he almost speaks perfect English, but avoids the whole "ey" phenomenon.
Dig into his closet, and you'll find Mathieu's name attached to such titles as Donald Duck: Goin' Quackers for the Nintendo 64.
Would you like an Xbox with that?
10. Ed Fries
He's a Microsoft guy first and foremost, having worked on products like Excel and Word, but now Fries (pronounced "freeze"--sorry, punsters) is the decision maker in control of all the games Microsoft publishes.
So he brought us Halo?
Well, he was one of the main people involved in the purchase of Bungie, so he gets a fair bit of credit for that one. The rest of the Microsoft Games Studios lineup was all over the place around the system's launch, but now seems to have settled in to a much more quality-oriented release list. With titles like Fable, B.C., and Project Gotham Racing 2 -- and, of course, Halo 2 -- on the way, the publisher could soon be an even more major player than they are now.
Something about rocks?
Almost like we pulled this bit of trivia from a corporate profile that tries to make the man seem less like an executive and more like a real person (okay, we did), we've heard that Fries like to go rock climbing from time to time.
Cel-shading (and online) maven
11. Akihiro Hino
Who is he?
Hino heads up Level-5, a developer who first came on the scene with Dark Cloud (the PS2's first quality RPG) in 2001. So far, Level-5 has mostly busied themselves with the sequel to Dark Cloud, putting all their resources into making it the most insanely expansive and free-roaming RPG this side of the Dragon Warrior series.
Why is it funny we should mention that?
Because coincidentally enough, Level-5 has been tapped to handle Dragon Warrior VIII's development. (Planning for the series is always accomplished by Yuji Horii's Armor Project, with a different developer executing his design on each platform.) Level-5's visual strengths should provide the perfect complement for the DW series' ambitious design, and their expertise in coming up with a whole lot of ways for players to waste time ought to serve them well in True Fantasy Live Online, their upcoming Xbox MMORPG.
Chiefs and Indians
Hino may call the shots for an up-and-coming development house by day, but says that when researching other MMORPGs, he prefers living his virtual life as a lowly grunt, cheerfully taking orders from others.
Secret weapon of LucasArts
12. Lawrence Holland
Dude was named after a country
You know a man in the games industry carries weight when his name alone drags a nation replete with a powerful army of farmers, beatniks and legalized prostitutes behind it. At least that's what some would have you believe to hide the fact that Larry Holland has inflicted an infinite amount of agony upon the gaming populace. This tyrant and his Totally Games development house managed to create Bridge Commander, X-Wing, and most importantly, TIE Fighter (one of the best PC games ever). Then they all managed to not make a steady stream of right and proper sequels to each and every one (Alliance and X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter most certainly do not count, heathen).
A decade later
Secret Weapons Over Normandy may not be the TIE Fighter follow-up everyone was hoping for, but Holland and Co. are at least revisiting a hefty chunk of their Luftwaffe past by delivering another sure-to-fly flight action title with an emphasis on control and massive dogfights. Maybe he's not such a tyrant after all...
Where is our damn TIE Fighter 2, Larry?
Downing bombers should be beautiful. Still, since Totally Games was pretty much the only good thing Lucas had going for it for about ten or twenty thousand years, it'd be nice to see Larry return to and conquer the genre he all but perfected a decade ago. Then those blasphemers who lustfully cry out "Rogue Leader" in their sleep would learn the true meaning of the space-sim. Any chance of this happening? Not bloody likely. Space-combat simulations sell less than games editors at bachelor auctions. Given Activision's lawsuit with Paramount over a lacking amount of televised and filmed Star Trek support, Bridge Commander 2: Command You Some More Bridges also isn't a possibility.
To think, Larry could still be shining bones
Whatever the future may hold, praise the benevolent lord of gaming every day of your life, for without his grace, Larry could still be in the anthropology and prehistoric archeology profession he originally studied. How one goes from dusting old things and exploring Africa to making truly cool videogames is somewhat of a mystery, but apparently it has a lot to do with writing music for 80s RPG staple The Bard's Tale. Thank you, Bard.
New York bigshot
13. Sam Houser
Who is he?
Creative director and president of Rockstar Games.
He's one of the minds behind the PS2 masterpiece better known as Grand Theft Auto III. He was also part of the braintrust that created Smuggler's Run, Midnight Club and the entire GTA series. Very few companies have done more to get games out of kids' bedrooms and into the eyes of the world-feel free to debate whether this is a good or bad thing.
Games for adults
Along with Rockstar partner-in-crime Terry Donovan, Houser will continue to push the gaming envelope with film-quality titles that laugh in the face of convention. Next up: Manhunt (GTA done survival-horror style… or perhaps the other way around), followed by The Warriors and-far in the horizon-GTA IV.
It's official: Games get you laid
Sam met his current love interest at a bar. How'd it go down? He approached, sat down, and said he made video games. She asked if he's ever heard of Grand Theft Auto; she'd been having trouble beating a particular part. His response: "Yeah, I've heard of it. I made it."
A very mega man
14. Keiji Inafune
How do you pronounce that, then?
K. G. Ee Na Foo Neh. He's the producer of the Onimusha series-and he created Mega Man, besides.
Wasn't Onimusha 2 a flop?
It fared respectably, but not up to Capcom's expectations (the original was the first PS2 title to sell a million copies in Japan). That's why Inafune decided to shake things up for the third game: the pre-rendered backgrounds are gone, the camera moves around a lot more, and stubbly-faced actor Jean Reno whips the tar out of demons in ancient Japan.
Jean Reno, not Janet
Inafune remains tight-lipped about Reno's presence in Onimusha 3, only stating that he'll "offer a new style of play." Reno will also voice his character-tough-as-nails soldier Jacques Blanc-although he'll be speaking in French with English subtitles.
Mega Man vs. Mario
Inafune's little blue guy was inspired by robot cartoons and the desire to compete directly with Super Mario Bros. "The PR department told me that [the first] Mega Man was too hard, but I thought it was really easy compared to Ghosts 'n Goblins, which we had just released back then… Maybe we shouldn't have been comparing it to Ghosts 'n Goblins."
Japan's #1 Xbox fan
15. Tomonobu Itagaki
Who is he?
Head of Tecmo's Team Ninja development crew.
A team of ninjas? Do they flip out and kill people?
No. They are the people behind the Dead or Alive series and they're widely regarded as one of the best fighting-game developers around. They're also one of the best modelers of 3D females around, as DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball (and its legion of horny fans) demonstrated last winter.
Why's he important?
Because Team Ninja is one of the only Japan-based developers that take the Xbox at all seriously. Ninja Gaiden and the Dead or Alive 2 remake in DOA Online
are stonkingly pretty examples of what Microsoft's system can do in capable hands-and unlike DOAX, they'll offer some rippingly fast action.
Multiplatform games: "They take data coded for low-end machines, sprinkle a bit of anti-aliasing on top, and try to pass the thing off as an Xbox game. I don't have time to waste on that kind of lazy development." Namco's fighters: "We don't need any weapons in order to shut up [Tekken]; DOA Online will be more than sufficient." And finally, Japanese gamers: "They're wimps."
The head of a new empire
16. Satoru Iwata
Who is he?
The CEO of Nintendo, over in Kyoto, Japan. He's the one with his hand on the GameCube and GBA's tiller, and if it goes down, he'll be the one to sink with the ship. That's why he'll be acting very carefully over the next year, and why his every move is worth watching.
Is he the one behind this whole connectivity thing?
Not precisely, but he's demonstrated a strong commitment to it in speech after speech, and his reasoning isn't entirely unsound. Rather than invest money in online play, which is popular but has a very difficult revenue model, he maintains that a better course of action for Nintendo will be using the GameCube/Game Boy Advance connection… which, while relatively unpopular amongst the more vocal gamers and press at the moment, stands a chance of selling both systems for Nintendo and being quite lucrative. We'll see early next year whether or not he's bet the farm on a piece of swampland when the GameCube Final Fantasy comes out.
Is he as crazy as the last guy?
Decidedly not. Hiroshi Yamauchi (who will be missed as president) was given to wild pronouncements, such as casually suggesting that Nintendo might not launch the GameCube if the press didn't take to it at its unveiling. Who could forget his rant against quick updates released only to make a buck while Pokemon Crystal was hitting shelves? Iwata, on the other hand, is the kind of guy who'll spend half a press conference apologizing for his mistakes. Not nearly as flamboyant, but with Nintendo in a weakened position, it may pay off for Iwata to be a uniter and not a divider.
Someone spot him a Warthog
17. Jaime Griesemer
Jaime, a level designer for the first Halo, is the lead design guy on Halo 2.
Halo 2 you're likely familiar with
It may have missed Christmas, but there is still nothing else on the Xbox approaching the level of anticipation this game has. Everything from vastly improved graphics and more variety in the indoor areas to full-on Xbox Live support is in the works.
Did single-player Halo get boring for you?
Worry no more, for Griesemer has listened: "The levels will be much more organic, thanks to a complete reworking of the game's engine. We want to provide more interesting situations and goals in Halo 2, so we're focusing a lot of attention on our mission and environment design, taking what we learned from Halo and using that to make Halo 2 as varied and deep as possible."
The Mac's best-kept secret
Although Bungie's been around since 1991, most of their early software-including classic FPS Marathon-was released only for the Macintosh computer. It's never explicitly stated, but Marathon and Halo are very closely related in terms of plot-hopefully we'll see more evidence of this in Halo 2.
He made Koreans MMORPG-mad
18. Taek-Jin Kim
Who is he?
Kim is the CEO of NCsoft, operating out of South Korea.
And I care about a Korean game company, why?
Because Kim has succeeded where everyone else has failed so far: he's built a billion-dollar company solely out of online PC games. "I was like many youths who wanted to be a hero… and let people have the life they chose in cyberspace." He's certainly succeeded: Over 2.3 million Koreans-five percent of the entire population-play Lineage (their flagship title) at least once a month.
So what about the rest of the world?
NCsoft made a splash at E3 this year with new MMORPG Shining Lore (coming to America this fall) and MMO-superhero-game City of Heroes (due out next year). Lineage II is in worldwide beta-test right now.
In addition to producing Asia's most popular online game, Kim also co-wrote the most popular Korean word-processing system and founded the country's first Internet service provider. Will he stick to games from now on? Yes: "I've found what I wanted. My plan is to write a new history in the online game industry."
Likes his snake "well done"
19. Hideo Kojima
You must have heard of him
He's Mr. Metal Gear, not to mention the man behind Boktai (GBA) and a number of pioneering adventure games. He's one of the few people who calls himself a "director" (in the movie sense) and actually has the resume to back it up.
Why should I care?
C'mon! He's the man responsible for Metal Gear Solid! The PS2 sequel may have gotten all pear-shaped in the end, but it still set the standard for stealth-action games. In addition to GameCube MGS remake The Twin Snakes, Kojima is busy finding new ways to mess with our minds via MGS3: Snake Eater, due out next year.
Didn't he say he wouldn't direct any more MGS games?
"I'm kind of embarrassed that I said that. Right after I finished MGS2, I whipped up a rough game plan of Snake Eater. I gave it to my staff and asked, 'Who wants to direct this?' No one volunteered-they were afraid of the pressure." Thankfully, someone did step up to direct Metal Gear Solid Online-Kojima is merely producing that game.
A director at heart
As a high-schooler, Kojima made films with his 8mm camera and showed them to his friends for 50 yen (about 42 cents) a pop: "I wanted to be like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky; I wanted to win prizes for my novels and direct the film adaptations myself."
Without him, there'd be no PS
20. Ken Kutaragi
Who's your daddy?
He's president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, a vice-president within Sony itself, and a top runner for the number-one position when it's vacated. Oh, and he's also the "father of the PlayStation."
Why should I care?
Well, he did a pretty neat job of inventing the PlayStation, and then an even neater job of inventing the PlayStation 2. (He didn't actually put the thing together per se, but you know what we mean.) What he does in 2004 could decide whether Sony dominates the console marketplace for an unprecedented third generation in a row.
What's he doing next?
Following through in his promise to make the PlayStation pervasive in our lives. The PSX set-top appliance will hit Japan this winter, the PSP portable system will make its debut at E3 2004, and the PS3 will, erm, continue to be speculated upon for the next year or so. Some things never change.
He does other things, too
Aside from being hero to millions for his services to gaming, you can also thank Kutaragi for the LCD projection TV and the dancing lights on your stereo system. Really.
2004: The year wireless games get some respect?
21. Mitch Laskey
The CEO of JAMDAT Mobile.
They make and distribute games for mobile phones, via the online services sold by Sprint, Verizon, Cingular and other nationwide carriers. Among other things, they're the company that put multiplayer Bejeweled on your cell phone-a lot harder than it looks, actually, considering the slow connections on most wireless handsets.
So, he deals with wussy little games?
There's nothing wussy behind the number of people playing these games. An estimated 43 million people have downloaded a game on their mobile phones worldwide, and handsets with color screens have sold in the millions in America ever since Motorola dropped the price on their cheapest one last Christmas.
What's next, then?
More multiplayer gaming, and more impressive mobile titles, including a continuing line of extreme-sports games licensed from Activision. "We will start delivering really innovative products, with deep multiplayer components, messaging, and dynamic content, that I feel will be some of our first mobile games to really take advantage of the medium. That's what I'm really excited about."
What does JAMDAT mean, anyway?
Nothing in particular -- the name was chosen because you can type it on a phone keypad without pressing any button twice in a row. Try it.
Making the tools that make games look decent
22. David Lau-Kee
What does he do?
He's the president of Criterion Software.
They make a 3D game engine called RenderWare that's used to create a lot of the games you play. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Spider-Man and countless others would not have been possible without Criterion's tools. (Well, they would've been possible, but they would've also cost a lot more to develop.)
Making a console video game doesn't come cheap-your average project costs $2 million, and one bomb can take down an entire developer if it's not careful. Lau-Kee's tools allow game makers to stop reinventing the wheel with every project-it provides the canvas to draw their work upon, in other words.
They make games, too, right?
Why, yes. Burnout 2 was a fabulously exciting racer that had the misfortune to be overshadowed by EA's Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2
. Two more PS2 games-Black and Dust Storm-are on the drawing board; expect to see more on 'em very soon.
23. Ken Levine
What the hell is a Freedom Force?
Kenny boy may have led System Shock 2 development for Irrational Games, but he took a step off the master's podium to write a few hundred memorable quips and comical zings for Irrational's second in-house effort, Freedom Force. Why the seemingly self-imposed demotion? Ken's a hateful, hateful man. And he hates you very, very much.
Why exactly do I care, then?
System Shock, also known as "The Best Sci-Fi Horror RPG Played from the First Person Ever," was a prelude to Warren Spector and Ion Austin's Deus Ex. Freedom Force, in stark contrast, was a superhero squad-based strategic/RPG that released on the PC (or Land of Crappy to Nonexistent Superhero Games, as we like to call it). Both titles were so neat, you should already own them. Ken proved himself by being able to use Looking Glass' horribly underpowered Dark engine to churn out the stellar SS. He later sported his Hollywood-taught writing talent to keep us laughing and smiling all throughout FF. SS, FF... Are we seeing a pattern here? No? Good. You'd better not be.
Look to the future
Presently Ken is busily inking a story for the Unreal-powered Tribes: Vengeance, the "don't call me three" third in the Tribes series (not counting Starsiege and Earthsiege, of course). Tribes is a multiplayer game-it needs no writer. On the contrary, Ken's appointment to pen a plot for something that was previously multiplayer-centric unless you were a moron is testament to Irrational's dedication to actually delivering a product the socially inept can enjoy by their collective lonesomes. Ken may hate you, but Irrational loves you.
Levine is pretty. When will I hear more of him?
Vengeance is slated to ship in 2004. Our boy in Boston may have that humongous Tribes plate of potatoes in front of him, but he and the rest of Irrational are also laboring over two other top secret projects that no one is supposed to know about. Fortunately for you, we lie to people to gain favor. So, we have no problem with breaking trust and saying with authority that those two projects are definitely not videogame adaptations of Howard the Duck and Blue Crush. Ah, and you wanted to see what Ken could do with the phrase "surf girls who know how to lay pipe" too, didn't you?
Don't confuse the ESA with the ESRB, now
24. Doug Lowenstein
President of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which was called the Interactive Digital Software Association until a few months back.
The ESA runs the E3 trade show-that's the fun part. But more importantly, the ESA is responsible for the ERSB rating system for video games, and they're the game industry's line of defense against anti-game legislation. They just finished up shooting down a law in Washington state that would've made games featuring the assault of anyone dressed as a police officer contraband in the hands of kids.
Striving for originality
Surprisingly enough, Lowenstein is also a champion for originality in games: "Innovation does not mean just coming up with better ways to kill characters or blow up cars. It means focusing more on character development and storylines… It means looking for new genres that go beyond the tried and true that top the best seller charts annually."
Who is he? He's Peter. Who are you, then?
25. Peter MacDougall
What's he do?
He's the executive vice president of sales and marketing at Nintendo of America. He replaced Peter Main last year.
Sales and marketing are exactly what Nintendo needs right now-their GameCube's in undisputed third place in the U.S. and European console markets. It's to the point where many gamers jokingly say they're "voting Nintendo third-party" by 2004, speculation that MacDougall was forced to deny earlier this year: "Nintendo is in the software business to stay, Nintendo is in the handheld business to stay, and Nintendo is most certainly in the home console business to stay."
What's he doing about this?
As most of the industry predicted, MacDougall's company chopped the Cube's price to $99 a few days back: "It's simple, really. Nintendo is committed to offering our players the best games and the best price." Another definite: you'll be seeing more Wind Waker-style bonus discs and other incentives for people to buy GameCube games early and often.
Before he was famous
MacDougall was president of Nintendo's Canadian division for many years. No, Mario does not pronounce "about" differently up there.
A tactical thinker?
26. Yasumi Matsuno
Who is he?
The director of Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy Tactics... and let's not forget FF Tactics Advance, either.
I'm sure I've heard of these somewhere...
The original Tactics is one of the finest strategy RPGs ever made. Vagrant Story stands out as a bold experiment in storytelling, style and gameplay.
What's he doing now?
Directing Final Fantasy XII. Not too much is available on the new RPG's gameplay yet--Square Enix is saving the details for a November debut--but given Matsuno's pedigree, some Tactics-style innovation may be afoot here.
Is FFTA "teh kiddie?"
Not really-according to Matsuno, the basic design for Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was completed soon after the original FFT was released, but the project ended up on the back burner for several years instead of getting picked up by a development team.
Who can resist that stare?
27. Peter Moore
What's his job?
Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Retail Sales and Marketing, Home and Entertainment Division, Microsoft. In other words, he deals with selling the Xbox in Japan and other Asian countries.
Why is he here?
Although the Xbox is faring decently in the West, it's faced a long, uphill battle elsewhere. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Japan, where weekly Xbox system sales usually number in the hundreds. Microsoft needs overseas support, so Moore's top priority is keeping the Xbox alive in Asia until his company can get the next system into the marketplace... not the most enviable of positions.
How will he manage this?
Mostly through heavy selling of the Xbox Live online service-a smart idea, considering that over 10 million Japanese households are wired for high-speed Internet right now. Moore will also launch a new line of Xbox games that will give Japanese users access to Splinter Cell and other top Western titles. Guess Blinx doesn't quite cut it.
Moore's the pity
As president of Sega of America, Moore proclaimed at the 2001 Electronic Entertainment Expo that "come holiday 2003, we will be a legitimate competitor for the number one spot as the top video game publisher in the world." 18 months later, he left for Microsoft after Sega's 2002 holiday lineup shriveled in store shelves.
Monkey monkey monkey monkey race cars!
28. Toshihiro Nagoshi
Isn't he that Monkey Ball guy?
The head of Sega's Amusement Vision studio may have had his biggest commercial success with Super Monkey Ball, but there's more to his work than marble-sealed monkeys. With Sega's R&D Department 4, he worked on Daytona USA, Virtua Striker, and Spikeout. Later, after AM4 became Amusement Vision, he produced arcade hits like Slashout and Planet Harriers.
So is he still making monkey games?
Well, yes and no--he recently admitted that a third Monkey game is likely in the future, but he's also headed for bigger and better things. Nagoshi's Amusement Vision has merged with Takayuki Kawagoe's Smilebit studio, the team responsible for Jet Set Radio and Panzer Dragoon Orta.
Do you call that AmuseBit, or SmileVision?
The studio is still called Amusement Vision, but now its focus is on making movie-like, cinematic games.
And this is from the Monkey Ball guy?
As we said, Nagoshi has much more experience than his recent success suggests, and some pretty interesting tastes in film. He's said that he considers himself an auteur when it comes to making games, like film director Stanley Kubrick. He also has a more international perspective than most Japanese developers-British gamers know that he pens a regular column for the respected UK magazine Edge.
Platformer genius and Ferrari driver
29. Yuji Naka
Who is he?
Designer of Sonic the Hedgehog and leader of Sonic Team, one of Sega's many development companies.
Oh, right, him. What's he been up to?
Sonic (Adventure DX), Sonic (Advance 2), and more Sonic (Pinball Party). Also: Sonic (Mega Collection). While some may consider this an over-exploitation of the franchise, Naka knows what sells, which sets him apart from some of the other studios under Sega's umbrella. And to be fair, the man's not totally devoted to the blue speedster. The Phantasy Star Online franchise continues to grow, with a recent release for Xbox and a sequel in the works for GameCube; Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg shows that he's worked some of the kinks out of his 3D approach; and Sonic Heroes
... er, wait, that's a Sonic game.
Why's he so important?
A lot of it has to do with the way Sega is structured these days. They recently cut back the total number of studios by folding some of the more uncommercial ones into the big-name groups. Naka's Sonic Team, for example, now includes all the members of what used to be United Game Artists. The upshot is that he's now got twice the manpower to do what he does best, which is to be a profitable game producer at a time when Sega needs them most.
Though a good 80% of his livelihood these days comes from the Sonic series, back in the day he was so frustrated after the first Genesis game that he almost gave up on the franchise. Underpaid and underappreciated, Naka quit Sega of Japan. It wasn't until American consultant Mark Cerny convinced Naka to join Sega of America (with the promise of a shiny new Ferrari) that the series continued on. He still drives Ferraris, by the way.
Around forever... for a good reason
30. Masaya Nakamura
He's important because?
He's the chairman and founder of Namco, not to mention one of the industry's oldest veterans now that Hiroshi Yamauchi has retired from Nintendo.
Why should I care?
As the principal decision maker for Namco (actually an acronym for Nakamura Manufacturing Company), Nakamura has played a great hand in the success of the PlayStation. Were it not for his company's hit titles like Tekken and Ridge Racer, both the PS one and PS2 wouldn't be in the positions they are today.
What's he up to now?
Also serving as executive producer on many of Namco's larger games, Nakamura is currently overseeing the next batch of Namco titles: Xenosaga Episode II, R: Racing Revolution, and twin GameCube RPGs Baten Kaitos and Tales of Symphonia.
Nakamura used $1500 of his own money to found Namco in 1955. Their original business: manufacturing coin-operated horse rides for department stores. Video games didn't happen for them until 1974, when they bought Atari Japan-which, in turn, made them mortal enemies of Nintendo of America until just a few years ago.
Does it have spiky hair? Then he's involved
31. Tetsuya Nomura
The character designer for Final Fantasy VII, FFVIII and FFX. Also the director and character designer for Kingdom Hearts, Square's one and only new game in 2002. Lucky it was good, eh? In addition, Nomura has contributed design work to numerous other Square projects.
Like his stuff?
His moody, dark, technology-suffused approach to Final Fantasy marked a sharp turn away from the whimsical, fantastical worlds created by that other Final Fantasy visual guy, artist Yoshitaka Amano. While hardcore FF fanboys are sharply polarized as to which designer they like better, it's quite clear that Nomura's realistic style was better suited to introduce role-playing games to the masses.
Square and Disney, kissin' in a tree
Two sequels to Kingdom Hearts (which was a surprise hit worldwide for Square) are in the works -- Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 2. There's also word that a TV anime is in the works. Makes sense -- there's already a biweekly comic in Japan, after all.
He likes big red lion things
Nomura's favorite Final Fantasy is FFVII and his favorite character is Red XII.
The real question: will he survive long?
32. Hisao Oguchi
What's he do?
He's become famous for his upward mobility. He originally rose to prominence as the boss of Sega's Hitmaker studio, where he worked on games like Crazy Taxi and Virtua Tennis. His real skills seem to lie in the administrative realm, though. Early in 2003, Sega appointed him to a position overseeing its entire array of development teams. Then, in May 2003, he rose to the top of the heap -- president of Sega, at the age of 43.
They made him president?
Not only is he president; he's alone at the top. The reorganization that gave him his new job got rid of the old chief operating officer and representative director, leaving no other executives at Oguchi's level. As a former studio head, he knows games-what will sell and what won't-and he's proven to have the leadership ability needed to keep Sega's disparate development teams under control. Taking the helm of the company has been Oguchi's ambition for some time, in fact, although he's said that he didn't expect this to happen so soon.
But what about the merger?
Earlier this year, a merger between Sega and another Japanese games company seemed like an inevitability. Oguchi doesn't see it that way, though, claiming that he plans to keep the company independent. "Sega can be revitalized with its current development capabilities," he told the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper when he first took the job.
What's his favorite hobby?
Darts, if you can believe that. While Oguchi was in charge of Hitmaker, the studio opened up its own darts bar in Tokyo's Shibuya district.
The renegade designer
33. Yoshiki Okamoto
That name sounds familiar
He's the producer behind lots of Capcom hits, including Resident Evil, Final Fight, Onimusha, and even the first Street Fighter.
What's he doing now?
Well, this is where it gets fascinating-formerly a member of Capcom's board, he left the company last June after it announced big financial losses. Now he's starting up his own outfit, a developer devoted to making fun games with small teams, out of his apartment.
What kind of game are they making?
They haven't announced anything yet, but Okamoto promises on his web page that they will soon. One current project: a strategy board game-which makes sense, because he's a huge fan of Catan and other non-video games. Whatever he ends up doing, though, count on hearing plenty about it next year.
Okamoto's first paying job was at Konami, where he was asked by his boss to make a driving game. He didn't want to make that, so instead he coded classic arcade shooter Time Pilot-giving his boss updates on his progress with the nonexistent driving game all the while. He left Konami not long afterward... but not before developing Gyruss, a space game renowned for its mind-blowing musical soundtrack.
The king of all video cards
34. Dave Orton
I'm bored. Get to the point
Sometime before the Xbox and after God smote Sodom and Gomorrah (in July of 2000, to be exact), the Radeon video card was released. A few mild ups and downs notwithstanding, it's been fairly smooth sailing for ATI (the Canadian graphics giant behind the technology) since. Coincidentally, Orton was enveloped into the ATI fold in April of 2000, after a buyout of ArtX, where he served as Overlord of Death. You can almost feel where this is going, can't you?
Didn't I say "Get to the point"?
ArtX developed Flipper. No, it's not a codeword for a genetically altered super porpoise with a bomb attached to its cute little dome-it's the graphics technology inside Nintendo's GameCube. And so begins the video game tie-in to Orton, who now oversees all ATI operations, including R&D and third-party business.
Leapfrogging? Does that involve nakedness?
The PC graphics market, which ATI has always held a majority stake in, is subject to performance leapfrogging competitions between ATI and rival NVIDIA. Every six months, the corporate frogs jump and someone lands in the lead with a slightly better product. Despite this, the distant future may belong to Canada and Orton. Last year, rumors proclaimed ATI the leader in a bid to develop next-generation graphics for both Microsoft and Nintendo, presumably for use in console development (though set-top boxes and portable systems are not out of the question). Since then, such rumors have turned to fact. PC leapfrogging brought ATI and Orton's performance-leading Radeon series of graphics cards to the front of the enthusiast pack, which in turn brought the company to the front of the console pack. Orton, of course, has already been in Nintendo's bed for a while, so he's familiar with how console love works.
Two next-generation consoles coming from the same place, that's what. Xbox 2 and Cube 2 will both come branded by ATI. Dave, the company's president and COO, may have worked everywhere from Bell Labs to SGI to GE, but he's now poised to blow the lid off next-generation console systems with new System on a Chip technology. Or, we might just see a couple of refurbished Rage 128s. Whatever.
The famed beermaker... no, wait, that's Pabst
35. Larry Probst
Lawrence F. Probst III?
It's no longer an opinion to call EA a juggernaut. They are the Wal-Mart of the game industry. They make one of every four videogames sold in the world. Last year, they had over 20 titles that sold more than a million copies each. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets sold over 10 million units. EA is pulling in so much money every year that they dwarf their nearest competitor. And the man at the top of the food chain is Larry Probst, a 20-year veteran of the company.
Why is he still important? EA's been big for, like, forever.
EA's handled their business side well for awhile, but recently the games have gone from "solid performers" to "critical darlings." Titles like Freedom Fighters
and the upcoming Lord of the Rings: Return of the King all have huge buzz and look to give the EA brand more respect amongst hardcore gamers.
Probst recently made a prediction that the next generation of consoles would come two years after the development kits get sent to developers, meaning that if EA gets development systems by the end of this year, then the PS3 will likely ship in 2005.
Treat us seriously! C'mon!
36. Ilkka Raiskinen
There's no way I'm pronouncing that
That's all right. Just keep in mind that he's the top guy at Nokia behind the N-Gage mobile game deck.
The $300 device, which launched October 7, does it all-it's a full-featured cell phone that also plays 3D games, surfs the Internet and blares out MP3s through its tiny speaker. It's received worldwide criticism for its unwieldy design, but as Ilkka is fond of putting it: "We do not enter marketplaces we don't plan to be number one in."
$300? That's a fortune!
"I think that the difference is that if you look from a consumer perspective, if you have a games console without games then there's no value to the consumer. However, with N-Gage, even having no games in the device there's a lot of value for the consumer."
Mission for the coming year
To convince consumers that the N-Gage is worth buying. It may be difficult-none of the games so far are that special-but given Nokia's penchant for releasing new hardware, an enhanced (and cheaper) system may come as early as next year.
The dark-horse director
37. Hiroshi Shibata
Who is he?
The director of Resident Evil 4 for the GameCube.
No one has received more credit for popularizing the survival-horror genre than Capcom and RE director Shinji Mikami. However, Mikami's series has been growing stale-the graphics are prettier than ever, but the six-year-old gameplay and tank-like controls are getting more than a little long in the tooth.
Shibata, along with producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi (RE Code: Veronica, Dino Crisis 2), will attempt to make Resident Evil relevant again with a full 3D engine, meaning a final exit for the same old flick-screen nonsense. "The RE series has always been bound by something before, but the new full-model engine will free Resident Evil 4 of these bonds. I want to make a completely new horror game."
Part of the reason Shibata was picked as director was his relative lack of experience with the RE series-apart from his work on Resident Evil 3, most of his career has been occupied with arcade fighting games. His only other console title: Fushigi Deka, a PlayStation cartoon adventure.
Back and ready for action
38. Tim Schafer
Hey, isn't he that catchphrase salesman?
Er, yeah. But all manatees aside, he also makes videogames. His run of classic LucasArts adventure games for PC includes Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango. This alone should tell you that he's very funny and very, very talented.
What happened to him?
He left LucasArts a while back to create adventure games of a different sort by starting a new company called Double Fine. Instead of using the standard point and click interface of the old SCUMM games, Psychonauts (Double Fine's debut title) will be more hands-on, taking cues from platformers like Mario or Jak and Daxter.
What, another platform game? Come on.
We understand your skepticism. But if nothing else, you can count on the man who came up with the scenario for Grim Fandango to bring a killer story to the table. On top of that, the game is steeped enough in dream lore and human psychology so as to allow for some truly warped, twisted, and most of all diverse environments. Fire levels? Ice levels? Only Psychonauts will bring you a level called Lungfishopolis.
In a nice break from the many company websites with a gleaming corporate sheen and no information beyond the official press releases, Schafer takes time away from managing the company and designing his game to write virtually everything on Double Fine's website. An ample selection of his ramblings can be found on the sporadically-updated news section.
Has the god returned?
39. Warren Spector
A resume to die for
Few people in PC gaming command as much respect as Warren Spector does. Whether it be his work at Origin (Serpent's Isle, Underworld, Crusader) or his Wings of Glory, Thief, System Shock and Deus Ex legacy, Warren has a way of showing up and making everyone else sit down and cry.
The saving grace
As the story goes, John Romero needed only to promise the warmth of a thousand glowing monitors and a seemingly endless stream of Tomb Raider-generated Eidos cash to get Warren to settle in Texas at a branch of Ion Storm. "It'll be great," John must have said. "We'll milk Eidos and then release hit after hit like Anachronox, Daikatana and Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3." Whoops. Turns out Warren had different plans. A glance at his past efforts shows he settles for nothing less than greatness. And, when Deus Ex came rocketing out of Ion's door, everyone knew it was still true. While the rest of Ion was engulfed in turmoil and scandal, Warren outputted the game of the year. All it takes is talent, experience and a cool beard, we suppose.
Is there another storm on the horizon?
Even though Warren has taken a backseat as lead designer on Deus Ex: Invisible War to give his whip cracking right-hand man Harvey Smith full control of the reigns, he still sits on the highest throne in his Austin-based kingdom, watching over that product and the equally anticipated Thief III. Will Garrett's latest adventure be worth a look? A handful of strong Looking Glass developers (of Thief fame, of course) are now flying the Ion flag with pride. And with Spector at the helm, there's no reason to doubt.
Not so hard to find these days
40. Tim Stamper and 41. Chris Stamper
Who are they?
They're the founders of Ultimate Play The Game, a British computer-game maker that eventually became Rare. Tim is managing director and Chris is technical director.
They made, umm...
007 GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, lots of Donkey Kong games, and the much-maligned but still extremely pretty Star Fox Adventures. All that is in the past, though, now that Microsoft's bought them off Nintendo for $375 million.
So what's their next plan?
To prove that they're worth the money. Their first Xbox title, Grabbed by the Ghoulies, is coming in a matter of days, but more attention is focused right now on Kameo: Elements of Power, the long-delayed RPG that's due this spring.
The Wachowskis of gaming
The Stampers give out interviews to the gaming press very, er, rarely-they've gone years without talking to the public at times. "There just aren't enough hours in the day," said Chris in 1997. "We're still working ridiculous hours, seven days in the week, and I'd much rather focus on the games we're working on than spend time promoting ourselves."
Oldschool portable versus newschool portable
42. Kenichi Sugino
He's a product designer at Nintendo's Research & Engineering Department… which doesn't sound so impressive until you discover that he headed up the Game Boy Advance and GBA SP design team.
How did the SP get started?
"When you talk about game consoles, most of the time you buy a GameCube because you want to play Mario, or you buy a GBA because you want to play something else. Our mission here, though, was to design a system that would sell not just based on its game library but also on how it looks."
Are you scared of Sony's PSP much?
"If you ask me whether I think the PSP is the form all portable systems will take in the future, I have to point out that the system's a year and a half away from release. A lot can happen before then." (This was at E3 last spring.)
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has hinted at a brand-new piece of Nintendo hardware by next spring. Could this be Sugino's next project? It's possible.
The king of digital?
43. Yu Suzuki
Where did he go?
Conventional wisdom has it that the head of Sega's AM2 studio-creator of Outrun, Space Harrier, and Virtua Fighter-spent some time on the outs with Sega's old upper management. Shenmue and Shenmue II were the most expensive productions in the history of the games industry, and they distinctly failed to set the sales charts on fire, especially in Japan. Even Shenmue II's exclusive release on Xbox didn't do much for its promotion or sales in the US. Though Suzuki was credited as Project Lead on Virtua Fighter 4, it was largely headed up by producer Daichi Katagiri.
So why is he back?
With the summer 2003 shakeup in Sega's management, new president Hisao Oguchi obviously has confidence in Suzuki's ability to head a major studio. The success of AM2's efforts after Shenmue has also restored some of the luster to Suzuki's name.
What's he doing now?
Suzuki is now the boss of Sega's newest development subsidiary, Digitalrex. While most of Sega's teams were undergoing a drastic contraction-studios like United Game Artists lost many of their staff as part of their integration with surviving teams-Suzuki got the chance to start over with a completely new studio. That looks like a sign of big things afoot.
What's a Digitalrex?
Well, the new company's working with a clean slate at the moment. The most obvious assumption would be that Suzuki and crew is behind the production of a third Shenmue adventure-Shenmue II ended on a vicious cliffhanger, after all-but given Sega's renewed focus on the bottom line, Suzuki might finally be working on something with more commercial potential.
Won't you be my neighbor?
44. Takashi Tezuka
Who is he?
Well, he's in charge of Mario--
No he isn't.
No, really, he is... sort of. Tezuka has been involved in nearly every Mario game ever made -- including Luigi's Mansion. He had a personal hand in every 2D Mario ever made, right up to Yoshi's Island, and he still handles production duties on the 3D ones. Since then, though, he's been indulging his quirkiness in other ways, through projects like Animal Crossing.
So what's he doing now?
His Mario mojo never rests -- Nintendo recently completed Mario Advance 4 (the GBA port of Super Mario Brothers 3), and he's now hard at work producing Mario Kart: Double Dash!!.
See what sticks
Tezuka is pretty original, sometimes overly so. For every genius Yoshi's Island, there's a baffling Yoshi's Story, replete with singing Yoshis and bizarre gameplay mechanics. But, lest gamers forget, Tezuka also had a heavy producing hand in Mario 64, one of the most groundbreaking games ever.
What's going on in that mind?
45. Fumito Ueda
Who is he?
The head designer and animator for a developer within SCEI loosely called "the Ico team". He's only really got one game to his name so far, but when that game is as good as Ico, it tends to cement one's place on this sort of list.
What's he doing next?
That's not the easiest question to answer, but the general response would be some sort of follow-up to Ico. Though its current working title of Nico would seem to answer that, all we really know is that Ueda's team visited the Grand Canyon sometime last year for research purposes. A scant few leaked stills from a Spanish-language website show a band of warriors drawing blood--or is that shadow?--from a rampaging beast, which may indicate a meatier action component to the game… but no one except Ueda can say for sure. We're excited anyway.
He hasn't granted too many interviews so far, but we're betting that Ueda would have some interesting stories to tell about his career: he began work as an animator at Warp Studios, under the notoriously eccentric Kenji Eno.
Andre the Not-so-giant
46. Andre Vrignaud
What does he do?
He's a Director of Technical Strategy at Microsoft. He's the guy that decides how Xbox Live works.
A precarious situation
After a year in operation, Microsoft has around half a million Xbox Live subscribers-just a little below Sony's Network Adaptor userbase, but still impressive considering that PS2s outnumber Xboxes eight to one. This could change very soon, though, when gamers' free year of online access starts to run out.
How will he deal with this?
More exclusive content-and larger content, too. Also, Vrignaud says MS will emphasize the importance of cheat-free gameplay via the Xbox: "The hard drive allows us to fix game exploits that people might find. SOCOM is riddled with exploits and cheats, and without an ubiquitous hard drive, Sony cannot fix them."
So he doesn't like Sony's online service much?
"We continue to drive forward with new features while Sony is now two years behind... Leaving it to game developers to build out the [online] infrastructure is like asking the Wachowski brothers to open up movie theaters and buy projectors so people can watch The Matrix: Reloaded." So, no, then.
From Sims to robots
47. Will Wright
Oh, how we hate thee so
Blizzard can arguably be credited with popularizing PC gaming for video-game dorks, but it was Will Wright and his Sims that took the lowly land of the interactive computer and propelled it to an acceptable (but still dorky) level of pop culture stardom. Now everyone with an urge to obsessively control human beings could enjoy video games and not feel bad about him or herself.
From King to God
Wright's Sims, along with its obscene amount of expansions, has generated publisher Electronic Arts an absurdly countless number of dollars and at the same time turned the once mighty Maxis into the now unstoppable Maxis, a house that can do pretty much anything so long as Online isn't in the title.
Appeal for the Fairer
The Sims Online didn't topple the persistent online market as planned, but that's not stopping Maxis and Will from continuing to make EA a few hundred million more dollars. And why not? There are few games that a female will gouge a man's eyes out to play in place of shopping or a right hair brushing. The Sims is one of them. Just look at our own EIC Sam Kennedy in the one remaining eye he has and ask him how October 14th, 2001 was for him? You'll hear the words "rupture", "fingernail", "girlfriend", "Sims" and "power switch".
Future mind games
Will is currently working on completing The Sims 2, a game that will let people guide entire generations of virtual slaves through their lives. You can expect that early next year.
He's also in the process of developing a TV show with Fox: "I'd like to fast forward into the future a bit and explore how machines and artificial intelligence will impact human beings and how robots will help us define ourselves." Robots? Believe it. The man has a warehouse full of them. In fact, he's brought a few out to the sidewalks of Berkeley, CA to prove that stoners and robots can coexist peacefully.
48. Kazunori Yamauchi
Remember his name
He's Mr. Gran Turismo. Have you heard of it? It's quite good.
What else has he done?
Hmm… let's see. Gran Turismo, Gran Turismo 2 and Gran Turismo 3. Oh, and he also made Motor Toon Gran Prix and Omega Boost.
Right. And now he's working on GT4.
Which is an online racing game with zillions of cars. The eventual aim, we've heard, is for the game to simulate every car known to man. Seriously. "Games like GT3 are turning millions of couch potatoes into living-room racers…becoming the new virtual showroom and design studio for automakers."
So he likes cars, does he?
Yamauchi owns the following rides: a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV, a Porsche 911 GT3, a hopped-up Nissan Fairlady Z (called the 350Z in the States), a Mercedes SL55 AMG, and a Honda S2000 (it used to be his "grocery shopping" car, but now it's a completely tricked-out endurance racer). He used to have a Nissan Skyline GT-R R32-his favorite car of all time, he's said-but he totaled it in a wreck after a sleepless stretch at the office.
War exacts such a toll on gamers' minds
49. Vince Zampella and 50. Scott Langteau
And finally we have...
The two producers behind WWII FPS Call of Duty. Vince Zampella, head of Infinity Ward, is dealing with the PC version, while Langteau's Spark Unlimited is working on the console release, titled Call of Duty: Their Finest Hour.
Haven't I heard their names somewhere?
If you keep track of high-quality FPSes, then you have: both were involved in EA's Medal of Honor: Underground and Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. They left afterwards to pick up Call of Duty for Activision…and they took a healthy chunk of the MOH teams with them.
Why aren't they working together?
Because this way, the two Call of Duties will be greater than the sum of their parts, according to Zampella: "The team at Spark is using a different tech, one better suited for their game. This arrangement enriches both Call of Duty games by allowing us to create more content than would otherwise be possible with either team alone."
What's this of a lawsuit?
Things got pretty messy earlier this year when EA filed a lawsuit against the 23 individuals who left EALA to work for Spark Unlimited, claiming they'd left with internal documents and code. The employees agreed to return the materials.
Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in 1UP.