Author Topic: RVG Interviews Darryl Still  (Read 1183 times)

Offline zapiy

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RVG Interviews Darryl Still
« on: February 23, 2015, 15:56:12 PM »
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[size=140]RVG Interviews[/size]
[size=360]Darryl Still[/size][/b]

[size=140]RVG brings to you another fantastic interview where you, the forum members, ask the questions!

Darryl has a long history in the video games industry but is probably best known as the former Marketing Manager of Atari UK, being one of last person to leave the company before they were eventually sold to Hasbro. Here is a brief run down of his career to date:[/size]

[size=140]Audiogenic Software
Top Ten Software
Atari
Electronic Arts
NVIDIA
1C Publishing
Kiss Ltd[/size]
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Greyfox

Q. As marketing Director of Atari UK in the late 80's, was it difficult to come up with new angles or promotion in aid to over shadow Commodore Amiga UK Marketing division at the time? And what did you learn from the experience?Q. What was your fondest memories in your career and what did you enjoy doing the most?Q. With Nvidia now the leaders in high end graphic card development, during your stay with them, where you ever shown chipsets or new graphics card tech or visual in house demonstrations that where never released or shown to the public? And what do you think of there products now? Do you miss working for them?Q. Can you elaborate a little bit more on your new business venture "Kiss Ltd" the site is a little vague and would like to know more about it, so PR away!

Well, there are essentially two different Kisses. The first is Kiss Ltd, the agency who manage the 1C digital catalogue, The Lace Mamba Digital catalogue, the Lords of Football game for Gianluca Vialli and Fish Eagle, The Developer Relations business for the Rightware Kanzi UI tool and a few other projects (including our own wholly owned soon to be announced vendor websites) and secondly there is Kiss the label. Essentially a catalogue we are building of the best independently developed PC & Mac games out there, that we are putting together to enable to digital vendors (Steam, Amazon, GreenMan gaming etc.) to get all the best Indie games from one place, one contract, one point of contact. This is growing really quickly and considering we initially launched it as a sideline to the agency business, it is starting to play a significant part in what the overall Kiss company is doing.

Q. What Games would you of liked to publish or market back in the days of Accolade or Melbourne House, was there any favourites another company marketed you wish you'd of being involved in?The Laird

Q. I remember reading a quote from you that said something to the effect of that Atari UK had massive orders/interest for the Jaguar back in 1993 and they could have sold something like 20 times what they were sent. Can you elaborate on this?Q. I wrote an article for Atari User magazine a couple of years ago where I analysed the Jaguar launch and put forward a theory that they should have launched the machine in the UK & Europe first where the Atari brand name was much stronger. What are your thoughts on this?Q. The Lynx was an incredible piece of technology for the time, do you think Atari should have gone all out to promote it and support it better?Q. Leading on from that why do you think hardly any 3rd party producers showed an interest in it?Q. Also on that subject, do you know what happened to the deal for US Gold to publish games for the Lynx? They announced a number of titles such as Rotox, World Cup Italia '90 and Strider 2.Q. Do you happen to know what the total sales figures for the Lynx were? There seems to be no other figures quoted other than articles that report Atari selling their one millionth Lynx.Q. I always guessed at about 2.5 million because I know Batman Returns helped sell a lot of Lynxes. I still remember the long advert before the film when I went to see it at the Odeon in St. Albans! I wish I had a recording of that advert!

Yes, something like that. Because of that game, Batman returns was the first proper film premiere I ever went to. Mrs S and I walked down the red carpet and people started screaming. Thought for a second it was at us, then realised Bob Geldoff, Paula Yates and Catherine Zeta Jones were right behind us!!

Q. Do you think the Jag CD should have been launched earlier or do you think the Jag should have been a CD machine in the first place?

Only from a cost of goods point of view. I think the games that came on the cartridges were quite strong (and in some cases excellent), but would have been great to have the toilet option at the start, yes!

Q. What did you think of the Jag VR? I was lucky enough to play the prototype on a number of occasions at Jagfest shows and thought it was amazing.

Yeah, me too. We once used the technology to play a game in our small test studio in Slough, beamed in surround onto the walls and it looked staggering. Just had too many issues (technically and health wise) to make a mass market consumer unit I suspect.

Q. Many people talk about the buggy chipset in the Jaguar and lack of proper tools for it causing problems for developers. Do you think Atari should have held the machine back and got Flare to fix the bugs?Q. Do you still have a Lynx or Jaguar and what are/were your favourite games for it?Q. What impact you think the rampant piracy and hacking teams had on the Atari ST market?

Having worked for a Russian company for the 6 years previous to launching Kiss, my views on piracy have matured a little. Much as I still despise them as I despise any thief, I think that at the end of the day, the people that steal software are not the people that you would be selling to anyway, so you should design your policies and focus your energies on selling your titles to real, honest, consumers. Looking back, the worst thing that these thieves did was take too much of our attention.

Rogue Trooper

Q. You were very 'active' in defending the Jaguar in magazines like C+VG (where the following month the mail bag had a field day with your racing car comparison approach, lol). Edge - where you wrote in to correct claims they made about a Jaguar CD blowing up at a press event etc and Ultimate Future games, how did you find it, dealing with the UK games press? They were initially very much for the Jaguar and the 3DO, but soon turned on them, did you dread having to reply to yet another letter in a games magazine or comment made by a staff writer?Q. You promised that we (the Jaguar owners) were going to be in for a real treat and that it would be well worth waiting for, I refer of course to Attack Of The Mutant Penguins, which polarised reviewers, with most hating it. Your own thoughts on the game? And was this really the flagship Jaguar game you promised from the European Jaguar development teams?Q. When defending the Jaguar, you made some very valid points about it's power in terms of link-up speed, Data-Bus, etc etc, but you also said it was on par with the Saturn and in some areas, even more powerful, was that comment a miss-understanding? Or were you thinking of something other than areas like 3D and texture mapping as readers of C+VG pointed out, 32X destroyed Jaguar in terms of polygons with Virtua Fighter and 3DO had far better texture mapping. Looking back, do you feel you'd made a rod for your own back?Q. Another point you were keen to stress was the disadvantage Jaguar had next to Saturn and PS1 was that it was cart based and they were CD based. But as soon as Jaguar had it's CD drive, it'd be a level playing field. Was there 'pressure from above' to make claims like this and the ones above, in magazines at the time or did you personally feel they were valid points?Q. If you could handle the Jaguar P.R campaign all over again, other than asking for more funds and better games, what would you do differently and how do you feel Atari USA handled the Jaguar situation from day 1?Q. Before landing a job at Atari, you ran a studio of your own with 'uni dropouts' I believe you called them, lol, doing conversions for companies which you say involved lots of meetings, lots of drugs and no sleep. Did any of these 'dropouts' become famous and do you miss the chaos these days?Q. You launched the ST as a games machine, what were your thoughts on the hardware? (I was a proud 520STFM owner once) and do you think it's lack of hardware scrolling and the poor sound chip, compared to the Amiga (blitter etc), made your job harder to convince people to buy the ST over the Amiga?Q. What became of the ST CD-ROM drive?Q. The Atari Panther, had things been different and this had been launched against the MD and SNES, how do you think it would have fared? And would it have allowed for more time to sort the bugs etc out in the Jaguar?Q. Did you see Attack Of The Mutant Penguins as being something akin to what Lemmings was on the Amiga? And do you feel likes of it and Fever Pitch really showcased the Jaguar hardware?Q. The Jaguar 'suffered' a lot of MD/SNES ports, which I often saw you defend by saying they ran in higher res, had 256 colours etc. Did you try and get developers to do 'more' when converting games to the Jaguar from those consoles? And can you understand the frustration of Jag owners like myself wanting more than tarted up MD/SNES games?

In any catalogue you have to cover as many bases as possible. Some Jag users wanted to play the games that their SNES mates were playing, others wanted their own original IP to crow about and showcase what SNES could not do. It was the teams job to provide both options. From the outside it may have looked different, but when you understood the resources that were available to them, the job they did was pretty impressive.

Q. The Jaguar was originally designed to compete against the SNES/MD (Rip the guts out of it's 16 Bit rivals etc.) but as soon as the PlayStation and Saturn appeared, Atari seemed to change focus and try and compete with games having lots of 3D, texture-mapping etc. Do you personally feel it was a mistake to change tactics to face a new set of rivals? And did Atari ever consider adding extra chips to games or hardware? I.E putting DSP chips on carts? or a dedicated texture-mapping chip to the Jaguar CD ROM? Or was the increased cost considered too high a price to pay?Q. Was the STe far too little, too late?

In principal, patching the 15% advantage Amiga were perceived to have was not a terrible idea. Might have been better to take it 15% further and get ourselves an advantage rather than just matching theirs, but again, these were engineering decisions and I certainly would not have been able to advise them what to do better. As a marketing person, I would always tend to focus my attention on where our strengths were. But at the end of the day, as I said at the start, we had lost the developer community by then, which was more important than the technology differences.

Q. The Falcon - what on earth went wrong? I have old Amiga magazine scans where they praise the hardware, one article writer even goes as far as to proclaim it far superior to the A1200.108 Stars

Q. Do you know anything about how the Lynx fared in different European countries? Being from Germany I never knew anyone who had a Lynx and never got to play it; yet in the UK it seems to have been a fairly common system.

That would be down to Atari Germany not wanting Atari to be seen as a games brand. They were focussed entirely on DTP and CAD/CAM and really had no interest in the console side of things. Lynx did OK in UK and France in the early days.

Q. There are claims that at one point the Lynx outsold Game Gear in the UK. Is that true?Q. Did the Atari 7800 sell well in Europe?

It was well stocked by European retail. It never got the consumer traction that the 2600 did, but I remember we used to do a lot of units mail order through the catalogues and in the less affluent areas.

Q. Atari had problems getting the big publishers of the time to support the Lynx; especially with most popular games coming from Japan. Yet looking at the home computer scene there were many games considered hits that never came to consoles, presumably because licensing fees were too high with Nintendo and Sega. Was there ever the idea at Atari to actively approach developers of such hits to support the Lynx for good conditions? This could have given the Lynx much needed popular titles in Europe at least, and given the computer devs a chance to get into the console/handheld world. But in the end save for a few exceptions it was mainly the very small devs that supported the Lynx.Q. Are you aware of the very active homebrew scene for the Atari systems, including the ones from your days at Atari, Lynx and Jaguar? There are always games in development for them, a few years back even an all-new commercial Lynx game was released, and Jaguar fans are waiting for an official port of the Another World 15th Anniversary Edition to be released on cartridge as I write this.

Yes, I am aware of it and still feel some pride that people are playing the systems I helped bring to the world all these years later. It shows we did some things right.


RVG would like to thank Darryl for taking the time to speak to us and I hope you all enjoy his answers!
Own: Jaguar, Lynx, Dreamcast, Saturn, MegaDrive, MegaCD, 32X, GameGear, PS3, PS, PSP, Wii, GameCube, N64, DS, GBA, GBC, GBP, GB,  Xbox, 3DO, CDi,  WonderSwan, WonderSwan Colour NGPC

Offline Carlos

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Re: RVG Interviews Darryl Still
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2015, 16:03:09 PM »
Great interview guys, it is great that Darryl took to time to answer all your questions so thoroughly.
Getting facts straight from the people that were there is brilliant- it cuts the crap, keep up the good work.

 :113:

Offline zapiy

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Re: RVG Interviews Darryl Still
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2015, 06:15:16 AM »
Great interview as always.
Own: Jaguar, Lynx, Dreamcast, Saturn, MegaDrive, MegaCD, 32X, GameGear, PS3, PS, PSP, Wii, GameCube, N64, DS, GBA, GBC, GBP, GB,  Xbox, 3DO, CDi,  WonderSwan, WonderSwan Colour NGPC