North Carolina based Vicious Cycle Software has developed a number of video and PC titles for a number of publishers. Now the developer is entering into the competitive world of engine licensing with its Vicious Engine. FiringSquad got a chance to ask some questions of the company's president Eric Peterson to find out more about their plans for Vicious Engine.
First, for people who are not familiar with Vicious Cycle Software can you give us a brief history of the company?
I guess we can roll back the clock to 1999, when some of us worked at the MicroProse studio in Chapel Hill before it was closed on December 7. We then incorporated Vicious Cycle Software, Inc. on January 31, 2000 and opened our doors for business in April of that same year. We were fortunate enough to employ a significant group of our fellow co-workers from the MicroProse studio and began working on our first title, Robotech: Battlecry which was developed and released on the PS2, Xbox and GCN.After Battlecry shipped, we worked on Dinotopia: The Sunstone Odyssey, a light action RPG for kids based on the books and mini-series, Robotech: Invasion, which took the Robotech license into a 1st and 3rd person action game and allowed players to ride the Cyclones for the first time, Spy vs. Spy was mainly a multiplayer action game that kept the original gameís core mechanics intact while bringing it to a fully 3D environment, Dora the Explorer: Journey to the Purple Planet was our first early childhood game that we developed and most recently was Curious George which was released in time for this yearís film adaptation of the classic books.
In addition to the products we have been creating, last year we created two new divisions, Monkey Bar Games and Vicious Engine. Monkey Barís games are intended for people of all ages and demographics. The division has recently been creating products that are geared towards younger audiences and that incorporate popular licensed characters such as Dora the Explorer, Curious George and Rita and Roddy from the upcoming DreamWorks Animation SKG and Aardman Features movie, Flushed Away. Our Vicious Engine division was created so that we could provide our tools and technology to other game developers who need a fully featured game production platform. Vicious Engine is a cross platform solution that supports PS2, Xbox, GCN, PC and PSP. The engine will eventually be offered for next-gen systems as well. We currently have three products in development, all of which will be on the floor at E3. One is Flushed Away for PS2 and GCN and the two other titles we canít unveil until we are a bit closer to E3 itself. What I can say is that one of the other titles is for the PSP, PC and DS and that the third title is our first intellectual property and is being developed exclusively for the PSP.
How did the idea come about for the company licensing their graphics engine to other companies?
First, let me state that the Vicious Engine is a full featured engine that has everything a development team needs to create a game from start to finish. No other middleware is necessary, unless the developer desires to replace a currently existing feature with another 3rd party solution. The engine allows for fast content production and also delivers competitive graphics for each of our target platforms. The idea to license our technology came about last year when we had been approached to take on several projects that had either very low budgets and/or short development timeframes. Without naming which projects were done in a short amount of time, I will at least give you an idea of how long we had to make games that were shipped on 2-4 skus. We created one game in around 9 months and some other games in 3 Ĺ to 4 months. By accomplishing these feats, we felt that we had a particular knowledge and toolset that was worth sharing with the rest of the development community. Utilizing an engine that allows you to make games faster and more cost effective is more relevant now than it ever has been in the past. This is especially true since more and more publishers are starting to request that projects be made cheaper and faster, now that the last generation of systems has started to move into their twilight years. Next generation systems like the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii will conversely require much higher budgets than normal with regards to cost and time. And even with this occurring, we feel that our processes and procedures will still be relevant and beneficial to developers as they move forward with the next generation of product and will still allow them to maintain a more cost effective approach overall.