Our in depth interview with the creators behind Super Mega Baseball Scott Drader and Christian Zuger. They took time out of their busy schedules to talk with us about Super Mega Baseball Extra Innings and the humble beginnings of Metalhead Software.
The Natural: … The two co-founders here, Scott Drader and Christian Zuger, they’re going to tell us about super mega baseball, and they have extra innings coming out for the Xbox. We’re super excited for this game, so we’re going to have them chat with us. Welcome, guys.
Scott & Christian: Thanks for having us!
The Natural: Can you tell us a little about your backgrounds, like, your positions at MetalHead?
Scott Drader: Sure, the two of us actually met about ten years ago now working together at a software company in town here, and the town here is Victoria BC out in the West Coast, Pacific Northwest. But, we met working there together for a little while and I left after a little period of time, but we stayed in touch a lot and continued to get together for beers now and then, and we kind of randomly one night at a pub decided to start a company together, above all things. We didn’t even know, at the time, that it was going to be a video game company, so it was a pretty random set of circumstances, I think, that led to us, you know, ultimately meeting and forming the company, and ultimately deciding to make a baseball game, of all things.
UberYoutuber: So, what made you guys decided to make an indie game company, basically? What made you decide to go into that specific category?
Scott Drader: Well, I mean, we bumped around a few different ideas of things to do, but I think we just kind of, when we were sitting there talking together, it was like ‘okay, what can we do?’ And we went through a list of ideas and I think just when we started talking about games, it became pretty clear that was something that we had a lot of mutual interest in.
Christian Zuger: Yeah, I mean, we both kind of had a strong tech background, we both started from engineering, computer science, we both loved video games, both big-time into baseball, so all of those things kind of came together, and we decided to try and make a baseball game.
UberYoutuber: Very cool. That’s the thing, I was wondering, now what made you guys decide to take on the beast that is a non-licensed, indie sports game, you know, and the market that it is these days, that is not an easy task. I mean, obviously you guys pulled it off, but I mean, in the very early phases of this, I mean, that’s a very daunting task, seemingly.
Christian Zuger: I think part of it is that we put ourselves into it, we weren’t quite aware of how massive of a task it was really going to be. Yeah, that was definitely helping us get into it the first place, just not being entirely sure of what we’re facing.
Scott Drader: Yeah, it was definitely, you know, a little bit of an tough going on there, we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into, and I think that was, in some ways, a blessing in disguise. We also, you know, ended up taking way longer doing what we wanted to do than we ever thought was possible, but I mean, I think we needed to not necessarily know all of the- it was good that we didn’t necessarily understand everything that was involved, because it would’ve been really hard to have the motivation to take it on in the first place. At the time too, we were already sort of seeing, you know, you guys remember the days when there was way more sports games, obviously, but even then when we were floating the idea around and doing it, it had already started to be the case where there were a handful of titles in each sport, and a lot of the arcade titles sort of fell of the map and staff. So, we were like ‘okay, well, you know, there are so many different games and different genres, why is there so few sports games, can’t we have something a little different?’ You know, something a little more accessible in sports face too and we just thought there was room there for something new.
Christian Zuger: I’m just going to expand on that and say that I’m a pretty big fan of twitch games, I think it’s pretty evident of what we ended up making too in the sense that it’s just a little more boiled down, a little twitchier than other things are.
Scott Drader: Yeah, fast-paced and is right down to, you know, getting in there and really having massive controls, and you know, there’s definitely sort of a twitch, like heavy skill levels involved.
Christian Zuger: There just wasn’t really anything out there that, you know, we could go and sit with all of our friends on the couch and play a baseball game, so we decided to make this thing.
UberYoutuber: Right, and this is where- super mega baseball really excels at that, I mean, the fun I’ve had playing this game with my friends just here locally on the couch, I mean, it’s hard to duplicate that kind of fun. It kind of leads me to the next question; how much time did you guys spend in development, and what were some of the most important features the game had to have? Like, what were the most important things that you guys were really focused on, that you guys wanted to get into the game?
Scott Drader: Okay, well the first question, like how much time we spent working on it, I mean, the idea was conceived as far back as 2009, so we were, you know, different people back then when you think of how much younger we were and so on. But, we didn’t work on it full-time at all in those first few years, I mean, we were a startup company and we were paying the bills by doing contract work with, you know, up to half of our time at least. So, it moved pretty slowly for the first little while, but you know, there was a point where we eventually had something that was like ‘okay, we can sort of see a path to finishing this thing,’ and that’s when we had to really borrow some money and stuff to get it done. But, I mean, four years of work for sure. And, you know, lots of mishaps on the way too, it was our first time doing it and we- there was a lot of, you know, one step back, two steps forward going on in development process for sure. And then you asked about pillars, things that we knew we had to do right from the beginning.
Christian Zuger: Part of it for me was the ego system, it would test difficulty, that was pretty much we caught on with from day one, like ‘hey, let’s have something where we have adjustable difficulty that’s going to impact the whole game, so that everyone can tweak exactly what their skill level is for it to be competitive.’ So, that’s what we had wanted from the very beginning, that’s something that we have built on from day one, basically, so we’re very happy with how that’s turned out.
Scott Drader: And it was never called the ‘ego system’ either, all we knew at that time was ‘okay, the way the difficulty is going to work, there will never be a point as it’s adding up where the mechanic changes, it’s going to smoothly get harder in sort of a natural way.’ So, you never have a step-up from medium to hard where the game fundamentally changes and just, you know, a particular aid goes away, there is nothing like that. It’s just that- it’s the same game on easy as it is on hard, and it blends smoothly from easy to hard.
The Natural: Yeah, that’s definitely one thing that I wanted to talk about, we definitely love that ego difficulty control that you give the players in the settings, and you know, doesn’t follow a traditional mode of easy, medium and hard. Do you feel that’s something that other games could do a little bit better, they could implement something like that, and get away with that traditional sort of way of doing it? Scott Drader: Christian Zuger: