John Tobias Tao Feng Interview

Patrick McCarron - March 19, 2003

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Securing such high-profile agents as R.E.D. was a landmark milestone for the company, tell us how significant this relationship was.

Tobias: R.E.D., who wasn't R.E.D. when we started working with them, they were Interact. They kind of knocked on our door with all these publishers who were interested in working with us. And as a small company we were literally four guys and we didn't have a business development guy. So those guys filled that void for us. Again, being such a small company it's not like we have our [business development] guy running around securing deals for us. So we rely on outside courses, and I think as a company we do that all over the place. There is always outsourcing that we do to fill all the voids in being such a small company, and they kind of did that for us.

Award plaque commemorating the release of the Mortal Kombat: The Movie Soundtrack

When did Microsoft come into the picture?

Tobias: Literally, we were looking for a publisher and they were looking for a developer to do a fighting game. So and that was it. What became Tao Feng was always a Microsoft Xbox project. We weren't developing that game and then they came along and decided that they wanted to publish it. It literally was they were looking for somebody to do a fighting game and we were looking for a publisher to work with. A match made in heaven so to speak.

So it was only after Microsoft's deal that the game concept came together?

Tobias: It wasn't until after we secured our deal with Microsoft did we start developing Tao Feng. There was a sort of back and forth between us and them in terms of what they were looking for and what we felt was important, which is typical in the developer/publisher relationship. In terms of concept, when the relationship started we started working on the product. We literally went from four to twenty five guys in a fairly short period of time. I'd say in terms of the difficulty of developing a game, this by far was the most difficult for me only because there was not some infrastructure of a big company behind us. Literally it was us, other than Microsoft providing the development costs, it was literally us just building from scratch. But we got through it fairly well, and now we are a real company.

Where do you see the deal with Microsoft going in the future?

Tobias: I don't know, I think that as a developer obviously we like the idea of cross platform development. We're really small right now, and so our ability to do that is limited. We like working on the Xbox because of it's friendliness in terms of how we develop on it. We enjoy working with Microsoft. But in terms of our expansion of our company, cross platform development is something we will be doing in the future. But who knows. Right now, we just wrapped up Tao Feng so we're in a transitional period and we're kind of plotting out what our next steps are going to be.

2 Page Magazine Advertisement for Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero

Was there anything that inspired you guys while creating the game, if so what did you find the most inspirational?

Tobias: I think what inspired us was more, there was never a particular game that we looked at and tried to emulate. It really was just looking at what was out there and trying to do things a little bit differently. Not just for the sake of doing things differently, but asking ourselves questions like, as players, what kind of stuff would we like to see? And just that's kind of what dictated our influence. There wasn't really any kind of direct influence from any particular game, it was just where was the genre as a whole and how do we let that influence the directions we take? I think that other influences like, stylistically, the look of the characters and things of that nature, and the theme of the game came from my affinity for Chinese mythology and Hong Kong cinema. That stuff has been with me since High School and that stuff influenced me on Mortal Kombat, and continues to influence me. So that played a big part of the direction that the game took as well. In terms of designing the characters, I work with some of the other artists here. There is a guy named Andy Kudelka who is on staff here and another guy named Andrew Arconti who is on staff here. And of obviously David Michicich who is our lead modeler. Everybody had a hand in the look of the [game].

Page 1: Introduction
Page 3: Tao Feng Unleashed
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