For this edition of Media Consumption, a column that looks at the media and art diets of our favourite industry personalities, we spoke to Jeremy Stieglitz, president of Artificial Studios
, and lead designer and lead programmer on the company’s top down multiplayer shoot ‘em up Monster Madness: Battle for Suburbia
The title – a co-development between Artificial and Immersion Games - was released for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in June of this year, and received generally average reviews. Stieglitz comments that the game was produced in “about 11 months with under $1 million”, adding that “considering those limitations”, he feels “reasonably satisfied” with the result: “an overall mediocre critical reaction with some very dedicated fans, some dedicated press, and some haters”.
“People have often complained about the default difficulty being too hard - though it's quite easy on Child's Play - and fairly punishing death system, but that's common for old-school games, which we were consciously channeling,” he explains. “But yeah, it is arguable that modern games have advanced past some of those points for good reason. And truly, I don't feel we had enough time to balance the game towards the end, or focus-test its unique control scheme and some design issues.”
“However,” he continues, “a title update we're finishing up right now addresses most of the core issues: new control schemes, new camera methods, better difficulty balancing, many more multiplayer options, and lots of fixes. At the end of the day, I'm happy that there's really nothing else quite like Monster Madness
on any next-gen system - a bona-fide top-down shooter - and that the online play is so fun and still going strong. Hopefully someone goes for a sequel, which can take the time to correct the flaws of the original and move the characters into their next adventure: Martian Madness
That won’t be happening right yet, however. The company is working on a new project, though Stieglitz is cagey in regards to exact details. “Well, it sure ain't Monster Madness 2
,” he smiles. “Let's just say that I'm getting the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create the kind of unique game I've been wanting to do for a very long time - from Gainesville Florida no less! Hopefully we can announce something soon.”
We spoke to Stieglitz recently, and asked about the brains in his zombie media diet at the moment.
I've been listening to The Killers, The Cardigans, and Peter Gabriel's soundtrack for The Last Temptation of Christ
. I like a broad range of music, but what I look for most of all is a solid, original melody, usually up-tempo. That said, I avoid teen pop like the plague.
I also listen to a good amount of video game music to put me in the mood for game-related design writing. In particular I'm a huge fan of the soundtracks for Metal Gear Solid
series -- brilliant direction and endlessly varied.
I just finished the entire HBO Spawn
animated series on DVD. I remember watching it as a kid on TV, and it's even better the second time around - the best animated interpretation of a comic I've ever seen. I must also admit to being a sucker for Lost, House, Buffy
and Angel, Deadwood, Rome
, and other soapy TV serials.
The last movie I saw in theaters was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
; great book, but a little too cut-up as a film, unfortunately. Why didn't they include the Harry-trashing-Dumbledore's-office scene?!
So, I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
on a recent trip to Japan - started before take-off, finished before landing. Mixed feelings about that one. Lately, I also read a book called Imperium
[by Robert Harris] about Cicero in the last days of the Roman republic.
Finally, I've been grinding through [Robert Dallek’s] Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power
, a historical tome detailing their, um, special relationship. I gravitate towards books with a historical setting, as I find it pretty inspiring to imagine another time and place that might have been.
I also used to be a sucker for Star Wars
books and comics; I think I read every one up to [Timothy] Zahn's Vision of the Future
I've been slowly getting through Ninja Gaiden Sigma
in my spare time - that game probably the most intense third-person-3D combat ever designed. I gravitate towards games where my character is acrobatic and can bounce all over the place while fighting, so I also enjoy the Devil May Cry
Resident Evil 4
for the Wii is also a form of pure bliss. While I used to play just about every First Person Shooter, lately I've stayed away as they've become less innovative.