Dan and Tobyn came aboard to help with the art, but now the development needed some help. The third programmer to join the team was Mike Sandberg. I sat down with Christian, Scott and Mike to talk about how he started on Super Mega Baseball.
Liane: So around this time, Mike joined the team. How did that come about?
Scott: Well, it came up that someone we knew and were friends with was looking for a change, so we ended up chatting about getting him involved in what we were doing.
Liane: What kind of work did you need Mike to do?
Scott: We had just gone to PAX, or at least I think it was about then. We were in a state where the the game was...well, we didn’t have fundamental things that you would expect to be in a sports simulation game, like season or any sort of team development mechanics. And a lot of the metagame (or the game that’s built around the baseball game) didn’t exist yet, and we needed some help with that. We actually needed a lot of help with that.
Mike: Yeah, you couldn’t really string a whole bunch of games together into anything.
Scott: There was no meaningful connected experience.
Christian: A significant amount of time was being dumped to try and port this thing to the PS3 at the time. The game was still far from being done. And the port was far from being done. It was still in an experimental phase, almost. And there wasn’t really a whole lot of time for actually having any game modes implemented. You were still trying to implement some gameplay on the Ogre build.
Mike: We were also doing save data, and all the platform specific bits…
Christian: That came way later. That’ll come like two blog posts from now.
Mike: I remember I did that after working on season mode…how would I have done season mode without being able to save? Was that just on PC? Like we had a PC backend but we didn’t have a…
Christian: Yeah, you just copied the database into the data folder and that’s it. We didn’t have a console backend. For a really, really long time.
Mike: I’m pretty sure I worked on menus right away.
Christian: Yeah you did. We had the big flow chart, with all the menus we had in our old build porting to our new stuff, and all the new stuff that we wanted to do.
Liane: Mike, did you have experience in video games?
Mike: I had experience playing video games.
Scott: **Laughs** In classic Metalhead fashion we decided to enlist yet another person who hadn’t done any work in video games. At that time it didn’t seem to matter to us if you knew anything about video games or not.
Mike: But I had a programming background.
Christian: Yeah. A very experienced engineer.
Mike: Should we also get into how we actually know each other from video games? Is that interesting at all?
Scott: Oh hell yeah. Yes we should definitely bring that up. Technically, I know Mike because one of my good friends and I started playing Quake III online in university, and we ended up finding ourselves on the same servers as a group of guys at UVic (one of whom turned out to be Mike), who also adored Quake greatly. And we ended up playing Quake together for months and months. And ultimately decided, after the amount of time we spent together virtually, that we’d get together and drink a bunch. And we did that, and it was great.
Mike: That was in 2001 or 2002.
Scott: Yeah, ages ago. But down the line I ended up moving to Victoria for work and we actually roomed together when we were like 23. But the initial connection for this group of non-videogame-professionals was actually…
Mike: Video games.
How cute, they finish each other’s sentences! Speaking of cute...
(This is Mike, Scott and Christian moving into a new office)
Liane: What did you do together first?
Mike: I think the first thing we worked on was converting the exhibition menu from Lua.
Scott: **Laughs.** Of course.
Mike: Then I worked on season mode.
Scott: Yup, cranking out season schedules. We had absolutely no form of season before that, we just had exhibition mode.
Mike: I did a bunch of HUD (heads up display) stuff too. I ported the HUD afterwards. That was after, or probably at the same time as season mode. I don’t know.
Scott: Yeah I remember all the save data and I remember all the game-mode development. But even before we did any of that there was just a bunch of raw porting to do.
Christian: Somehow all of these blog posts talk about re-doing stuff. Like “yeah, we’re doing it again,” “yeah, we’re doing it again”. We did everything like 4 times.
Scott: We thought this blog post would have a bunch of genuine, new, interesting content but really it’s just us re-doing stuff that we f***ed up.
Christian: You know what we should do? Nobody would get this joke other than us…our next blog post should be a re-do of this blog post.
Christian: Be like “we’re unhappy with the quality, we’re just going to re-do it.”
Mike: It’s a very meta joke.
Christian: Zero people would get it.
Scott: If somebody actually took the time to read both blog posts, though, I would be happy.
Liane: Mike, what was your first impression when you started?
Mike: I thought we had a lot of work to do.
Christian & Scott: **Laughs**
Mike: I remember thinking that the timeline was ambitious. We all knew the timeline was ambitious. I remember we were gunna have all these modes. At one point we were thinking that I would add one game mode a week.
Mike: And then it was like, okay, well one single screen takes a couple days at least. There’s no way a whole game mode’s getting done in a week.
Christian: I just remember our whole schedule that had everything done by like March 2014. That’s what we were operating on when you first showed up. So, your only first impression was “the schedule is ambitious”? **Laughs**
Mike: No, I mean it was fun. The environment is certainly different than my last job.
Scott: I’m sure it’s not like much else. We were working under very strange circumstances.
Mike: Since it was just the three of us, no QA department at that point, there was no review...we didn’t have any of these systems set in place.
Christian: Yup. It was on you to get it done.
Mike: Yeah just write it once, and commit it, and then hope it works.
Scott: It was just... don’t f**k up, no one is going to fix your mistakes. Yeah, but I mean what was it like for you? Because we had this weird initial phase where we went through having to come up with what the company was gonna do in the first place. But you jumped right out of one well-defined role in a different domain, right into making sports video games. Which is a pretty aggressive transition. What was that like?
Mike: Well, I was working in a completely different codebase all of a sudden. None of the systems that were in place in the previous gig were at all like what we had here. We were doing a lot of menus at the time and there’s not really a UI system, so to speak, in our codebase. Normally you would like, drag widgets onto the screen in a Windows app and it doesn’t take any effort at all. It’s not like that in our codebase.
Scott: Yeah I think that would probably mirror the opinion of anyone that’s done UI programming in business software. You’re used to using a state-of-the-art UI interface.
Mike: Yeah. And I liked working on baseball. I’ve always liked baseball. I remember we had the NES set-up at our place, back when Scott and I were roommates, we were playing RBI.
Christian: You mean the JRPG we’re gonna make next isn’t gonna be up your alley?
Mike: I don’t think I’ve ever played a JRPG. I don’t even know what that is.
Scott: Well we know just the guy to fill you in.
Mike: I know the guy.
No, this isn’t an announcement for a future JRPG game from Metalhead Software. One of our team members, who we’ll be introducing in a later blog post, is a big JRPG fan – the only one in the office. I’m sure his love of JRPGs will come up again.
Christian: Well, you have a lot of random rambling to sort through in this post.
Well folks, there's your intro to Mike. We'll be including him in the conversations on future blog posts - so you'll be hearing more from Mike!
This post was copied over from our blog.