Ever since SPOnG moved to the new Underwater Castle, it's been difficult to find a nearby pub with a dartboard - putting our weekly darts night out to pasture. We're hoping, however, that with the release of PDC World Championship Darts 2008
on the Wii, PS2, PC and PSP, the tradition can be reclaimed.
(Oh, let's be honest, if you can't smoke, drink and swear in a pub, what's the point? Really not annoyed at all, Ed.)
The game's developer, Mere Mortals, has pushed the boat out with this one. PDC 2008
features a host of professional darts players, motion captured movements and the promise of Wii Remote functionality to accurately simulate a dart throw...
I caught up with Mere Mortals' Operations Manager, Mick Stockton, to chat about the game, the British games industry and the resemblance between a darts match and a Viking funeral.
First up, can you give us a bit of background on yourself and your career?
After a degree in Applied Computing and Maths, I decided I wanted to do something more creative and became a graphic designer. Seven years later I decided two dimensions were not enough, and took a Masters in 3D and animation. After some time in ‘The Smoke’ working initially as a runner for the Soho TV companies, I got a job as an animator for TV, then games. After a tour of duty in London games studios, I decided I wanted a different quality of life backed up with low quality football, and decided to return to my favourite city, Newcastle. Thanks to Mere Mortals – I’ve been there ever since.
For those who don't know, what can you tell us about Mere Mortals and the games you've worked on in the past?
In 1999, we began localising Japanese games for release in Europe. Thanks to this, our back catalogue runs into hundreds of games. We then moved into support for bigger companies, working with the likes of EA and Sony as external teams creating content and assets for much bigger games. We luckily spotted the move to cheap offshore labour very early, and repositioned into full development in around 2003.
We have been very fortunate to forge relationships with excellent publishers such as Oxygen Interactive, who have supported, and been very closely involved with all the projects we have undertaken with them.
Our very first fully developed game was a casino game on the PS2, but with our move on to Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, and PSP with our next title for Oxygen, this seems like a distant (and frightening) memory. It's rather like seeing a picture of yourself from 1986 wearing a Miami Vice
jacket with rolled up sleeves and sporting a mullet; with a pout that says, "I have been placed on this planet solely for the visual pleasure of Earth women".
How did you find coding for the Wii and its control system?
The Wii version has been a pleasure to work on. If ever a game screamed "Put me on the Wii!" it’s PDC Darts 2008
. The process was relatively simple once we integrated controller support in to our engine. The time consuming part has been getting the balance and feel of the controller just right. Menus of course have to be designed with all platforms in mind to ensure that all options are as accessible with the PS2 controller as with the Wii Remote.