~ March 2004 ~
Wrestling Gamers United is a
website dedicated to making the wrestling genre a better place.
In between Wrestling MPire and Booking MPire, I talked to them
about my very same mission...
the success of your 2D games, why did you feel the
need to make the jump to 3D with
Wrestling MPire? Did
it have anything with Spike also abandoning
the 2D format? Have we seen the end of 2D wrestling games in your opinion?
Strangely enough, 2D games are harder to make. When
you consider that they're 10 times less impressive,
moving to 3D was a no-brainer. I've always thought
that making 2D games is like making a beautiful Disney animation;
whereas 3D games are like directing puppets or actors. The latter is
much less daunting! If nothing else, I guess it's
just the natural evolution of my career. I
progressed from text to 2D graphics; now I'm progressing from
2D to 3D. My first album of games, "Evolution Of The MPire", will tell
You recently posted a public service announcement in
response to complaints
from parents that thought your games were causing
disruption in their kids' lives. What do you believe
is that magic quality that keeps people coming back
to games like yours day after day?
Ha, I think a lot of parents would disagree with the term "magic
quality"! Whatever you want to call it, the one thing that hooks people
into my games is that they're so different. I've
dedicated my entire career to doing things that
nobody else can or will do. That's for my own sanity
as anything else! I can't get excited about a game
if there's no reason for it to exist. The result is
that my players get something that they can't find
anywhere else. That's a very addictive situation...
Speaking of your
career, your success as an independent game
developer has obviously resulted in offers to work full time in the
industry. How do you resist such offers?
Funny you should mention that, because I'm on the
radar of THQ as we speak. Wrestling MPire
has really put me on the map as far as the industry is
concerned, and has a lot of people talking. Where it will lead remains
to be seen. I'd feel like a sell-out if I did become
a cog in the machine, so don't look for that to
happen too easily. I've got strong feelings about
what the games industry should be, and the mainstream certainly doesn't
share them. Plus, I pride myself on being this unique one-man-show!
I've got a lot of innovating to do yet, and I don't
want anything to interfere with that. Never say
never though. After all, we're talking about an industry
where you've got Eric Bischoff walking the aisles of WWE...
You raise an interesting point, Mat. The next logical
step for MDickie at this point could go one of three different ways. You could
accept a job at THQ at the risk of having
almost zero input in the quality of the product. You
could hire a team of your own to take your series of games to
the next level, faster than you could do it
yourself, but once again risk diluting
the magic quality that makes your work so special. Or you could
continue being the only one man show in the
wrestling game industry, and make and break your own
rules. Your fans want to know, what will Mat do?
Oh, I've definitely got my heart set on tearing up this industry as a
one-man-show! The only problem is that it's proving to be very risky.
You need the support of a publisher to make it big,
so by shunning them I'm making life very difficult
for myself. It's like Eminem working without a
record contract! I'm barely making a living with my smalltime status,
so unless I blow-up within the year it will be very
tempting to accept a secure job. I'd feel like a
failure if it came to that though, so rest assured I'll
fight as hard as I can to prevent it. The industry needs me to make
a success of independent game development. They
don't realise it yet, but it's true...
What would you say
to a kid who came to you for advice on entering the
game industry? Would you advise him to take the MDickie "one-man-show"
approach, or go the traditional route and
choose a field to specialize in?
I've had to give that a lot of thought over the years, because many of
my players do indeed want to follow in my footsteps. I have mixed
feelings about it all though. It's obviously
flattering, but at the end of the day I'm not so
sure it's possible. If you look around, I'm the only person in
the history of this business that's doing what I'm doing. No one man
has ever taken things this far, and if you aim to
repeat it then you've got your work cut out!
However, another part of me thinks that I could be a pioneer
and break the barriers down for everyone else. It's no secret that I
don't like the games industry that we have now, and
I'd love to inspire the revolution that makes it
more interesting. I'd love to see it become more
like the music industry - where there are dozens of "solo artists" running
around doing their own thing. Hell, I'd like to sign them all up to one
label so that I could release amazing compilation CD's and
collaborations! That's just a pipedream at the
moment though. Very few independent game developers
have got my talent, and very few mainstream developers have got
my spirit. Until I bridge the gap, I'm stranded out here on my own little
Do you think kids are fooling themselves by thinking
they can make a living at independent game
development? Obviously not everyone can attain your
level of success. Should kids be more realistic
about their goals, or can
they indeed make it on their own financially by producing games?
Never mind the kids - I see a lot of adults that are deluding
themselves! We find ourselves making games and then assume that we
deserve to be rich. The truth is that independent games are always
going to be a huge step behind everything else - and
to make it work you have to break
the mould. You have to use your freedom to make games that can't be found
anywhere else. That's what I've dedicated my career to - and let's face
it, it's the only reason I get by. As long as kids
bear that in mind then they've got a shot. Hopefully
my work will prove that soon. It's very easy to
dismiss independent games at the moment, but when I'm done they'll be
the toast of the industry! I'd like to emulate the
success of rap music - whereby you've got this
crude, cheap style of entertainment that's got so much
personality that it can't be ignored. It's not pretty, but it gets by
on its spirit. I find myself taking that exact same
approach to games. And just like rap music; if I can
make a success of it then the gates will be open
for everybody else. Before you know it, solo game development will be
make a lot of references to rap and you do all your own music
for your games. Are you hiding another talent? Are you a closet rap
No, I'm not that multi-talented! Putting together those basic tunes is
as good as it gets with me. I could never produce a decent song, but
I've got a lot of respect for those that can. I
guess I'm just a very impressionable person. Whether
it's music, movies, or art, I'm inspired by anybody
that's the best at what they do. That's particularly
true of the music industry. I've grown to understand
that as much as the wrestling business for some
reason. And sure enough, that's what I'm moving onto next.
I want to do for music what I've done for wrestling...
Mat, don't tease us! At least give your fans one
little hint about what you're up to, please?
Hey, I'm not up to anything just yet - it's only an idea! I'm still
concentrating on Booking MPire right now, so I can't get too far
ahead of myself. It's fairly self-explanatory
though. Just imagine the same
super-detailed concept of Wrestling MPire combined with the world of
music. Recording sessions, concerts, video shoots,
collaborations, disputes, scandals, million dollar
contracts, award ceremonies... the possibilities
are endless. You've got me thinking about it again now! Don't blame me
if Booking MPire suddenly gets "cancelled"...
is a fantastic idea! Nothing like that has ever been done,
and it would be another first for MDickie and the
games industry. Because
Wrestling MPire was the pinnacle of your
wrestling game franchise, how much farther do
you really think it can be taken? Will you ever retire the franchise?
Yeah, I'm very excited about side-stepping into the world of music. I
wouldn't agree that it's "never been done before", but it certainly
hasn't been done "well" - and that's where MDickie
comes in! It's similar to my work with wrestling
games, where nobody else dares to tell it like it
is. I just need to develop a passion for something,
and then it's mine for the taking. I really feel
like that about music at the moment. I've got the
exact same passion that I had for wrestling in 1998 - and we all know
where that led to! The flipside is that I'm falling out of love with
the wrestling business. I don't take any pleasure in
saying that but I think it's true. I'm working on
Booking MPire as we speak and, as good as it is,
I've got to admit that I'm forcing it. I'm "going through the motions" for
the first time in my career, which isn't a good sign. After 4 years of
dedicating myself to the sport, I guess I'm just burnt out. So yes,
this 3D series might very well be my "retirement
match". Even if I was still high on wrestling, my
skills are exhausted too - so I couldn't improve it anytime
soon if my life depended on it. Whichever way you cut it, I need at
least a year away from wrestling games - and the
clock starts ticking after Booking MPire...
understand. As much as it will crush your fans to hear about
your plans to take a break from wrestling games,
who can blame you? You've done so
much for the community and you deserve a break. Does your loss of
interest relate to the
general state of pro wrestling itself? Do you still watch wrestling,
or have any favourite
federations or wrestlers that still excite you?
I'm tempted to lay the blame on WWE and Vince McMahon. I'm from the
Bret Hart camp, and I don't appreciate where Vince
has taken the sport (focusing
on "soap opera" storylines and soft porn, etc).
I know they've emerged from that with guys like
Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero on top - which is
great - but I still can't help losing respect for the company. They've got
so many black marks against their name, and so many botched angles,
that it's ruined the WWF legacy in my eyes.
The name change doesn't help matters either! I don't
feel anything for that castrated "W" logo. Unfortunately,
they ARE the wrestling industry in the West - and if you don't like
their product, you don't like wrestling. I do still
love the business itself though, and I always will.
It's just that I have to look to Japan for that
sense of honour and tradition. I'd like to think that Wrestling MPire
keeps those qualities alive too...
I appreciate your honesty and openness,
and thank you once again for a great interview. Your
fans hold high hopes for Mat Dickie and deep down we
all know you've only just begun. Anything you'd like to say to your fans
before we wrap things up?
Thank you for asking the questions that needed to be answered.
As ever, I'd like to thank my fans for getting in on
the ground floor. Things might be a little quiet
now, but it's only a matter time before it all takes off.
There's some major publicity on the cards - and when it's all said and
done I'm going to make you
proud to be MDickie fans. You'll be able to say you were
here first! And don't worry about my break from wrestling. Booking
MPire is off the scale, and it's going to be the
perfect finale. The complete series will keep you
hooked into the wrestling business for years to come...