More details have emerged about the game that almost was when the director of God of War joined forces with Mad Max creator George Miller.
Indie developer Dan Graf is currently achieving great things with his mobile title Rodeo Stampede - which has now passed 50 million downloads - but his career stretches back over a decade. It includes time spent not only making games, but also teaching and making films. During a recent episode of the GameHugs podcast, Graf spoke in-depth about his origins as a game developer and some of the incredible places it has taken him. One of those places included Dr. D Studios, the company founded by Mad Max creator George Miller.
Graf was introduced to Miller by a fellow staff member while working at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) in 2008. Following the blockbuster success of his film Happy Feet, Miller had just founded Dr. D Studios, a digital animation house. During the podcast, Graf detailed how he came to work for Miller, and their initial meetings prototyping a Mad Max game. Here is what he had to say:
How did you meet George Miller?
I was very lucky to get an introduction through one of the staff members at AFTRS. George wanted to meet me partially because of my background making games, but more because I was sitting in this space between games and film. And what I did for George was I showed him Shadow of the Colossus (PS2 – Team Ico). I said, “I didn’t make this, it was made by someone way cooler than me, but I hope you can see the potential here for the way film and games can converge.”
[I showed it to him] because it is pure cinema, but it is interactive. It’s David and Goliath; it’s Godzilla; it’s King Kong - yet it is interactive. It has all the nuance in camera direction, score and emotional impact. So I said to him, “this is the future of games, you should do this with Mad Max.” And George said, “stay awhile, let’s have lunch.” Which then turned into dinner and at the end of it all he shook my hand and asked, “when do you finish film school?” To which I answered, “whenever you want George!”
So that was a wonderful opportunity as he offered me a job. But I forgot about games after I immediately started as I was so sure he was going to make a Mad Max game. And he invited me to some meetings where I met Cory Barlog, the God of War director, and I thought, “this is really going to happen, they are going to make this game and it’s going to be massive.” But none of that eventuated while I was there. None of it eventuated in Australia. It all happened overseas and it happened a long time after I left [in 2011].
So this was Dr. D Studios right, part of KMM?
KMM [an Australian film production company] existed when I joined the company and was about 30 people. Dr. D was formed shortly afterwards, and I was shifted across to that like most other people. Then Dr. D grew from 30 people to 600 people, and that was an interesting shift to be part of.
It was always difficult for me to establish the difference between KMM and Dr. D; was Dr. D a game studio?
Dr. D was exclusively a film production company part owned by George Miller, part owned by a tech company called Omnilab. It was set up with a lot of ex-Animal Logic people, and I think a lot of the baggage and negative head space of people who wanted to leave behind something they didn’t like came to Dr. D and it festered. Founding a company on peoples’ disenchantment and displeasure in a different company is not going to create a good foundation.
Where to Next?
Looking for a great read? Author Nicholas Abdilla has just released his new sci-fi novel Adam Exitus through Amazon and iTunes today, and it’s one for sci-fi fans. The first entry in what will be a 10-part series, it’s based on the author’s own original comic strip, and it’s reminiscent of the work of Philip K. Dick and Timothy Zahn. Filled with imaginative alien technology, strange creatures from far-off galaxies and one of the greatest vessels in sci-fi history, Adam Exitus is worth checking out.