GamesBeat

Former KingsIsle VP and creative director Todd Coleman on what’s next for him (exclusive interview)

GamesBeat: Any untapped markets you want to aim for?

Coleman: You know? I really don’t know. I had it in my mind that I was going to take off for six months or a year, just to decompress. The response I’ve gotten since this morning has made me think that I may have to turn that time table forward a little bit. But we’ll see. I’m not in any particular hurry. If it happens next week, and the right combination happens next week, then I’ll start that company next week. Well, the week after, actually — I’m still at KingsIsle until next Friday. [Laughs] It if happens next month, I’ll do it next month. If it happens next December, then I’ll do it next December.

GamesBeat: When the idea hits.

Coleman: Yeah. Pretty much. The rest of the stuff: Hiring the team, getting the office set up, getting the processes and procedures in place — I’ve done that now so many times that I’m not worried about that. The piece that is the big unknown is how long will it take for the right idea to come along, and I don’t have a time frame for that. It happens when it happens. You just open yourself up to hopefully see it when it hits, and we’ll see.

GamesBeat: Back to KingsIsle — what was the most exciting part of watching it grow?

Coleman: Well, Wizard was never, in my mind, expected to be as big as it turned out. I mean, we hit a tipping point with it, and that’s quite a thing to see, right? You have a game that you think, “well maybe this will be a niche.” It’s got an interesting set of ingredients. It’s got a dash of Harry Potter, and a splash of Final Fantasy Tactics, and little bit of Pokémon. You kind of put the elements together, and then hope it comes out good, and then you sit back and watch. It started to take off, and we started to hit that point where it was kind of like, “OK. This is getting big. This is getting much larger than we ever expected.”

We hit this roller-coaster period where crazy things that I never expected happened. All of a sudden I’m flying out to L.A. and recording Selena Gomez in her house to actually make an in-game appearance.

I mean, it was this weird, “wow” just one thing after the next, and we’re winning game of the decade awards and the user numbers continue to climb. Then we hit 10, or 15, or however many million uniques per month. The game just took a life of its own. What a crazy and amazing ride.

To a large degree, the same people that started the company are the ones that were with us for that whole ride, which is really cool. We keep very low turnover at KingsIsle. It has very much a family feeling to it, which like I said, is why it’s so heartbreaking for me to have to do this, but it’s just something that I’ve gotta do.

GamesBeat: That’s it. Anything you want to add?

Coleman: Yeah. I just wanna add that my departure from KingsIsle is entirely a Todd thing. It’s not a KingsIsle thing. I wouldn’t be walking away if I didn’t know that the company was in great hands. The products — Wizard and now Pirate — are doing still phenomenally well. The company is in better financial shape than it’s ever been. They’re hiring like crazy. I think they’ll grow the company by another 25 percent this year.

There’s never a great time for one of the initial visionaries to step out of the company, but it’s the best time that I could find. Wizard is still at the top of its game. Pirate seems to be on the same track. The other projects internally are at great place. I expect to see great things from them, and it breaks my heart to see that I won’t be a part of building them. KingsIsle is going to do great, and I have no doubt that the company is going to do great things. It’s just, you know–it’s time for me to go do it on my own.

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