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I was delighted to discover that MicroProse, the military simulation game company that was once the pillar of the war game community, was reborn under the leadership of game developers David Lagettie and John “Wild Bill” Stealey.
Hoping to capitalize on nostalgia and the hole in the market left by the dearth of military strategy games, the new MicroProse has announced three games coming to Steam soon, with more on the way.
This is another post for the geriatric gamers crowd, like my interview with Joe Kucan of Command & Conquer fame. I first interviewed Kucan, who plays the villain Kane, more than two decades ago. The same is true for my first interview with Stealey, who was the cofounder of MicroProse. Stealey taught me how to fly WWII airplanes in the simulation game Warbirds from iEntertainment (one of his subsequent companies).
The original MicroProse was born in 1982, founded by Stealey and Sid Meier. But it had tough times. Meier left to start Firaxis, and MicroProse bounced around between a number of corporate owners. By 2018, Stealey and Lagettie conspired to acquire the company’s remaining assets. Now they’re back, making both classic games and new titles. Geriatric joke aside, nostalgia could be a great business.
What inspired Lagettie to get into this business and eventually come around to buying MicroProse? It was a song, as you’ll see below.
Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.
GamesBeat: It’s been a long time. We did a story with the Wall Street Journal way back when, in the glory days of Warbirds.
Bill Stealey: I was a little taller and skinnier then.
GamesBeat: It was a fun time. I always thought it was an interesting company. It was sad to see it disappear.
Stealey: Hopefully, this will be even more interesting. I’m very excited about it. I’m just helping wherever I can.
GamesBeat: How many people are in the company now, and where are most of them going to be based?
Lagettie: Currently, there’s around 70 people. We have a couple of remote teams. We have a team in Europe and a team in the states. Our main team is here in Australia. It’s a significant-sized team. It’s not three guys in a basement. But there’s a lot of projects happening. We work with a lot of external developers as well, not just with MicroProse, on projects we have yet to announce. We have a lot of our artists and designers jumping between a few different projects here and there. It’s growing. I’m trying not to grow much bigger than what we are, because we need to focus on the games we’re developing and do them well.
It’s funny. Everyone gets that nostalgic feeling when they see the MicroProse logo, but I always get a kick out of the idea that Wild Bill, down in his bedroom, drew that whole logo for MicroProse. Having him there with us along this whole thing is great. I don’t think it would be the same if he wasn’t there to guide and help and advise and laugh and make jokes and have fun. It’s a dream come true, really.
GamesBeat: Can you tell the story of how MicroProse came back?
David Lagettie: You’ve probably read some of the interviews and saw some of the stories out there. It really started back around the early 2000s, when Infogrames acquired — I always remember seeing European Air War in the shops somewhere with the Infogrames logo on it. I remember looking twice, thinking, “Wow. Why?” Then I found out it had been acquired and such, and then it went into Atari, of course, and really kind of disappeared after that.
At the same time this was happening, I was building up what turned out to be one of the biggest military sims in the world, which was VBS. I started doing that with Operation Flashpoint back in 2000, 2001. Over the next couple of years, I remember many a time, especially around 2004 and 2005–the reason I know that is I acquired some other IP at the time, which we’re going to announce in the coming months, a game we’re building internally. It’s a game that was released by Microplay, a company that was owned by MicroProse at the time. It’s good that the game is coming back.
Anyway, going back to the story, I remember spending many late nights when I was developing the military sim software, basically Flashpoint for the military, going and searching–when is this coming back? Surely they won’t keep MicroProse on the shelf. Someone is going to bring it back, or Atari is going to do something with it. But nothing ever happened. I remember right through, even back in 2007, I really went searching hard for it, and again I think I would have found it was sitting with Atari, nothing happening.
Sometime again after 2010, when Atari got into trouble, it was then sold — you may remember there was a game called Special Forces or something that MicroProse, or Atari, MicroProse, and another company released. The name popped up.
Stealey: There was a gun company involved, Cybergun. It was right here where I lived, too, here in Cary, North Carolina, which was amazing.
Lagettie: I used to do a lot of music, like the music that was behind Operation Flashpoint. I did the whole soundtrack. There were two, really, a classical soundtrack and a rock soundtrack to Operation Flashpoint, and I’m the guy from that original band, Seventh, that did that music for it. We ended up doing the trailer for Operation Flashpoint, and I went into the company that way. I was doing a lot of things for Operation Flashpoint, and that’s how I broke into the mil-sim side of it.
I’ve had a connection with games ever since I was a kid, and I grew up with all the MicroProse titles. In fact, those MicroProse titles are definitely what influenced me to build the two biggest mil-sims in the world today. It wasn’t just a whim to go back a couple of years and buy this label to try it. This is something that’s been in the works for a long time. I don’t think a lot of people realize that. It’s not just a thing that happened two or three years ago. It’s something that started when I was a kid, really, and then when it all went away in the early 2000s, it lit this spark in me. How come no one’s doing anything with it?
When that game came out in 2010 — I don’t think it ever got released, actually, from what I remember. Atari went into some money troubles. The Cybergun company acquired the name from them for the military rights to build weapons and such. My connection was through that company. It took a long time, lots of negotiations. We were just trying to license initially, and then let’s just say that a third party came back to try to reacquire it back again. There was a bit of a battle going on for a while. I was fortunate enough to be in a position to acquire it.
At that time, I was building Titan, which is world-rendering mil-sim software. I definitely had ambitions to build that into a game, and that’s something that’s on the drawing board right now. I’d want to do that under MicroProse. I thought it would work out really well.
Stealey: David was not classically trained as a programmer or a development guy. He’s just good at lots of things. He started in a completely different career field. Did you do a game or two before Flashpoint, or was that your first game?
Lagettie: Flashpoint was really the first game I was involved with. I was writing for the sequel to Flashpoint as well. We also started what ArmA is today. That was begun in Australia, when it was called Solid Strike. VBS had taken off, and it divided out in 2005. The software we developed off the original Flashpoint is still used today. It was tough in those days, because no one, but no one ever thought games could be used for training. It was a very hard thing to sell to the military. They’d normally laugh. “Well, we can go out and do it for real. Bullets are cheap. Fuel is cheap.” But now that’s all they use. In fact, I wrote a paper before this happened that was called “Serious Games,” and it’s basically what it’s all called today. They call it serious games, using the games industry to train people.
Stealey: I was training student pilots in 1971. I gave my student pilots a shoe brush and a plunger, and they would sit there and dry fly the missions. I kept telling them, “Guys, we could do this on a computer.” Then, in the mid-’80s, the Air Force actually used Strike Eagle to check people’s reflexes. I never got paid for it, but they tried it, and they were afraid they would lose flying time. Can you believe it? They were afraid they might not get flying time if sims came along. So it took a long time, until David came along with this brilliant software, before they actually started doing it. Now they’re falling all over themselves to do it.
Lagettie: There definitely was that fear in the early days, especially when we were doing helicopter crew simulation. They were always afraid of losing their flying hours. What they didn’t realize is that they could do more rudimentary training on these simulators, and then use the flying hours for more things they wanted to do, free up the aircraft to do other things. In fact, when we had big floods here in Australia seven or eight years ago, they had to use two Blackhawk helicopters up in the floods, and they had no way to train here, so they put in another 100 or 200 hours on the simulators while those aircraft were operational, and they saved $3.6 million on those hundred hours. It’s a massive cost savings, and you can train things you can’t do in the real world.
Stealey: While David was doing the acquisition of MicroProse, I went to the United States Air Force Air Training Command, and the commanding general had me get in front of 40 people and show them how we could make a pilot training for them. They all loved it, but they worried they’d get sued by somebody who got more computer time than somebody else. I’m saying, “You guys are nuts.” I’m glad we broke through this whole idea, because now they’re all going for it. I tried to fight that fight, David had to fight that fight. He was successful and I wasn’t, but what the heck. And now we’re bringing games back.
GamesBeat: How did the final transaction happen? What made them give the MicroProse brand over to you?
Lagettie: I was in negotiations for a few years in relation to this. In the end it came down to numbers. I was lucky to be in a position where I could — let’s just say that it was a very colorful battle between myself and another major player.
GamesBeat: Did you have to raise money for this, or did you have your own?
Lagettie: No, I had my own money.
GamesBeat: It felt like military simulations and military strategy had a heyday during the time of MicroProse. Things like Call of Duty and Battlefield came along and changed the picture there, the interest level. It felt to me like simulations got kind of superseded by the first-person shooter business, and maybe that was why they declined.
Lagettie: I think you’re right. For myself as a gamer, a lot of those games don’t really appeal to me too much. Maybe I’m getting older, but there was no real magic in those games for me, the games you just mentioned. They’re fantastic games, fantastic achievements at what they’re doing, but a lot of people want those days back, when games would reward you. You wanted to get home from school and fire the computer up and start the next mission and get the next award. These days it seems to be more about power-ups and — I think that’s the thing that’s missing, and the thing that myself and Bill and the great team of guys I’ve got around me. We all have a consensus that we want to bring that bit of magic back into games.
Stealey: I think that nobody was doing the MicroProse kind of games, because they found out that they could get kids, younger people, and they just left us behind. I don’t think the development companies–there wasn’t a MicroProse out there. EA was doing great with whatever they were doing, THQ, and none of them were doing the kind of games we did at MicroProse way back when, where we gave you a manual and expected you to do something to get results and get rewarded for it. They found other games that they could make. That’s great, and I’m glad they did. But now David and his group and me playtesting the heck out of them, we’re going back to what we did back at MicroProse. The market is still there. It might not be the Fortnite market, but it’s certainly a great market.
Lagettie: We know the landscape has changed, with Call of Duty and all these things coming out, and they’re great games. But to me — even my son, my 15-year-old son, he doesn’t play a lot of those games. I find him going back and playing even older games, like Counter-Strike. They were playing Fortnite for a while, but none of my kids play it anymore. Again, back to what Bill was saying, I don’t think anyone is building the kind of games MicroProse was building at the end there. Your B-17s and Grand Prixs and all these things. You don’t see those types of games today.
GamesBeat: I used to play a lot of the TalonSoft games. Jim Rose was saying things like, “We’re OK if we make a game that sells 20,000 units.” Then the game industry eventually looked at that and decided it wasn’t the way to get rich.
Lagettie: That’s absolutely true. If you’re just trying to make money and there’s plenty of other games you can make — but that’s not my goal. My goal is to make quality games. I want to bring back the manuals, the boxes. With all of our games we’re going to be able to have a box and a properly produced manual. These are things you’ll see again from MicroProse. Even the first three titles we’ve announced, they’re very much in line of what you’d expect from MicroProse. The games that are coming to follow are even more so.
Stealey: When we were in our heyday, everyone who was a fan of ours bought all of our games. The games David is working on, they’re going to build a following. You’re going to want the next one and the next one. It’s going to bring you a reward, because you sat there and you learned something. I’m excited about that.
I do have a bit of bad news. I don’t know if you ever met Arnold Hendrick, who did game design for most of the early MicroProse games, just passed away yesterday. If you don’t know the name, you can look him up. He came from the role-playing world, but he probably did five of the very best early MicroProse games. I was sorry to hear it, because I was going to call him and have him come help me playtest David’s games. He was quite a leader in the industry.
GamesBeat: I do think there’s something interesting here in that the whole retro craze has turned into something huge. The Final Fantasy VII remake was the biggest game in April. We have retro consoles, Atari and Intellivision coming back. It seems like there’s an opportunity here for a good business.
Lagettie: I think it is. It’s definitely not the motivating factor, because trying to reacquire MicroProse happened a long time before this resurgence. But it’s certainly–if you ask why retro is coming back, I believe it’s coming back because a good game is a good game, regardless of how it was made. They’re good games and they trigger this nostalgic feel in people, even myself. We’re developing some games at the moment — again, I can’t tell you much about some of them — but a couple of them are very nostalgic. Let’s say they’re to do with flight. They trigger things in me all the time.
I’ve found myself going back many times–I have every game from MicroProse here, and I’ll pull those games out and it triggers these memories of when you’re growing up. They’re fun games. You didn’t have to jump in and get power-ups for this or go monetize that. It was a great game, a fun experience. You got promoted. Sometimes you got demoted, in some of the titles. But there was a real goal in the games. You felt part of it. You had an emotional connection with wingmen and all these different things.
There’s still some very good games out there. I follow a lot of games in development. But the majority of games I find, especially in the last seven or eight years, it’s about monetization. I don’t want to get stuck in that side of it. I don’t think you’ll ever see MicroProse go down that side, ever. We always want to put out a good solid game that people will enjoy, and if they go buy Task Force Admiral, they’ll go buy Sea Power. This is what we want. We want to run our own race.
I love, more than anyone, a good box and a great manual. Many times I’ve read through the Gunship manual front to back, many times. I think it’s extremely important. Getting back to the retro side of things, I think people miss how it used to be. I tell my son, “This is how games were.” They only know what they see now. And Fortnite is incredible, the revenue they generate, but it’s certainly not the type of game we’re looking to build.
GamesBeat: What would you say are some lessons as far as business strategies to avoid here? Given that there were rocky times for the military simulation market in the past, what do you think you’ve learned about what to sidestep this time around?
Stealey: What happened to MicroProse in the end, when I was running it, is my guys got tired of doing military simulations. They still sold. But we did Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender. We did Darklands. They turned out to be OK games, but that’s not what the MicroProse customer was looking for. We spent millions of dollars trying to be Sierra On-Line or somebody else like that.
I think David has a vision of building a real mil-sim company, because there really wasn’t any other company besides us and Gilman Louie with Spectrum Holobyte doing that. EA hired two of our best programmers and had their Jane’s thing for about four years, and it went away. Name another military simulation company that did as well as MicroProse. There were a couple of little ones, but not big ones. I think we can have a theme to our games, and we can be careful to stay in our lane and do great games and keep them coming back for the next one.
I don’t think there are any business mistakes we have to avoid, and I don’t think the mil-sim went away. I think some of the bigger companies found ways to make shoot-’em-ups and they sold. Here comes Call of Duty one. I still have it on my computer, for God’s sake. But I think the issue is, you have to figure out where you’re competing. Am I competing because I have the best graphics in the entire world? There are flight simulators out right now that look beautiful, but there’s no game. You don’t have to sneak under the radar in your F-117 and complete the mission and get home and get cheered in the bar. They look beautiful, but they suck! I’m sorry.
Lagettie: I think Bill nailed it. We have to try and stay in our lane. As you can see with the games we initially announced, in that war genr e– you’ll find that we probably stick very close to that. Initially, and even for the next couple of years. I don’t think you’ll see a Rex Nebular remake any time soon, but never say never. The funny thing, I get emails from a lot of people asking about it. Bill and I have a laugh about it. Darklands turned out to be a classic. The amount of people asking about Darklands — but again, I think for me personally, my proposal for at least the next couple of years is to concentrate on what we do best and what we’re known for.
My background is military sims, all aspects of military sims. That’s what we’ll concentrate on initially. Some of the games in our lineup aren’t anything to do with military subjects at all, so it’s not like we’re doing all mil-sims. In fact, there are two or three games that definitely aren’t to do with anything military. But they’re games that people will be happy to see within MicroProse.
Getting back to your question about companies that might have failed over time, if you see from the first three titles we’ve announced, and then we’ve made a tentative announcement of Mighty Eighth, we’re going to stick with what we’re known for and what we do best. And very particularly, we’re not going to overcommit ourselves, our resources and people. We’re very measured. There are a lot of expectations for us to put out Grand Prix, to put out Falcon 5, and all of these are options for the future. But let’s do what we do best and get these other games established.
We have a lot of games in development. We’re going to make a lot of people — both the original people who followed MicroProse and a lot of new people discovering MicroProse — quite happy. We’ll have physical boxes and physical manuals. These are things that will make up the body that makes up MicroProse. Hopefully that’ll keep our sort of people happy.
GamesBeat: Did you have some favorites from the MicroProse era?
Stealey: I liked Gunship, because it was the first year we broke $10 million. We sold Gunship everywhere. I’ve seen some art that David’s put up, and I’m not sure, but I think he seems to like helicopters too. I loved Tank Platoon. And because I didn’t get to fly the F-15, that’s why we did F-15 Strike Eagle. I told someone recently that people would call us or get on our bulletin board and tell us we didn’t know what we were talking about with the F-15. Luckily, I hired two F-15 pilots to answer all those questions.
We loved them all. I was not that big a fan of Rex Nebular until I actually played it, but it was a pretty good game. I just didn’t know how to market it. You can’t put on your flight suit and go market Rex Nebular. I was going to have to wear a bikini, and that wouldn’t go over too well at a trade show.
Lagettie: For me, nearly all those games, especially the simulation games — European Air War, Falcon, Grand Prix — I’ll be honest and admit I never purchased Rex Nebular. Even Darklands, I don’t think I ever purchased Darklands. But any of the simulation side of MicroProse. B-17 is probably one of my favorite titles. European Air War, I loved. And obviously Falcon. But there are so many. I’m standing in front of my wall right now, all the games, and they all have different memories. Gunship in particular is a huge one I remember, because I bought that when I was away studying. I didn’t have a computer, and so that’s why I read that manual front to back maybe two or three times. Hopefully you’ll see some of those sneak back in at some point.
Stealey: I just want to make sure that if we do Silent Service, I don’t have to argue about the deck gun. We will have a deck gun.
Lagettie: You will have your deck gun, for sure. What a great game that was originally. Sneak up to a fleet, incredible. There you go, another one of my favorites. I’m looking at that box right now.
Stealey: I was in front of about 20 Sears executives, and Sid Meier and I had been arguing about deck guns. Evidently the American submarines didn’t have deck guns until 1944. Sometimes we got in our own way trying to be a really good simulation. I said, “Sid, I’m going to demonstrate to these people, and they’re not going to understand all this sneaking around. We need a deck gun.” Well, I went up to them, all standing there, and I’m on a big screen connected to a Commodore 64. I take on some destroyers, and they depth charge me. I have to come to the surface and I’m running like heck. I get one of them with a torpedo and the other two I shoot down with the deck gun as I’m running away. They said, “We’ll take 50,000 copies.” Well, good deal for the deck gun, baby.
GamesBeat: Bill, you were a military pilot. David, did you have any early attachment to the military in some way?
Lagettie: I’ve never been in the military. In fact, I was going in the navy when I was 17. I was going to be a clearance diver. I got an apprenticeship in refrigeration and air conditioning. The navy wanted me to finish out what year 11 is here in Australia before I could go in. And the very day before I started that year, I went for a job interview that my mum set up, a job I knew nothing about. I was always into electrical and engineering types of things my whole life, and I got that job, so I never did end up going into the navy.
But my dad did two tours of Vietnam. This is a side note for you, but how I got into Operation Flashpoint is really because of what happened to my dad in Vietnam. One of his good friends died in 1970, and I wrote a song called “Lifeless.” That’s the main track to Operation Flashpoint. That event that happened in 1970 is why we’re sitting here talking today, if you can believe. You’re the only person that actually knows that.
When I was a child, really young, my dad’s friend was killed, and I remember growing up and hearing about how his wife had a young son, who was the same age as my brother. My brother’s seven years older than me. We’d often see them at events in town, right through the late ’70s and early ’80s. I would always, as a kid–you’d hear your mum and dad talking at the table about such a tragedy. This poor woman never remarried. Her son was very young at the time, six or seven, when his dad died. And to this day it’s such a sad thing. But that’s why that song was written, and that was the song that was picked up by Codemasters and Bohemia Interactive for the main soundtrack to Operation Flashpoint.
It’s quite strange, but that song is the link between everything. The two biggest mil-sims in the world are built from that song. MicroProse’s resurgence comes from that song as well. Just to give you the background story to it all. But my experience with the military — my dad did two tours of Vietnam. He was a sergeant in the army. He got out of the army in about 1984, after 25 years. I had ties to lots of different military through relatives and things, and as I said, I was set to go into the navy as a clearance diver. That’s what I was going to do.
GamesBeat: Talking about who you’re working with here, it seems like there’s still talent around that can make these kinds of games. Are you using people who had some kind of history with MicroProse?
Lagettie: Wild Bill and I are talking to one very prominent guy at the moment that we’re looking to do a project with. Not from an opportunistic perspective, but just something we want to build together. We’re all coming together as a common goal to want to achieve this same thing. The amount of people who have worked with MicroProse over the years that I deal with and talk with today is unbelievable. The amount of people who worked there over the whole time since 1982 is amazing. I am working with a few of them now in particular on some projects. They’re projects we’ll announce a bit down the road.
Stealey: We have some of the best playtesters from MicroProse helping out, too.
GamesBeat: Maybe Gilman Louie can make a game for you.
Stealey: Could be? He’s doing pretty well in the venture business right now, though.
Lagettie: He’s got my email address, so …
GamesBeat: There’s a lot of that nostalgia going around. People are interested in making these games.
Lagettie: The reason a lot of these older games are making a resurgence, I think, and not just from the retro side–some of them are just incredibly quality games. If you think back to even a game like Carrier Command, which was put out in 1987 or 1988, if you look at the mechanics of that sort of game, you can see why a game like that, even today, would do quite well. It’s like chess. Even 300 years from now, a game of chess will still be a game of chess, whether it’s a $3,000 chess set or a $10 set from K-Mart. That makes sense.
I think that people are looking back to the past because there was so much more entertainment, and you had to be so much more creative as well. You had limited resources in things like memory and the type of video you had. Some of the games that came out in the days of one floppy drive, it’s amazing what was achieved back then.
GamesBeat: As far as the core company itself, what is the plan for it? Will you have internal development, or are you starting out with external development?
Lagettie: We do have internal development. We have a couple of internal teams running at MicroProse today, full steam. There’s plenty of development happening on internal projects, as well as some external, as you know. Some of the developers working on our mil-sim side are actually coming over into MicroProse already. About half the team that developed Titan are working on projects within MicroProse today. There’s lots of things happening.
GamesBeat: What is your focus within MicroProse, David? And Bill, what role are you carving out?
Lagettie: My whole goal is to make sure that these games are produced and published, to make sure that we stay on track. It’s very easy to — I’m getting emails left, right, and center from different types of organizations wanting to do this and do that. I’m quite courteous in saying, “Thank you very much, but my main job is to keep this focused on what we’re doing.” And more important than anything is that we represent MicroProse how it should be represented. We’re the custodians of that brand, and there’s nothing I want to happen to undermine that brand. If we do what we know, what we do best, I think we can keep that legacy going for years to come.
I’m looking very long-term with MicroProse. We’re looking anywhere up to seven years ahead with projects and games. I was doing something very similar to this with the military sims. I designed some of them up to version seven, which included world rendering and all these types of things. That’s exactly what I’m looking for with MicroProse as well. It’s not a short-term thing, not a whim. It’s been in the works for a long time.
Stealey: I’m excited about MicroProse coming back. I’m excited that I got to go to Australia to meet with David and his family. I’m going to help him any way I can, and of course he’s helping iEntertainment put out a new Warbirds. We’re looking at a new graphics system completely. It’s the same kind of thing we did at MicroProse. Doing Warbirds, we’re small. We don’t have a lot of resources. But I’ll help David any way I can. I’ll help him on the finance side, because I know that, having been the CFO of a big company at one time. Anything he needs, I’ll be glad to do it, and my reward will be I get to playtest all the games and criticize them and work it out.
Lagettie: And you do that very well.
Stealey: I try to do it friendly!
GamesBeat: It sounds like very fulfilling work for you guys. I’m glad to see it happen.
Lagettie: It is. It’s definitely not a chore to wake up in the morning to look at what’s developed overnight and what’s happening with what we’re making. It’s incredibly rewarding and exciting. It’s exciting to see some of these games we’re doing.
Some of these teams — again, the original three games we just announced, Second Front, Sea Power, and Task Force Admiral — they’re just incredible games. They really share the vision of MicroProse as well. If you get a chance to see them yourself, you’ll see what I mean. They’re incredibly clever guys to deal with, really nice to deal with. I had a couple of long meetings last night with the Task Force Admiral guys about future projects, and the stuff they’re developing is really exciting. Sea Power is from the creative guy on Cold Waters. To see how that’s evolving and being part of MicroProse, these are things that really excite me. Seeing the new builds and playtesting, I can’t wait until the gamers get their hands on these things.
GamesBeat: On these games, are you thinking about modernizing them, remaking them, or do you think that people will want them the way they were?
Lagettie: There are only so many ways you can make B-17. They’re certainly more innovative. With The Mighty Eighth, you’ll be able to play that in full VR with your teammates. You can have a full multiplayer crew, which is obviously something that couldn’t be done 25 years ago. We’re definitely changing up some of the games. Some of the older games that we’re kind of remaking — we’ll certainly try to preserve what made those games great. We’re not here to totally reinvent those games and hope they do well. We’ll try to honor what made those games great. It’s a fine balance.
It’s a good question, because different games — I can’t even mention a couple of them because they’re yet to be announced, but with one game in particular, it’s quite a famous game. Every second email I get is about it. It will change pretty significantly from the original game. It’ll have full cooperative play. Obviously technology has changed a lot. But we’ll still try to honor what made that game so good. And hopefully we’ll make a lot of people happy seeing that name again.
GamesBeat: I do wonder whether there are some big properties here that are no longer really MicroProse properties, like Civilization. Are there are some others worth noting?
Lagettie: The other biggest one to note would be Falcon, which is held by Tommo. I’m certainly in talks with those people. But again, we really are looking forward on — it’s great from a nostalgia point of view to go back and remake earlier games, but it’s not my intention to go back and rebuild the majority of those games at all. We might build games that supersede them, or we might call them spiritual successors. If I think it’s right for MicroProse then we’ll go that way. Every second email is about Falcon 5 or this or that. But let’s just see.
DCS has an incredible F-16 simulation. It’s mind-blowing how good they are. Our games with MicroProse, we’ll go down a slightly different route. Like Bill said, flying under the radar, knocking out your targets, coming back and sitting there with your buddies having some beers, that’s what we want to see in MicroProse. You want to get rewarded. You want to know about your wingman and his wife. We want these stories. We want these games to be alive.
Stealey: I do want the bar scene.
Lagettie: You’re going to get that bar scene. It’s getting built. Don’t worry.
Stealey: I don’t know if you ever saw that, but in F-19, if you did badly, you were in the bar all by yourself. If you did well, all the guys would be there partying with you.
GamesBeat: I know there are a bunch of strategy games that have had long legs. There’s all of the Wargaming.net games. They’ve got World of Warships and World of Tanks doing well. What do you think of some of these more modern strategy game successes? Would you want to go there, or do you consider that to be very different territory?
Lagettie: I’ve got full respect for what they’ve produced. It’s very successful. But it’s certainly not the path we’ll go with MicroProse and our games. We’ll try and balance the realism of simulations with — we want people to be able to get into these games and start playing pretty quickly. We want you to be able to get up in the air and start flying, instant action. We’ll have different modes within our games, so if you want to go more hardcore on the simulation side, you can do that. If you want to approach from more of the novice side, we’ll support that as well. But the idea is, you bought that game, and you want to get into the action and get rewarded pretty quick.
Stealey: I agree with that completely. Get in the action, have some fun, but feel that you’re learning something and moving forward. You start as an air cadet, and then all of sudden you’re a second lieutenant. Now you’re a major. Now you’re in control of the whole battlefield. Learn something. Go forward.
Lagettie: The amount of stuff that I learned, even before I started building the military simulations, from the MicroProse games–and other games as well, of course. I was into lots of games. But predominantly MicroProse. You can’t say that side of it didn’t influence what I’m doing today. There are plenty of F-15 pilots out there that actually started flying those aircraft because of the games. Even through M-1 Tank Platoon, I know plenty of people who went into the military to drive tanks through that game.
Stealey: I’ll tell you one story, and then I’ll be off. I was in the Atlanta airport, and I saw a guy in a flight suit. I didn’t know they could travel in flight suits. I left my Air Force hat off and I went over and said, “Major, what are you flying?” He said, “I fly the F-15 Strike Eagle.” I said, “Well, wow, how did you get into that?” He said, “Oh, some guy made a really cool game about it a long time ago, so I decided to go to the Air Force Academy and get in the Strike Eagle.” I handed him my card and he said, “How many beers can I buy you, sir?”
I’ve met people all over the world who enjoyed our games that much, and it gave them a direction in life. I think David’s going to make some great ones, and I’ll be there cheering him on. Of course, I’ll be on the golf course in the morning, but I’ll come back.
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