Covering the Waterfront: NorbSoftDev on Scourge of War Gettysburg

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Gettysburg Scourge of War

GO: What's your area of training specifically?

JW: I work at a government agency doing laboratory research, so it's a complete change of pace. I end up worrying about strange quirks of biology, how molecules and cells and so forth react to each another, and then at night I go home and try to turn a blinking cursor into history.

GO: So this new team, calling themselves MadMinute Games, starts working on a Civil War real-time strategy game.

JW: It was eventually named Civil War: Bull Run, and we added more people to the test team, but it was still a pretty small group of people. That was released commercially in 2004, and we were all like wow, we did it.

GO: And The History Channel picked that up.

JW: They were brought into it somehow by the original publisher and they basically lent their name to it for some reason or another, but that was all the contact we had with them as far as I know.

So then we went on, and after some back and forth, came out with Take Command: Second Manassas, which was well-received. By that Time, Norb and Adam had been working together for something like five years. I think it was just a case of too close, too long, and they had what amounted to a corporate divorce and went their separate ways.

Norb wanted to continue, but essentially we had to start...it was actually good in the long run, because rather than just continuing on, we had to go back and start over from scratch. Norb ended up recoding a lot of things somewhat differently and more efficiently.

GO: Had Norb coded the original games by himself, or had he and Adam split any of that?

JW: No, Adam is not a coder. He does other things, but he could hardly...as Norb said, he'd be strained to code a basic Do loop. That's not his strength. He was very good in other areas, but he doesn't code.

GO: So MadMinute dissolves.

JW: Norb went off, and the company he'd already formed for doing consulting work, NorbSoftDev, he just folded the wargame effort into that, and after some additional back and forth, he asked me if I'd take on the job of lead designer, which largely amount to being chief cat-herder. We had some people that we'd assembled as a team, and we brought in others necessary to produce the game, and all that culminated in Gettysburg, which came out this spring, to, so far, a pretty good response.

In part two: The design process...

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