TEM: Would you ever consider designing just a multiplayer shooter or just a single player shooter? Why do you think more studios don't attempt that, seeing as the design for each mode is so different?
Norton: We've considered making single-player or multiplayer only shooters, but it really depends on the design of the game. While it's hard to make a shooter that has both good single-player and multiplayer components, it's also hard to make a single-player-only experience that has 10+ hours of quality entertainment. Not every shooter design is honestly going to be fun in a narrative campaign for more than 4 or so hours, so you need a core design that's deep enough to keep players engaged until they feel they've passed their magic 'value' bar.
Half a decade ago, you saw more multiplayer-only shooters, back when the shooter audience was primarily a hardcore PC audience. But the Achilles heel of multiplayer-only shooters is that they generally don't cast a wide net and pickup the casual players, which is the segment that's been growing the most over the past half-decade on consoles. As a result, you see more single-player-only, or single-player-focused shooters in development than multiplayer-only or multiplayer-focused shooters.
TEM: What is it like having a studio in Houston? Austin is usually the Texas hotbed mentioned most for game development. What is the game dev community like in Houston?
Norton: Houston's a great place to live, although we're just off to the Southwest in a city called Sugar Land, TX. It's pretty flat here since we are on the coast, but it has a great set of highways and there is a lot of cultural diversity in the city. It's a very affordable city in which to live, much like the rest of Texas, so we really enjoy it. Plus we have great Tex-Mex and BBQ restaurants all over the place. Being the only AAA developer in the 4th largest city in the country was at first a liability for TimeGate - now it is a huge asset of ours.
The development community is very small in Houston, with TimeGate and a few other small developers making up the dev teams. However, game development programs have started to grow in surrounding schools, such as the University of Houston, which provides a TimeGate a great opportunity to work with students and staff to develop skills and cultivate innovation in the gaming industry not only locally, but on the global level as well.
TEM: What is next for TimeGate? Can we expect more Section 8 sequels or are you cooking up another IP? Will you ever return to your RTS roots?
Norton: We're already hard at work on our next game, but we can't really discuss it yet. I can also state that we haven't closed the book on the Section 8 universe just yet, but at the same time, I can't confirm we're working on another Section 8 game. You'll just have to wait and see what we announce next!
As far as the RTS roots, we'd love to, but it's not our focus right now. We've toyed around with a few ideas for new Kohan RTS games, over the years, and we continue to do so. I'd love to see a new Kohan game myself, as I generally love any kind of squad or company-based strategy game, so there's always a chance!