Hall cites three factors in Ion Storm's demise. "A: too many newbies. We had very few hires that were senior." He said they had a strong desire to give new people a shot, "but we went too far in that regard. We wound up with an amazing team, but a lot of them had to cut their teeth on [our games]. B: politics. I can't go into this for, sadly, legal reasons, but let's just say there was a whole lot of turmoil and not enough focus on making games. C: over-marketing. We were making bold statements before we were even [in] alpha. We needed to shut up until we had something to show. If it hadn't been for those three things, Daikatana would have come out much earlier and been fine."

Most of the reviews at the time of Anachronox's release praised the game for its storyline and characters, but reviewers and players docked points for the number of bugs found within the game. Hall says "it wasn't insanely buggy compared to some titles, but it was rushed out the door. Eidos wanted to ship it. If we'd shipped Joey [Liaw]'s final build, it would have been very stable." Bugs alone may not explain Anachronox's commercial failure, however. "I think most people didn't know the game was out. ... I sing the praises of Eidos for sticking with us through all the craziness - they were amazing. But they spent millions on the game, and in the tens of thousands on advertising. I think it could have found a pretty strong audience. But with all the craziness that had gone on, I feel fortunate that people got to experience it at all." He describes the potential audience as "people that love RPGs, people that love adventures, people that love story and humor. People still write to me saying they found a copy, that they played and loved the game, and that they wished they'd heard about it coming out at the time."

Of the game's incomplete storyline, he says, "We made just about two-thirds of the original storyline. We had this huge long story that was 70 hours and just couldn't finish that many assets in a reasonable amount of time. Where it was stopped, it made sense, as many characters had their story arc complete. I don't regret it, because Anachronox is plenty long and ends well." Ion Storm envisioned a sequel, but financially couldn't justify a return to Anachronox's world. Hall is reluctant to discuss where the story might've gone, "because I'd love to have the property back and finish the story. A lot of the work was done, but all I will say is it involved two other universes." While he did say repeatedly that he'd love to do the second installment, he doesn't own the intellectual property rights. "I've asked for it, what they wanted for it, but they seem to want to keep it for some reason."

Moving back to the development of the game itself, I asked him why he wanted to put a console-style RPG on the PC. "Why explore a new continent?" he answered. "It was novel, never before done, and could introduce PC players to that type of experience." The man who has worked on some of gaming's most recognizable titles - Duke Nukem 3D, Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, Commander Keen - ranks Anachronox as one of his favorite worlds. "I really love Anachronox. It's tied with [Commander] Keen for my favorite universe. The cast of Anachronox feel like ol' buddies, and the team that finished it is all family."

Comments on