Dave Pottinger

the Lead Programmer and Director of Technology at Ensemble Studios, where he worked on game engines and AI.

Hosted AMAs

Highest Rated Comments

DavePottinger113 karma

Ah, the great flying purple hippo.

One of our designers mistakenly sent an email meant for his wife to the entire studio. Sadly (for him), he signed it "Wuv Woo". We never let him live that down.

One of the artists came up with the hippo as a prank. Another modeled it, and so on.

DavePottinger111 karma

You'd have to ask MS.

But, sign me up! I wouldn't literally kill to work on AOM2, but that'd be an automatic slam dunk.

DavePottinger43 karma

Heh, nice. I don't think that one's quite as popular as Wololo, but it's definitely one of the AOM unit sounds that sticks with you. I always wondered what the VO actor looked like; he sounds angry.

DavePottinger40 karma

Always a group effort, though probably driven a little more by the art staff. After all, it's not really a very good cheat if there's no art:) Our concept artists came up with a lot of the crazy ones (Lazrbear, George Crushington, etc.). The Monster Trucks from Age3 were actually a big favor I called in to make my boys happy.

DavePottinger39 karma

Anything is possible.

I'm a little less sold on Kickstarter for games compared to other folks, but I would love to know how much interest there is in that idea.

DavePottinger38 karma

Reservations is maybe too far.

I love the idea of Kickstarter. I think it's opened the door for many things that would never have gotten a shot. I do think it has worked better for more tangible, physical items than for software.

Software is inherently difficult to predict. I don't think crowd funding has a good handle on that risk, yet. To get your game funded, you have to promise a lot. Unfortunately, many games over-promise.

To be clear, I'm mostly talking about the Kickstarters for guys who've been in the industry. More power to the non-industry folks using Kickstarter to break in. Knock 'em dead!

I am disappointed in the successful game Kickstarters that have subsequently run out of money. Triply so in the case of industry vets who should damn well know better. They should know how to take a budget and leave room for iteration/mistakes/oh-shit situations.

So, yeah, maybe I'm just more frustrated with the state of the current game Kickstarters. I wish they were more dependable.

Bonus does get asked about doing an RTS Kickstarter a LOT. Given our heritage, it's understandable. It's not something we're currently planning. If a few more good success cases come around, then we'll probably give it some more serious thought.

Related, there are already a ton of threads running around the studio email in the last few hours that all have the tone "See, everyone LOVES AOM!!! Let's make that!!!"

DavePottinger38 karma

Can I have two answers? ;)

It's hard not to be proud of the overwhelming success and pervasive-ness of Age2. I remember a cool moment when my wife and I were in a local movie theater and heard some kids talking about trebuchets. They weren't quite as common place back then (no Mythbusters, no Punkin Chunkin, etc.), so it was really neat to see such a direct effect.

But, personally, I will always love Age of Mythology the best. It was, in so many ways, a dream RTS to work on. The team was just awesome to work with, too. I loved the variability in multiplayer games with the minor gods. And the myth units:)

DavePottinger31 karma

That's really up to MS. I think there are some spiritual successors in the works, though. In other words, we are working on something.

DavePottinger27 karma

I don't know if there's ever going to be an app version of AOM.

Funny story (well, funny now, not very funny then)... AOM was largely considered a disappointment when we launched it. We were coming off of Age2 which had gone stupid gangbusters, of course. Expectations were crazy high. We bungled some bits of the project and had totally bitten off more than we should have (remember, this is when 3D RTS games didn't really exist yet). So, we had to slip the project an entire year, making it a three year game.

When it launched, it "only" did a million or something (don't quote me on those numbers) early on. Lifetime, it's done over 3M, I think (again no quotes). So, it's no slouch. But, compared to Age2, it's nothing. So, TLDR, there was a lot of disappointment when AOM shipped and it didn't do as well as Age2.

Looking back, we were incredibly naive to think it would top Age2, of course. But, you don't think that way when you're on the game. No one wants to think "Yeah! This game won't sell as much as our last one! Woohoo! Let's crunch!". You want to believe it's going to do better and be bigger. It just wasn't.

BUT... There is a lot of love for AOM. Age2 was Ensemble's big game. No one can argue that. AOM was, IMO, the cult favorite.

DavePottinger25 karma

You're welcome! It's been funny watching my kids go through elementary school and be exposed to all the various times that mythology comes up. They know everything already because of AOM:)