So a few months ago I reached out to Running With Scissors Community Manager Jon Merchant to allow us to interview them regarding their effort to have Postal 2 released on Steam using Valve's new community voting project 'Greenlight'
Postal is considered one of the most brutal, disgusting and offensive games ever made but is considered by many of the same people, as a masterpiece.
Below I ask Jon (whom goes by the name Toploader in his community) questions about RWS & Postal 2 that I think our community and other gaming communitys alike, want to hear. Enjoy!OP
: First of all, why are RWS called Running With Scissors? RWS
: (Vince Desi) When we decided to become an indie developer I wanted to make sure we distinguished ourselves from what we had been doing (making kids games for major companies like Disney, Sesame St, Hanna Barbera) and also from the then current swash of typical company names. We didnít finalize the name until after we begun developing POSTAL. It became more and more obvious that our name should represent the game and how we seen ourselves as different from everyone else. The wording ďrunning with scissorsĒ is a twist on the old social term Ďdonít run with scissorsí, something that every kid in America heard their mom tell them when growing up. So it was clear to us that we should call ourselves ďRunning With ScissorsĒ since we were about everything our mothers told us not to do. Looking back it clearly was a good choice as we continue to go forward with our freedom to do whatever the fuck we want attitude. OP
: Members of RWS under a different company name had come from making games such as Tom & Jerry and Sesame Street to making the games we know and love today. Why such a drastic change in direction? RWS
: (Vince Desi) We had been making games for over ten years and the team was bored. Games like DOOM had come out and the framework of gaming was on the cusp of changing in a big way. While we were very successful in developing games for kids and schools (we won many awards including from parents organizations) we knew it was time to do something different, something more meaningful, something that would wake people up. Games were so fuckin monotonous, hallway shooters, zombies, space bullshit. Hey that stuff is great if you like it but we wanted to do also have some fun with the whole concept of twisted comedy which is really what the POSTAL series is all about. Proud to say that here we are 15 years later and still fans love playing our games, old and new, and that tells me we got something right!OP
: How long have you been working for RWS and what is your role within the company? RWS
: (Jon M) Officially I've been with them for 6 years. Currently my main task is community relations and helping maintain the forums and website, but in the past I've worked as a level designer and also as the multiplayer designer for POSTAL III (back when we assumed PIII would get a Multiplayer....). I've also lead many community projects such as the POSTAL 2 mod Eternal Damnation and the a big Multiplayer Patch. OP
: What are your memories of Postal 2 and what made you want to work with it's creators? RWS
: (Jon M) I played and enjoyed the Single player but it was actually the Multiplayer that got me more involved in the game, to the point I set out to learn the Unreal Editor so I could create my own levels. One thing lead to another and I ended up leading the Eternal Damnation total conversion mod that got me deeper into the community. When I heard POSTAL III was on the way I knew I really wanted to be a part of that, so I applied for a position at RWS. I was already known to the them through my modding and community work, and they accepted me right away. OP
: How did RWS get the budget for Postal 2? From what I've heard the Unreal Engine back then cost $1 Million to use. I remember playing it as a kid thinking it looked great too, your artists must have been very overqualified working on childrens games. RWS
: (Jon M) It's hard to believe now because of itís sheer dominance as a middleware dev kit, but back in 2001 Epics engine was only just finding its feet. Epic were looking for developers to use it, offering them the chance to have it free upfront and pay for it after the games released, kinda how they do it with the Unreal Development kit now.
I believe that most of the games art was done by new members recruited for POSTAL 2, but there were not many of them and Iím not so sure that it looked so great even for its day, but I donít think itís aged that badly. The somewhat ĎB movieí presentation and cartoony appearance still suits the game, although Iíd love to have an artist come in and add to and improve the world models. For a game that only had 6 core members working on it for less than 2 years, it didnít look too bad. OP
: You have applied to have Postal 2 put on Steam before and been turned down, do you feel Greenlight is your gateway to finally having the opportunity? RWS
: (Jon M) They (Valve) didnít really give reasons as to why we had been rejected, but we can assume that it was because they didn't believe there was much demand for a game like POSTAL 2 on Steam. Greenlight has given us the chance to prove that there is, and even I'm pleasantly surprised at the positive reaction and amount of support it has received. We really want to make amends for the mistakes made with outsourcing that lead to PIII being pretty terrible, getting POSTAL 2 on Steam and supporting it again for a while is a great opportunity to do that.
Postal 2 Complete has now been released on Steam, achievements on the way. OP
: If Postal 2 is successful on Greenlight, what DLC/Mods will come in the package and which ones will you look to getting on Valve's Steamworks? RWS
: (Jon M) POSTAL 2, when it was first released, didn't have a multiplayer (that followed 6 months after) but it will of course be part of the Steam release, as will the single player add-on 'Apocalypse Weekend'. The mod community for POSTAL 2 has always been strong and we hope to support that with the Steam Workshop. If Valve does not allow us to do that, we will do what we can to make sure all the major mods are available with Installers from our website. Although Iím an employee or RWS now, I never really stopped modding POSTAL 2 and working with the communiy, and me and the mod team at Res-Studios.net are planning to overhaul some of the mods we have already released if P2 gets onto Steam. OP
: What differences will we see from the Postal we played nearly 10 years ago to the Postal released on Steam and what future plans do you have for it if it's successful? RWS
: (Jon M) At the very least it will have full WideScreen support, and will be setup to allow the 360 controller to work by default for in-game controls. We really hope that we can get achievements working too, although how possible that will be is something we will not be sure about until we get accepted. After that I'm really not sure, at the moment we are just focused on getting this onto Steam and seeing how well it does, but I'm pretty sure there will be further updates to keep the game in the news and the community behind us. We actually released a fully featured patch for POSTAL 2's multiplayer as late as 2010 (1409X) so we are not beyond supporting the game with free content even before the chance of getting onto Steam. OP
: I have seen a few negative comments regarding Postal 2 on Greenlight purely based on how Postal 3 turned out, can you confirm for us how Postal 3 came about and why it wasn't what it should have been? RWS
: (Jon M) It's a long story and I can only tell it from my limited perspective, but to summarize POSTAL 2 did very well in Russia, and the publisher that released it out there made an offer to RWS to fund and develop POSTAL III, but RWS would keep the IP rights and also be allowed to design the game that was made. Akella had vastly more resources than we had for POSTAL 2, so it seemed reasonable at the time they could produce a game that was at least equal to the game we made inhouse. Things started out well but I think they got hit pretty hard by the economic problems of 2007-8, and it all started to go downhill from there. The final product was very far removed from our original design, and horribly broken. There were some in house decisions I didnít agree with though, such as having the game as a Third Person shooter, although that did make more sense back when we thought it would be released on console. I personally prefer a darker feel to POSTAL games, PIII took a bit of a lighter tone.
Thankfully we have had much less of a backlash from our immediate fans than I expected, who seem to at least appreciate our honesty on the situation. Of course there is a wider group that assume PIII was made by RWS and think badly for us because of it, and I don't blame them really. All that said, my biggest surprise has been the amount of people that seem to actually like PIII, although I am absolutely not one of them OP
: Considering itís rather broken state, Why has RWS abandoned Postal III, why have you not released some patches to at least make it more stable? RWS
: (Jon M) We would have loved to, but we were not given access to the source code, assets or developers tools after the games release as we expected we would. We of course wanted much of this available to the community too, but it seems that will never happen now. Itís frustrating because I have no doubt in the hands of modders something pretty cool could have been salvaged from the mess. "What's the best thing about Postal III? ....Probably the artwork"OP
: Is there any way now that people can buy Postal 3 and you'll still get paid? From what I've read, you guys don't see a penny from Postal 3 sales on Steam. RWS
: (Jon M) We don't even want to get paid for POSTAL III at this point, the game is a broken mess and should not be sold. We stopped selling the game ourselves some time ago when it became apparent that neither us or the community would get the SDK tools. We don't regard it as the third POSTAL game, just a dodgy spin off that should never have happened. OP
: I've heard desires to revisit Postal 1 for a possible remake, as it hasn't aged as well as Postal 2 and struggles to run on modern machines. What are your ideas for this so far and what changes would be made? RWS
: (Jon M) Still throwing ideas around, but the idea is we want to make a HD version of it on a modern engine, and release it across multiple platforms, including mobile devices. It would be the same basic gameplay, although I personally feel we should change the way the game controls, so it works more like the excellent Dead Nation on the PS3 rather than the tank like controls it uses now. Many fans have said that they would like to see it keep the same style (dark and bleak) and I could not agree more. It would be great to take POSTAL back to its roots.
Postal Classic & Uncut has since been released on Steam with Achievements.OP
: If Postal does well on Steam and your next project does even better, what are your wishes for future RWS projects? RWS
: (Jon M) A full POSTAL game, done as a first person shooter, free roaming with a similar mission structure as POSTAL 2, on a highly moddable engine. Hopefully with the original voice actor too, mostly because people will always relate PIII voice actor to that game now. OP
: I used to have a game called Postal Babes on my old Nokia, any chance of you guys porting this game to modern smart phones? (I own a Windows Phone, nudge) RWS
: (Jon M) We actually reached out to the developers of that game recently to see if they would be interested in re-releasing, and they are considering it. Many of the art assets are too low resolution to reuse so they would have to start it from scratch pretty much. It was pretty cool for its time as a mobile game, that was some outsourcing we didnít regret. OP
: Do you have any other mini projects like Postal Babes that some fans may not know about? RWS
: (Jon M) If I told you we were once developing a side scrolling game based on a humanoid cat with big furry titties called Kitty Kitty Bang Bang, would you believe me? But no, nothing else really outside the POSTAL series of games. OP
: Where can people get involved with your projects or join you as fans of your games? RWS
: (Jon M) We have our official website / forums at www.RunningWithScissors.com, but there is also group of dedicated fans and modders over at www.res-studios.net, which is the website I co-own that spawned various POSTAL 2 mods such as Eternal Damnation and A Week In Paradise. There is much talk of them making a big patch for POSTAL 2 that improves the visuals greatly. OP
: Are RWS going anywhere anytime soon? RWS
: (Jon M) Nah, we have every intention of bouncing back from the disaster of the POSTAL III situation and giving our followers the sequel that POSTAL 2 deserves. RWS is more like a club than a company, and even during times where no money is coming in we stick with it.