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September 4, 2007
GenCon Interview - Ed Stark and Dave Williams from Red 5

By Nicole Hamlett

There's something to be said about a friendly smile first thing in the morning. I got this as Dave greeted me at the door to the suite that Red 5 Studios was having their meetings. I'd met Dave before but Ed was a new face with a familiar name. This is something that you will run into quite often with the Red 5 team. Stellar names with unbelievable talent and backgrounds who are humble, who would believe it? Well, I do now after spending a short amount of time and left wanting more.

If you have been living in a cave for the last year, you may not know that Red 5 was started by the Blizzard core team. Wanting something more and different, they've created a team made up of the who's who of gaming. Recently, they announced the acquisition of the talented Scott Youngblood (surely you've heard of Tribes) through their Golden Ticket Recruitment Initiative.

What is the Gold Ticket you ask? Let me tell you - a. I wish I had gotten a golden ticket and b. I haven't gotten one because they looked at the top 100 developers and professionals in the industry ( with the exception of a few select companies that they drew the line at poaching from.) and sent them an unmarked FedEx package.

Think Mission Impossible meets a Russian babushka. The first box was decorated with art and inside that box was yet another box with of course art. It went on until you reached the last box which held the new iPod shuffle. The voice coming through the earbuds was none other than CEO Mark Kearn, telling you what they knew about you and why they wanted you to work for this incredible team.

Of the 100 packages that they sent, they have had a 25% call in rate. A secure website was set up so that these candidates could find out more about the company and decide if they wanted to work on this new top secret project.

So far, the team consists of 80 US members and 15 Shanghai employees. The small company is very family oriented and insists upon providing a space the team can have fun while working. They have two separate venture capital entities to not only build the game but also ensure that the company is run correctly. "It is important that we have a solid company that is run right so that we can make this game successful," Ed imparted. They don't have the fear of running out of money or time now. This is a company that has very few private offices, lots of teambuilding and a team that does what it takes to get the job done because roles aren't defined very strenuously.

So what do I know about the yet untitled property? Not much. The breaking news here is that it will be solo friendly and that there will be no dwarves and elves. Dave told us, "The past is both critically important and completely irrelevant." Therefore, Red5 will be bringing out new material. The game is not based on an existing IP and they will be knocking down the house and rebuilding, with the intention of innovating old systems.

For instance, there will be bonus automation and great guild tools as well as a system that will allow players who improve their character to also improve their rank, faction and guild standing. "It's all about the community and allowing the players to change the environment," said Dave. The company wants to make this an ever changing world where there are definitive winners and losers in the game. No more saving the princess and having her walk cheerfully back into the dragon's lair. MMOs are supposed to be interactive games and Epic changes will happen on a worldwide scale in this title.

Unfortunately that was all we got in terms of real information this time around, but I can tell you that I'm terribly excited to see more of this game. It is not hard to imagine how innovative and challenging this title is going to be with the dream team standing behind it.

Comic by Linda Carlon, for more of here comics please visit


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