It was our theory early on that you've got to get the best out of people you hire, and making games is really, really rigorous and demanding. It's mentally and physically demanding to make a competitive, innovative, good game. You have to make an atmosphere where that can happen.
- Max Schaefer
So the guy interviewing me, he's got his feet up on the table, no shoes on, and I'm thinking, Yeah, this is what I want to do. I don't want to work somewhere where I've got to wear a suit and a tie. I want to be lounging around with my shoes off playing video games.
- Eric Sexton, artist, Condor
We all pile into the kitchen because it's the biggest space we have. People are sitting on the tables. Now we're going to make the decision on whether Diablo is turn-based or real-time. I would say probably 90 percent of the team wants it real-time. Dave doesn't. I don't. But pretty much everybody else wanted it real-time.
- Rick Seis, programmer, Condor
Max and Erich had worked on a Super Nintendo version of Gordo 106 for [Nintendo publisher] DTMC. Matt Householder was their producer there, so when he was at 3DO, we were able to get some work from him to do a football game for the M2, the second generation 3DO machine.As a producer at The 3DO Company, Matt Householder's job was to woo quality game developers by offering them lucrative development contracts in exchange for creating cutting-edge games for 3DO's platforms. Dave, Max, and Erich set up a meeting with Householder to pitch just such a game—a 3D football title for the M2 featuring four-on-four contests set in fully rendered stadiums and a camera that zoomed along behind players to follow every teeth-rattling tackle and mad dash to the end zone.
We started working on that in the very early stages of the M2's development, and the system was super advanced for its time. The graphics were unbelievable; at that time they were way beyond anything else.
- David Brevik
In 1994, I had been advising Max and Erich and invested some money in Condor. In February 1995, I passed the California Bar and I was trying to figure out how not to go work for a law firm. Condor needed someone to help come in and run the business side of things. I was a natural fit, so a couple of months later, I came in to run the business so they could focus on the games.
Condor being a small company, I had great opportunity to get involved with game production as well. Everybody chipped in to do what was necessary to get the game done.
- Ken "Kenny" Williams, business director, Condor
Ken was a friend of Max's and Erich's. He came in as an investor in the company and helped us. We didn't have anybody really working on our books. We didn't even really keep books other than, "Wow, what's our checking account look like?" and "Maybe we should write some of this down."After more consideration, the guys decided against spreading the workload across the whole team. To make significant progress on each game, they would need to divide their forces.
It didn't make much sense for us to become experts in business. It still doesn't make sense. There are lots of people that can help out in doing those kinds of things, and it's just best for us to get rid of all distractions so we can focus on creating a great product.
- David Brevik
Diablo was very much up Dave Brevik's alley, and Erich was always more of an RPG guy than I was growing up. We played a lot of sports growing up, and I loved the idea of making a football game, so I definitely jumped at the chance to spearhead the M2 football game and make that happen.
At the same time, I knew that by doing that, we were helping to make Diablo happen. Diablo, for all of us, was the project we had the most emotional attachment to just because it was our project and it was something new, something exciting; whereas with making a football game, you're making a football game. There's only so much you can do with it.
- Max Schaefer
Certainly you needed to be able to execute the job. But early on, everybody had to approve you before you could get hired. We wanted a love of gaming, and therefore a love of the job. Persistence typically goes along with that. We wanted people that wanted to work in games, and ideally would be someone that would stay through the good and bad times at the company.
Nothing bonds like a shared experience like that, like going through battle. That's my metaphor for it: Battle. There are some rough times, and there are some really, really amazing times.
- Rick Seis
Back in those days we didn't have big contracts to make games, so we said, "Okay, who do we really need? We need a programmer, we need one more artist." We didn't even think about hiring designers. There were just programmers and artists. Even bringing in a sound guy made us say, "Oh my God, that breaks the budget," just to bring in a guy who wasn't a programmer or an artist.Eric Sexton might well have bumped into Dave Brevik two years prior when, in 1993, he chanced upon the opportunity of a lifetime: An internship at Iguana Entertainment.
They were tough calls, and we didn't always have the money. But the guys who kept expressing interest—Matt Uelmen and Eric Sexton are great examples—made us think, Yeah, these guys are going to be good because they're just really interested. They seemed to really want to do it.
- Erich Schaefer
I went in for three days to do this animation test for them. At the end, they decided that my skills weren't good enough to hire me, which was devastating because I really, really wanted to work there. I thought that'd be the best thing ever. It forced me to buckle down and turned me toward doing more computer-based art.
-Eric Sexton, artist, Condor
I was just there to basically say, "Here's my resume. You guys were close by so I figured I'd hand-deliver it." They gave me an interview right there on the spot, saying, "Oh, hey, why don't you just come on in?" They were all hanging out. A couple of guys were playing NHL '94 on the Sega Genesis.Sexton left the interview feeling upbeat. For a week he stayed close to the phone, expecting a call. None came.
I went into one of the rooms and it was hard to keep track of who was who because there were so many people coming in saying, "Nice to meet you." They're sitting there looking at my art and critiquing my art, and I was so nervous, but everyone was so nice.
- Eric Sexton
Tomorrow, in part 2, we go behind closed doors to take part in Condor's "work hard, play hard" culture.