Josh Tsui is an Entrepreneur and Video-game developer dating back to the days where I appreciated video games the most, the early 90′s. Ranging from the wild west arcade days to the latest consoles and handhelds. After Studio Gigante closed it’s doors in 2005, he moved on to EA Chicago to work on the Fight Night series. He is also a published author and has been a key contributor on incredible products and franchises such as Mortal Kombat, WWE, NHL, Fight Night, Marvel, and the just released Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD on XBOXLive. As president of Robomodo, Josh Tsui oversees all functions of the studio, liaisons with publishers, and has significant input in all projects. I wanted to showcase this gaming genius because his career is all about the experience and creation and he is a creative that is constantly learning from himself. Read below for the full interview.
The last XboxLive game I bought was Castle Crashers which seemed like years and years ago. Just last week I bought Tony Hawk HD. I think it shows the testament of how appealing this game is for so many gamers. How did you approach this venture knowing a core fanbase would examine it through a microscope?
Josh: We basically had to set some rules up very early and stick to them. They were:
We knew going in that we would be criticized for one omission or another so we just went with what we felt were the essential experiences. There was no way we were going to make everyone happy, so let’s make ourselves happy first!
Do you believe that the success of series comebacks on Arcade need to go hand in hand with nostalgia factor?
Josh: Nostalgia definitely is very strong with this series so part of the success is definitely that. Combine it with curiosity and the fact that we didn’t go cheap with the “HD remake” and it becomes a potent package. We really wanted to make sure that it was a true HD remaking of the game. We see so many ports that are just slapped together. People buy them but what’s the point? They play for a bit, get their memories back and then never go back again. We didn’t want this to be a throwaway.
So is Robomodo only an agency that takes already established ideas from people who fund these ideas? Any chance of original devlopment in the near future?
Josh: As we move more into downloadable games the economics allows for more original development. THPSHD was really the first game we did that was based on an old concept. Our first two Hawk games were also original.
Was it a tought decision to start your own company after those unfortunate series of events? Did it take a certain amount of courage or were you just ‘ready’ at that point in your career?
Josh: No, not at all. I’ve done this before and I’m sure I’ll do it again. It’s just in my blood. My family is filled with entrepeneurs and I’m not about to buck that trend! With Robomodo, it was a great combination of timing and being prepared.
We interviewed Ex-EGM and Bitmob/Venture Beat’s Dan ‘Shoe’ Hsu last year regarding why games based on movies don’t fare as well as regular games? He explained it was because the game has rushed deadlines to fall in place with the films release. Working on ‘In Time’ did you have the same dilemma? How do you approach that project?
Josh: In Time was pretty unique in that we were brought in fairly early. Being a mobile game helped in that the schedules and scope of the projects are not nearly as large as console games. But yes, usually movie licensed games are put together very quickly because the movie studios don’t understand our process and think they’re made by magic elves or something.
How has Robomodo been able to support so many platforms (iOS, Nintendo DS, Kinect, PSP, Wii, etc)? How has a company only around for five years able to adapt so quick and versatile?
Josh: Really smart people! Ultimately it comes down to not getting locked in to any one tech and keeping things flexible. We have done everything from creating our own game engine to using Unreal and Unity. It really comes down to the project and what is needed.
If you could pick ANY game to port over to HD graphics on a new console, what would it be?
Josh: Personally this is an easy one, CONTRA and SUPER CONTRA. I was obsessed with these game in the arcades (hated the SNES versions) and every chance I get I pester my Facebook friends at Konami about this.
What are some of your favorite Asian films?
Josh: Not in any particular order: The Killer, A Better Tomorrow, Eat Drink Man Woman, and Fists of Fury.
We know that a more expansive version on Tony Hawk is on the table. Any other surprises you could let us in on, or future plans?
Josh: Right now we’re expanding more into mobile. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD was a great test for us in making a downloadable game at a lower budget in a very short amount of time and still maintain quality. With this experience, we’re looking to blow some doors down in mobile gaming.
Want to keep tabs on Studio Robomodo and all of Josh’s work? Follow his cookie crumb trail below:
Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD is now available for XBoxLive Arcade and August 28th for PS3.