Robomodo is a young game studio based in Chicago, IL, but don't let its youth fool you. Robomodo team members' combined experience runs the gamut; from Madden NFL to Mortal Kombat to Tony Hawk, they have consistently delivered high quality video game titles. They focus on developing top-tier video games for current and next-generation console systems.
Today, we have co-owner Josh Tsui in the hotseat with a few questions about how Robomodo got its start.
Can you say a bit about how you got started in this industry? Did you know what you were going to do in college?
I actually went to college to study film directing. I had jumped around between USC, NYU and Columbia College Chicago. I always dabbled a bit in computer graphics ever since the first Amiga system came out so in my senior year I decided to try mixing video with computer graphics.
A friend of mine was working over at Midway games and at that time the first Mortal Kombat had come out. They were looking towards people who had some video experience as well as 2D sprite stuff and I just happened to fit in. So that was my big break in. I wasn’t looking to get into games but it more or less found me. Luckily I was a total arcade rat so I loved that job. I got to work around legends of the industry such as Eugene Jarvis, Mark Turmell, Ed Boon, John Tobias and many others.
After working at big names like Midway and EA, why did you decide to start Robomodo?
I was at Midway for 6 years and left with a few others to form our first studio called Studio Gigante. We did a couple of fighting games for Microsoft and THQ before disbanding. The vast majority of the studio including myself went to EA Chicago and worked on Fight Night Round 3 and Def Jam Icon. When EA closed I saw that we had a great team all here in Chicago who didn’t necessarily want to move. I had the itch to go back to being independent for some time so convinced everyone to stick together and see what happens. Long story short, we got a deal with Activision and the rest is history.
I think I really wanted to go back to starting up a game studio because of my immigrant background. My parents had the balls to uproot the family and move to the US and it’s always been in my head to show that we came to this country for a reason. This is not to say working for someone else is bad, it’s just been something my family always has done. We have a long history of owning businesses and I didn’t see why it should stop with me.
Being part of a startup also just gives us a lot of freedom and responsibility. We make our own decisions and we live or die by them. Hell of a lot better option than having decisions handed down and you live or die by someone else who isn’t even in your office. We don’t always make the right decisions but at least it’s our mistake to make and recover from.
After you had the idea for Robomodo, how did you assemble a team?
Well the team was pretty much already in place. After the closure of EA Chicago, we wanted to try to see if we can stick together as a team. Activision caught wind of us and set up a meeting. We went into this knowing it was a long shot but there was a huge desire to see what we as a team can do independently. The meeting went great and over the course of a few weeks Robomodo was formed.
What was your first job with Robomodo and how did you get it?
First job was forming the group. That was a job that was made up by myself and that’s how I got it! J My favorite quote is “if you can’t find a job, make one up” so that’s what I did. My day to day is co-managing the team and making sure things are run smoothly both on projects and just general studio operations with the other partners.
What was a major mistake you made while starting the company? And/or what do you think you did well?
Major mistake? Man, lots of little mistakes but nothing major. The simple feat of starting a company is loaded with lots of little missteps so hard to say just one thing. I think what we did well was use our prior knowledge of what it takes to start a studio up (I had also started Studio Gigante back in the day) so we were up and running fairly quickly.
If Robomodo activated God mode, could not fail, and money rained from the sky, what kind of game would you guys make?
Wow, that’s a big one. For me personally, I still like old school arcade style brawlers. So a hyper realistic one that avoids the problem of repetition would be a lot of fun. When I say hyper realistic, I’m talking so real it looks like actors, not 3D models. Think of the scene from Old Boy where the dude is fighting in that hallway against a bunch of other guys and the camera is totally perpendicular to the action. We know how to pull that off, so give us the money!
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