So a while ago I made a (very amateurish) video documentary on Lobotomy Software, which attempted to detail the development team behind some of the greatest games on the Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation.
I don’t know what really compelled me to make it other than they didn’t get the recognition they deserved, and because there was very little information about them and the fantastic work they did.
However the comments on that video demonstrated that I was not the only one who felt the same way. Together with having been contacted prior to another interview with Brian McNeely that had been conducted by Unseen64, I knew that there were many fans still around the globe.
The incentive quickly gained impetus (though for what I was unsure of) which culminated in the announcement that someone was working on updating the entire console version of the game over to the PC, replete with updated graphics engine running at a silky smooth 60fps. That project was known as Powerslave EX, and the results were absolutely fantastic!
Unfortunately the project was canned for unknown reasons – probably relating to copyright but the setup links may be found here, though please bear in mind that I have nothing to do with this particular project or the hosting of the said files.
Now I need to clarify my position in all of this which has led to some confusion. While I have indeed setup an indie development studio that is based on Lobotomy Software, it has nothing to do with any of their games themselves; rather on the company’s heritage and ethos. Indeed our first effort is not even an FPS game. However as fans of Lobotomy Software ourselves, we continue to hope that their games may one day be picked up by a publisher using the engine developed to host Powerslave EX.
– Probably Troy Jacobson working on a Lobotomy game at their HQ. Images courtesy of The Official UK Sega Saturn Magazine
– Probably Paul Knutzen (left) and Brian McNeely (right) at work over at Lobotomy HQ. Images courtesy of The Official UK Sega Saturn Magazine
– Sound Engineer Scott Branston hard at work in the Lobotomy Software sound studios where they also had a pool table and other fun stuff.
– Front of Lobotomy Software Headquarters in Seattle. Images courtesy of The Official UK Sega Saturn Magazine
– The famous ‘Mutant Lair’ that housed Lobotomy Software’s arcade machines where the team could chill. Images courtesy of The Official UK Sega Saturn Magazine
It’s been a while since we last posted, but here it is – the coverage of Lobotomy Software in the UK Playstation Magazine (PSM) issue 19.
“‘You guys have gotta come into the back room and play this. it’s just the greatest thing.’
So goes our welcome to Lobotomy Software, writers of first-person shooter Exhumed. Your PSM correspondent shuffles into a darkened room, somewhat bleary-eyed, the internal flight from San Francisco landing in Seattle not half an hour since.
Inside, six long-haired guys are seated on sofas and facing a giant, 57” TV screen. They’re all playing multiplayer, 2D combat game called Death Tanks which one of the team knocked up as a hidden game for the US version of Exhumed. It’s a bit like Worms, only not turned-based, so everyone is furiously exchanging bullets, missiles and whatever else comes to hand. And it’s bloody great fun.
Death Tanks is part and parcel of working at Lobotomy Software, a company geared to work, but relaxed enough to find time to play. The music studio kindly houses a pool table, classic coin-ops line the entrance and despite the relative modernity of the building, there’s an air of videogaming history about the place, a sense that these guys ‘know their games’.
Seattle’s environs include Redland, Washington which houses the little known companies of Microsoft and Nintendo of America. Ho hum. Lobotomy’s co-founders, Paul Lange and Brian Anderson, are ex-Nintendo employees themselves but left in search of nirvana, as it were, as Paul explains. ‘Although Nintendo was a great place to work, there was no way we could do games development there. But we had it drilled into our heads what a good game is. So in ’92 I left the company, where I was in product analysis and development, and hooked up with Brian, while he was at Nintendo, to do some art stuff for a design we were working on at the time.’
Paul and Brian have moulded their environment, working in a way which suits them. ‘The main attraction to Lobotomy is our unusual way of doing business’, reckons Paul. ‘We’re a close group. Even when there’s 20 of us, the people really mesh well and talk to each other and we have a comfortable environment which is attractive to a lot of people. And aside from that, we offer other benefits, so if the company is successful they’ll be successful. Either people can get a real job or they work for Lobotomy.’
Exhumed is their first Playstation game (reviewed PSM18). It’s an excellent 3D shoot ’em up with a storming engine and a project which game them the opportunity to convert Quake and Duke Nukem for the Saturn. Success in business usually leads to expansion. Surely if Lobotomy take on board more projects, the working environment they’ve created would be ruined? Paul is keen to ensure that things stay the same. ‘A typical company would hire more people so they can make more money. Most of the people that are here, don’t want to see us go over 25 people. The best answer is to maintain what we have – we don’t want to grow too much.’ Judging by the quality of Exhumed, Lobotomy are going to be around for some time to come. PSM”
Hi. Some peeps do not want to be part of facebook (for privacy reasons), and so to circumvent this we’ve decided to link applicable content from the facebook fan page to this blog for your enjoyment.
It’s important that the information for Lobotomy be preserved for everyone to enjoy, so we’ll start with some major links to Lobotomy Software games (this will be updated) together with the facebook page:
1- A look at how SSM Magazine helped Lobotomy:
2- Red Parsley’s account of Exhumed:
3- Database based primarily on the PC BUILD Engine version:
4- These are a collection of links from Whipass Gaming (which are very good):
a) PowerSlave/Exhumed Info:
b) GameFan Magazine Info:
c) PowerSlave 2 Info:
d) Saturn Quake Info:
e) Duke Nukem 3D Info:
f) Team Doll Info:
5- Gareth Jones was very insightful by having collected information that would otherwise have been lost. We owe a lot to this guy: http://www.gareth-jones.co.uk/2010/08/07/interview-ezra-dreisbach/
6- RainaAudron has been such a great help in this project and here are various links to her review (which may be easily translated thanks to Google Translate) and her blog posts regarding Lobotomy Software. Thanks again Raina 🙂
a) blog post:
b) Raina’s review:
c) her translation of a Slovakian/Czech gaming magazine:
7- Sega X have some interviews which have proven to be invaluable (some of which cannot be found online any more and so we’ve preserved as much as we could). Lobotomy interviews may be found here:
Part 1 Part 2
8- Japanese-made guide to the Saturn dolls (click on side links for more info): http://park21.wakwak.com/~suka/sega/ippatu/1999/doll.html
9- Aydan from SS:UK interview of Ezra Dreisbach: http://www.segasaturn.co.uk/dd/interviews/ezra_dreisbach.html
10- Richard Leadbetter (former editor for numerous magazines but now writes for Eurogamer via his company Digital Foundry): http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/death-tanks-ezra-driesbach-interview
11- Japanese Bloggers talking about PowerSlave/Exhumed/1999: http://ameblo.jp/55555sega55555/entry-11125034873.html
12- Official UK Playstation Magazine Interview
1- Awesome look at the gem Death Tank:
2- UK: Resistance which was headed by former SSM staff writer Gary Cutlack. In fact here’s our other blog post of the team here):
3- Whipass Gaming’s look at Death Tank from back in the day:
4- Japanese Death Tank fan page with detailed information on tactics (the most detailed website relating to the game on the net): http://ajisuke.fc2web.com/dt.htm
The Japanese fan-made PC version of Death Tank is here.
This is the thumb template I will be using for Lobotomy’s forthcoming 20th Anniversary in 2013. I hope you like it, though thanks goes to Lobotomy’s Kevin Chung for the original composition.
Thanks for baring with me regarding this project. I felt it was important to create the video as a good center point before I moved onto the uploading of the other content.
I will be rendering the video hopefully by this week, with an upload either this week or next week.
For those who do not yet know, this video will cover Lobotomy Software since their inception all the way through to their final game. It will also examine their faults as well as their games in some detail.
Many thanks to certain members of the team who have helped clarify certain issues.
Thanks for the support and more importantly thanks to Lobotomy for the memories!
Facebook link here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lobotomy-Software-Inc/386374664766482
Hello everyone. The video is almost complete now and will be rendered off by next week. Because it is such a large file (the video will be an hour long documentary), it will take a long time. Apologies for taking so long, but I wanted this to be special, and I only wanted to take things further once my video was uploaded. Thanks again.