Dave Perry: The Kikizo Interview
Huge interview with the games veteran and Acclaim CCO on California, cloud gaming, beast riding in Top Secret, MMOs success, Phil Harrison and Atari, returning to Earthworm Jim, and why a single console future will never happen.
Industry veteran, 16-BIT era legend, and the founder of Shiny Entertainment, he is the man behind classic 1990s hits like Earthworm Jim and MDK, and today a visionary with some exciting ideas about the future of gaming.
Yes, David Perry has been conspicuous by his absence in our interview hall of fame, until now. We recently met with him for the following rather massive interview, so let's just get started...
Kikizo: It's good to meet you Dave. I remember seeing you on TV around 1994 promoting Earthworm Jim. By then you'd moved to America. What was behind your original decision to move? How has the US helped you achieve your goals?
Dave Perry: Well, it's kind of funny - everything was going great in the UK. It was all just going very smoothly; I had a house, I had a car, I was dating and, you know, I just felt a little too... comfortable. And it was just work, work, work. So I get this call, "would you like to come to California, just for one game, and we'll pay you whatever you're getting paid now so it won't cost you a cent, and we'll give you an apartment, we'll give you a car, well pay you royalties on whatever you do for us. We just want you to come over, we have this emergency, and we need someone to come over and help us solve this problem."
Kikizo: This was Virgin, right?
Perry: Yeah. And I'm like, wow, that sounds like fun. And I just closed my door. Literally, went to the airport, got on a plane and flew to America. They had told me I was going to be living in Los Angeles, because they thought I probably didn't know the United States, so they were just helping me to geographically look at the globe and say "oh, that's where you'll be". It wasn't Los Angeles - it was Irvine, which is south down the coast. And as you go south down from Los Angeles, it is beautiful down there. You know, as you're going down that coast, you're like, woah, what a great place this is to live. And I got an apartment down by the ocean, it was just... compared to where I was in England, it was like a holiday...
Kikizo: So uh, where were you in England? Because you were born in Ireland, right?
Perry: I was living in Egham in Surry.
Perry: You know, Egham's cool, but it's not the uh... it's not like living by the ocean in California! [laughs]
Kikizo: Well, on that show I mentioned - you might remember it, I know Violet Berlin does - strolling along that beach with you for the interview. The beach certainly looked nice.
Perry: Yeah, I remember!
Kikizo: Can you summarise your current hot talking point, cloud gaming?
Perry: Yeah, I like to give a little bit of a long term future, just for fun. So I explain a little bit about what will happen if we take the media off the consoles we have today. If we take away the DVD drives, and turn them into little digital distribution boxes. And that's kind of the first step. And then I look at the second step, where you think about hardware affordability. So say your PlayStation 3 is like really expensive, and the next one is twice the price again, and the one after that is ten times the price. At some point it's just going to get out of control. But, people would love to play those games, right? So in a weird way it's back to the old arcade days: in the arcade days, you paid to go to somewhere to play something you couldn't afford to buy. You know, no one was buying Daytona machines, and whatever other machines, because they were just too expensive. So you go there, you pay, you play, you leave. Imagine if that's done virtually... imagine there's a machine out there that's a million dollars of hardware, that will serve you the most photo-real driving experience possible, and then that's served to a new kind of box. And that box is a lot simpler; instead of that box costing... well, just imagine the box costs fifty bucks. So it's nothing more that a receiver, and a sender. So it sends your control inputs to the server, and gives you back the visuals.
Kikizo: The bandwidth issue to do that will not be an issue - arguably it's just on the horizon, right?
Perry: It's technically five years away - technically solvable within five years. But to do it really well, you would have to put the servers in all major cities. So my kind of joke is that, Google is looking for major problems to solve - I was at an investor meeting and someone asked them: how do you get Google excited about something to invest in? And they said, "think of something that's really cool, that's really, really difficult to scale it that big - like, think impossibly big to scale" - and this is the kind of problem that if they did it right, and if they put enough computing power in the major cities, so that we could get the latency speed - it's completely doable. I talked to a guy from IBM the other night, and they're very excited about this kind of idea - like "cloud computing" for gaming. And I personally think that would be amazing.
It would just change the paradigm of you having to buy and own the hardware. You know, the next PlayStation 3, "oh we're going to offer you an 80GB hard drive..." - we don't need it any more. There's no hard drive; everything's stored on external servers. The first taste of this is Facebook. Facebook has 8,000 applications, and they're all sitting on their servers, and I just basically go "I'd like that one, I'd like to add that to my account," - and it just goes [clicks fingers] - "added" - because it's already got it. There's no install button, because you don't need to; there's no install cycle. And then the third part is play, so you just go add, play, and you're playing that thing. That just gives you a taste. Imagine that is now like a 3D experience, like a state of the art thing.