As a staple of my interviews, I would like to open with a request of brief summary for those that may not know that much about you or Throwback Entertainment.
Throwback Entertainment was incorporated in 2006. Shortly after, we announced the acquisition of the Acclaim Entertainment library of gaming titles, a library that spans over 286 product SKUs and multiple generations of hardware consoles. Over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of working with pioneers, legends and creative masterminds in the industry. More recently, we’ve focused on our technological foundation and building the tools and tech needed to take the company in a new direction of publishing.
I had read that Throwback Entertainment acquired the publishing library of Acclaim Entertainment, which has many classic titles. What are the current and future plans for this particular library of games?
This coming year will see more releases of titles than at any point in our corporate history. We have placed a great importance on getting classic titles back into the marketplace on numerous platforms – 2015 will be our biggest year yet.
Building on that last question there was discussion of the Azure Cloud as the platform of choice for Throwback. What sort of performance changes and benefits are your company receiving when using this cloud structure?
We have an interesting suite of modules built out with Azure as the backbone. “Sledgehammer” is an internal codename for breaking down the ecosystems, the proverbial walled garden. The greatest benefit we’ve seen with Azure is the ability to be platform- independent, while remaining interconnected. From global leaderboards to cloud saving and beyond, Azure provides true pick-up-and-play in our titles moving forward.
When using the Azure Cloud, how would this change a particular day in the office for your team as opposed to the past in terms of how you can move information around on this virtual platform?
The movement of information, while helpful, isn’t the greatest change brought about by Azure. One of the biggest benefits we’ve seen is the move to a more mobile work life. Developers have separate virtual machines that they can spin up or down on demand. Using tools like Remote Desktop Connection, and having Visual Studio installed, the need for on premise, on-device compiling has been drastically reduced. The virtual machine can compile code quickly and test before a commit is made, thereby eliminating heat, battery drain and delays. And with Visual Studio, our team is able to access code from anywhere and remain collaborative while giving us the power we need.
The Azure Cloud certainly has an interesting set of benefits to it as far as collaboration and connectivity when it comes to production though many don't have a strong knowledge of just what the cloud can produce. What sort of current and future implications can you see Azure providing?
It is the belief within our teams that Azure has a best-in-industry control panel and gallery system. Rather than forcing game developers to become cloud architects, they can focus on being programmers. Changing cores within VMs is as simple as a sliding scale, with no relinking required. Event-based creation is streamlined where multiple services are automatically provisioned and sub-sets spun up. It brings together features we didn’t expect Microsoft to have, with the ease-of-use required in today’s day and age.
When talking about possible platforms for future releases, how has the Azure Cloud made it easier to port code quickly across various operating systems?
Azure’s greatest benefit is a copy-and-paste solution system. The elastic cloud allows us to take our Sledgehammer code and roll it out quickly into any title. Where some ports originally took weeks or months to build a solution to, we’ve seen a reduction to minutes or hours. We sometimes find ourselves sitting around in amazement at how easy it has become.
Moving forward what sort of plans does Throwback have in the future in terms of releasing titles and what possible platforms could we see these applications being released on?
Our most recent release in Deflector has only been on Windows Phone. We missed the mark on its initial release and are hard at work to correct that with a game-changing update. We’re continually upgrading the game experience, mechanics and will be releasing it on Windows 8, iOS and Android shortly. We have also acquired a couple of mobile titles that will see a similar strategy. Other titles within the Acclaim library will see more a traditional release into consoles and PC-based platforms.