I recently had a chance to sit down and interview Mike Jaret, Co-Owner of Running With Scissors, about all things Postal Past, Postal Present and Postal Future.
If you’d like to listen to the full audio version of this interview which includes questions not mentioned in the article version then you can do so Here
Question: What’s the story behind the Japan exclusive Super Postal expansion? Was the game popular in Japan or was that just the publishers doing something goofy?
MJ: While I can’t give you any exact sales figures, we had a partner over in Japan who was a huge fan of the Postal games himself and clearly he did well enough with the marketing that he could pay to have levels done specifically for the Japanese release of Super Postal.
Question: How long did it take you to develop Postal 2?
MJ: Our actual start to end development cycle was around 18 months but plenty of thought had gone into it before development actually started. The reason why Postal 2 didn’t start development right away however was because our publisher at the time kind of just told us to “Go away” they still had the license for Postal so once that license expired we got to work on Postal 2. So while it came out in 2003 it started development sometime at the end of 2001.
Question: Postal 2 has gained quite a cult following recently. How has that effected the games sales and success?
MJ: When we put Postal 2 out on steam that was kind of the rebirth which allowed us to do things like update the game and fix things, add steamworks, add achievements and eventually allowed us to make an add on. It’s not like we’ve been selling Postal 2 consistently for 18 years but when it came out on steam it has somehow become a crazy hit. We’ve sold well over 3 million copies in the last 5 or 6 years so it’s pretty crazy.
Question: How did you go about designing the mission and mission structure in Postal 2?
MJ: While I don’t think it was a direct design reasoning but what I like to tell people is it’s a lot like Seinfeld, it’s a game about nothing. There really is no plot and at the end of the game when it finishes it still really didn’t have a plot. It just sort of trudges you through the week of this guy and really that was kind of the point. We took so much flack for Postal 1 for how violent it was so with 2 we were making a game where you really didn’t have to be violent. It would put you in situations that would push you towards violence but the whole point was it was only as violent as you were.
Question: Most of us know the story of Postal 3 but could you sum it up for those who aren’t in the know?
MJ: Postal 3 was published and developed by Akella and a team in Akella called TrashMasters. Akella was the Postal 2 publisher that basically sold millions of copies of Postal 2 in Russia. They came to us and said “We want to pay for and make the next Postal game” Now we’re a small developer and it isn’t like we had the money at the time to make the game we really wanted to so we went “OK, we’ll work with you guys”.
So we wrote a design and did some of the lead work at the beginning but then the project kinda spiraled out of control after the economy crashed. The game industry didn’t pay very well and was starting to pay worse so a lot of the high level developers left the gaming industry and ran off to banking which caused Akella to lose a lot of their good developers. Instead of just canceling the project though they bought in the B team and then after the B team left we were kind of hoping it would become vapor but Akella felt they needed to return at least some of their investment so they put together what would be the C team and pieced the game together from what was there in a very poor fashion and shipped it.
Question: How does it feel to be making a proper sequel to Postal 2 in a modern game engine?
MJ: It’s a double edged sword to be honest. While it’s easier to do a lot of things in the Unreal 4 engine it also requires a lot more work to make everything look like a modern game. Honestly what I appreciate the most about it is that now when I tell people “Oh I make video games” and they ask to see what I’ve made I can actually show them something that looks a little more modern.
Question: Whose idea was it to bring Jon St John on board to voice the Postal Dude?
MJ: Let me start off by answering everybody’s question, Jon St John was not our first choice. We do love his performance and his voice but obviously we would have like to have kept the continuity going.
Corey did a great job in Postal 3 and Paradise Lost but with that said we both agree we would not lead another title with his voice just because we can’t be associated with that game anymore.
Rick well, he doesn’t work for me, I send him scripts and he does them, sometimes he doesn’t. There’s not much more I can say about it. If he wanted to be in the game he would have been in it.
So when it came time to make a decision we had a very brief talk, me and Jon and he’s got a pretty good voice so we bought him in. When we bought him in to record some lines for the first time we did some different takes, one of them where Jon tried to simulate Rick Hunters voice and we didn’t really like it all that much. That’s one thing we really didn’t want to do, we didn’t just want a Rick sound alike.
One of our guys actually made an interesting point as he’s from an area of the country where there’s a lot of Postal dude like people and he said “We’re all attached to this voice that is Rick Hunter but odds are the guy that looks like the dude and has that life isn’t going to sound like that. So lets just have Jon give us his normal voice take”. The Postal Dude voice he uses is actually pretty close to his normal voice which, while jarring for everybody including us at first, definitely grows on you and to be totally honest doesn’t even phase me at all anymore.
If you would like to listen to the full interview, which includes questions and topics not mentioned above, then you can do so Here
Huge thanks to Mike J for taking the time to let me do this interview.