Computer game developer joins dinosaurs with Nazis

Allistair Pinsof

“Dino D-Day,” released last Friday for PC, stands out for some good reasons and some bad. Its alternate reality where dinosaurs fight alongside Nazis refreshes the World War II backdrop exhausted in video games. The multiplayer-only title features two teams fighting to capture a specific point of a map. The originality comes from the unique classes: goat-flinging velociraptors, desmatosuchuses strapped with tank cannons and human soldiers who can gain otherworldly powers.

The Daily Texan talked with TV-producer-turned-game-designer Abe Scheuermann, who currently resides in Burbank, Calif., and discussed his game’s goofy premise, as well as the marketing and design decisions behind it.

DT: How did you get into game design?
Abe Scheuermann: In 2007, I played through “Half-Life 2: Episode 2” and “Portal,” which I was completely blown away with, like a lot of people. At the time, I was producing “Dogfights” for the History Channel. We told air-combat stories of pilots who have been in different dog fights, which we re-create through animation. Just for kicks, I dropped an email [to Valve] and said if they ever plan on collaborating, it’d be great to work with them on something. I never thought it would bear fruit. To my surprise, one of the guys who read the email was a writer on “Portal,” and he said he was a big fan of “Dogfights.”
DT: How did you come to the decision to make this a commercial product?
AS: We were a little different from the typical mod team. A lot of us working on the game weren’t in school or right out of school; we had careers. It’s difficult to work for a long time, so doing something commercial at some point was always part of the discussion.

DT: The game seems to keep some realism when it comes to the soldier classes. How did you decide what should be played for laughs and what should be grounded in reality?
AS: I think with a lot of those kind of decisions, I just kind of go with what my gut is telling me. The only sort of principle in place was I wanted the game to have a vague sense of realism. I wanted there to be real dinosaurs, not making up a name or making them look like crazy dinosaurs but looking at the actual bones and research material and make a velociraptor look like one.

DT: Do you feel making this game has been a bigger challenge than producing for TV?
AS: The thing that is most frustrating is being a bit of a perfectionist and knowing that game design is far more complicated than making a TV show. I made both, and I can tell you making a TV show is a lot less complicated. I wish I had a little more experience prior to jumping into this.