With the upcoming release of the much-anticipated final chapter of Bendy and the Ink Machine, as well as the game's port to console, we sat down to talk to Rooster Teeth Games producer David Eddings about Bendy, game publishing, and working with the Rooster Teeth IP.
For those unfamiliar with Eddings' work, he is currently the head of Rooster Teeth Games Publishing after having previously worked for Gearbox Entertainment. He's also well-known as a voice actor for Joey Drew in the Bendy games as well as a small, foul-mouthed robot named Claptrap from Gearbox's Borderlands series.
TechRaptor: This is Courtney from TechRaptor and I am here today with…
David Eddings: David Eddings, head of publishing over at Rooster Teeth Games.
TechRaptor: First big news is Bendy and the Ink Machine, the last chapter is coming out, and you guys are publishing it on Switch, Ps4, and Xbox One.
David: Correct, we are. It’s funny, when I became aware of Bendy and the Ink Machine and heard they were just doing it on Steam I was like “man, this absolutely has to be on consoles.” It’s a fantastic game, its got a rich lore and a universe that’s all brand new but it feels like it’s really really old. You know, it harkens back to the first years of animation when Max Fleischer and Disney were competing studios, and there’s this noir feel to it as well. But it absolutely has to be on consoles and that’s the first thing that I want to do. This game has get on a platform where everybody can enjoy it, not just the folks that are into PC gaming. I love PC gaming myself, but there are plenty of folks that can’t access games with their PC, or they just don’t play them on there. So we want to offer it to everybody.
TechRaptor: Can you give any hints to the upcoming conclusion to the game that’s coming out?
David: Yes. At the very end there’s a title card and it says “the end” and then the credits roll. That’s about all I can tell you. You can play the game if you like, [...] but we’ll wait for the reveal, I don’t want to spoil anything.
TechRaptor: As publisher, have you guys had much input on how Joey Drew Studios has been developing the game? Because I know some publishers are very hands-on, and others are just like “yeah go do whatever you like.”
David: Well, you know, I like to be a little bit more hands-off when it comes to publishing. I want the magic of the developer’s brain. Certainly there are lots of things that we can share with the developer where our interests are, keep our motivations aligned, and our interests aligned and whatever. If I choose correctly then those folks know what they’re doing and why would I want to try and interfere with that? What I want to do is I want to tell the world about that. I want to put it in front of customers that want to play that sort of game and let them know it exists, you know? That’s the only way you can even find out about it, or even experience anything, is if you know that it exists first.
So that’s the role of the publisher. In this scenario they are already had a game that was well into development, they released it in chapters, and this was one of those situations where where our investment has been on porting that and marketing that, right? So I do like to be hands-off, but in this particular case with indie publishing we want the developers to have the rights to their game and so on. We do internal projects, we do external projects. This isn’t the first one that we’re doing, but it’s kind of setting the tone for what we’re going to do here at Rooster Teeth Games in the future.
TechRaptor: Since you said internal vs. external games, what are some of the unique challenges to internal vs. external games?
David: We don’t have enough time to go into, like, what the challenges are. You know, video games… it’s not rocket surgery, right? But it’s pretty close in a way. We know where there are pitfalls, and we know where there are challenges over the years of making games. Fortunately, working with companies like Epic Games and using their engines makes it a lot easier for us, and we can, uh, there’s a lot of institutional knowledge that we get from those that have come before us through Epic’s engine and what not.
But, you know, what’s challenging is when you’re publishing a game, I get to go out and I get to chose the ones that I think are going to give us the best chance to entertain the customer, and give the customer something they are actually looking forward to and they will appreciate and enjoy and something maybe they would have never found otherwise. I want to find those things, like here’s something you might like.
Internal, there’s a lot of pressure, because we’re investing all that money into an internal project. You know, with all the great hits that Rooster Teeth has, you got to come out with another hit. People kind of just internalize that pressure. Also, if you’re creating a new IP, that can be difficult at times too. So you want to put your best foot forward, but it’s always, always risky, right? We see it in shows all the time. Sometimes you get shows like Firefly that get canceled after a season, and everybody is like “what?” Because it actually wasn’t making money for them, that’s why the canceled it. That’s unfortunately part of the business of it. If it doesn’t make money then we can’t provide that entertainment anymore, right?
So the pressure for the internal projects, for the developers that work in-house, especially at Rooster Teeth, I would imagine that, you know, they probably think about it at night when they go to bed, right? That said, we love an environment where we can have fun and we can feel good about what we do and every day is a joy to work. It is for me anyway, I hope it is for everybody else.
TechRaptor: You did mention the Rooster Teeth IP, and their brand name that they’ve built up starting with Red vs. Blue and everything. Between the animation, with like Camp Camp and RWBY and Red vs. Blue, and the live-action where they have stuff like Always Open and the shorts, they have a very diverse portfolio. Like everything kind of has a similar feel, but at the same time Camp Camp and RWBY are completely different things.
TechRaptor: Does that impact the type of games you guys choose to work on? Are you trying to go for a specific feel, or…?
David: Well what I look forward to games that we want to bring into the Rooster Teeth family are things that we can build shows around. Whether that’s a Let’s Play or and Achievement Hunter show, something on Funhaus maybe, or maybe it’s an animated series. Maybe it’s a live-action film, or a series of shorts. Who knows, right? But, whenever we’re choosing brands to invest in, and to bring into the family, we want to choose wisely. We want to choose things that we can help build over time.
TechRaptor: Bringing it back to Bendy. I was talking to some of my fellow writers about it. Are there any plans to expand that either with more shorts, or making it a series? Because the lore there is very rich, and I can’t imagine-- unless the final episode is like, you know, ten hours long, there’s alway going to be questions and more things to touch on.
David: Absolutely. This is just the beginning, the first glimpse into a brand new universe, and you’re going to see a lot more Bendy to come. From Joey Drew Studios, and hopefully from Rooster Teeth, this is a really cool brand. I think, for the folks that are really really excited about Bendy, especially ones that are younger, I think that over time they’re going to be able to grow up with Bendy. Right now it’s the 1930’s era, but there’s still the advent of color in the world of Bendy that hasn’t happened yet, right? Then there’s like the 50’s and the 60’s era of animation, maybe even getting to the Pixar era at some point. We can kind of look at the history of animation and speed that up a little bit over different games, have different eras. Those are some possibilities, but right now I think Joey Drew Studios just wants to take a nice break, enjoy the fruits of their labor, and kind of just watch the fans have a great time.
Thanks again to David for taking the time out to speak with us.