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Interview with David Mullich - ex ISG Productions
Although ISG Productions had a seemingly short history with regards to CD-i gaming it shown a refreshing new way that attempted to play towards the platforms and indeed the studios strengths. ISG's initial foray into video games was Video Speedway, criticised for its gameplay or lack of it still stood as a refreshing and different product nestled between the board games and experimental mass market offerings such as gambling/boxing titles. This was no small feat being amongst the first wave of CD-i games. With this in mind we stopped by for a brief chat with the Studios Producer, David Mullich.

Devin: How did you come to work on the games for ISG Productions?

David: I was just about to accept a job offer from a large game publisher when I noticed a game producer want ad in the Los Angeles Times, from a small company called ISG. I decided to check them out, and learned that they wanted to develop games for CD-I. I was somewhat familiar with the platform, having been invited to demonstrations at PIMA when I worked at Disney, but wasn't very impressed with it as a game machine. However, it was more advanced than the game platforms I had been working on previously, and so I decided to join ISG rather than going to work for a big company doing the same sort of thing I had done previously.

Devin: Before Video Speedway ISG seemed to be hardware focused, what brought about this change towards a game development company?

David: ISG originally made CD-I emulators, and there were only so many CD-I developers to sell them to. One of ISG's programmers, Lee Chidgey, was very interested in making games, and I think he played a large role in convincing ISG's owners to head in that direction.

Devin: ISG Productions debut with Video Speedway represented a departure from the typical CD-i games of the time, was this a conscious decision in an otherwise stale market?

David: The decision to make Video Speedway had already been made before I joined the company, but I think the game was made because that was the type of game the development team wanted to make. There really wasn't any CD-I market when Video Speedway was first being developed, as the platform hadn't been launched yet.

Devin: Although never released Plunderball was a highly playable pinball game, what inspired the bizarre direction incorporating video sequences?

David: ISG had developed a proprietary codec that played video on CD-I better than what anyone else could do (even PIMA). With that being one of our competitive strengths as a developer, we decided to incorporate video sequences in both Video Speedway (hence the title) and later, Plunderball.

Devin: Did you ever consider incorporating Digital Video into Plunderball?

David: No, we shot all of our video sequences on tape (or used stock footage), had the tape digitized, and then compressed it using ISG's codec. We had friends who were video cameramen, so that's the medium we used.

Devin: Tox Runner was another game scheduled for release from ISG Productions, can you reveal any of the games features?

David: Well, that was a long time ago. My memory is a bit hazy, but basically it was a motorcycle race game set in a post-nuclear holocaust future. A slideshow sequence provided the back story about the player needing to deliver antitoxin to a group of survivors. As you raced down a long stretch of road through a barren wasteland, you had to avoid toxic spills and marauding bikers. Obviously, the game was inspired by The Road Warrior.

Devin: Why was Plunderball and Toxic Runner never officially released?

David: ISG's partners closed the company and went their separate ways soon after we delivered the games to PIMA, but I suspect the reason they were never released was that PIMA's game production had outpaced CD-I sales. I'm sure there were many CD-I games that were never released.

Devin: Can you tell us any anecdotes or hidden secrets left behind at ISG Productions, games or otherwise?

David: I would if I could remember any that were interesting! The most significant thing about my ISG days was that I hired an artist named Joe McGuffin fresh out of art school. He worked on Video Speedway and was the art director and designer for Tox Runner. We became good friends, and years later I hired him to be my art director on Heroes of Might and Magic IV. I still stay in touch with several other people who worked at ISG.

David Mullich was interviewed by Devin

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