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Banjo Software
Banjo Software is a relative unknown in the world of gaming.  With only one game under their belt and comprised of part-time employees, they can easily be underestimated.  However, with an inriguing storyline and some great-looking screenshots, their upcoming game HACX 2 could make waves.  Banjo Software first came into existence with their premiere game, a 21-level addon for Doom 2 entitled HACX.  Aside from the cereal-box-stuffer game Chex Quest, HACX was the only "total" TC for Doom ever attempted.  Every single texture, monster, weapon, sound, and level was completely and totally new.  HACX featured levels by such noted level authors as Anthony Czerwonka, Iikka Keranen and Adam Williamson.  How was this TC conceived?  What's in the future for our Deliverance buddies here?  Banjo Software co-founder Bow answers these questions, and more...
 
Doomworld: How was Banjo Software formed? Who were the original members?
 
Bow: Banjo was formed by John Herndon, Randy Lee and myself about 5 years ago in my apartment in New Orleans.  We just decided that we liked playing Doom so much that we wanted to know it inside and out. We had discussed a number of different ideas and game styles.  At the time, we were all playing MUDs also.  One of the things I wanted to attempt was a graphic version of a MUD, but John thought that we should go with something that was basically already programmed and work on the things that we knew how to change.  Although John has dabbled some, none of us are programmers, so it was our only real choice.  I enjoyed the artwork, John was into level building and Randy was into the music and sounds.   Once we had gathered enough of the doom editors together, we decided we should take a stab at a full blown add-on.  So, we formed Banjo. Banjo was really kind of a simple idea; I just grabbed parts of our names and made it up. (B)ow, R(an)dy, & (Jo)hn. Once we were formed, we started recruiting from the internet which is still the way we get people for our projects.
 
Hacx was an excellent add-on for Doom2, that some often say never really got the attention it deserved. Would you just say that Hacx was released just a little to late to hit the prime of Doom's life?
 
Yes, and unfortunately, about the same time as Quake.
 
How was the original idea for Hacx formed? The premise, the enemies, everything? We want the whole background to the project?
 
Hacx, the storyline, was written by Holt Satterfield, Banjo's one and only writer. One of the earliest items we insisted upon was a good storyline, and Holt put a great one together. Of course, we had to hold him back a little, such were the limitations of the technology.  If we could have done everything Holt wanted, we'd still be the hottest game on the market, hehe.  But, alas we were without code :(
 
Why did you guys decide to contract out the levels on Hacx instead of doing them in house? Was it to save time, or maybe to give it a feel of purity with the community itself?
 
Certainly a lot was to save time.  With only three of us, working after hours (we all have full time jobs elsewhere) we'd still be working on Hacx if we hadn't brought more people in. We weren't fooling ourselves into thinking we were the greatest at what we were doing either.  There's always someone with a new idea or who is a little better at modeling, etc. So we set out to bring those people together.  John, Randy and I are probably more promoters than game developers :)
 
As a small developer trying to make it in the world, how would you compare the images that most people probably conceive a gaming company as to reality? Do you guys really all go around driving Ferraris?
 
Personally I drive an old beat up '89 pick-up truck. It's foreign....but not Italian :)
 
What are the plans for Banjo after the release of Hacx2? A totally new game utilizing your own engine or is that still a ways off for you guys? Or Are you looking into using another engine like the Lithtech engine?
 
Wow, hard one to answer.  Hacx2, although still in production, has undergone a few major renovations as of late.  We actually started work on it in the Quake engine.  Then, when Quake 2 came out, we quickly converted to it so that we would have a demo ready to show at the CGDC in Long Beach back in May.  Recently, however we have converted a lot of stuff over to the Unreal engine and are trying out some ideas with it.  What we might do with the Unreal engine I'm not willing to say yet as we have not negotiated a deal with the owners, but I am willing to say that it has renewed my faith in the Banjo team and their ability to adapt to whatever the latest technology is.  We've already done some killer work with that engine and are currently considering a few different engines for the final release of Hacx 2.  Preferably, the engine we choose will be previously unmarketed and tailored to our needs. 
 
How is your relationship with id Software? You guys have already finished one add-on for their games, and are currently working on your second. I'm going to assume that it must be pretty good considering they have allowed to develop two products for their games.
 
Currently we have no "relationship" with id, other than our add-on license for Hacx.  Although we started construction of Hacx 2 around their engines, it may not be finally released in that form, so whether or not we will wish to negotiate for licensing of another id engine is still up in the air.
 
Would you say the best course of action for someone who wants to get into the game industry in their own company would be to go the way that Banjo did and start with an add-on to a major game? It would seem to me to be most prudent because there would be a much much smaller overhead cost for a project like that.
 
Certainly for us, it has been the only way.  Most of what we have done so far was with little or no money at all.  We have had some small investments by family and friends but we are hoping to impress someone enough to invest more in us based on our abilities.  Banjo wasn't formed around a plan to make tons of money, either.  Initially it was about doing what we enjoy most - playing games. The rest of the story, though, is if you don't have capital, it's impossible to employ people full time.  At the current speed of breaking technology, it's difficult to keep up on a part time basis.  So basically we need to start making money to support our hobby.
 
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