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Details on the canceled Maximo 3 from lead artist Johnathan Casco

When our writer Freecky Cake spoke with Johnathan Casco, he was sent a PDF file with details about the game. After asking if we could share what was in the file, Mr. Casco agreed that we could. What follows is the contents of that PDF file as they were written by Mr. Casco. Enjoy!

"Hi, my name is Jonathan Casco and I worked as the lead artist on the Maximo games. So, here’s some history about the Capcom US dev studio.

When I started back in 1997 the studio was known as Capcom Digital Studios. I’m not sure when CDS actually started but they had a few projects in development. Two of these projects slated for the Sega Saturn, Werewolf and Major Damage, unfortunately had been cancelled. There were only a few folks from the original dev team still left at CDS when I started since most of them fled due to the difficult challenges of working under Capcom Japan’s iron-fist. Back then the co-development of games between US and Japan wasn’t easy. I was assigned to work on Final Fight Revenge which was in the middle of production. We worked with a very talented Japanese game designer on FFR but he did not speak English so most of our team had to communicate through an interpreter. But we managed to finish the game which ended up being the last Sega Saturn game published by Capcom.

Core members of that team ended up being key players in the development of Maximo. Thanks to David Siller, who was the studio director at the time, helped to nurture a team to begin production on Maximo. Siller, like many gamers, enjoyed Capcom’s awesome line of arcade games like Commando, Forgotton Worlds, Strider, and of course Ghosts n’ Goblins. I myself was excited to potentially work on creating a current revamp of one of those arcade classics. GnG was ultimately picked but we also looked at other obscure titles from Capcom such as Black Tiger, Magic Sword, and Trojan for inspiration. In the end our team was not allowed to develop a straight remake of GnG due to legal matters so Maximo was created.

Maximo was a game that was supposed to be a fun 3D action game with roots tapping those earlier arcade titles. It was also the kind of game we thought that Capcom Japan wasn’t making. Capcom Japan did not have many games featuring real-time 3D environments. The closet thing they had at the time to our knowledge was Mega Man Legends which featured a true 3rd person perspective with a follow cam. And then they surprised us with Devil May Cry which they claimed accidentally happened during a bug they found in RES Evil development. Reason why I mention this is to show how detached our studio was from our ‘parent company’ during the production of Maximo. We didn’t share resources and we were left to make our own decisions which allowed for the success our team achieved in delivering Maximo.

When we presented the game for the first time at E3 2001 I felt it surprised a lot of people and I remember receiving lots of positive feedback. This helped to energize the team to finish the game at the end of the year for release on the PS2. After the release there were rumblings of a power struggle in Capcom Japan which trickled down to our studio. It began to feel like US vs Japan and it didn’t just affect our studio. Angel Studios in Carlsbad, CA at the time were secretly developing a game (Red Dead) for Capcom and they too seemed frustrated with Capcom Japan’s decision-making. So studio directors on both sides ended up getting pushed out including David Siller at CDS and Yoshiki Okamoto at Capcom Japan. This basically leads to CDS once again controlled by Capcom Japan’s iron-fist. Once again some of the key members who helped create Maximo left the team or were forced out and Capcom Digital Studios was rebranded to Production Studio 8.
Decision making for the next title after the first two Maximo games was now to be driven by Capcom US’s marketing team which was also going through a managerial reshuffle. The year 2003 = crazy times!

I believe a lot of game companies were going through this back then. It was the end of a pretty long and successful hardware cycle. Mobile gaming was becoming a thing and it had already split the market in Japan so publishers like Capcom were trying to figure out how to prepare for the future. Development costs were only going up for console while mobile games were becoming lucrative with a much lower overhead. Basically at that time if you weren’t making a game like GTA or an FPS for console most likely you weren’t considered marketable.

Maximo3 was a casualty of this change in the game industry. I believe Jak and Daxster also felt the change and they tried to evolve the character like we tried with Maximo by making him look older and edgier. In the early prototype of Maximo3 we even gave him a shotgun as well as a tatoo! As a result of trying to make Maximo someone he wasn’t we switched to a franchise that was better suited for characters wielding shotguns like in GTA. Enter Final Fight: Streetwise.

But back to Maximo3 we were again trying to reinvent his character for the current market but not lose too much of what made him appealing in the first place. We started with changing the art style but consciously tried to avoid too drastic of a change. We then wanted to add more in-depth interactions with NPCs with a rich back story and to add adventure game elements sprinkled in with the hacking and slashing and with minimal platforming. But in the end, I felt as a team we lost that single idea to focus and to build on and instead we got lost in the mire of too many ideas coming from all directions. We just could not find that right balance.

Lastly when it comes to sequels most people would expect deeper richer content and our team wanted to deliver that. However, in reality, game sequels tend to have less of a budget plus a shorter dev cycle with the belief that you’ve already done it once so you should be able to do it again but at half the cost and time.

So, I guess we’ll have to wait and see if Maximo will ever find Sophia!"