When bleem! announced that they would be releasing a version of their emulator for the Dreamcast last year, press and gamers alike were truly stunned. Weeks and months passed without a word about the release of the new product. Then finally, the first bleem! release for Dreamcast was released this May with support for Gran Turismo 2. As expected, it was given favorable reviews. So, it came as no surprise that gamers wanted more.
Recently, bleem! announced that the next edition of the emulator would support Konami's stealth, epsionage game, Metal Gear Solid. We recently had a chance to speak with Sean Kauppinen of the bleem! Inc. about their Dreamcast releases, Sony, Sega, and what the future holds for the company. Here's what the man had to say:
PlanetDreamcast: To start off the interview, could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Sean Kauppinen: I'm Sean, the guy who handles the marketing over at bleem!
PlanetDreamcast: The first release of the bleem for Dreamcast project was the Gran Turismo 2 disc, it was released last month and got a big response from the Dreamcast community, and the product ended up selling really well. Were you suprised at all with the response it got?
Sean Kauppinen: Of course we thought it would sell well, but the resistance we've run into has definitely affected our expectations. If we're going to release all of the titles we're looking at, we're definitely going to need to sell more than we have, but we really appreciate the sales that we've gotten so far.
PlanetDreamcast: How long does it take to modify bleemcast to play a different game?
Sean Kauppinen: It takes about as long as it would to traditionally port a title from one platform to another. There's a lot of technical translation that Randy is responsible for, along with tons of testing. We know that console gamers need a complete finished product, which is a bit different than PC gamers. As a gamer myself, I personally want something I can load and play without worrying about some error that happens on some obscure track with a random car (GT2). This is a big part of it, because there will be someone who uses the car/character you would never use in the weirdest situation you can think of. That's a large part of why it takes so long to get each title up and running.
PlanetDreamcast: How is the development of the Metal Gear Solid disc coming along? Has it been a more difficult/easier process than the GT2 disc?
Sean Kauppinen: It's been a little easier than GT2, because the combinations of cars/tracks that needed to be tested were enormous on GT2. With MGS, there are a bunch of regionalized versions, but it's nowhere near as daunting a task as the GT2 testing process.
PlanetDreamcast: The Dreamcast community is really excited about your next release with the Metal Gear Solid disc. When do you expect to have the Metal Gear Solid disc hit stores?
Sean Kauppinen: Hopefully in the next month or so it'll be in stores, but it all depends on how quickly we get it tested and mastered.
PlanetDreamcast: With the differences between the Dreamcast and PSX controller layouts, has that provided any problems with the development for bleemcast so far?
Sean Kauppinen: We saw this as a challenge very early on and Randy devised a scheme for mapping multiple buttons combinations to make up for the missing buttons on the DC controller. Knowing that going in makes it much easier when you're developing a product.
PlanteDreamcast: Will we still get to see the bleempod? or is that still up in the air?
Sean Kauppinen: It's a bit up in the air. We know there are a lot of people who want it, it's just a matter of getting them built. It may be something we work a pre-order program for directly on the site in order to get an accurate number for the initial build.
PlanetDreamcast: What is your current relationship with Sega? Did Sega want to take part in the development of the bleemcast project?
Sean Kauppinen: We love Sega, but they haven't had a part in developing any of our products. Randy has worked very hard to build the bleem! products, with a little help from his development team, but it's mostly Randy who builds everything we release.
PlanetDreamcast: Speaking of relationships, what is the current status between bleem! and Sony? Has there been any progress in your fight back against Sony, after they tried to stop the release of bleemcast?
Sean Kauppinen: Well, Sony is suing us. We're waiting to go to court on a number of issues and there'll probably be a big announcement sometime in the near future about the current lawsuits.
PlanetDreamcast: How many more bleempacks can we expect, in light of the current Dreamcast situation?
Sean Kauppinen: Dreamcast gamers have invested in the platform, and we think many people are waiting to see who wins the next round of the console war before they buy a new system. It could be another 12-18 months before most people buy a new console, so there's still a significant market. Hopefully, we'll get through the top 5-10 titles over the next 9-12 months.
PlanetDreamcast: Our site coordinator, digitaltaco, wanted me to make sure I ask you this: When is the Wipeout XL bleemcast version coming out?
Sean Kauppinen: Ha, good question. It wasn't a top seller, but there is still the possibility at some point it could be a bleemcast! title. It all depends on the amount of time it'll take to bring up the title and whether or not we think people will buy it. Only Mistress Cleo knows ;-)