|Interview with IMG's Tuncer Deniz|
February 10, 2003 | Michael Yanovich
Michael: And then you did something unthinkable. You left IMG and started working at Bungie. How did all of that come about?
Tuncer: Leaving IMG was about the hardest thing I've ever had to do. But it was also probably one of the easiest decisions I've had to make in my 33 years. By 1996 things were going really well with IMG. During that time I got to know the guys at Bungie, who were also based in Chicago, really well. Back in 1993, we featured Pathways into Darkness, on the cover of our second issue and since then I had followed Bungie really closely. I got really involved in Marathon creating a few net maps for that game and ended up making some more net levels and a single player map for Marathon II.
In 1996, a good friend of mine, Eric Klein, who at that time was the Apple Games Evangelist, went to work for Bungie. During one of his visits, he asked me, point blank, "Why don't you come and work for Bungie?" I told him he was crazy. Why would I leave IMG for Bungie? But Eric persisted, and he even suggested the idea to Alexander Seropian, who at the time was one of the co-owners at Bungie. Alex seemed to love the idea. I was invited a few times to be in on their marketing meetings, and I just grew to the idea of working with a team, working on cool games. So after a lot of thought, I decided it was time to move downtown and join Bungie.
Overall, working at Bungie was a blast. In my 3 1/2 year stint, I was the producer on Marathon II for Windows, Abuse, Weekend Warrior, and Marathon Infinity. In my final year at Bungie, I was the project lead on Myth II: Soulblighter.
Myth II was a really difficult project to work on. We basically had about 10 months to complete the project. Jason Jones, the other co-owner of Bungie, decided that creating a sequel to Myth wasn't his cup of tea and took half of Myth team and went to work on what eventually would become Halo.
So there we were, about 5-6 guys from the original Myth team and we had to create a sequel in 10 short months. I ended up hiring a few more artists, level designers, and another programmer and went to work.
Working on Myth II probably shed a few years off my life. It was grueling work. Most of us worked 16 hours a day, including weekends. At that time I also broke up with my girlfriend, so I would spend most of my time at Bungie working. At the end of Myth II, it just became apparent that a change was needed. IMG was nearly dead. Subscriptions had dried up, the web site was almost never updated, and overall it looked bad.
So in early 1999, I made my way back to IMG, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Michael: Ten years is a long time for any business venture, not to mention a niche segment of a niche market. How's it feel to have reached double digits?
Tuncer: Honestly, it makes me feel bloody old. Heh. But seriously, I think its great. IMG means a lot to a lot of people and I think we've done some cool things over the years. The best part about IMG, however, is working with the great team we've assembled.
It hasn't been all rosy at times. There were times that I really thought we'd have to pack it in since we weren't making any money, but we stuck it through thick and thin and we're probably at IMG's most stable point in history right now.
Michael: So you've almost gone out of business a few times? Can you explain?
Tuncer: Well, like any business in an unstable market, we've had to re-invent ourselves a few times. When I came back to IMG in 1999, I seriously thought, this was it. IMG was beyond repair. But I decided to give it one more shot to see how things go. We began publishing the IMG CD on a regular basis again, and we updated the web site every day (at one point I was the only one doing news on a daily basis).
In spring 2000 we signed a contract with CNET and became part of their GameCenter Alliance. It was great because we were getting big fat checks at the end of every month and we didn't have to worry about advertising. Then in late 2000 the Internet bubble burst and they cancelled the contract. At that time, I thought, crap, that's it for IMG. But luckily, the Mac publishers came to our rescue.
We signed a few sponsors such as Aspyr Media, MacSoft, GraphSim, and Pangea Software, and that kept us alive and kicking.
We also decided at that time to retire the IMG CD Magazine and transition it to the MacGames CD. Overall it was a great move because basically the IMG CD magazine was competing with the IMG web site and subscriptions began to fall off once again. So we decided to brand the CD as a CD full of demos, shareware, etc. It's worked out great.
Right now IMG is doing very well. In addition to our awesome sponsors, we make money through the MacGames CD, our popular IMG Store, and the just-launched IMG Pro. We're also working on some new stuff for later 2003 that should be really neat.