What in hell would compel Running With Scissors to release a new DLC pack for the venerable POSTAL 2? We have the scoop…
The original release of Postal caused quite a stir in the videogame world prompting letters from the head of the Postal Service deriding the game, mainstream media shellacking, and tons of awareness. The isometric action game focused on a guy who finally snapped and went “postal”; it ]was pretty decent and those who played it remember the challenges and the fun in its satirical statements, surprisingly crafted inside opportunities to throw Molotov cocktails at school marching bands. Maybe it was a product of its time, but the poster-sized blow-up of the head of the postal service’s letter of disgust proudly hanging in the developers’ office indicated just how seriously they took this attention.
The sequel switched to a first-person perspective and upped the attitude even further. A pee button and guest cameo from the sadly missed Gary Coleman were just a couple of the highlights in the outrageous and irreverent shooter. The legend of the Postal franchise continued. And it flourished on the back of guerilla marketing, communicating directly with an appreciative fan base, and largely steering clear of the bigger games media press.
Eleven years after its 2003 release a crazy thing happened. Steam.
Running With Scissors has operated in a, let’s say, casual way over these past years, but backed by an enthusiastic fan-base the team managed to get the game on to Steam. The result? Hundreds of thousands of copies sold. You read that right. According to the team, in true RWS style, they told us “POSTAL 2 has and still is performing like a 17-year old in a free whore house…Caligula would be proud.”
It’s a story of a game developer that didn’t follow any traditional rules in an age before the refined indie scene we enjoy today. It’s also, vitally, a story of the potential impact of Steam to drive awareness and interest in games that might otherwise have withered on the vine. I mean, nobody could argue if an 11-year old game didn’t sell. But here’s the crazy part: Those recent sales illustrated there was revived interest in the Postal franchise, and so Running With Scissors got to work on a new DLC pack of content. For the first time ever we can reveal Postal 2: Paradise Lost. Here’s what the two principals, Vince Desi and Mike J, have to say about this amazing story:
Postal 2 released in April 2003. Over 11 years ago. Why even try to get it on Steam (which happened Nov 2012)?
Historically the very first POSTAL and all add-ons (including POSTAL 2) have never received proper distribution due to the fact that the industry has always been dominated by the big publishers. Digital distribution has been one of our main ways of reaching our audience since as far back as 2002. Early on we worked with a company called Stream Theory to digitally distribute POSTAL 1 long before other companies were using any forms of digital distribution. We have also been self-handling digital distribution of POSTAL 2 off our own servers since around 2006. Steam started to make real good sense when we wanted to include Steamworks, Achievements and other upgrades that had been worked on by our fan base for many years.
When Valve launched Greenlight we thought it would be a good way of testing the waters. We were voted in almost immediately by Steam users and so we added Steamworks, Achievements, Workshop and completely upgraded the game all before deciding to work on an PARADISE LOST. I’m not sure any other company has done this kind of work for a 12-year old product but hey it makes total sense to us. POSTAL fans around the world have made this all possible, can’t say enough about their support.
Did you have any particular expectations after that launch?
I learned a long time ago not to live by expectation because Reality just never made sense to RWS. Blown away? Yes. Insane? Yes. Proud? Absolutely.
What were some of the initial comments or responses from the people buying it in 2012?
Since the beginning we have received nothing but praise. Lots of people could not believe we were honestly supporting a 12-year old title, let alone completely patching it. A lot of new fans had said they heard of it but never gave it a chance due to either negative reviews or inability to find the product. I think since we’ve always supported Mac and Linux too, so this gave us a pure credibility as an indie developer.
And now you’re working on new DLC… tell us about the initial discussions on doing this — why, how, who?
To be honest we never even thought about making an add-on for POSTAL 2 until it became obvious that the core POSTAL fans and new blood gamers would love it. Running With Scissors has always functioned more like a club than a company. Over the years we have survived with fans becoming interns and interns becoming team members. I always laughed at dev companies claiming independence while in reality they’re being funded with millions by a major publisher. We’ve always planned to remake POSTAL 1 and we even had ideas to move POSTAL 2 to a newer version of Unreal (which would open up console and other abilities) but as a small self-funded developer there is only so much we can do on our own. And since the beginning it seems no one wanted to help us out except our fans, real gamers, that’s what makes the whole POSTAL/RWS story so rich. It really is amazing the support we receive from our fans new and old!
Postal has always been a biting satire — what has changed in the world from 1998 or 2003 to today that impacts your new design decisions?
When we first made POSTAL, videogames didn’t have the type of gameplay we had. Games were all about shooting aliens or zombies on a rail. It didn’t appear the world was ready for our style of violence with our type of humor. Setting a marching band on fire was offensive to many, I still think it was friggin’ hilarious. When POSTAL 2 launched violence in the media was no big deal, unfortunately we couldn’t shake the unfair scapegoat title that we took when P1 launched. Nowadays, it seems these types of games and movies are commonplace and they all look and feel the same. Nothing is quite doing what POSTAL 2 did, and that is why so many people love it after first finding it on Steam. Graphics aside, the game has some very fun and different gameplay elements that are unique even today.
As for how the world has changed and how it has influenced us I think the thing that I find most bizarre and intriguing is how there is no more ‘normal’ and PC has made hypocrisy the new baseline. Black is white, up is down, and so the whole fuckin world has gone sideways gray. BORING! RWS has always stuck to a driving force in design…is it fun to play and is it funny? There aren’t many games that you can watch someone else play and laugh your ass off at the same time.
Can we expect to see the ghost of Gary Coleman?
Gary Coleman was a friend of ours and his death (murder?) is a sore topic with us at RWS. As always we will honor Gary in our products!
What will the new DLC contain, and how much is its content defined by current popular game types or modes, and the expectations of an existing fan base?
PARADISE LOST takes the Postal Dude back to the town he nuked at the end of Apocalypse Weekend. Far removed from society, the citizens of Paradise think they were the only survivors (and people outside of Paradise think they all died) and have formed multiple factions. The town has also experienced a sort of odd nuclear fallout as various parts of maps have very different look and feels to them (think nuclear winter, greeny foliage etc.)
Among all the craziness, what’s the most bizarre request you’ve had from the community to include in any new Postal content?
Still to this day we get people requesting to have the POSTAL Dude have the ability to take a crap….not happening! Urination is enough lol
Cameos in the new DLC from Vince and Mike? And Uwe Boll (and full frontal of Dave Foley?)
Vince and MikeJ will play integral roles in the game SO YES! The last we saw of MikeJ he was a giant mutated cow and Vince had just dispensed of a zombie horde attacking his house. I don’t want to burden our fans with old comic hardware but Uwe is always welcome.
Favorite joke from the new DLC right now?
Little man on Big man’s shoulders running an underground group of small people…I’m sure it sounds familiar!