Interestingly, the Adeline guys wanted to make their own Flashback 2D sequel – Flashback Legend for the GameBoy Advance – but that got canceled in the end.
Yeah, the company just decided to give the project to the other team, but I was not involved and also not really a very big fan of it [laughs].
Nevertheless, you managed to make a great comeback to the top of the charts, and from a totally different angle. Moto Racer was one of the best racing games of 1997, and would eventually be granted three official sequels. Only the first two were successful, however. What inspired you, once again, to try out a completely new, unexplored genre?
[laughs] In fact, at that time, I was working on a game that would be called Darkstone (1999), with the code name Dragonblade. I decided to write a completely new engine and started to work on collision routines. In order to test it, I made a cube and added some velocity to it. It was supposed to be a network – a multiplayer game. So I added network routines in the code and quickly developed a demo. In that demo, you were on an island, where you had some bikes with which you could race around with other players. Sometimes you just start somewhere and don’t know where you are going, but you have fun, and I certainly had fun with that [laughs].
When I showed the demo to the company, they were just amazed by it, and everybody was playing it in their spare time [laughs]. They thought about it and said, ‘Hey Paul, it would interesting if you could make a game out of this! It is already fun to play and everybody here in the company is enjoying it, so it would be cool if you do it.’ So we put a team together and I began working on the first Moto Racer.
Alas, not even a series of very successful racing games could eventually save Delphine from going bankrupt in July 2004. How do you remember that time?
It was a very difficult time. When I started at Delphine, it was 1987 to ’88, so the bankruptcy was 16 years later. The company had completely changed over that time. We had started out very small, but over the years, more and more people continued to flow into the company, including lots of marketing people. At the end, Delphine was very big, which meant it was also very costly to run.
It was also the time when many companies were crashing due to the infamous dot.com bubble burst…
Oh yeah! They also put a lot of money into Moto Racer 3 (2001) and it really didn’t pay off, because the game didn’t work. Then they started to work on Moto Racer 4 [developed by Microids in 2016 under Paul’s direction], but it was a bit too late and that’s one of the explanations. The other is that I think Paul [de Senneville] just wanted to quit at that point. Maybe if he was younger, he would have tried to save the company, but it was easier for him to shut down everything. He just wanted to lead another life. He tried to sell it at first; we had an offer from Vivendi Universal and we were quite close to finalizing the deal. But ironically, at that moment, a certain scandal with the then-president of Vivendi, Jean-Marie Messier, happened in France. They had to freeze all the projects – and we were so close to being saved [laughs]!