Explaining Everything: Derek Smart

Derek Smart is a phenomenon. On forums he’s taken a lot of flak for his attitude, and from time to time there’s been jokes on the quality of his games. Yet he’s just gone gold with his tenth game (Galactic Commando Echo Squad SE), and after all these years he still manages to run a successful business as an independent developer.

It’s a bit strange funny that a man that continuously succeeds where so many others fail is not taken seriously in online discussions (like the forum on Blue’s News), and as I’ve seen very little of what he has to say about the industry itself, I decided to ask him myself.

Pixel Park: What made you join the gaming industry?

Derek: You mean aside from fame, fortune and the potential for picking up chicks? Oh, I dunno. I’ve always been a creative type and an avid gamer. Once I started thinking that it would be cool if I could create my own game. So, I set off to do just that. It wasn’t all Roses of course, but as you probably know (from my Wiki) the rest is history.

Pixel Park: How come you’ve never chosen the easy route and joined a big, safe games studio?

Derek: Because I like calling my own shots and doing my own thing. Besides, what constitutes a “safe games studio”? Especially given the current state of the gaming industry. If I wanted to keep working for someone, I wouldn’t have left the highly lucrative (at the time)
IT industry to go into gaming.

Pixel Park: You’ve received quite a lot of negative attention from gamers on the Internet; how have this affected you personally, and how have you dealt with it?

Derek: It doesn’t affect me in the least. I’m not that egotistical whereby a bunch of idiots on the Net can intimidate me. And you’re using the term “gamers” loosely. What makes you think they’re gamers? Just because they happened to be on the Net? Most of them are antisocial misfits who probably never buy games, but since they can pirate them, it makes them “gamers”.

Pixel Park: There is so much potential for games in the future. Where do you see the industry going, and what is your vision of where you want to take it?

Derek: I said this many years ago in one of my blogs, digital distribution is the wave of the future. Here we are. With the steady decline of the PC gaming industry, we’re going to also see a shift to pay-for-play being the norm. Not unlike MMOs of today. In other words, you’re not going to see one off games (PC or consoles) in the near future. And piracy is going to force us to transition to backend server authentication (ala Steam) of games being the norm; be it single or multiplayer.

Big thanks go out to Derek Smart for answering my questions!


  1. *sigh*

    Why did you give this jackass an outlet to express himself? Don’t you know you aren’t supposed to feed trolls?

    He’s not a phenomenon. He is nothing that even comes close to classifying as a phenomenon. He is neither wondrous nor amazing nor worthy of study! The man is a hack. He’s also a joke, one of the few laughing stocks of the industry. Every single game he’s ever released has been shit. EVERY one. Not a single game this guy has made has ever garnered anything better than a mediocre review from any reputable gaming publication. Furthermore, you credit the guy with producing 10 games, when in reality he’s only produced ONE. Every other release after BC3000AD has simply been an updated version of the first game, only with slightly less crippling bugs. That’s it.

    The only people that enjoy his games are stubborn children with the absolute worst taste in gaming that staunchly support this harlequin’s pointless endeavors. The gaming community at large have wanted Derek Smart to simply disappear for YEARS, and his cautionary attempt to acquire and destroy the Freespace franchise with his personal brand of “talent” only fueled our hatred for this douche bag.

    In your interview, he calls all of his critics “idiots”, “pirates”, and “non-gamers”. He claims he’s not egotistical and yet labels all of his critics, which is pretty much everybody, idiots. That’s pretty fucking egotistical. I suppose the only REAL gamers out there are the six hundred or so that were stupid enough to buy his games, right?

    Andreas, the next time you have an idea to interview someone, try interviewing someone who matters. Someone important to the industry that has actually made at least one good game, has actually contributed to the progress of the industry and has made a mark on it. Will Wright, for instance. Perhaps Warren Spector, or Sid Meir, or Gabe Newell.

    You know, the only problem with doing that is that they’re all busy working on actual GAMES and not collections of bugs under the guise of shitty space sims, so I seriously doubt they’d have the time to actually get back to you. Derek Smart is a nobody, everybody hates him for very good reasons, and he would be doing the industry a huge favor if he simply gave up his futile attempt at making even a decent title and got into the industry of…I dunno, textiles or something.

    Of course, even that’s going to be difficult what with that faked PhD and rampant lies on his resume and all.

  2. Interesting. Just mentioning his name calls out certain people. I’ve never played his games but it is cool to see a game developer that dares to go his own way.

  3. He isn’t “going his own way”, like David Jaffe or Jonathan Blow or Chris Taylor, he’s being a pompous ass by not going in the RIGHT direction and quitting the industry. Just look at the responses to the questions! The man is so absolutely in denial that he sees his failures as victories, his critics as antisocial misfits, and all people that don’t like his games as “pirates”. He claims he’s not egotistical and yet he has a history of pig-headed, egotistical remarks over the course of his dismal career.

    Let’s pretend that this symbol (■) represents the truth. Now let’s pretend that this symbol (□) represents a lie.

    Most normal people see things like this: ■ = ■
    Derek Smart sees things like this: ■ = □
    Or probably, more in this way:
    ■ ≈ Ω♠♀♣♥☼♦♪◊☺

    What amazes me about Smart is that despite his constant failures, despite the fact that every game he’s ever made has been complete crap, despite how he NEVER makes enough money to cover what limited production budget he has, he keeps coming back, like a roach you just can’t kill. I give the guy props for that, he is a tenacious little man indeed. I just wonder how he keeps getting money to make his shit products. You’d think at this point that the man’s 100% failure rate would be a red flag to investors to not give him money, but he keeps on getting it!

    What’s your secret, Derek? Is it nepotism? I bet it’s nepotism.

  4. Francesco Poli

    >Let’s pretend that this symbol (■) represents the truth. Now let’s pretend that this symbol (□) represents a lie. Most normal people see things like this: ■ = ■
    Derek Smart sees things like this: ■ = □

    Wow. And you have the guts to call HIM a pretentious ass? Here’s a hint, wanna see an arrogant jagoff, go look yourself in the mirror. For crying out loud, the usual, baseless, long-debunked accusations I can understand – but saying that Smart sees the truth as lie? Are you insane or just four years old?

    Oh, and your next move (accusing me of being Smart or being Smart’s “gay lover”) is only going to make you look even worse, so go deal with your serios mental issues instead.

  5. That’s quite an imagination you have, Francesco Poli! See, considering how I’m not 13 years old, how I live in San Francisco, have many gay friends, and find nothing wrong with homosexuality, I wouldn’t attempt to use being gay as a derogatory statement. But seeing as how you jump to conclusions and assume I’m going to label you a homosexual, I must therefore assume you have some problem with gay people, you fucking bigot. Save your next flame for the cross burning, Adolf.

    You know what’s really interesting here is that those “useless, baseless, long-debunked” accusations are not useless, baseless, or even debunked a little bit!

    He’s faked about half his resume.
    He’s forged racist emails.
    He’s faked a PhD.
    He’s claimed to be worth $1.2 million.
    He’s claimed to own a piece of metal from Mars.
    He has and continues to instigate massive flame wars across the net, from BluesNews to Usenet and onward. (here is his BluesNews account activity. Just read his posts).

    Oh, and he also made an attempt to gain the Freespace license which fortunately failed. During one of the many flame wars that started due to the horrible outcome that might occur if he succeeded, Derek announced he would shut down non-profit fan projects meant to enhance the Freespace 2 engine because “I don’t piss around when it comes to IP properties”.

    Hey! Well look at that! There just happens to be a complete archive of his douche-baggery right

    It’s probably not up to date, but it doesn’t really need to be.

    In conclusion, his behavior is that of a crazy, thirteen year old asshole. He’s absolutely convinced of his own excellence. His hubris knows no bounds. He refuses to admit even the possibility that he could ever be wrong, and as soon as someone with REAL academic or professional credentials challenges him, his intelligence, or any of his bullshit stories, he flees and the flame war ends.

    So you know what? No, I don’t think it’s too much to call him an arrogant jack-off that believes the truth of the world are actually lies. He obviously masturbates to the sound of his own voice, he obviously runs google searches for his name at least once a day, and he has never, EVER, proven one single iota of his bullshit is true.

    I have this feeling that you’re one of three things :

    1. You’re simply ignorant about Smart, the shit he’s pulled, the things he’s done, and the type of person he is.

    2. You’re one of those six hundred idiots that actually buys one of his terrible games every time it’s released out of some insane sense of loyalty. Similar to how Scientologists revere L. Ron Hubbard.

    3. You’re just an idiot.

    I’m betting it’s probably somewhere between 2 and 3.

  6. Well, I have no idea how that html tag broke but I’m sure with you being you, you’ll call me on the mistake.


    Don’t bother responding unless you REALLY feel you have to. I’m not even holding a candle to the idea of changing the way you think. It’s like trying to convince religious people that they’re all idiots. It just doesn’t work. Their brains aren’t wired to process concepts that don’t flow with their world view.

  7. While I fall into the pile of people that buy every iteration of his game, I can’t say i’ve ever 100% enjoyed them but in a way it’s like investing in the future… the type of games Derek makes are the exactly the type I want to play, and they are getting better (albeit slower than I would like).

    Being an “old school” (or maybe that’s just old) hardcore game player i’m a long follower of the various DS flame wars, mainly for their morbid entertainment value. But they’re not directly relevent to DS’s “worth” as a game developer. Core facts:

    1. He’s be an indie developer for an eternity, making the games he wants to. This is hard.
    2. He’s had 10(ish) published products, in a market wildly considered nique market. This is hard.
    3. He’s responsible for the lions share of his own code base, this is impressive but not even close to as impressive as 1/2.

    1-3 really prove he’s worth talking to. Despite such a history.

    DS just always struck me as a smart guy (you guys stopped shooting people for terrible puns right?) with an uncapped arrogance attribute. And as odd as it sounds arrogance doesn’t make people wrong.

  8. Teknocack said:

    Anonymous obviously has an ax to grind. Methinks the vitriol is way too high in its posts. Derek Smart can and quite frequently is arrogant and overbearing. He is also intelligent and driven. He makes games that only a handful of people can play but that’s his passion. One of my passions is to play games that are mind bendingly complex even if there are some installation issues and bugs to hinder me along the way. The payoff is immense for me. Of course it is easy for anonymous to say the things it said because…well, “anonymous” says it all.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *