CARY, N.C. … Mark Baric, who helped create companies that made computer games built around the works of best-selling authors Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton, is back to wheeling and dealing.

After selling Red Storm Entertainment to Ubi Soft and 3dVillage to Periscope, two firms he spun out of computer graphics company Virtus, and surviving the dot-com meltdown that claimed two other spinoffs … Timeline Computer Entertainment and NxView Technologies … Baric is negotiating new gaming deals with Crichton and television director Ron Maxwell.

In the second installment of a two-part story, LocalTechWire looks at Baric’s involvement with Hollywood and his insight on the future of the gaming industry.

You’ve also started a company with Ron Maxwell, who’s best known for writing, producing and directing “Gettysburg,” an epic charting the early years of the Civil War. What can you tell us about the company?

Ron is now taking the first book of the trilogy (Gettysburg is based on the second book of the trilogy, The Killer Angels), which is called Gods and Generals, written by Jeff Shaara, and he’s turning it into a movie. Turner Pictures is funding the movie. It will be released February of 2003.

Ron and I have formed a company, which will focus on interactive and non-interactive-type Civil War properties as it relates to Gods and Generals. We have a group that’s developing an interactive game, which will be released at roughly the same time as the movie. You’ll be able to go in and be part of the battles you’ve seen. It’s very similar to what Medal of Honor did with “Saving Private Ryan.”

Do you currently have plans to release more than one game?

The goal after the initial release of the PC version of the game is to create a community where interested people, whether they’re reenactors, Civil War buffs or those who just enjoy shooter-type games, will be able to get fresh content every month or every quarter based on battles that took place in that time period. For example, we will do something in July to commemorate the battle of Gettysburg. We will have that as part of the content, and you will have the ability to go on and subscribe on a monthly basis and actually be a part of these battles.

There is a third book in the trilogy, The Last Full Measure. If that is turned into a movie, which hopefully it will be, we will look to have a major release of an interactive game most likely on the PlayStation2 platform, as well as continuing the PC monthly/quarterly subscription package.

What company is developing the game?

The company that is developing the game has not been disclosed yet. We’ll be making an announcement on that. They are a PC gaming company with experience in this area. It’s a strong team that has been working on it now for some time.

People are probably wondering how someone like Mark Baric from Research Triangle, North Carolina, with no ties to Tinseltown, ended up working with Hollywood moguls Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy and Ron Maxwell.

I didn’t get into it by design.

As a technologist, I was introduced through some of my past employment to these types of individuals. As you’re familiar with, Virtus worked with Clancy to spin off Red Storm Entertainment. The success of Red Storm, coupled with my very strong contacts in the gaming industry with the Segas and the other large publishers, have enabled me to bring these parties together and do the content-creator justice.

I think I’m also respected for the level of respect and confidentiality I give to the people I’m working with.

How did you meet Maxwell?

I met him through a friend in California who told Ron that Mark Baric is doing some interesting things. He told him, “Mark is doing some things on the computer gaming side. You’re doing things on the movie side. Your movie products would probably lend very well to interactive properties. You two ought to get together.”

Ron called me and we scheduled to meet for lunch. He flew to North Carolina, we met for lunch, we hit it off and the rest is history.

How do you see the gaming industry evolving from here?

I think we’re going to see more creative deals like what we did with Michael Crichton and Ron Maxwell, with properties across multiple mediums. Also, we had tremendous success with the PlayStation2 by Sony, Microsoft’s Xbox to a lesser extent, but it’s still starting to get market share, and Nintendo’s Game Cube is doing very well. You now have tens of millions, soon to be over a hundred million, people on these various platforms. A good game that used to sell 500,000 units can now sell two-, three-, four-, five-, 10 million units because you have the platforms out there.

The second major trend is that entertainment is going to go to wireless devices. You now have companies like Samsung and Nokia producing color cell phones with game attachments that are being distributed by all the major telecommunications companies from Verizon to Sprint. Now we’re going to see a proliferation, a huge explosion, in the wireless gaming market.

Mark Baric’s Timeline Continues on With New Gaming Deals: www.localtechwire.com/article.cfm?u=2316&k=22&l=12