Originally Published April 23, 2013 | By SlipSlot
In a defining interview, Vince Desi, CEO of Running With Scissors, said to PCWorld Australia, “We wanted to get away from the whole ‘I play a soldier who’s in space, saving the world…” He went on, “They say there’s only seven scripts in Hollywood. In the video game industry, there’s about one and a half!”
When it came to naming their new company, Vince Desi wanted the title to say it all. In a landmark interview with Opium Pulses he goes into detail about their choice:
|"When we decided to become an indie developer I wanted to make sure we distinguished ourselves from what we had been doing and also from the then current toilet flush of typical company names"|
He further explained:
|"The wording ‘running with scissors’ is a twist on the old social term ‘don’t run with scissors,’ something that every kid in America heard their mom tell them when growing up. So it was clear to us that we should call ourselves ‘Running With Scissors’ since we were about everything our mothers told us not to do. Looking back it clearly was a good choice as we continue to go forward with our freedom to do whatever the fuck we want attitude"|
Though the graphics were dated it represented a certain gaming niche.
Running With Scissors wasn’t able to run around willy-nilly doing whatever they pleased though. The release of the first Postal was a mixed bag. The company got blasted by cascades of negative game reviews, the juiciest parts of which they slapped on their Fudge Pack box art. At the same time, it got them a lot of attention. A lot of serious people approached them and got involved.
Desi told PCWorld Australia, “We had phone calls from F.B.I. agents and even the United States Treasury Department. Legal notices from the U.S. Post Office and the Federal Government also showed up at our doorstep.”
The game received unprecedented negative attention for its gratuitous violence.
The heat became so heavy in Washington D.C. that, Postal’s publisher, Panasonic’s Ripcord Games pulled the plug despite the fact that the game sold well. This started the whole blacklisting of Postal. Mr. Desi confided:
|"We didn’t have the support the original Grand Theft Auto got when it first came out. I have my opinions about why we were attacked by mainstream media and GTA wasn’t to the same degree. For one, we didn’t have the deep pockets of GT Interactive, who was the publisher of the series before it became Take 2. A lot of paying off goes along the way"|
Postal 2 (2003) was much more refined and polished.
According to Wikipedia, in 2004, New Zealand banned Postal 2 due to “gross, abhorrent content” and Australia later banned the game due to “excessive abhorrent content”. Malaysia instated its own ban on May 1, 2007, due to “very high impact violence & offensive depictions of cruelty.” The game was also banned in Germany and France. Sweden placed a temporary ban on the sale of it.
Even more offensive than Postal 1, the second was blasted as sick and uncouth.
The game was unique in that the NPCs roamed the large, detailed town, and reacted independently not only to your actions but also the actions of other NPCs, sometimes resulting in firefights breaking out on the street in front of your very eyes, meaning you would either have to fight your corner to save yourself getting caught up in the crossfire or run for your sorry life.
Despite the game being banned left, right, and centre it sold relatively well. Postal 2 is the most popular game in the series. Official expansions and community mods started to appear, and multiplayer was added to the game using GameSpy servers.
In an interview with Jon Merchant, RWS Project Manager, he told me, "Akella had vastly more resources than we had for Postal 2, so it seemed reasonable at the time they could produce a game that was at least equal to the game we made in house".
Postal III was set in third-person. It took place in a completely different city from Postal 2, and was built using Valve’s Source Engine. A rocky development cycle, a global economic recession and rescheduled release dates that spanned all the way from 2008 to its final Steam release date of December 2011, resulted in a completely non-existent marketing campaign. Even a year later many fans were unaware the third game had been released, and Steam made little effort to promote the sale of the game.
Postal 3 (2011) had a tough development cycle and was rife with bugs on release.
The game was released in a horrifically buggy state and the promised multiplayer, free roam, and console ports never saw the light of day. Most fans didn’t know the game was outsourced and were disgusted with what RWS had done to the franchise. Not long after, RWS removed Postal 3 for sale from their official website. Jon Merchant said of this:
|"We stopped selling the game ourselves some time ago when it became apparent that neither we nor the community would get the SDK tools. We don’t regard it as the third Postal game, just a dodgy spin-off that should never have happened"|
RWS make no excuses for the way PIII turned out and are very open about what they think caused the game to turn out the way it did. Merchant explained, "Things started out well but I think they got hit pretty hard by the economic problems of 2007-8, and it all started to go downhill from there. The final product was very far removed from our original design, and horribly broken."
The screenshots made the game look like everything Postal should be
Running With Scissors now fully acknowledges the mistakes they made in outsourcing Postal 3 to another company. Since then they have been doing everything in their power to regain the trust and support of their fans. Postal 1 and 2 have been recently released on Steam. All previous owners of the retail release who prove they own the game on the RWS forum or have a copy on their Desura account will receive a Steam copy.
Mr. Merchant remains hopeful:
|"Thankfully we have had much less of a backlash from our immediate fans than I expected, who seem to at least appreciate our honesty on the situation. Of course, there is a wider group that assumes PIII was made by RWS and think badly of us because of it, and I don’t blame them really. All that said, my biggest surprise has been the amount of people that seem to actually like PIII, although I am absolutely not one of them"|
If things go well, we might just see a true sequel to the timeless classic that was Postal 2. Hopefully, built in-house this time. As of now, RWS are focusing on using their resources to raise enough funding to make a true Postal sequel. If you remember Postal 1 and 2 from the old days and want to go on a nostalgia trip like no other, check out both games available on Steam now!
Written by Warren Dance, edited by Flint Stocks
Updated 19/09/2023 - light edits and images fixed to recognise the 10-year anniversary of the article.