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A real-time, class-based strategy game, set in an open world cyberpunk city, from the creator of Syndicate Wars.
A real-time, class-based strategy game, set in an open world cyberpunk city, from the creator of Syndicate Wars.
15,029 backers pledged £461,333 to help bring this project to life.

Meet the Big Boss

Posted by 5 Lives Studios (Creator)
1 like

Just a few hours after we launched the Kickstarter for Satellite Reign, we were already the victims of a hostile takeover. The CEO “Big Boss” reward tier which grants the backer the right to become the competing CEO in Satellite Reign was snatched up, and we were all at the mercy of our new corporate overlord, Steven Dengler...

When he’s not crushing competition with his army of corporate soldiers in Satellite Reign, he serves as CEO of, which he co-founded. He also founded and runs Dracogen Inc, a strategic investment company “committed to making fun and awesome things happen”. 

Through Dracogen he helps game companies make the games they want to make while trying to reduce the red tape and overhead of traditional funding avenues. He’s financed projects at companies like Double Fine, InXile, Obsidian as well as numerous charities like Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play.

All of this is an elaborate cover up of course, in Satellite Reign his true colours will come out as he fights to maintain his corporate empire against 4 sole agents in trench coats.

One of those agents managed to apprehend him briefly and made him divulge some more information with a bit of pharmaceutical help.

You support a lot of video game projects, are you a big gamer yourself?

Absolutely. I've been playing games for a solid 30 years. I started gaming way back in the days when games were not particularly cool. Back then, playing computer games made you the target of a lot of ridicule. One of my first paid jobs as a teenager -- back in the mid-eighties -- was designing and coding an adventure game. It was a Scott Adams type game called Adventure to Xanadu. I was (and remain) very proud of it. I don't believe it was ever released.

What are your favourite gaming memories?

There are just too many to count. Infocom games were my gateway. After that it was Ultimas, Xenomorph, System Shock, Torment... argh, there's just no way to make a list that doesn't leave out really important titles. Games were a hugely formative part of my childhood. What's wonderful is that so many of the people who made those games are still around. They gave me so many wonderful memories! And now I even get to return the favor. I'm actively financing games at several studios run by my childhood heroes.

For those who are unfamiliar with it, could you briefly describe what Dracogen is?

I started Inc. with my best friend in 1993. Today it's grown to be the world's favorite foreign exchange website, one of the top 500 websites in the world. With success came the inevitable question: what do I do now? Dracogen Inc. is a company I established a few years ago that does angel investing in companies and projects that interest me.

Dracogen is certainly a unique, intriguing company. Was there a particular catalyst for the company’s creation?

I don't like dead money. Money sitting in a bank account isn't doing anybody any good, except the banks. There are so many amazing people and projects out there that wither on the vine. I can't help all of them but I can pick a few I like and take some intelligent risks. It's worked out very well so far.

Dracogen has supported a variety of causes, not just games, but even film and animal welfare. Do you have an ultimate plan for Dracogen? Or do you want to keep it fairly relaxed?

Dracogen is whatever I want it to be. Sometimes I invest in something because it's a great business proposition, and I fully expect a return. Sometimes I support something that will have no financial return at all, just because I want to help it happen. And I have charities I like to support, most notably Child's Play. But everything I do has one thing in common: it excites me personally.

What are your feelings towards the current state of the games industry? Hope/concerns?

Publishers are putting more and more money into bigger and bigger games. These games are typically the "safe bets" that they feel will guarantee returns. At the other end of the spectrum there are countless bootstrapped, microbudget indie games getting made now that are wonderfully creative. These games are labors of love and are about sharing a personal creative vision, not making a "cookie cutter" game with mass appeal. In the middle is a bit of a wasteland where great games that might cost $200,000 or $2,000,0000 languish because they are too big to do as an indie project and too small to interest a publisher. I've financed a number of titles in this zone now and it's been incredibly satisfying to help some of these games get out there. But even with Kickstarter, private investors like me, groups like IndyFund, there just isn't enough money coming into that part of the space. Hopefully this will change over time as studios do more self-publishing. If small studios have some solid self-published titles that are generating money -- money they get too keep, imagine that -- they can start to plot their own courses without involving outside financing. I would truly love to see this happen.

Do you see Kickstarter (or crowdfunding in general) having a permanent place in the future of games development?

Yes. But not just for gaming, for everything. Crowdfunding is a brand new social factor, a cultural force, a universal resource. As with the Internet, it will only be in hindsight that we will appreciate how fundamental a cultural shift it was. People will wonder how we ever got along without it.

You jumped on the highest reward tier for Satellite Reign incredibly quickly. What drew you to the campaign?

I'm a huge fan of the Syndicate series. I played the heck out of those games when I was a kid and had nothing to my name. Now I get to repay the people that helped give me so many wonderful gaming memories. And I get to help a new game get made. And I get to be a part of the story. It's a huge thrill.

What traits do you feel you bring to the role of Corporate Overlord?

I've run a company now for 20 years. I bring a lot of practical, real-world experience as Corporate Overlord, dating back to the very dawn of the commercial Internet. I am highly proficient with corporate buzzwords; for example, I have a strong track record of building synergy and leveraging core skillsets to engineer of best-of-breed services. My sister and I have a webcomic that has incontrovertible proof that I would be good for the job. Plus I paid you off so you can't say no.

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    1. Missing avatar

      mina86 on

      Interesting... I finally know what's the “Dracogen” logo at the beginning of each “Wayside Creations” videos.

    2. DaZMaN76 on

      Well, Steven sounds like a great guy :) This is also a great little interview/article, a really good read - so thanks for that 5LS.

      Thanks for backing the project so emphatically Steven - I'm sure your involvement is much appreciated here, and I'm also sure we look forward to taking you and your empire down in the near/far future of 2014 :)

    3. Björn Magnusson on

      Seems like a nice guy.

    4. joedpa82 on

      I totally understand Mr Dengler. If i was a rich guy i would totally do what he is doing.

      There are some games that i really loved and i would greatly support.

      But the sad reality is i don't have as much money as i really want.

      I tip my fedora to you Mr Dengler and i grant you 100 respect points.

      Besides, with a name like Steven Dengler who are we to argue that he has the most badass names in the Villain category.

    5. Eduardo Medina

      Dengler would make a great "I'm a sadistic nightmare who will watch over you as you sleep" poster for the wall. Awesome interview, and cant wait to hear more on the project guys.

    6. Dawn_

      lol Steven people gotta to love you (not for the tier you took) But the interview xD

    7. Egon L.

      A very rewarding interview that has helped me to overcome my initially slight perception of him as an almost evil character! Lol. No wonder he's got the money! And what a lucky pick of this game by him, wow...

    8. Ber on

      Great concept art of Steven Dengler, Evil Overlord. Also, an interesting read, glad to have you backing this Mr Dengler :)

    9. Shaz on

      All my life, I've never understood why my friends would have crushes on actors or starts of sports, tv, or movies.

      I've developed something akin to a crush of my own, finally. I keep seeing you in all my favorite places doing amazing things, Dengler, and damn, does it make my heart go pitter patter. I may not be able to support the things you do in the way you do, so I'll have to be vicariously happy in the knowledge that someone is.

      I look forward to encountering your evil alter ego in this game!

    10. Missing avatar

      Iain Douglas on

      I thought I recognised that name from one of the 100K backers on Project Eternity, no idea the person behind the pledge had such a neat story to them.

      In terms of cool/evil CEOs Mr Dengler sounds like he'd be up there with Scorpio.

      A Satellite that fires gravy? That's some Satellite "Rain" - Ha~!

    11. Missing avatar

      Krom on

      First I was like "meh, don't want to read an article about a pledger, just because he had teh moneyz", but actually it was a good read and I happened to like this guy for what he is doing. So, all cool. :D
      Not so sure if its a good thing to like an evil overlord, though. ^^

    12. suppafoxe on

      Amazing art! Really like the vibe.

      And thanks Mr. CEO!

    13. Marc74 on

      wish id have had 5k spare

      but my wedding is more important.....

    14. Chris on

      Can someone please make me that outfit in the drawing!?

    15. TheEnemy on

      All hail the new overlord!

      *ahem* I mean... you know... maybe he's not so evil as they say?

      Great concept art :-)

    16. Robert Krondorfer on

      Please avoid skilltrees. :P

    17. Tomimt on

      Clearly an evil man, if there ever was one. Maybe not as sinister as Gandhi, but clearly evil.

    18. Missing avatar

      Lee Griffiths on

      As it goes, "" is a pretty good name for an evil corp.

    19. AlejØ Ruiz on

      He likes Torment & System Shock. He's undoubtely THE MAN.

    20. Missing avatar


      You certainly look the part of a criminal mastermind, Steven. Got any openings?

    21. Silver on

      Nice interview. I, for one, welcome our new corporate overlord.

    22. Sérgio Schüler on

      This guy is the evil CEO? Come on, I want to work for him! :)

    23. Felix on

      I hope a gravy deploying satellite is an easter egg in the game

    24. Harley-James Gravel on

      ah that artwork is ugly.

    25. Remy on

      Now I want a gravy satellite in the game :/

    26. Benny Bottema on

      Love the concept art conversion!

    27. Chris Doak on

      Of course you realise, Satellite Gravy is now 100% necessary as a secret weapon...

    28. Tobi (Crusader Kickstarter pls!!) on

      that piece of concept art is awesome! Mr. Dengler really is in a lot of games since kickstarter took off :) anyway, thx for pledging and i'm looking forward to defeating your alter ego in the game :)

    29. DeadDodo on

      @Belsameth But he knows his buzzwords. ;)

    30. Simon Boxer on

      That concept art is awesome!

      Great interview, too. Very well spoken, got a kick out of it.

    31. Patrick on

      Absolute hero!

    32. Belsameth on

      Bah! I'm not sure Mr Dengler is evil enough as a corporate overlord :(

      Much <3! :D