It’s time for another interview and with us today is a legend of the fighting game scene, Mr. Mark “MarkMan” Julio. MarkMan is the lead designer for the SF division at MadCatz as well as many other cool products at MC. He is also part of SDTekken, a group of top Tekken players from San Diego (Hence the SD) who are now known across the globe in the Tekken world, not just for their competitiveness, but also for the support they give to Tekken scene.
MarkMan is one of those people who really stand out in the fighting game community (FGC). The type who want to see the FGC become as big and as great as it can be. So it gives us great pleasure to bring you this interview.
How did you manage to score a job at Mad Catz? And was it for the product manager position you hold now?
It’s a long story… To keep it short and sweet… It was one of those right place & right time sort of things… I’ve been working at Mad Catz for a short time in another department not having to do with product development at all. I was getting fed up with the job and was considering moving on to another company… That’s when Chris Carroll,one of the four people who worked on the Mad Catz Street Fighter Project, approached me and asked… “Hey, I heard you’re into arcade sticks or something…” If anyone knew about me prior to my work with Mad Catz, you would know that I was always an arcade stick nut. So I talked with Chris for a bit and I found myself now on the team! (whoa!) Then all of a sudden I’m going to Hong Kong and China to help design/finish development of all the Street Fighter products… and now I’m the lead product guy for a ton of products over at Mad Catz. I’m in charge of all the fighting game related stuff but I also worked on a ton of other swell projects such as all the Modern Warfare 2 products and a lot of our Xbox 360 SKUs.
TE sticks have really taken off. Here in Australia we have some SF players that won’t play their tournament match until one of the TE sticks are available to use. How does it make you feel to hear stories like that from around the world?
It is an AMAZING feeling. One thing I love the most about going to events and tournaments… I love hearing feedback from the players. I value every little nit-picky detail because I always strive to improve and cater to the community overall. I’ll tell you… EVO 2009 was an awe inspiring moment for me. Seeing the entire community adopt something that I worked so hard on… I felt really proud.
What was the last tournament you entered? And which tournament do you plan on entering in the future?
I don’t enter many tournaments nowadays as I don’t have the time/means to practice like I used to when I was younger and had less responsibility. The last tournament I entered was for TEKKEN 6 earlier this year at NorCal Strong Style 4. I did alright in the singles tournament, but in the team tournament our team (SDTEKKEN) ended up getting second place… We even sent the favored team from S. Korea to losers! (With me beating Tongbal.LOVE, the top Devil Jin player; lol I like that matchup, thanks to AlexMan… my younger brother)…
We got some pics from Godsgarden II on our site and noticed you were in some of those pics. Since you travel a lot, what has been your most memorable trip/event so far and why?
Oh man! GODSGARDEN II was an amazing experience! I love the Japanese Street Fighter community. Luckily I have a job and work with game companies that allow me to travel and do what I love. Promote the fighting game scene and make products for the community. So far, my most memorable trip has got to be the weekend of MLG Anaheim last year. I had a really good time at the MLG event and made a lot of good connections. I also got to hang out with Manny Pacquiao and his team that weekend. It was probably my favorite time last year. Aside from MLG Anaheim… My trip to Japan for Gods Garden II and the TEKKEN 6 Global Championship FINAL is up there too!
Alright, now the important question. Best food you have ever eaten and where was it?…
There are so many good food places! One that always sticks out for me is this Lebanese restaurant in Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong. It’s called Beiruit… There is so much good food in Hong Kong! I always tell this girl I’m in love with about this place… I want to take her there some day, ha ha!
Have you ever been to Australia for work or for play? If not, do you ever plan on visiting Oz and checking out the SF and Tekken scene?
I’m thinking about making it out for the EVOLUTION qualifier at the end of May. It’s going to be tricky as there are lots of events going on around that time frame… But I guarantee you there will be some sort of Mad Catz presence there.. wink wink.
Have you had a chance to play Super SFIV yet? If you have, what are your thoughts on it so far?
I have played Super Street Fighter IV… A lot actually. It’s a lot of fun! I’ve been using Cody a lot and I’ve just been having a blast watching and learning new things. I stopped playing vanilla SF4 a few months after the console version came out… so the game is still fresh to me.
Most countries seem to have certain players that dominate the scene, winning most if not all the tournaments they attend. Do you think that hurts the scene, with people thinking they will never have a chance to win? or builds it up with people who want to beat the “Champ”?
Having strong players never hurts the competitive scene IMO. It’s like you said, it builds people up and gives someone a goal. To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man ! Or woman. Ladies, call me.
MLG and WCG have both announced Tekken 6 in their line up. Has it been a welcome move from the Tekken community? Reason I ask is because of how the SF community responded to SSFIV possibly being included in MLG’s 2010 line up.
There were some skeptics at first… Mainly because of the lack of communication and how the TEKKEN scene wasn’t ready for MLG a few years ago. This time around it is 100% legit. MLG is a great company and they care about the community and legitimacy of it’s events. They’ve worked closely with myself and Namco Bandai Games to ensure this. I helped long time TEKKEN player and seasoned tournament veteran, FilthyRich secure a spot as tournament coordinator. I have full faith in the MLG Pro Circuit for TEKKEN 6 and look forward to each and every event! World Cyber Games also adopting TEKKEN is a blessing! I’ve been talking with them for the past few weeks and will assist them in any way possible to make sure everything runs smoothly. I think this is the right direction for any and all fighting game. MLG and WCG know what they’re doing. That’s why they’re still around. It’s a business.
There is an SDTekken, why no SDStreetFighter?
There is an SD Street Fighter…. They just don’t have a cool website… Closest thing to SD Street Fighter would be the lovely people at The Box Arena (http://theboxarena.com) !
What inspires you to keep doing what you’re doing?
Several things. I’ll keep it short and sweet. My daughter. Knowing I can help people. And a girl I met last year named Faye.
Who was your idol growing up?
In regards to what? Hrmm.. Michael Jackson. Michael Jordan…. and a ton of video game characters! Ha!
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
Hopefully still doing something I love. I definitely want to be involved in the gaming industry. In 5 more years I’ll be 32 and my daughter will be turning 14… I hope to have a nice wife or special someone to spend the rest of my young years with… Also, I want to take my daughter to fighting game tournaments as she is a big fan of Street Fighter and TEKKEN!
Any thoughts for the Shadowloo community and the Australian FGC in general?
Keep playing. Keep helping each other.
Have we missed anything that you might like to talk about? Feel free to make this question about ANYTHING you like. (Kind of like asking yourself a question.)
Hmm. I’d like to give shout outs to SDTEKKEN, my team at Mad Catz, Shadowloo!, Capcom, Namco Bandai Games, Aksys Games, Team Mad Catz. Oh yea, about team Mad Catz. You’ll probably hear about it very soon. But get ready. We built a team of awesome gamers and you’ll hear from us soon.
Thanks for your time Mark.