Tim Schafer has revealed that publishing executives asked him to change heavy metal action-adventure Brütal Legend into a "hip-hop" or "country music" game, back when it was originally pitched.
It was only after the success of Guitar Hero, which turned metal into big business for the games industry, that Double Fine Productions was able to get its action-adventure starring Jack Black signed. Otherwise it could have been Billy Ray Cyrus. Imagine.
Speaking to Eurogamer, Schafer explained: "When we were first pitching Brütal Legend, it was before the first Guitar Hero game was announced and we were like, 'There's this game in a heavy metal world', [and they said], 'We like the game, but could we change it to be a hip-hop game, or maybe country music?'
"There's nothing against that music, but it doesn't have a lore of heavy metal, in terms of a certain kind of mythology that leads to epic, medieval battles."
That, of course, changed once everyone started throwing money at Activision to pretend-fret-wank on toy guitars. "After Guitar Hero came out and [Black Sabbath's] Iron Man was one of the first songs on it, it seemed to expose a whole new generation to that kind of music," Schafer said. "So by the time we were pitching the game for a second time there was a lot more interest in it being exactly what it is, which is a brutal heavy metal action-adventure."
Activision originally signed Brütal Legend, but dropped it following the publisher's merger with Vivendi. EA then promptly stepped in and snapped up the game for itself.
"The pitching process is terrifying," Schafer admitted. "Doing something creative involves a certain amount of risk and launching a new IP is a very big investment. [EA] were interested in doing both of those things and that's how we knew that was the right place to go."
Our full chat with Schafer, in words and moving pictures, is available elsewhere on Eurogamer. Brütal Legend's out on PS3 and Xbox 360 on 16th October.