Publisher's Note

Publisher's Note
Made By People!

Alexander Macris | 20 Jul 2009 13:00
Publisher's Note - RSS 2.0

Scott Foe, formerly profiled on The Escapist as one of "the next generation of top gamemakers," has left his executive producer position at Nokia. Foe's most recent game, Reset Generation, was the best-reviewed and best-selling game on the new N-Gage platform; his prior game, Pocket Kingdom, was the best-reviewed and most-played multiplayer game on the old N-Gage. Succeeding with N-Gage proves Foe is the Quentin Tarantino of videogames; indie, intelligent, edgy - and able to make art from dross. Watch for him to take over a new game project end-to-end and score another "10.".

A good role player knows that it's not who starts the game, but who finishes it that counts. That's Wolfgang Engel, the man who wrote the book on graphics programming - literally, he wrote the ShaderX series of books. As the Lead Graphics Programmer for R*'s core technology group, he most-recently helped to ship GTAIV. Engel brings you points in the paint: What is it worth to have a guy that can single-handedly raise your review score by one point (for pretty)? It's worth everything - making Wolfgang Engel a "rock star" in his own right. Engel is currently taking a sabbatical to do research into next-gen graphics programming, but stay tuned for his next move.

Some major players have already made their moves: Jay Cohen, Laura Fryer, and of course Will Wright. Jay Cohen was Ubisoft's masterful Vice President of US Publishing, and had a hand in selling almost every game that Ubi introduced in the US since 1999, including recent commercial hits like Assassin's Creed. (And had you heard of Ubisoft before 1999?) Now Cohen works for Jerry Bruckheimer. When Hollywood moguls try to make games, they usually fail. Whether or not Bruckheimer's games will prove to be world-class will rely largely on Cohen's ability to deliver on the promise of exciting new intellectual property development. If Cohen's scorecard from Ubi is any indication, Bruckheimer made a great pick-up.

Executive producer Laura Fryer had been with Microsoft since 1995, and saw in the creation of Microsoft, Xbox, and Xbox 360; as executive producer she was responsible for shipping Gears of War and Gears of War 2. Earlier this year, Fryer was recruited by Warner Brothers as general manager of its Seattle studios. Watch for titles under her supervision to ship from Warner Brothers Interactive in the next thirty-six months.

And then of course there's the biggest move of all: Will Wright departed Electronics Arts to dedicate full time to Stupid Fun Club, his "entertainment think tank." Will Wright is the Tiger Woods of game development: With a career that spans from SimCity to Spore, and includes the best-selling PC franchise of all time, The Sims, Will Wright is the most-celebrated creative director the games industry has ever known. He's both a Developer's Choice Lifetime Achievement Award winner and an Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame inductee, and he could conceivably be making games for another thirty years: Our industry is going to have a hard time coming up with new trophies with which to honor him. While EA is an investor in Stupid Fun Club, Wright's departure sent EA's stock into a temporary nose dive, although it soon recovered.

Wall Street can't seem to remember that games are made by people, either I guess. Maybe this will help them remember.

Alexander Macris is co-founder and publisher of The Escapist, as well as president and CEO of its parent company, Themis Media. He has also written two tabletop wargames, conceived and edited the book "MMORPGs for Dummies," and designed the award-winning web game "Heroes Mini." After hours, he serves as president of Triangle Game Initiative, the Raleigh-Durham area's game industry association, and runs a weekly tabletop roleplaying game campaign of concentrated awesomeness.

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