The Little Guy

The Little Guy
Scratchware Auteurs

Patrick Dugan | 9 May 2006 12:03
The Little Guy - RSS 2.0

SS: Uh, I do have delusions of grandeur. I'm a human being. I do tend to think of myself winning an Oscar or something like that. I agree that a game designer is not writing a story where every detail is controlled, he's creating the rules for a player. The boundaries of authorship in games are really very mysterious due to the nature of interactivity. Interactivity enables people to modify what you give to them. It's sort of like the DJs; they remix the music and suddenly, because the technology gets ripe, the DJs become very famous and recognized as artists. The nature of interactivity puts into questions the nature of authorship, but I'm trying to create tools that enable authorship in the sense of community creation. Like Wikipedia - it was created by a million users worldwide. Interactivity empowers the creativity of individuals. But, I read a lot of biographies, I admire people that do something different. In games there are, of course, Will Wright and Ron Gilbert and so on. We need to look up to these people and we need to be those people who make a difference, because individuality also has its good side.

PD: Jenova, your game, Cloud, was your vision, and you came up with the basic play mechanic, but you made it happen with, I think it was six other people?

JC: It's really hard. Before we made Cloud, we made another game called Dyadin. We were here last year at the EGW with that. That game was made by everyone. Everyone on the team started talking about the game, contributing to it and debating about ideas, and finally we got an idea that was mediocre to everybody. OK, so everybody is happy to make it, but I feel that the more people that get into the design, the more the final product suffers. If you have more then seven people involved, it's going to be very hard.

PD: Is seven the magic number, before you stop being a scratchware team and start becoming AAA?

JC: Yeah. But you can't have a magic space that everybody will like. You need somebody to lead it. That's why, in Cloud, because I started the project, people would say, "You are the lead and you get to make this decision." So, I became the choice-maker for the team. It's kind of like being the president: You can't really do anything without your team. You can pass out ideas, but they have to agree if it's going to happen.

CB: That situation definitely gets worse when you have a big team. The barrier to doing anything interesting is that you have to satisfy everyone on the team.

SS: This is a very interesting debate because it has a lot to do with the philosophy you bring to the particular game you're making. American games very much focus on the business model. The creative process becomes highly collective and systematized. I like a lot of Hayao Miyazaki's movies. He's a brilliant artist, and I once read a quote of his: "When people work with me, I don't give them time for discussion, you'll do it my way or you don't do it at all." His movies are quite personal.

JC: I learned about this the hard way with Cloud, we'd go through about five iterations based on player feedback, so as a designer, I can't make a game for myself, I have to make it for the player.

TL: That's the same thing as anything, even making a website. People make the websites not for themselves but for a company, and it sucks. But when your make a website for a client, that's when it succeeds.

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