Eric Chahi, the man behind the cult classic Another World, says that when it comes to creative freedom in game development, “The less it costs, the better it is.”
The feeling that success in the videogame industry means creating either a huge triple-A hit or a low budget indie sleeper is becoming increasingly common. But while Ubisoft said in August 2010 that the money is in triple-A games, Chahi, the man behind Another World (also known as Out Of This World) and Heart of Darkness recently countered by claiming that when it comes to creative freedom, it’s better to be cheap.
“The less it costs the better it is because the less it costs the more creative freedom we have,” Chahi told CVG. “It’s true that there are more creative things on the low budget side than on the triple-A side. If you have a graph of creativity it will be lower on the triple-A and higher and on the lower [budget] because creativity is not linked to the development cost.”
What is linked to development cost is sales; a multi-million-dollar budget has to be recouped and that means playing to what sells. That adds up to a certain consistency and reliability but it also has a way of stifling creative urges that are potentially awesome but might not attract much of an audience. In that regard, Chahi also pointed out that the production quality of low budget games is improving dramatically, which will inevitably attract more mainstream attention.
“We can see that on the XBLA and PSN the production quality is increasing right now if you compare the games on the XBLA from a few years ago to today,” he said. “I don’t know how it will evolve; maybe we will have bigger budgets for original games, but don’t think that it’s a goal.”
Chahi is currently at work on From Dust, which is slated for release later this year on Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation Network and Steam.