Outspoken developer David Jaffe has unleashed an f-bomb-laden blog post in response to the EA Louse in which he wonders what it is about the videogame industry that makes everybody think they know how to do things better than everyone else.
By now you’ve probably read about EA Louse, the anonymous artist at Electronic Arts who stirred up some trouble with a blog that purported to expose management shenanigans at Warhammer Online studio Mythic, with a drive-by swipe at BioWare along the way. It was a fun read, salacious and entirely unverifiable, although whether it was a legitimate exposé of serious management dysfunction or just a seriously pissed-off soon-to-be-former employee blowing off steam we’ll probably never know, because nobody directly involved with the situation is saying a word about it.
But that leaves lots of people who aren’t involved and thus have plenty to say, like the always-entertaining Jaffe, the creative mind behind the Twisted Metal and God of War franchises. He acknowledged that he knows nothing about the situation or the people involved, but is nonetheless not entirely sympathetic to the Louse’s complaints.
“No one gives a shit if you or the animators get to express yourselves if in expressing yourself it breaks the fiction of/immersion into the world of the game,” Jaffe wrote on his blog. “It’s not a f*cking art class where everyone gets a chance to ‘show what’s inside them!’… It’s work.”
“Games should allow for self expression by members of the team – that is fantastic when that happens and something management should always try to offer up,” he continued. “But it’s gotta be within context of and in service to the product.”
He also expressed frustration with the way many people in the industry think that their ideas and opinions are better than those of the people who are actually in charge of a project. Relating a story about a small group on the original God of War team that was unhappy that the game’s relatively simple combat mechanics weren’t more like those of Street Fighter 2 or Tekken, he wrote, “Never did it occur to them that we were going for something else… Every few weeks I could count on this little contingency being up in the studio head’s office pitching ‘their’ version of the game, with the goal being to have the head step in – which he never did – and shove their ideas into the title. F*ck it annoys me!”
Jaffe has a point: Artistic vision is nice but the bottom line is that the cogs in the machine have to turn. The Louse’s frustration, however, seems to stem not from the corruption of his artistic aspirations but what he sees as incompetence and mismanagement. The truth of that is impossible to measure, but it’s hard to deny that Warhammer Online is floundering or that the departure of Mythic co-founder Mark Jacobs was shocking and just a little bit murky. But at this point, all it really adds up to is people yelling at each other on the internet.
EA, for its part in the drama, told Eurogamer, “We don’t respond to rumor or anonymous blogs.”