Outspoken developer David Jaffe reckons it’s easy to “bamboozle” game execs with impressive-sounding jargon.
Speaking at the 2012 D.I.C.E Summit, Jaffe made a point of how easy it is for developers to trick execs into loosening the purse strings by making unrealistic promises.
“It’s real easy to bamboozle you,” he said. “It’s really easy to sit in a pitch and talk about ‘I want the realism and grittiness of Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy and I want to put it on a space ship and make you feel like Tarantino and speak to the human condition’. And you walk out of the meeting and you give them the green light because you can see that in your head.”
“You guys need to get a bullshit filter and you need to get that before you waste any more money,” he continued.
Jaffe argues that publishers are so removed from the game development process and so uneducated about the products they’re potentially funding, that they can’t tell which developer claims are realistic or even feasible.
“You better start learning gameplay language,” Jaffe continued. “It’s not to be mean spirited, I would never do that, but you can actually sit with developer and say ‘it’s cool that you want to do that but tell me how.’ If you come in with an awareness of that, if you’re an executive that can suss that out, that’s great. You don’t want to have a developer romance you with the promise of something more than it will ever be and it ends up not being that.”
He went on to discuss gaming’s place when it comes to storytelling and narrative, eventually concluding that writers with a “story to tell” should look to a different medium.
“A lot of these people will say ‘I have something to say, I have a story to tell.’ If you’ve really got something inside of you that’s so powerful, like a story you’ve got to share or a philosophy about man’s place in the universe, why in the fuck would you choose the medium that has historically, continually been the worst medium to express philosophy, story and narrative?” he said.
“Why wouldn’t you write a book, why wouldn’t you make a movie? It’s like being one of the world’s best chefs and working in the world’s best restaurants, you ply your trade in McDonalds.”