The general manager at Visceral Games, makers of Dead Space and Dante's Inferno, said that the studio has learned a lot in its 9 years of existence, and that it wants to be known as the best at "edgy action" games.
Visceral Games, formerly known as EA Redwood Shores, proudly proclaims itself as EA's longest running studio. With some members having cut their teeth on the Road Rash games back in the day, the studio was tasked with some EA's most lucrative IPs and movie licenses. As part of EA's studio identity shakeup, Redwood Shores changed its name to Visceral and made Dead Space and this month's Dante's Inferno. Nick Earl is confident that his studio has found its stride and that they've now learned where they want to be, at the top of the mature-rated action game genre.
"The mission for this studio is nothing less than to be the leader of third-person linear action games," Earl told Gamasutra. He continued:
We've come through a lot of different games over the years, from James Bond to Lord of the Rings to Simpsons to Godfather to Tiger Woods -- which we did here for seven years.
But in all those years, we've kind of culled it down to the type of product that the studio really wants to build, and that is this kind of Mature-rated or edgy third-person linear action game. You know, we had such a big hit, and it was so critically well received, with Dead Space, and that was right when we changed our name to Visceral.
We feel like we were able to capture lightning in a bottle, which sort of rarely happens. This team feels -- the team here in the studio -- just feels a mission to establish this studio as one of the studios that really stands out and makes a difference and is sort of held as one of the top five or ten across the entire landscape.
As part of that, Visceral is aiming to release only one game a year. "What I've learned being general manager of the studio for the past nine years is you can overload a studio," he said. "'Less is more.' I know it sounds kind of trite, but we really believe that. We've really taken that on board here. What we put out, we want to put out at the absolute highest quality mark. We don't need to do three of those a year. One [game per year] is plenty, if we continue to drive that kind of quality here."
Part of this transformation comes from Earl and Visceral Games, but it also seems to be a philosophy change at Electronic Arts. In the past, the huge game publisher was accused of just throwing a studio at an IP to make the game. That's changed now, according to Earl. "The notion of just 'backing up the bus,' we like to call it, I think that's pretty much gone," said Earl. "We just don't do that anymore."
I never thought I'd hear game designers describe making a game as 'backing up the bus,' but it does make a certain amount of sense.