Interview: High Impact's Lesley Matheson On New Studios, Tech, And More
May 16, 2008 Page 3 of 6
As a studio, is your strategy going to be working on established series, or do you want to strike out with original IP when you get a chance?
LM: We're interested in doing original IP. We have a lot of very veteran and talented people; most of the people we started our studio with have had, easily, ten or twelve years of experience in the industry.
So Ratchet provided a really great base for us to start, and grow, and hire the right people. And now that we're there, we're really excited about doing our own thing, and putting out something really cool.
That's actually funny, because that is almost exactly what David Jaffe said to me about Eat Sleep Play, and Twisted Metal: Head On. They kind of used it as a bootstrap to get the studio up and running, in a sense. Very quickly, they had a project that they were personally invested in, but at the same time it gave them the opportunity to get everything up to speed before they launched into their more ambitious projects.
LM: Yeah. I mean, it makes a lot of sense from a studio model, because when you're starting a new studio there are so many things to work out -- your technology, your production process, all of that -- and if you don't add an additional factor in there by trying to come up with an entirely new game, if you instead are working on an established license where you know what the characters are, you know what the expected gameplay is, then it helps a little bit.
It's one less thing that you're really worried about; you can instead just focus on making the game fun and interesting, and not on proving new mechanics.
Was High Impact founded entirely by ex-Insomniac people, or is it just part of the mix?
LM: No, that was just part of the mix. Actually the original person who founded High Impact was Roberto Rodriguez, who's the president of it. He was the director of gameplay at Insomniac, and I did work there as well, but there were a number of people in the founding team.
One of the partners is Atsuko Kubota, who had previously worked at Spark on the Call of Duty series -- and then a number of other people who came from places as diverse as Luxoflux and Heavy Iron, and so forth. They came from a lot of different backgrounds.
So just sort of the primordial soup of the Los Angeles studio scene, basically.
LM: There are a lot of developers in Los Angeles, yeah.
There really are, and it's interesting because if you talk to people who aren't as familiar with development, they ask, "What's the biggest region for development in the country?" And California, obviously, really dominates.
Do you think there's like a regional difference somehow between the different areas? Austin, you think of PC games, MMOs; Washington's Microsoft and NST, among others. But is there like a SoCal/NorCal difference in your eyes?
LM: I think -- I don't really see so much of a SoCal/NorCal difference -- I worked and lived in NorCal for a while. I can understand why you think of that, with Austin and so forth, but that just has to do more with what was the original studios that got big there, and what did they do.
Because, you know, the Austin scene started off with like Origin, and stuff -- really talented PC guys -- so it was natural that when they grew up, that those people would go and start PC houses, and PC gaming would prosper. I think LA and San Francisco are a bit more mixed, especially since it's so easy to migrate back and forth between the two.
Do you find that people do that a lot? Migrate back and forth between the two?
LM: Yeah, I've found that a lot of people move down from the Bay Area, or move back up from Los Angeles.
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