Well, like you were just talking earlier about having to find ways to make the criticism -- even internally -- appropriate, I went to film school, and whenever we criticized something, we had to say something we liked first.
AE: We call that feedback sandwich.
Exactly. Sometimes it can sound completely disingenuous, but sometimes it actually can work.
AE: I found that when I was trying to learn to do feedback sandwiches, trying to find the good thing and see past your current hate is actually a good discipline.
Because you're like, "Actually, I'm going to have to find what it is that I actually like about this in order to criticize it." That was cool... but there's no critical language for games.
It's kind of like we're in this really horrible no man's land between... There's no critical language, which means criticism is a score that's low or high, it's very fanboy. It's not even the fault necessarily of the journalists; it's just the whole setup is very kind of simplistic.
On the other extreme, you've got the developers failing in the sense that they're so scared to promise anything. They're so scared to actually say something interesting -- you know, the PR backlash and the fanboy backlash.
You're in this bizarre situation where no one is saying anything interesting. The developers are spinning like hell, and the journalists are sort of only really able to write puff pieces or rants.
I think people really need to just try to be true to what they actually think, and if they say something that is controversial and upsetting, be like, "Well, that's what I meant."
AE: Exactly. I want the developers to kick back in that way. I was trying to think of ways, and I haven't worked this out yet, of explaining the game development process to an interested fan. I'm not talking about your casual person who just picks up a game and plays it. I'm talking about the person who goes and seeks out the website for the developer.
They're not necessarily technical, they don't know anything about game development, but I think that if they could understand the processes, then at that point, I can come out and say, "We're working on X," and it won't be perceived as a promise. I can say, "I'm working on X, and it's at this stage of the kind of mental process. You know, we're just sketching right now."
People understand that. You can have the idea of a pilot, and people can understand certain concepts at a very simplistic level. They know that this is a bit of a working out process. Or, you know, you go and watch the behind the scenes, and there's a certain format that you see and a certain process that makes sense.
It is quite amazing that you actually wound up getting funding to do a game, given the sort of process you took. If people didn't know that you were capable of anything, it would just be like, "Here are a bunch of guys kind of screaming ideas at me, and I can kind of get this anywhere."
AE: It was a risk that Phil [Harrison] took. Someone asked me a question just after the talk that I thought was really pertinent, and I didn't really express it. He said, "Sir, how did you geta deal? How did you structure a deal that is so open-ended? Was there a dollar amount on it and stuff?"
Actually, there wasn't a ceiling in the sense that we weren't worrying about budget. We had a really traditionalist structured setup. It's like milestones every six weeks; we set our goals for how long it was gonna take.
The weird thing is that we had this super hand-wavey approach creatively, and then this like super traditional structure which we were working with, a delivery structure to Sony.
That was actually really awesome because it kept me reined in a little bit. It's like "Oh, I've got to master, and I've actually got to do something. I'm not going to fake it, I'm actually going to try to do something good, but I do have to deliver. I have to deliver this month. I have to have that discipline."