Fountain of Scribbles: 5th Cell's Jeremiah Slaczka Speaks
October 9, 2009 Page 4 of 5
Yeah, Scribblenauts definitely resonated well with press in the pressroom at E3 because when most people were asking what people liked at the show, just making small talk because everyone's tired, Scribblenauts would come up, and they would tell their individual story about what kind of weird thing that you'd done. It's weird to actually be excited about a game.
JS: I know. That's what's funny. I think that's why Scribblenauts has resonated so well with the press because you guys see everything. You see so many shows, and it's like, "Here's another FPS, and the reason why it's innovative is because it has an ice gun!" And you're like, "That's not innovative. That's an ice gun."
I literally saw -- and you're one of my favorite examples -- just these hardcore jaded journalists like, "Okay, I'll check this game out. I heard it's kind of cool." Literally, the whole facade of being jaded and stuff, I'd just see them smile and be like, "This is fun. This is cool. What is this?" They're like 10-year-old kids again when they first discovered video games. They went back to that. It was awesome. Just time after time after time, journalist after journalist after journalist just kept on doing that. I was just like, "I knew Scribblenauts was cool, and I knew we had something on our hands, but I never knew it was gonna be like that."
I think for the journalists specifically, it has to do with everyone at least on some level enjoying writing. And your game deals with words and language. I can try to think of a weird word and have it actually show up; that's kind of cool. It makes it feel like what's happening is a product of your imagination.
JS: Yeah, yeah, right. It's yours. It's your imagination. It's your thinking of it. What's really cool is that Scribblenauts is -- I play a lot of DS games. I've played probably every major DS game that came out, and even a bunch of minor weird ones.
I haven't seen another DS game where there's like a party, where people just sit over each other's shoulders and they'll be like, "Look at this. Look what I just did. I want to share it with you." Nobody's like, "Hey, check out my puppy." They maybe will for like five seconds, but they're not like, "Yeah! Let's all crowd around and watch the puppy for an hour."
How long was the development process, from concept to completion?
JS: About a year and three months, which is crazy. That's probably the only thing I don't like about 5th Cell's development. It's just how it is. That's the way it is. We're competing against companies like Square Enix and Nintendo, triple-A products.
People hold us to the same standard, which I'm totally fine with -- I want them to hold us to that standard. But they get three years, and I get one year. That's the big difference. I feel like a boxer with one hand tied between my back. I can make incredible stuff in three years, you know. I made Scribblenauts in one year. What could I make in three years with their budget? That's just how it is. That's just what you have to deal with.
Well, they have three years because they have multiple teams and all.
JS: Unlimited pockets. That's fine. That's just how it is. They deserve it because they got there. They built themselves up to that point. We'll get there eventually.
Do you foresee yourself becoming large in that way?
JS: Yeah. I'd love to. I'd love to be large. We still want to do original stuff. We'll always do original stuff. Self-funding, self-publishing. I don't know, we'll see where it goes.
Do you want to move on from handheld?
JS: We are. We're already doing that. This year, we're actually done with handheld for original titles. We're not going to spend our stuff on new original titles. We'll put that onto consoles. Not that we're going to ever do handheld again, that's definitely not true. It's just for right now, that's just where we want to go because we want to expand and get to where we're comfortable, and then see what happens.
What kind of scale are you looking at on console?
JS: Right now, we're making a $120 million... No, I'm just kidding. [laughs] We're doing an Xbox Live Arcade title next, and it's going to be pretty big. It's going to be really cool. We're very excited about it. It'll be cool.
Did you announce that yet?
JS: No, it's unannounced. It's totally not ready to be announced. It's far away. The only thing that we've really announced is we're working on console stuff, and we'll see where it goes.
I wish you success on that. But do watch out, because getting bigger is how people become generic. That's all I'm saying.
JS: I don't think that will ever happen with us, though.
A lot of people have said that.
JS: I guess. Well, everything we say comes true. [laughs] See, but we grow up smartly. We learn. Because we actually grew really big way back in the mobile days, and we learned that that's a bad thing. So, we grow smartly. We don't grow just by hiring 200 people and firing them in six months after we don't need them. We've been around for six years, so we vet potential employees. We just go through tons of people, and do a big, deep interview process to make sure that we're really happy with people that we've got and grow smartly, not quickly.
Growth for growth's sake is stupid. I guess on paper, you could be like, "Look, we have 200 employees. We're awesome." But at the end of the day, if they're no good and they're making crap, it's stupid. That's why we stuck on DS for so long. People always ask us, "Why did you do four DS titles? Why haven't you gone to consoles yet?" It's because we have all this awesome tech [for the DS]. We still have ideas we can do, and it's all about the idea. Like I said, if I come up with another Scribblenauts idea, and say it would fit on DS, we're going to do it.
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