The Tiger And The Spider: From AAA To App Store
November 11, 2009 Page 3 of 6
How did you deal with your collaborators on the game -- would you recommend plain English agreements or not?
RS: Yeah. I don't know to what extent we agree on this point. [laughs] So, here's the thing from my point of view. I think what we did is totally going to work. It was the right idea. Everyone in our company is so psyched to have been able to collaborate on this project together, and there's going to be no problems.
But it just seems like... I kind of have a little bit of lawyerphobia, and I just didn't want to get them involved and complicate the process and stuff. I don't think that's particularly rational.
I think it's actually probably a better idea for most studios who have different types of working relationships or personal relationships with the people they collaborate with or whatever, to just add that layer of legal protection and objectivity. It's not that scary.
So, that's kind of why I've been sort of like, "This is what we chose to do, and it's going to work out for us, but that doesn't mean it's great advice for everybody."
And you know, some of that stuff puts you in bizarre legally perilous situations. The real problem is legal ambiguity. The thing we did strive to do with our agreements was make them as unambiguous as possible because the last thing you want is the game's done, it's making a bunch of money, and someone's like, "Oh, but I thought we were going to earn all this from that." And you'd be like, "Oh yeah, I guess it was kind of unclear. Let's decide now."
So, we did our best to make it super objective and super clear in advance. And I think that's why we're not going to have a problem. But a lawyer can do an even better job on that. We've been talking to a lawyer more recently because the company has gotten another layer of legitimacy since we shipped Spider, and he's already pointing out things that we probably could have done better and differently in that regard, like, "Here's something that's more objective."
DK: Yeah. It's not like we just had a handshake or verbal agreements. We did put together finance documents, shared it with everybody, and made sure everybody was signing on. I think just the main difference is making sure that it's legally binding, and that's something that we're going to look at in the future now that we're working with a lawyer, just to clear that stuff.
You shared a map to show the geographical distribution of the collaborators, and there were quite a lot -- that there were so many collaborators on the project is almost more surprising than the agreement style.
RS: We set out towards the beginning of the iPhone development space, and because it took us eight months to make this game, it really evolved a lot during development. There was a point where we were like, "Oh my God. Maybe this is the wrong thing to do." We didn't know if anyone else was out there making games with this much of an investment because no one had come out yet that clearly represented that.
And we were like, "Well, shit. Maybe the market doesn't want quality games. Maybe we're going to try to release this, and they'll be like, 'Eh, if I have to pay more than 99 cents, I'm kind of not interested.'
Like, 'It doesn't really matter to me if you've done something that's unique or high quality production quality or whatever.'" So, we were kind of nervous about it. And that cost comes from all of our developers, the fact that so many people collaborated and contributed stuff.
DK: We had several level artists. We had an animator. We had two people who worked on music, one guy who did sound effects primarily, a couple people who did programming for the leaderboards. A lot of the time, these are small projects.
Since we couldn't pay anybody up front, we were basically asking people to work nights and weekends. The level of contribution was smaller and less predictable. But ultimately, we were very pleased. we got a lot of great stuff from this network of people. We're excited to work with probably all of them again.
It took about twice as long as you anticipated when you started on the project?
So, how did you feel when you realized that was going to happen?
RS: When did we realize that was going to happen? [laughs]
DK: [laughs] I was constantly nervous about the art. We never had a reliable solution. I think we went into the project thinking, "We're going to find an artist. We're going to find like one guy who will be our equal on the art side to kind of drive the art direction and put things together." And ultimately, we never found that one person. Randy ended up basically art directing the game. So, yeah, it was very unpredictable for a long time.
RS: We had amazing collaborators on the art side that did awesome work for us, and we're really psyched. But there wasn't one person that really drove the art process as competently and as effectively as Dave and I were driving the other parts of the project, because we're not artists.
I've been exposed to enough artists to try and fill in as an art director and managed to do so, but it took a lot longer, and it was harder to close things down. So, we would make schedules, and they wouldn't work out for various reasons.
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