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Navigating A Crossroads: David Jaffe Talks
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Navigating A Crossroads: David Jaffe Talks

January 25, 2008 Article Start Page 1 of 5 Next

From the massive popularity of his God of War franchise to the formation of his new studio Eat, Sleep, Play, which has a multi-year, multi-title deal to develop PlayStation 3 titles for Sony, outspoken developer David Jaffe has become an opinionated and influential force in the industry.

Gamasutra recently had a chance to speak to him by phone about the unusual creation of the upcoming Twisted Metal: Head-On for the PS2, as well as his thoughts on the directions the market is taking right now, and how his new development studio Eat, Sleep, Play fits into the equation.

OK, so, the first thing I want to talk about is the new Twisted Metal game. It's really interesting to see a kind of "all encompassing" title. Especially, even though you've been involved in most of the projects since the series started, it's gone through so many different developers, and evolutions. How did you get all that material together, and make that game?

DJ: Well, with the exception of 3 and 4, I've been involved with every iteration of the series except Head-On.

And my business partner, Scott Campbell, and most of the guys that we took from Incognito to start Eat, Sleep, Play, they worked on all those games as well as Head-On. So with the exception of 3 and 4, we just had all that stuff sitting around on archives and things like that.

And everything else was brand new; the documentary that we made was brand new, and the levels that we did for Twisted Metal: Black were based on existing levels, but those had a lot of brand new work done to them as well. So most of it was honestly either new work, or stuff that was sitting around that we had had, that we had been hoping to find a good opportunity to use, and this was a great way to do it.

It's interesting because the PS2 is reaching... it's certainly not ending, but it's reaching a new phase in its lifespan. And I guess it's interesting to see what could've started as a simple PSP version, or port, has taken on a new life. How do you see the PS2 right now?

DJ: You know, I still love the PS2. I mean, every week I look at the numbers and see that it's still selling a pretty healthy amount. You know, obviously the new game releases have dwindled pretty significantly -- at least the ones that are significant and substantial -- but I love it.

You know, I had a debate with a bunch of people online a couple of days ago, where it's like, "Yeah, new technology is exciting, and new graphics are sexy and cool, but for me, I love the idea of an affordable gaming system with tons of software, and just that mass accessibility."

And so for me, I love the idea that we're putting out a really consumer-friendly priced product, lots of stuff on it, a lot of people can give it a try -- people who have either never played Twisted Metal because they were too young to have played it, and they're getting maybe a hand-me-down PlayStation 2 from their brother or sister, or the hardcore fans.

To me there's something -- I don't know -- I like very much the idea that we're still entertaining people who may not have made the leap to next-gen yet.

Because as exciting as the next-gen is, that's not everybody. You know, there's a lot of people that, either by choice or by necessity of cost, have not been able to make that leap yet. The fact that we're still able to put good stuff out for them is gratifying. I really like that.


Article Start Page 1 of 5 Next

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"So what it may really be saying is that the vast majority who want to play video games could really care less if they're playing the leading-edge graphics."

This sentence makes no sense, americans needs to learn that "could care less" and "couldn't care less" means completely different things.

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Actually they are very similar as "could care less" implies "could care less, but not likely". The reason is we Americans are generally sarcastic... as in "Most Americans could care less about our comments"... I'm sure there are various forms of vernacular in various countries that sound ridiculous... to those who simply care too much.

Oliver Snyders
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Thanks for explaining that ("couldn't care less" = sarcasm). I've always wondered why people say that when it sounds like they *mean* "couldn't care less". (This was not sarcasm. Or is today 'Opposite Day'? Now you're thinking!)

It's good that Jaffe is admitting to not knowing what the future holds because that is a real concern. Developers just need to do what they know with the data they have, strong and steady, and the crystal ball will become *less* murky in the next 6 months, I think.

My prediction - games based on advertising revenue cannot sustain themselves. Maybe for the foreseeable future (in that murky crystal ball) but relying on advertising as a financial model and expecting it to support your games for years into the future is a mistake. A few different models need to be used in a combination in order to create a reliable revenue stream.

This interview also got me thinking about the remakes on different platforms - isn't it funny how people go crazy over different levels of graphical achievement? A DS game could look 'gorgeous' while a PS3 game could also look 'gorgeous', only because they are capable of different things.

Well, I found it hilarious.

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Hmmf, Jaffe seems like, in this interview, that he's trying to act neutral and open minded to the whole 'console war' where, in fact, it is watered down hyperbole covering up his contractual obligations to talk good about his buddies at Sony. It's basically like him saying "Oh the Xbox has such and such features, but the PS3 has better. By the way we still wanna sell our PS2 brands". I wouldn't put it past Sony to pull a stunt like this, but Jaffe is a terrible PR agent. He's effectively pulling an opinion out of the air rather than coming up with one of his own.

My prediction? Sony will draw it's own crowd and standing with the casual gamer when the price cintinues it's accelerated drops. These are usually the most pliable bunch who often confuse marketing with true consumer information. It will however fall to second place in both the casual (to the Wii) and hardcore (X360) gaming markets, although it will be technically a success. Sony will trumpet on about another solid product made, while secretly trying to find out what the next generation's competitors will be doing, knowing they've barely escaped a massive failure with the PS3.

Jaffe will continue in the tradition of making GoW titles for Sony, further continuing the now stale stable of flagships that are churned out as the next big thing for the series. I'm sorry this is not Sony bashing, I was a fan of the PS2, but Metal Gear Solid 4? another Final Fantasy?

Also, I want to point out for Mr JAffe that Sony has no loyalties if it can impact Microsoft sales. Look at what happened with UT3.

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Reading the interview was tiring. The new insights I have got are these:

1. Look, I think I was like, you know, like -- the thing is, and I mean like, you know, like definitely those people -- and it's happening.

2. For a creator, it's "exciting" to be able to put ads inbetween levels of his games.

Also, "couldn't care less" is sarcastic without saying it the wrong way (that would be by leaving out the "not"). "Could care less, but not likely" doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

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For some reason, this sounds me like when Paul Steed left iD to make some web games...