Sometimes I'll be playing some long, deep, giant mainstream game, and then I'll have a download game on the side. My main gameplay session of the night will be a whole bunch of the big game, but I'll be fatigued. But I'm not quite ready to turn off the 360 yet, so then maybe I'll dive into some download game for awhile. Do you guys ever think about that?
LP: Yeah, all the time.
TS: Yeah, because I've had Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood at my house for a long time and I know it's good, everyone says it's good, I can't wait to play it.
Yet when I get home, put the baby to sleep, talk to my wife for awhile and then she goes to bed, I get like an hour and I'm like, "I know there's going to be at least an hour of tutorial in that game. Okay, I'll play something else instead." You know what I mean? And it's like I'd rather play Pac-Man or get through [Costume Quest DLC] Grubbins…
LP: I think there's this variety, too, just in terms of… No, I don't want everything to be a big, almost stressful experience -- sometimes, it is, to take on those big games! I mean, I really enjoyed some of those games, but I like watching sitcoms as well as movies. I sort of see them as just a different "I'm in the mood for something small."
There's a lot going on, there's a lot of things you want to try, and it kind of weighs down if you have too many big games going concurrently. It's almost stressful, in a weird way, and there's so many things -- like so many great iPhone games and downloadable games that are grabbing my attention, too.
I really like pick up and put down experiences. And I don't think that means they need to be shallow, I just think they need to be structured in such a way that you feel like you can come back, and still have fun, and still build towards goals.
I'm not surprised that Stacking is an artist-led project. It's so creative in the visual sphere. One thing that your Amnesia Fortnight did is give you a chance to put people in different disciplines in charge of projects, right?
TS: Yeah, you can definitely see the mark of Lee or Tasha [Harris, lead for Costume Quest] on their games, and I think that's one of the cool things. Because if you're going to make this argument about games as art, then I think they have to be an expression of the people who make them. Not just the person in charge, but the whole team, and the company who made them.
I think with games, you should always look at them and be like, "There's no one else who could have made that game, except for the person who made it." As opposed to a lot of games where they could've been farmed out to any work-for-hire developer. Which is fine -- but you know, the thing our company is going to do is to try and make games that are more expressive.
Last time we talked, it was right before Costume Quest was going to come out and now it's out. You probably can't talk specifics, but are you satisfied with performance?
LP: Yeah, it came out and it won a few awards already, and we've got DLC coming out for it. And one of our goals is try and make it extend beyond Halloween by having this DLC that's not Halloween-specific. And cross our fingers, maybe we'll continue on... I'm always torn, because it would be fun to keep going with DLC and have like Valentine's Quest and Easter Quest. Well, maybe not Easter Quest.
But then there's also like, "What else could that team come up with? Something fun, that's new?" too, so that's always kind of the question. The great thing about games that are this inexpensive is that they don't have to sell a ton to make money, or to break even.
Well, that's been a big question. You were stung by that. It's not just you -- it's this generation's big problem.
TS: Brütal Legend sold like 1.4 million, last time I asked, and I was like, "That's more than any game I'd ever made, up to that point." And I should be going like, "Woo!" but instead it's like, "Well, it didn't sell 5", and that's the problem with those big games.
That's what Peter Molyneux said at GDC last year. "Fable sold 3 million in the past but we really need to take it to 5."
TS: I can't even put 5 million people in my head. I'm trying to imagine them all standing there.
It's just the problem with the cost of production this generation. I'm curious if you're finding out whether you can sustain a company.
TS: I mean, in some way the money's the same. The budgets for the four projects, it's like we divide the budget into fourths. And so, it's totally sustainable in terms of the amount of money it brings in; it's just more complicated.
We hired a new VP of production; we need some more infrastructure, another producer to manage all that stuff. And so it's more complicated, but in terms of how much money it brings in, it's the same amount of money, with more stability because you know, like I said before, one of the engines can go out and the plane's still flying.