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Why Robert Bowling left  Call of Duty  behind
Why Robert Bowling left Call of Duty behind
April 24, 2012 | By Mike Rose

April 24, 2012 | By Mike Rose
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Infinity Ward's creative strategist Robert Bowling left the Call of Duty studio last month after six years at the company, choosing not to reveal his future plans straight away.

This week, he unveiled Robotoki, his new game development studio, with which he plans to release games for next-gen consoles, PCs and mobile devices. Speaking to Gamasutra, Bowling, who had served as the public-facing community liaison for Infinity Ward, says that he only came up with the idea for the company after leaving his role at Activision.

"When I made the decision to resign from my previous position at Activision, I only knew one thing for certain," he tells us. "I knew what I didn't want to do, but that eventually led to clarity on what I did want to do."

What he wanted to do, he says, was delve into new experiences and develop something different to that which he had worked on with the Call of Duty franchise.

"After each project, you sit back and you contemplate what you're passionate about and you have to make your next move based on that," he continues. "Regardless if the rest of the world is ready to move on or not, if there are unique stories and experiences you want to deliver, then you have to follow your passion to deliver those. Nothing else can be a deciding factor when it comes to creative decision making."

"So when I left, it was solely to follow that passion to create new opportunities and experiences -- not knowing yet what that would be until the decision to form Robotoki and rally support behind our first project was decided."

Forming Robotoki, says Bowling, was an answer to the problem: "How do you create a foundation for a creative team that is completely free of outside influence and pressure?"

This was Bowling's main criteria that he says was "essential to approaching the development of our new IP and most importantly the forming of the team that would create it" -- and the answer, he believes, is self-funding.

"Self-funding the initial investment to get the studio off the ground allowed me to do this," he tells us. "Right now is the single most valuable time for independent developers in our industry."

"It was important for me to have complete control over how Robotoki was formed and to lay a solid foundation for the creative talent that would join it and, most importantly, the creative freedom required to embark on a new intellectual property as ambitious as our first project," he continues.

"Which is why I decided to self-fund the formation of the studio, the initial team, and our new IP, and to set a guiding principle for the studio moving forward to work exclusively with partners that supported that independent model and mentality by allowing the creative vision holders behind a project to retain control of it."

The accessibility of self-publishing and crowd-sourcing models has led to more gamers realizing just how important it is for creative vision holders to maintain control of their creations, says Bowling, and in turn, the stability in quality that can come from this.

Robotoki's first project is not simply a single game, but rather, an entire online universe that is completely platform and genre agnostic. Bowling plans to build up the universe first, then define the experience afterwards, before putting together any specific gameplay mechanics.

"I believe we have moved away from telling our players how to enjoy our game, and our job is merely to provide them a platform to dictate their own experience," he suggests. "Therefore a player on mobile should be able to engage in the universe, continue their progression, grow their persistent character, and experience the lore of the universe in a unique way from the other less tactile experiences on PC or consoles and vice versa."

"Where the at-home experience may be focused on action, the mobile experience can be a completely different, strategy focused experience. However, each contribute and affect the overall state of the universe equally," he concludes.


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Comments


Greg Back
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build a universe without gameplay mechanics... second life?

Dragos Inoan
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Well, it DOES sound like every person new to the industry: "FIRST WE BUILD THE STORY!". What I see in this is him trying to emulate Minecraft without knowing what he wants to do actually. I sure hope I'm wrong though.

Jeremy Parsons
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I got the Minecraft impression from how things were worded too. It makes me a bit uneasy to hear gameplay being last on the to-do list, though. To the "genre agnostic" line, I remember some games being chastised for being "a game that didn't know what kind of game it wanted to be" and that they tried to do everything, but ended up not doing anything well. Hopefully he doesn't end up going that route.

Jason Chen
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He is a creative strategist after all, perhaps he's gameplay mechanics is followed by creativity.

Gil Salvado
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I'm sorry, I know this is a bit prejudiced, but I doubt he knows what he's doing. Having great ideas is one thing - turning these into game mechanics is another. The way he presented MW3 - I just got a bad feeling about him. I don't see him as a game designer, much rather as a marketing person.

But, that's just my personal opinion and he may prove me wrong. After all, I don't know him personally.


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