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Angel in Disguise: An Interview With Rockstar San Diego's Alan Wasserman
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Angel in Disguise: An Interview With Rockstar San Diego's Alan Wasserman

June 22, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 6 Next

How long has [your desk-moving practice] been in effect?

AW: It goes back a ways. In the old days, one of the philosophies at Rockstar was to treat the developer like a rockstar, and give them the tools that they need so that they can do what they need to do. We used to do the same process where we move desks around, because it's common sense to me.

Why have the designer who needs to work closely with the programmer across the building? Then it may make sense to have them together for two months, but afterwards he may rather go back and be with other designers, because the programmers are too dry. We'll do it on a need basis, and because some people just get more out of it. It's much easier for me to say, "Hey Bob, can you help me with this?" from across my desk. IM is great, but there's no substitute for face-to-face. You'll get a much better understanding of intent -- not task -- when you get out of your chair to talk to somebody. That's what I think so many developers miss. They get hung up on task stuff, but did they deliver what was intended?

Do you find much resistance to that sort of thing?

AW: No, absolutely not, even with the guys who are real shy and want to be left alone. The very nature of sitting near the person they need to interact with means they get to know the person. You're asking them questions as a person, not as an AI programmer. If they interact on a human level, the desire is there to give what is needed.

You mentioned treating the employees like rockstars. What is the company culture like right now? How is it different, in your experience, from others?

AW: I'd like to think that we're more about the game and getting it right than about ego. We want to focus on decisions that attempt to make the game better. It's all the way up the food chain, and if someone's feelings get hurt a little bit, it's not intentional, and you can say sorry later on. It really is about the game. That's the philosophy of the studio. Let the game talk for the studio.

What is good about the Rockstar brand and mystique?

AW: I think the "wizard behind the curtain" kind of mystique about Rockstar makes people all the more curious [about us]. They ask, "What is that like? Can I be a part of that? It seems so cool!" I'd like to think it's as cool as people probably think it is. I think that helps.

Do you think withholding game info until it releases builds anticipation?

AW: I think that servers being brought to their knees so that people could take a look at the first [GTA IV] trailer is evidence of that.

Does that sort of stuff generate interest from developers and potential employees? Do you think that's part of why people want to come work here?

AW: I think it works both ways for us, but in general, it's an advantage.

GTA IV is cross-platform now…that's interesting to me, because it seems as though everybody is going cross-platform now. It seems like the day of the exclusive is at an end, because of budgets and things.

AW: I'm not able to talk about it other than to say that it's very difficult. Who knows whether it's going to be Blu-ray or HD-DVD, or whether it's going to be Xbox 360 or PS3? Unless we're being limited or curtailed in our ability to create the games we want and express ourselves in the way we want, why not create for both?

Article Start Previous Page 2 of 6 Next

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