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High Moon Shining: Inside Sierra's San Diego Outpost
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High Moon Shining: Inside Sierra's San Diego Outpost

September 21, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 11 Next

And what do you think that it should be?

PO: As an industry, we're enjoying the second or third generation of people who grew up playing video games as customers. Those people have expectations and experience about what a video game can be that didn't exist in the consumer body five or eight years ago. We have to find ways to leverage their consistent experience to make games evolve, instead of just circling the drain on the same play patterns over and over again, just looking a little prettier than last time. When film started, they said that a movie shouldn't be longer than 15 minutes.

That's where we are with video games. Over time, the film audience became more sophisticated, and film evolved, because the audience evolved. It was no longer a novelty, and now they understood it and it became a great thing. Video games are no longer a novelty. The audience understands them, and they can become a great thing, but they haven't yet. That's what next-gen design should be.

One thing that sometimes troubles me is that there's a lot of emphasis on what we can learn from film, rather than doing something beyond film. Film is an incredibly limited medium compared to games. If you're playing a set experience, that takes a lot of potential power away from games.

CU: I think you're right. It's like early films -- they took a lot of their emphasis from stage, and then they ended up transcending stage. I think that there's still things to learn from film in terms of how things are shown and achieved. Using the camera as an example, step one would be to use an intelligent camera that's not just fixed in place, but aids the player to feel like he's in a world. One thing we can do in video games and not in movies is to become something different and feel what that feels like. I don't think we've come close to hitting that identification yet, and that's where I'd like to see us go.

I'd like a feeling in a video game to be something that I couldn't feel anywhere else. A next-gen video game would be something you can only feel on the current generation of gaming systems. I'm a huge fan of Guitar Hero, but the Xbox 360 version isn't a very different experience [than on PS2]. It may look a little better, but it's doesn't take it to the next level. Most of the things I've played on next generation platforms still feel like current generation games that have been prettied up.

Do you think that people are ready to take that next step up? They do still seem to be buying the same old stuff over and over again.

PO: There's comfort in the familiar, and there's quality in the current generation games. Gears of War is a terrific game, but you can split hairs over whether it's next-gen or not. It's a great experience, and anyone who plays it is going to be mightily entertained. World of Warcraft is a terrific experience and so is Guitar Hero. It's a golden age. There's never been a wider variety of quality games for people to choose from, and I'd never go and tell a consumer that they shouldn't be happy with what's entertaining. It's not the audience's fault. We need to give them something that's new, but isn't new merely for its own sake. It has to be new and better.

Taking on one of Darkwatch's many nasties

How do you feel about designing for a license, versus original IP?

PO: It's a different box to work inside of. It's a different set of specs. When we built Darkwatch, we established certain parameters. It was going to be this genre on this platform, and it was going to innovate in these areas and do something common in other areas. You have the same blueprint with a license, but the spaces are more clearly mapped out for you.

In Darkwatch, we had to spend more energy to figure out its look and feel and tone. In a licensed property, those things are available for you, but you also have to bring creativity to it in terms of determining what aspects are actionable and what ways you can expand the property. You don't just want to rehash what is familiar to the core fans.

Do you find it easier?

CU: It really depends on your groove. For us, everybody here at internal development was hired for new IP, so we had a natural desire to do that. It really just depends on the people you hire and the people you have on board for a given project.

Article Start Previous Page 5 of 11 Next

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