I think that also, to a certain extent, that there's also a certain issue of the games industry not entirely having figured out everything about the creative process. Like, It's sort of what you mentioned about a publisher looking at a design document, and being able to make a judgment call, at least on a relatively firm basis, whether this is worth supporting.
I think that the film industry, where the process is so understood, and it's become such a well-practiced art at this point, that when you have a director that has a clear vision, and you have a screenplay that is complete or relatively complete, skilled filmmakers are able to understand what that is going to be in the final process a little more easily than game designers are.
To be fair, games are far more fluid than films are, obviously. I mean, you're making a product that everyone will have a different experience with, guaranteed, simply because it's interactive. But I do think that there is some time to progress in really nailing down that creative process, and I feel like when that happens, there will be a more obvious line from concept to completion, and maybe some of those other avenues will start to open up.
RG: Yeah, total agreement there. I think one big advantage that Hollywood has on us is that generally they can read a script and they can understand what the movie's going to be. And one of the reasons is, I think scripts follow a very standard structure; every script looks the same, if you just flip through it from beginning to end.
Game design documents, you know, every game designer does game design documents differently. And it's very difficult for people to read through, and also what you mentioned, you know, that games are very fluid. Not a linear experience. It's something that players can screw up, they can meander around in, it doesn't necessarily happen in the same order... Just very hard to describe that structure.
One game that I - I'm just kind-of being a horrible shill for this game, but - I don't know if you've played No More Heroes, by Grasshopper Manufacture, it's on the Wii.
RG: No, I haven't.
It's, I think it's worth checking out, because it feels to me like it's in that middle ground. It's definitely a fairly ambitious exploratory game. It's a very combat-oriented game, and you're fighting these insane bosses, and it's very deliberately over the top, and pokes fun at videogame clichés, but it feels like it's that middle ground.
Capcom/Grasshopper Manufacture's No More Heroes
It's clearly not the highest budget game, but it still does a lot of those things that you expect out of a full game, and I imagine it won't need to sell as much as a comparable game would if they're giving the full 360/PS3 budget, but it can still find its audience with this incredibly strange atmosphere.
It's a crazy game, and one of the other things that I love about it is that you can really see the designer come through. Goichi Suda, the guy who directed Killer7. I think it's a big step up for him, from a gameplay perspective, but you can feel his style in the game, and that is something that is less common in games than movies, that is something that I would just love to see more of it.
RG: Yeah. I'll definitely have to check that out. Because it does really sound interesting; you know, serving that kind of market.
And I think, you know, the other thing you mentioned that's interesting, is being able to see a designer develop a style in a game. You know, you really can do it with a movie. I watch a Coen Brothers movie, and it's like you don't have to tell me, and I could tell you that's a Coen Brothers movie.
I think there's a whole debate about "Are games art?" and I think they absolutely are, and they really - when they start to be taken as art, and viewed as art, and even designed as art, I think we'll be able to tell who made the game just by the style sensibilities of it. You know, the gameplay styles, all of the artistic styles, and things.
I have to say one of the things I miss about adventure games is that it really was very heavily invested in that "designer at the top" kind of thing. I mean, if you play one of your games, the sense of humor is extremely recognizable; and if you play one of Tim Schafer's games, that aesthetic is very present; and if you play one of Jane Jensen's games, that hardboiled fiction is there.
And I feel like the adventure genre was ahead of the curve in that respect. Really giving the designer that big marquee slot, and it's too bad that that seems to have diminished in recent years.
RG: Well I think there might be some reasons for that. I think one of those reasons is that when we did Monkey Island, there were five people on that project. And, you know, not 150. And I think, also, as publishers put more money into things, they start to be designed by committee. And it's not even that the publishers are mucking with it, but even at the developer, you just have a lot of people.
My friends work in the business, and they work on some of these very large, high profile titles, and you know, I often ask them, "Well, who's the project lead? Who's the guy with the vision?" And they're like, "Well... It's just a bunch of us. And we sit around, and we all just really kinda figure it out together..." I think there's a lot of advantages to that, but I think that you lose that individual personal style that comes out in a game when these things are designed by committee.
And I wonder if the large budgets, and the large teams, and the lack of structure that I think a lot of games have... I wonder if that is what you're seeing more than anything else.