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I do feel that, at least in many cases, games are a medium where you can have that level of auteurship, if you want to say it in that way, and design control. I do feel that there's room for that.
RG: I think there is too. I think that it's actually critically important that we have that. I mean I grew up in an era of that, with gaming, and it's just the way that I've always thought about them, but I think it's really important. I think it's really important that a game has the movie equivalent of a director; the person whose vision it is that the thing is becoming. I think that's really important.
Someone recently asked me if I think that the games industry is moving towards having more very visible representative faces on games - and they pointed to Jade Raymond, one of the producers on Assassin's Creed. And I was wondering if we're going to move more toward the direction where the producer, more than the designer, is the face. Because producers do seem to have so much influence on games; more so than on film.
RG: Well, I think what their titles are really isn't that important. I mean, we don't really have a set group of job titles in this business. I think that's one of the other areas that I think the unions have helped Hollywood out, is the title that somebody gets on a movie is really dictated by union rules. You know, you can't just decide, "Well, I'm going to call my brother the director, because he's my brother." If the director's union doesn't think that he's the director, then he's not.
And in the games business, you know, I don't really know what a producer does. You know, versus a designer. It seems like some people think of designers like they're a script writer; that they sit in a room, and they bang out a design, and they slip it through a slot in the door, and then a game gets made. And so I don't really know what the titles are, and it seems like a lot of producers - and I look at what they're really doing - they really are actually acting like the director of a film.
Yeah. That's true.
RG: Even though they have this weird name, "producer", which doesn't really seem to fit. I'd love to see titles just get settled out in this business, so when somebody says, "I'm a producer," or, "I'm an art director," or, "I'm a designer," I actually knew what they did on the project. And I really don't know that today. But it does seem like some producers are acting like the project lead for the thing.
Yeah, it does seem to be going that way. But yeah, "project lead", that's another one. Project lead, designer, director; I notice Japan tends to use "director" rather than project lead. So, what would you say - this is a silly question, but - what would you say your title is on DeathSpank?
Have you even thought about it? Have you even considered that?
RG: Yeah, I really haven't... I mean, I just always used "project lead", because that's just what we called them back at LucasArts. But see, to me, that is the director. It is the movie equivalent of the director; the person who has the vision for the thing, and sees the thing all the way through the process.
Speaking of project lead, how much leading have you done on this project? It's been a while, right, since you've actually been installed at a studio, in charge of a team, making a game from start to finish.
RG: Yeah. It has been a while. It's actually really nice to be around people again, as opposed to working alone. And that's one of the reasons that I called up Tim Schafer, and I said, "Hey, can you loan me your desk?"
I mean, it's not that I really needed interaction with the great people at Double Fine, but it was just nice to be around human beings again. And so that's been a lot of fun for me here. And I've got a couple of artists working on the project, and we're just having a great time going through and figuring all this stuff out.
This is a really goofy, kind-of VH1 type question... What is your relationship at this point with guys like Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman, who I know you used to work with so closely at LucasArts? I mean, how frequently do you talk to those guys? Or, what has that been like since you left?
RG: I'm really good friends with both Tim and Dave. You know, I see them quite a bit, and Dave has a monthly poker game that I come to, and Tim I saw a lot when I was working out of his office, but yeah, we're all good friends.