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A Distinct Vision: Nick Earl And Visceral Games
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A Distinct Vision: Nick Earl And Visceral Games

February 22, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

I know this was Tiburon, but Henry Hatsworth was this really nice experiment in letting a small team break out within the large studio structure. It came into fruition from a critical perspective, but I guess it wasn't a tremendous success.

I was wondering if there's a way, in your vision, to make that kind of thing align more successful both critically and commercially, and if you think that's a valuable kind of way working.

NE: Yeah. I think there are lots of different experiments going on. One of the things that I think is impressive about Visceral is we've got a tech base that is so strong that we can prototype and make experiments with relatively small teams and get a sense of what the offering is ultimately going to be.

I said earlier that when Jonathan and his team prototyped Dante's Inferno, with a small amount of spend, and a very quick period, we really felt that we had something strong.

That gave us the kind of confidence to support it financially, and bring resources to bear, that the infrastructure was there to support something that was innovative and creative. And the ultimate result is a really strong product 25 months later.

We're always going to make experiments, and some work out more commercially and some work out more critically than others. For studios like Visceral, and DICE, and BioWare, and EALA, and some of the big studios, I think it's incumbent upon us to pick the AAA winners, make sure that they've got the support they need to be successful.

And the way I view the studio, everyone at the studio works for the executive producer, including me -- because they're the ones spearheading the effort to bring something to market [in] a very competitive marketplace.

That leads into two questions, but the first I want to talk about is your technology internally. Do you guys focus entirely on your own internal engine technology, primarily?

NE: Yeah. There's some off-the-shelf tech we use, obviously, including art packages like Maya. But what we've been investing in the technology here that has now shipped probably six products -- the six last games out of Visceral have been on this engine, including Dead Space.

No toolset or pipeline is perfect. We're constantly working on it. Every time we finish a game, there's a lot of work to do to kind of bring that into our main line, but this is our engine, and I believe it's a competitive advantage. Other studios are adopting it inside of EA, and using it to create the kind of experiences that they sort of own the franchises they own.

I think the Visceral engine and Frostbite, which is what we create Battlefield under, are two engines that really starting to get a lot of play. I believe they're competitive advantages to the label, and to the company.

Dante's Inferno

You talked just a moment ago also about the strong competition in the genre, and you guys are bookended by some of the strongest competition in the genre has seen. Obviously, Bayonetta came out recently, and that game is excellent.

NE: Yup.

And God of War III is soon to follow you guys out of the gate.

NE: Yup.

How do you feel about the landscape?

NE: Well, you can spend a lot of time worrying what other people are doing, what our competitors are doing, or you can accept that it's going to happen, sort of work around them a bit, and spend a majority of your time and energy just building what you have as best as you can. I think I would probably fall into the latter camp.

That's not to say we're unaware of what's happening, because we knew Bayonetta was coming and we knew God of War obviously was going to be launching in the quarter, but, you know, we felt like we've got an opportunity to stand out in a crowd.

We've got some strong innovation. We're at the 60 hertz frame rate, and I think that's very meaningful for this space. We've got a really interesting world in terms of the Dante's Inferno and the whole hell concept.

Ultimately, the market will decide what they think of it, but we feel pretty confident that it's going to be a strong offering. We're in this for the long haul, but the company feels very supportive of Visceral Games going forward. We think we've found sort of the right methodology in which to develop games. We've got technology. We've got some great concepts. You know, we feel like we're here to stay. It's kind of the long haul that really matters.

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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