A lot of film comes out of one source -- Hollywood -- and ends up being international culture, but with games we still have production all over the world. They often apply Hollywood techniques, but use local talent.
NJ: I definitely feel that getting people from all over the world together working on a project -- and, for us, that means they work in Copenhagen -- it really adds a lot of value because people see things differently and have a lot of different flavors depending on what they are and what they're like.
For instance, with the Mini Ninjas franchise, when we did that, some of the developers had a strong, strong crush on Japan, and they really wanted to honor the culture. They did educational tours, and when we did Kane & Lynch 2 they went to Shanghai to really get the vibe and the feeling of the Shanghai environment to try to reflect that world in the game.
Did you guys do any art outsourcing on that project?
NJ: Yes. We have an outsourcing hub in Shanghai, so we worked a lot, especially on the environment, with different companies in China.
Is that your own studio?
NJ: We have a small studio in Shanghai which helps to link with external suppliers, but I think it is about building bridges and about working together and collaborating; so if we send out people there to have a strong relationship with them so they understand.
They need to be a part of the team in order to produce something that's of high quality, so we go out there frerquently. We show them the game, we pitch it to them, and since we're over there excited about it and try to involve them in the development process because, if it's just work for hire, I don't think that you get the feeling and the emotions in the game. That will at the end of the day show in the final product. People need to invest their soul in the game because otherwise they look flat and boring.
That can be a real problem creatively with games; they can be very competently executed, but they're missing a certain spark or personality.
NJ: Yeah. I think that's one of the things that we really try at Io: to make sure that all our parts stand out in the crowd. I think we're the only people producing a pink shooter, so it does stand out. That's very important to us, to make something that differentiates us from the other product out there.
Especially if you're in the shooter market; it's really taken over the core of this generation. It's become the predominant genre for people to play, and it's a very crowded space.
NJ: It is a crowded space, and it's about making sure that you do something that's a different experience. With Kane & Lynch, we focused a lot on the multiplayer part, where we have the fragile alliance, where you can actually betray your friends and allies while you play, and that really gives you a new angle to multiplayer. I think we really tried to find a different angle so we have something unique to offer to the consumer.
With multiplayer, I feel like that's even more competitive, in the sense that certain games really do dominate the Xbox Live charts. Getting people to buy a game is one thing, but there has to be some sort of critical mass there to attract the audience that makes the multiplayer work.
NJ: Yeah, but I think that there are always different trends in the market, and right now there is a strong trend towards multiplayer. I think the important thing is to make something that's not just the multiplayer where it's sort of capture-the-flag or just to tag each other but actually has unique content that has something to say because, otherwise, you'll never stand out. You'll never be really successful with it, I think.
So you need to have a strong idea about why you are doing the multiplayer in order to do good multiplayer, but I think some of the really interesting trends I find is that we see a social side and also user-generated content. I think that's some of the areas which really fascinate me right now. I think that they are areas which I look forward to seeing grow in the coming years.