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Making The Games He Wants To Make: The Jon Chey Interview
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Making The Games He Wants To Make: The Jon Chey Interview

July 19, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next

So let's talk a little bit about your new business. What's going on, when did it start, and who's part of it?

JC: So we started about a year ago -- not quite a year ago -- in August last year. It's kind of an unusual business. At the moment, we're a totally distributed organization. We don't have an actual physical office. It's kind of, I guess, a loose collective. Nobody's working on it full time except for me, so it's really, I suppose, a real collaborative group little studio, rather than a conventional game development office.

And that may change a little bit in the future, but what's nice about that is that I'm able to bring in people who have exactly the skills I want when I want them -- for any amount of time that they want to contribute, too. Because a lot of them are actually doing other things, have other interests, as well, that they're pursuing.

So some of the people are working almost full time and some of them are working 10 hours a week, and they're all over the world.

There's me, I'm in Canberra. I do actually work with another guy, Farbs. He used to work for us in Canberra at Irrational, and he left a couple of years ago to become an indie developer, and I think made quite a name for himself, and made some really good stuff. And so he's continuing to do his own stuff.

He's got Captain Forever and he's got a new iteration of that, Captain Jameson, he's working on. My secret plan, of course, once we start making some money, is bring him in more full time. But it's a nice arrangement at the moment, because he can pursue his other interests at the same time. And I guess, hopefully, that will always be the case.

Our art director is a guy called Ben Lee, who used to work for us as well, and was the art director on Freedom Force. And he's worked over at Relentless in the UK. And we're working with a designer, Dorian Hart, who used to work for us and also worked at Looking Glass and worked on the Ultima Underworld games and the original System Shock, and so he's got an incredible pedigree.

And then we're also working with Richard Garfield, and his business partner Skaff [Elias], because we're working on a card game/board game so they're bringing some expertise from having actually designed card games and board games before.

So it's sort of like bringing in all these people as needed, and we'll just work through Skype and Dropbox and Basecamp, which is an online project planning thing. It's not revolutionary to be doing that, but I feel like the tools have finally matured enough that that's actually possible to pull that off.

Is that a bit like what you did when you were collaborating with the Irrational team in Boston on BioShock?

JC: Yeah, so we had a lot of experience with that, but it's got a lot easier than it was.

What's made it easier?

JC: I just think that cloud stuff is actually real. Like Dropbox, for example. When we were working between Canberra and Boston we had a dedicated VPN between the two offices, and we'd check stuff into a package called Perforce. It would shrink files back and forth, but it was really expensive and kind of slow. And now you can just get Dropbox for, well, free, to start with. And you just chuck a file into a folder on your PC. Two seconds later Ben in Brighton has it on his PC, and it's just seamless. As I said there's nothing revolutionary there, all those steps got a little bit lower, so it just kind of works now.

And also, I think it's the scale of the project. It's hard to count, exactly, but we're talking less than 10 people. When you're trying to connect two 50-man studios working together, it's a little bit tougher.

So yeah, it's been interesting. It's actually worked very well so far, but it's a little weird because we're all sitting in our houses, or our offices. Farbs is in Canberra as well, but I probably only physically see him once every three or four months. It's kind of sad.

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