Why is the studio so obsessed with craft?
AE: It was the founding thing, wasn't it? It was like, "That's what we're gonna do." You have to have artificial constraints, in some way, to help you be creative, if that makes any sense. For me, anyway. I'm talking for myself.
MH: Making computer games is a craft. [Addressing Alex] I didn't listen to your conversation last night, "are games art?" or whatever. I'd definitely say making games is a craft.
AE: That came up. You and Gavin [Moore] aligned perfectly. The Puppeteer guy. He was basically channeling you.
MH: Was he?
MH: Good on him. [laughs]
Yeah, that was an interesting conversation. What I liked about what he had to say, coming from Japan, where he's been for the last ten years -- Japan has a very strong tradition of craft, and craft isn't really, I don't think, viewed as a lower thing than art. Whereas people maybe, in the West, don't have the same attitude towards craft, or at least don't think of it in the same way.
MH: I've always had much more respect to craft than the term "art", because it's such a floaty thing.
DS: I don't think we're trying to intentionally make some big statement. We're just making something that we like. I think we're into making stuff, and that comes through in the game, but there's no high-minded principle behind us. It's just, we have all these energies flowing around in the company with what we want to make. And we do that.
AE: I think there are a few things that it means we know we can leverage. Like Rex and I were talking earlier today about how difficult it is to do a Vita game that stands out, because production values in all games -- Vita, PS3, Xbox, PC, and even iOS now -- the budgets are scaling up, the production values are scaling up, and I love the fact that Media Molecule can still have a brand thumbprint identity.
And even though Tearaway is a very different game from LBP -- it's not like hardcore UGC, it's not these things. It's intentionally a story-driven game, it's an adventure game. Still, we manage to, I hope, stand out visually.
Like, you see a screenshot of Tearaway, and you'll be like, "Tearaway". You won't go like, "Hm, that looks pretty realistic, and it's an amazing engine, but I'm not sure whether it's X game or Y game."
So we're kind of exploiting -- I was going to say "abusing" -- but no, exploiting these random arbitrary choices around craft, and they tie into all of our backgrounds. But it's kind of a handy hack.
MH: I think the short answer is, it is the result of the kind of people we have working at Media Molecule, really. Like look at Dave's desk. It's full of, I don't know the technical terms for it...
DS: Amigurumi, the Japanese form of crochet to make toys.
MH: Alex likes knitting, which is an old woman's thing for me, but that's fine. [everyone laughs] And we've got lots of people at work into music and instruments. Just all that. It's all that sort of bleeding into it, I suppose.
AE: And the old computer games. I hate to say it, but I am a coding geek. I loved the '80s micros that you switched on, and it was like 10 and you're off. 10 PRINT "Hello Mom", 20 GOTO 10. That was such a lovely, simplistic process. And I like the idea that even in Tearaway, which isn't heavily UGC, you can still do stuff that feels like you're changing the world.
RC: There's just very simple stuff -- even a three-year-old can cut out a little hat, glue it onto a character they've met and felt: "I've really made that squirrel's day by making him the cool hat that he wanted," and not getting kind of lost in a big process that they have to learn a lot of tools. All of these inputs don't really require any interface, because it just makes sense. It's like, these are the extensions of my fingertips, whether they're tearing into the world or whether you're cutting around.
AE: Right. This is where touch devices are really changing gaming in a very cool way. Like both Mark and I have got young kids, and from a terrifyingly young age, they learned touchscreens, and they know how to use a Vita, an iPhone, or whatever you want. And now, like my one and a half year old is trying to make the TV go. It's like, "Come on!"
As a result, I do think touchscreens are a really, really amazing way of just stripping away interface. Like Peter Molyneux was trying back in Black & White -- his big line in the press is "we're going to do a UI-less PC game." We did all right; there was some UI there. But if he'd had touch back then, Black & White would be an even cooler game. So, I think there's an element of the Vita giving opportunities that you just did not have on the PS3.