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Work Doesn't Take A Holiday But David Perry's Free To Play
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Work Doesn't Take A Holiday But David Perry's Free To Play


January 2, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next
 

All your projects seem to pull in different directions. Wouldn't you like to scale back and concentrate on only a few?

DP: I would, but then something else interesting comes up. I just started two more projects and if some idea comes up, well, I have a lot of people to help. I have a lot of students and I have this "army" now of students who will pretty much do anything I ask and so I can take on any project, no matter how complicated or painful, and they'll be willing to dive in and help. That's been wonderful, and it's something I've never really considered before.

But with the Top Secret project [an Acclaim-affiliated project to get the public to help build their own MMO], we now have 55,000 people signed up. And with that list, I can ask all 55,000 people by e-mail if they'd like to do this or that. There's never anything that doesn't get a yes. I actually think that if Top Secret is successful I will have a million people sign up for the next one. Now that would be an army.

So you believe in delegating a lot of responsibility?

DP: Yes. I'm a big believer in saying, "here, run with this, let's see what happens." I want to give people a chance -- that whole analogy of giving someone enough rope to hang themselves. But of course we help them as much as we possibly can. Certainly no one in my teams complain about having their strings pulled and not being allowed to do whatever they want to do. How well they do, though, decides what they do next.

You worked as a consultant with EA on the recent Simpsons game. How was that experience?

DP: I was contacted by Gracie Films, the company that makes the Simpsons, and they happened to be involved in the making of this one, doing the script writing for it, and they wanted to have a video games person on their side.

For me, I couldn't turn it down. I've turned down a lot of stuff, but to be sitting on the other side of the desk from EA, that's an awfully interesting place to be. I thought I would learn something. I was very interested to see how they pitched, how they focus tested, how they handled their projects, and it was definitely interesting.

What did you take from it?

DP: The thing that impressed me about EA was that, on a project across multiple platforms with a huge amount of dialogue and assets they are able to pull it all together. The fact is that EA has this ability to turn a "machine" on when they need to. When that machine is on every single person is part of it working every single piece.

I find it very interesting how they are able to, with a limited amount of time, get everything done. They're very good at that and they absolutely have that system down. A lot of other companies might be like, "Oh my god, we have so much dialogue, how are we ever going to get it done?" EA knows instantly that they need fourteen more guys to do it in the time. And then they've got the fourteen guys working on it the next day. Most studios don't have that luxury.

So, Korean MMOs. Was Audition the first game that caught your eye?

DP: Well, Audition is kind of more just an example of how successful they can get. It's a game that would never see the light of day here over there can suddenly be an absolutely massive success.

I was interested in Audition because it was one of the real breakout titles in Korea. And they did a licensing deal with a company in China and the game was unbelievably successful there too. So it's really interesting to find out why and when you start to analyze a game like that, you see some really crazy game ideas, like the "punishment move" that I discussed as an example of a way they try and break the ice for people and make them chat more. It's kind of similar to what Jonathan Blow was talking about.

I go over there and I like, look over their shoulder and I analyze it and think, "Would that work in the U.S.? Would people get that?" Some of the stuff is just pure craziness, but some of them are actually damn good game play ideas. I think, "That's an interesting hook! I haven't seen anyone do that in the U.S."

I think that's one of the services we can provide. They're not aware when they're creating something that a U.S. audience might enjoy. We have to go in there and say, this game might work!

 


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