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Junction Point Studios - All News

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Monday - December 17, 2007
Wednesday - July 25, 2007
Monday - July 23, 2007
Friday - July 13, 2007
Tuesday - July 03, 2007
Friday - June 08, 2007
Tuesday - May 08, 2007
Saturday - March 17, 2007
Tuesday - March 06, 2007
Monday - December 25, 2006
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Monday - December 17, 2007

Junction Point Studios - Warren Spector Interview

by Dhruin, 22:55

The ubiquitous Warren Spector (imagine a studio with Warren, Bill Roper and Peter Molyneux - would they fight over the microphone?) has been interviewed at Eurogamer.  As usual - since he can't discuss his specific project - the conversation rambles around Deus Ex 3, Looking Glass, Valve and the development process.  Among other things, he says hardcore fans will vilify him when his project is revealed and that he won't make a 20 hour game ever again.  Here's the intro:

Since its creation in 2005, Warren Spector's Junction Point Studios has been quiet. Stories existed, whose details remained stubbornly elusive. It was working with Valve on something that'll be released through Steam. It was working on a massively multiplayer fantasy game... actually, no, now a single-player fantasy game, no now... well, you get the idea.

The first definite news came in July and it was a total surprise. Disney Interactive had acquired Junction Point Studios. This was, to say the least, unexpected. Warren Spector was known for adult-rated videogames. Disney weren't. Fascinating times ahead.

Wednesday - July 25, 2007

Junction Point Studios - Blogging the acquisition

by Dhruin, 01:00

Warren Spector has used the Junction Point blog to address fans' fears about the Disney acquistion, although I'm not sure too many fears are actually allayed:

Throw in the deep pockets, the possibility of collaboration with guys at Pixar, Disney Imagineering, Disney R&D, Disney Feature Animation — the opportunity to learn from those guys…man. Who wouldn’t be psyched?

But doesn’t Disney make kiddie games? And doesn’t JPS make mature games for adult gamers? That seems to be the root of most of the concerns people have expressed to me. And there’s some truth to both parts of that statement — Disney does do a lot of stuff for kids, and most of my games have been geared toward older audiences. However, that’s only part of the story.

First, check out Turok, which is being published under the Touchstone brand. Definitely not for kids! And check out the Pixar movies… look around the theme parks… You find stuff geared toward all ages, not just kids. That, too, is hugely appealing to me. While other game publishers seem content to grow the gaming audience incrementally, mostly going after slightly older young men, Disney’s overall focus on entertainment for the entire family is something the game business can, I think, productively carry over.

Maybe it’s just the place I am in my life and career, but I’m looking forward to making games everyone in the family can enjoy. I truly believe you can make deep, rich, story-driven games — games that challenge people’s notions of how the world works, how human relationships work, what constitutes right and wrong — without falling into the trap of assuming you need all the stuff that typically passes for “mature” in the game business.

Monday - July 23, 2007

Junction Point Studios - Spector Interview @ Next-Gen

by Dhruin, 23:37

It doesn't say much other than Spector really, really loves Disney IP but for those interested Next-Gen has an interview with him on the recent sale of Junction Point Studios:

Q. Why did you decide to throw your lot in with a big company like Disney?

A. There are some professional ones and there are certainly some personal ones as well. On the professional side, the Disney organization has given Junction Point and me the opportunity to work on an incredibly cool project that I really can’t say anything about. The company’s always been at the forefront of technological innovation and storytelling, and the more I talked to people about Disney Interactive, the more I got the sense that they really embrace the whole Disney heritage. So when you put that together with the kinds of games I like to make—I mean obviously I’m an interactive storytelling sort of guy, to the point where I think I probably annoy people about it, you know? So the professional fit was perfect as near as I could tell. And then on the personal side I’ve just been a Disney geek all my life. I try to keep that hidden so I keep this dark, edgy sort of reputation but I’m a cartoon fanatic and I have been all my life. I worked on a bunch of cartoon games when I was in the tabletop game business: Toon, Steve Jackson Games, and the Bullwinkle and Rocky game at TSR. I wrote my masters thesis on Warner Brothers Cartoons. You know I applied for a job as an Imagineer [an Imagineer is an employee of Walt Disney Imagineering, the creator of many Disney theme park rides. –ed.] before I got into video gaming so from a personal standpoint it’s a great fit there too.

Friday - July 13, 2007

Junction Point Studios sold to Disney

by Dhruin, 12:02

Definitely didn't pick this one.  Warren Spector's Junction Point  Studios has been sold to Disney.  Here's the PR:

BURBANK, Calif. — (July 12, 2007) — Disney Interactive Studios today announced that it has acquired Austin, Texas-based Junction Point Studios, a video game development studio led by industry luminary Warren Spector. Junction Point Studios will create new video game franchises and will also bring some of Disney’s most beloved franchises to next generation gaming platforms. The studio is currently working on a yet to be announced next-generation development project.

“Warren Spector’s unique talents as a leading creative force in the world of video games, his knowledge and passion for Disney, and his legacy of story telling and character development adds a unique creative dimension to our portfolio,” said Graham Hopper, general manager and executive vice president, Disney Interactive Studios. “Our shared visions on creativity, innovation and storytelling will allow us to touch individual players in ways never before possible.”

A lifelong Disney fan, Spector recognizes the opportunity to overlay Disney content and resources on top of exceptional game design to create unique experiences for players. Junction Point Studios’ creative team brings to Disney a powerhouse of gaming talent.

“I believe that the creative talents of our two companies and our shared ambition to bring distinctive, compelling experiences to gamers make this an ideal alliance,” said Warren Spector, president, Junction Point Studios. “We look forward to bringing exciting, innovative and entertaining new experiences to gamers and Disney fans alike.”

Junction Point has become the fifth studio in Disney Interactive Studios’ growing portfolio of development creative centers of excellence. As a talent hub for video game development, Austin adds another region to Disney’s internal development studio growth strategy.

Source: Bluesnews

Tuesday - July 03, 2007

Junction Point Studios - Spector muses on creativity

by Dhruin, 00:37

An interesting post on Warren Spector's blog where he muses on different approaches to creativity - "clean slate" vs "reactive" - and realises much of his creative efforts are reactions to existing games.  In the process, he goes through a number of games he has been associated with and recalls the ideas:

For example, as much as I love fantasy, and loved the world of Ultima, I couldn’t shake the feeling back in 1989 that fantasy was limiting us–commercially and creatively–and a more realistic, historical approach would help us tell cooler stories while reaching a larger, more diverse audience. “Why the heck don’t you use that great Ultima VI engine for something more broadly appealing, Richard?” I thought. The result was Martian Dreams — an Ultima-style historical science fiction adventure set in the Victorian era. (Okay, so I was wrong about reaching a larger audience with a non-fantasy Ultima title, but the spark that started the project was definitely frustration, not a desire to create a clean slate design…)

Friday - June 08, 2007

Junction Point Studios - Site Relaunched

by Dhruin, 00:03

Warren Spector's Junction Point Studios site has been relaunched and along with news of his Ninja Gold movie collaboration with John Woo are several "early concept" arts from an unnamed title. Flicking through the different website headings will yield several arts pieces that are obviously fantasy fare - a dragon is seen flying in the distance in one and a wizardly character with a tall staff in front of a grand stone entrance in another.  It's unknown if this is still a current project but it certainly bears watching.

Thanks, Stanza!

Tuesday - May 08, 2007

Junction Point Studios - Warren Spector Interview @ Joerg Spielt

by Corwin, 03:26

German game site Joerg Spielt has an interesting interview with gaming legend Warren Spector which discusses where gaming is going in general, rather than his current projects. Here's his response to a question about there being too much violence in modern games.

Warren Spector: Many people in the Games industry are still looking backwards and not forwards. There is so much emphasis on graphics now. I have been saying this for ten years, but it gets worse and worse and worse. Because the hardware and our capabilities get better and better and better. We can now do the things we’ve always done and make them look more extreme and more realistic. So I am not sure there is more violence in games today, I think it just looks more convincing now. My hope is that, as we look at how we use the PS3 and Xbox 360, we start to see the new things we can do and not only how to make the old things look better.

You can read the entire article in English only it would appear.

Thanks Avantenor for the link. 

Saturday - March 17, 2007

Junction Point Studios - Spector Interview @ GamesIndustry

by Dhruin, 23:02

We had fun hotly debating the last Spector interview, so here's another courtesy of GamesIndustry.biz:

How is life after Deus Ex? How have things moved on from that point?

Well, you know, you're only as good as your last game. I think I got a little too far from the games, for one thing. I really became enamored with being a part of Eidos. I mean, the folks there at the highest levels of executive management actually listened to me for a while, which was a new experience for me.

It was a company I really thought I could help move to the next level. I got so distracted with publisher level stuff that I kind of lost sight of the games. I had very, very talented people there, and I kind of feel as though I didn't mentor them as well as I could have and should have. If I had to do it differently I'd probably pay less attention to the publisher side of stuff and more attention to the games.

But we took a lot of chances in Deadly Shadows and Invisible War, and we did a lot of really, really risky things. And I think too many. Not enough of them paid off. The overall result was games that I'm still proud of, and games that I still enjoy playing and I'm proud to have been involved in the development of, but I don't think they lived up to expectations.

Tuesday - March 06, 2007

Junction Point Studios - Spector Interview @ Gamasutra

by Dhruin, 12:27

Warren Spector has popped up at Gamasutra with a pre-GDC interview, revealing that Junction Point Studios' project will be discussed in some form at the conference.  Until we see the details, with Spector still discussing choices in narrative, it seems worth watching:

There's also a middle ground, and I don't think that it involves the choose-your-own adventure approach. There's a philosophy that I like to apply: as a developer I want to control the overall narrative arc. Using Deus Ex as an example, JC Denton has a brother, he works for this agency, and the agency turns out to be not what you thought it was and you have to switch sides because they turn on you. The terrorists are the good guys, and so on. All that stuff provides context and meaning for all of the minute-to-minute player choices. In that sense, I own all the acts and why you do things. Now, saying that, it's possible to own why you do things and leave how you do them in the players’ hands. The key for me is creating linked sandboxes and letting players explore those little narrative chunks on their own. I'll determine why it's important that you get through a door, but how you get through it, what happens and whether you kill, talk to or ignore everyone on the other side belongs to the player. That concept of sharing authorship is where the sweet spot of game narrative is. There are some things that I think we can do to take that to the next level, and things that can be done a couple of years from now that can take it to yet another level. The end goal for me now isn't for me to allow players to play a movie, ride a roller coaster ride or provide a sandbox so they can do what they want, but is to find the compromise where I can have a dialog with each player virtually. That's what's exciting to me.

Monday - December 25, 2006

Junction Point Studios - State of Play @ CVG

by Dhruin, 06:39

Warren Spector has been interviewed at CVG about the industry and Junction Point Studios' current project.  Predictably, it's too early to reveal any detail but there remain hints of a genre-crossover with roleplaying elements:

First up, is there anything you can tell us at all about your new game, what we can expect from it and what experience you're offering gamers?

Warren Spector: I can't talk much, but it's safe to say it'll be a logical, evolutionary step from the games I've been involved with for the last twenty years or so. (Maybe it's just me, but I think there's kind of a coherence to the stuff I work on...) Anyway, the next game will give players tools to craft a unique experience, participate in the telling of a cool story and so on.

I expect and hope it'll confound people who insist on plugging games into neat genres - I want people wondering if it's an action and combat game, a stealth game or a role-playing game! If I say any more, there's a publisher and, erm, well, someone else on the creative side who'll be really mad at me. Better stop...

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