American McGee - Interviews Brian Fargo
American McGee interviews inXile CEO, and Interplay founder Brian Fargo on his blog website.
AJM: You’ve had a long and amazing career in the industry, made awesome games, built companies and managed great teams. Can you give me your “Top 2″ lessons learned – and a little detail on the mistakes or trials that lead to understanding those lessons?
BF: It is difficult to boil my thoughts on building teams and games into THE top 2 lessons but I will take a stab at two very important ones for sure. I find that people spend a lot of time designing a game but not much time designing the company itself and ultimately it is great people that make the games and having the proper dynamic in a team or company is paramount. I get plenty of credit for my role in these games but we all know that these larger products are always about a team of people pitching in ideas and talent, no one person can take credit for it all. Every game I have worked on has become bigger than any one human can do so that leaves it to me to make sure I create the right environment for this kind of magic to flourish. The personalities and talents and morale of the group all need to work if you want to make something special. My mistake in this regard was to spend too many hours trying to get an individual to buy off on the vision when it just wasn’t going to happen. It’s important to get that dynamic in place as soon as possible and protect it fiercely.
And I guess the second part of building a great game is to make sure everyone clearly understands the goals and sensibilities you are trying to achieve. This part is along the same lines as the point above except is more product focused and makes it so that the healthy group you have established can soar. When everyone on the team understands the sensibilities it gives more energy to the production and it allows for more of the team to contribute towards it. And defining things in a set of ideals allows for maximum creativity without getting too attached to a narrow set of ideas. Most often I have seen games go sideways because of a contractually tight payment structure that doesn’t allow for enough of a constant tinkering or if there isn’t enough time in the back end of development for the iteration. I really don’t have a true feel of a game until it is well along and playable and only then can I start to address pacing, balance, sign posting, satisfying effects, areas of boredom and excitement etc.
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