Finding the fun when developing licensed games

"My whole philosophy when it comes to working on projects is to find something you enjoy about the project you're working on and make it great."

Video game tie-in games have become something of a poisoned chalice, known for burdening teams with frustratingly short development cycles and cumbersome creative shackles. 

Supposedly though, every cloud has a silver lining. And if that age old mantra is true, it has to mean there's some joy to be found in the arena of licensed game development. 

Well, according to veteran designer Steve Bowler, who's worked on a number of tie-ins including Man of Steel, there is. 

Speaking to Waypoint, Bowler suggests the very restrictions that've given licensed game development a bad name might actually provide the challenge that sets some devs free. It's about finding your own motivation. 

"My whole philosophy when it comes to working on projects is to find something you enjoy about the project you're working on and make it great," he explains. 

"I think that's why the Man of Steel game was pretty successful. I mean, insofar as people enjoyed it. It's not a smash hit. We made a good game out of it."

Naturally, Bowler is well aware of the pitfalls, and readily acknowledges that creating licensed games won't be for everyone. But he believes there's always room for creativity and iteration, even when you're working within an NDA-riddled, studio-monitored "confined box."

"I can respect when people are like 'Look, I'm not that excited to work on it because it is a tie-in," he continues. 

"I was trying to coach team members on it who were flustered. 'Oh, we're working on a licensed game again.' I'd be like 'Yeah, but focus on your puzzles. If you're doing a puzzle in the game, you just have to make it a fun puzzle.' 

"There's lots of ways that you can work within that confined box that you've been given, to actually make something kind of cool out of it."

Don't forget to read the full interview over on Waypoint to hear more about the oscillating world of the video game tie-in.

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