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Sony Santa Monica chief: When you're spending $60M, collaboration is essential

Development of a blockbuster like God of War would be "way too risky" if everyone on the creative team didn't collaborate, says Sony Santa Monica head Shannon Studstill.
Development of a blockbuster like God of War would be "way too risky" if everyone on the creative team didn't collaborate, says Sony Santa Monica head Shannon Studstill in a new Gamasutra feature interview. At Sony Santa Monica, ideas "bubble up" from everywhere in the studio, which plants the seed for collaboration, says Studstill. When it comes to next year's God of War: Ascension for PlayStation 3, she says, "Some bubbles happen more frequently with some directors than others, but I think, with this team right now, there's a lot coming from those people that are in there, making that minotaur look as good as he does." She puts this down to Todd Papy, the game's creative director, but also points out that it is essential to a big-budget game. "You can't -- these days -- put a $60 million product out there and have a team day-to-day there, lockstep with you as a leader and visionary, and not incorporate them into the process. It's just way too risky." At the same time, it's not a complete democracy, Studstill says. "Therefore, those people who are on the ground, developing the product, have a big say in where this franchise is going; but someone like Todd needs to be in there going, 'I like that, but it's not going to work. This is interesting, but not right now. This is where we need to go.'" The full interview, in which Studstill discusses quality of life, incubating indies like Thatgamecompany and The Unfinished Swan developers Giant Sparrow, is live now on Gamasutra.

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