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We've forgotten what makes game development fun - The Room dev
Many larger game companies have forgotten exactly what it is that makes games so exciting, and instead clog development up with arbitrary goals and formulas, says The Room's Barry Meade.
Many of the larger video game companies have forgotten exactly what it is that makes games so exciting, and instead clog development up with arbitrary goals and formulas. This is why Barry Meade of Fireproof Studios -- the team behind last year's The Room on mobile -- moved away from his AAA job at Criterion, he explained at Develop Conference today. "Criterion was a very tough place to work," he noted, "and all of us, we'd been there long enough, so we'd seen it all -- we've been through the wringer." Larger companies like Criterion have a multitude of methods for checking up on employees, he reasons, and they set goals and timeframes that constrict development in a negative way. When Meade was at Bullfrog in the 90s, he found that the way that Peter Molyneux ran the company, allowing his employees to get on with their work and explore any possible ideas, was the perfect formula for making a game. "It was like a big playground," he added. "It was an amazing place to work." But many companies have forgotten exactly why it is that we make games. "It's so joyless, so airless," he says. And no-one wants to talk about how this affects the end result, he reasons. Although he found it hard at Criterion, there were upsides to the company's tough culture. "The expectations were very high," he said, adding, "to be honest, that's what you need." "If you have a huge team, you need to set some sort of standard," he explains. "We were very aware of the previous games that got great reviews." Indeed, this made the whole team feel like it needed to make games that received at least a 90 on Metacritic -- that was just the culture behind development at the studio. "It was tough, but we were making good games," he says. "It could have been worse, but people still wouldn't have left." Although he later added, "[Criterion] didn't really guide you... I know some people found that difficult."