As we head towards the launch of our first game, 9 Lives: Casey and Sphynx, I wanted to start talking about who we are, what the game means to us and the studio in general. Today is the first blog in that series and we will be having some guests along the way talk about their input into what we are doing.
When putting together Hungry Moose Games, our initial fear was that if we talked about our past, ie having worked at BioWare, the expectation from some of the fans and the media would be epic games of 100+ hours, in RPG universes like Mass Effect and Dragon Age. How could we live up to our previous employer’s legendary status within the game industry and still stand up and say we used to work there?
Rather than hide from it, I want to surface my thoughts on what our philosophy is around what we bring to the table from BioWare; I personally worked at BioWare, as director of marketing from 2007 – 2010, from when Mass Effect was in full scale production until Mass Effect 2 launched. I took two things from my great experiences: Quality Culture and Story telling through characters.
It is no secret that Quality = BioWare. When I was there the quality average over 15 years of games was the best in the industry, Mass Effect 2, is still sitting at a 96 today. The culture at BioWare was very open, any person could talk to anyone about what they were doing, and in marketing we heard a lot of feedback from the development community about not being open and rushing things. This philosophy really drove excellence and feedback loops that made everyone better. Initially I struggled with it coming from more corporate closed cultures. When you learn that everyone’s opinion is valued, I think it somehow made a big studio feel smaller. Experts are still respected and have the final say but it doesn’t mean that that an accountant couldn’t talk to Drew Karpyshyn about the latest Mass Effect storyline.
Storytelling … when it is implemented well, story is the awesomeness of most single player games I play. BioWare had been creating great story based games for a long time before I arrived and I was but an observer in the process. The amazing ability of teams to get together to create amazing characters and the great banter that then created awesome memorable gameplay moments is, I believe, something that BioWare does better than anyone else. The way that character progression and relationship progression was the narrative and that then drove great stories. We hope to bring that side of narration to our games, not in a story choice way, for now, but in a way where great character’s banter and interact in subtle ways to build out their back stories and the overall game story and therefore the player’s relationship progression with the game. Once again to call it now, we are not building 100 hour epics with branching story lines and story choice mechanics, but bringing characters to life using our experience in building them. Cookie Everman, a friend and member of our team, is writing for us and will drop in soon to give us her take on our two characters. Our games will be simple, and if we execute well will create hours of fun for those who play them on whatever device they choose.