Welcome to the third and final part of ‘An Audience with Media Molecule’. If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend you quickly go back and check out Part One and Part Two, where our conversation with co-founder Alex Evans and Community Manager James Spafford began.
When conducting this interview at the Eurogamer Expo earlier this month, I wanted to try and make sure that the main focus wasn’t solely the studio’s forthcoming LittleBigPlanet 2. Each developer at Media Molecule has a clear, distinct personality that shines through in the studio’s games — I wanted to see who those people were, and what made them tick. I hope you enjoy this final segment.
GR: [If we head back] to the time of the ‘Point n Click’ adventure; it’s a genre that has relatively died out now. It’s still around of course, but in a much smaller capacity; to see how the industry has changed in such a small period of time is astonishing. As you said earlier Alex, [games are] a relatively young medium, but genres are being born and dying all the time. For the both of you, are there any genres that have died that you’re particularly saddened by, or is there anything you’d like to see more of?
JS: “I think games have actually evolved to a much more refined point now. There’s a lot more online, there’s a lot more interactive…”
GR: But do you think that’s a bad thing? That your old favorites are dying out?
JS: “I don’t think it’s a bad thing, necessarily. I mean, there’s always going to be room for games like ‘Heavy Rain’, as an example. That’s an evolution of the Point n Click adventure. It’s a single-player experience and, although a couple people can sit there and watch it and digest it like a film…”
GR: What did you think of Heavy Rain?
JS: “I haven’t actually completed it yet, so no spoilers!”
AE: “Siobhan, our producer, loves it! She’s completed it like six times or something crazy.”
GR:I admit, I loved it as well…
*At this point, a woman with biscuits walked past the table. Unfortunately, they were not for us.*
AE: “Ah, biscuits!……. Ah, fail!”
JS: “We just failed to get biscuits :(“
AE: “*Sighs* So excited by biscuits.”
GR: [Going back to Heavy Rain] I actually loved that game. You can tell, just by looking at that game, how different, how diverse, the gaming industry is now. David Cage (Creative Director of Heavy Rain)…
AE: “Oh I love you!”
*The biscuit lady has returned, bearing biscuits.*
AE: “Thank you very much!”
GR: We’re getting biscuits!
AE: “Oh, you’re the nicest person!”
Biscuit Lady: “These are for the speakers, you’re a speaker, right?”
AE: “I was speaking earlier this morning!”
GR: I’m speaking now…
JS: “I organized our speakers!”
BL: “Oh, alright then. Don’t tell anyone!”
AE: “Bless you, thank you so much.”
*Biscuit Lady leaves*
GR: Anyway, biscuits aside, David Cage said that you should only play Heavy Rain once, because you’ve then experience the game he wanted you to experience. LittleBigPlanet, on the other hand, is a game where you can replay the levels infinite times; what do you think about the diversity in the games industry? Is it a good thing, is it a bad thing?
AE: “It’s a very good thing!”
JS: “Diversity is the best thing! My favorite games here, at this show, are the ones over at the Indie Arcade. From one computer to the next, you just couldn’t have more diversity. Every single one is completely different from all the other ones; some require running around and hitting your friends in real life, others are really close-up cerebral experiences, some are just plain hilarious. There’s one where you’re a goldfish in a bowl of water, and you have to traverse the level without losing the water or else you’ll die! *Laughs* It’s really, really hard! But it is awesome. There’s also a really good 2D fencing game (‘Nidhogg’) and it’s all just really good.”
AE: “I’ve got to go there next. Indie Game Arcade, next! Actually, indie games are a really important thing because they are driving the diversity. I remember two years ago, at the Games Developer Conference, they announced the indie game festival winners, and, that year, it was where the throbbing, beating heart of the games industry was, clearly. All of the innovation was happening in the indie space and now I’m seeing it trickle into the big players. You know, in the end we’re all gamers, we’re all trying to make the best possible game, and the fact that it’s now easier than ever to make and publish a game is just forcing innovation into the industry in a really good way. For me, that’s the root of all the awesomeness — not just the indie dudes who are just “Yeah, I’m so indie”, but that mentality of “I can do this. I can make the game I want to make, I can push limits and I can make weird stuff!
“When Sony signed us up, we said to them, and this was back in ’96, which was…”
AE: “Yeah, 2006, sorry. At that time, games were in a more traditional phase. The ‘indie explosion’ hadn’t happened, the iPhone hadn’t happened, and we said “We want to make a game about fluff, knitting and buttons, with no guns, no cars, no women, no shooting and no racing.” and they were like “Brilliant, go for it!” They took a risk, and every time someone takes a risk — sometimes it doesn’t pay off — but it’s the risktakers that drive the diversity, and drive the industry forward. I’ll forever be indebted to Phil Harrison, who was then at Sony, for taking that risk on us, and making a risky game like ‘LittleBigPlanet’. Equally, people like Peter Molyneux, who I learnt so much from, is a constant risktaker! People beat him up sometimes for taking these risks, but for God’s sake, he is out there, trying to do what he’s trying to do. And you know, he’s not a safe player, he does what he wants to do, and he believes in it. That leads to diversity, and that’s what leads to great games.”