To My Future Employees

All right. You guys may be wondering exactly what we’re doing here. Yeah, you know it’s game development, but I wanted to take a minute to lay my personal philosophy out before you.

Game development is a conversation. It is a conversation between us, the developers, and our players. If we continually talk about subjects our players aren’t interested in, it just can’t surprise us if they eventually wander away to talk to somebody else.

I can hear the grumbles already. “Are you saying we should be completely ruled by marketing data? What are we – Electronic Arts?”

No, but I am saying that it will be up to us to express ourselves through our games while still providing games that the market wants…so we can stay in business. Because in the end, we are playing a game too – a real-time simulation-strategy game called “run a successful game development company and maybe get rich doing it”.

So don’t chafe against these restrictions – revel in them! Restrictions breed creativity! Artists like to fantasize about the day they will be so famous and rich that they’ll finally be able to do whatever they want and realize their true vision – even though every time an artist has done so, the results have been disastrous.

In the end, never forget that our job – our goal – is to try to make people happy.

So let’s do it!

~ by Anthony Salter on March 17, 2008.

4 Responses to “To My Future Employees”

  1. Having had the time to watch the first lecture of the warren spector’s master class series, this sounded somehow familiar =)

    Anyway, it’s often enough to make games you enjoy yourself, because then you’re making game to an existing audience.. the problem being, that audience may not be too large. But it may be a good game nevertheless =)

    It’s easy to lose focus in developing for “normal users”, be it game or other software development.

    Let’s say you make a program as a supplement for a hardware device, like a scanner, usb radio receiver, or whatever. You plan the software, build it, and then do some real user testing. Where do you get the people? Probably around the neighborhood of your office.

    Now then, if your office happens to be in the city where you expect to find the majority of your target users, fine. But this isn’t often true – software companies tend to gravitate to locations where there are people who know a thing or two about computers, and vice versa. So your testers end up being outside your real target demographic, but you just don’t know that.

  2. It is possible that watching those videos has crystallized some things I’ve been thinking for a long time 🙂

  3. I keep telling this story in various formats, but it was such a good story that I’ll keep doing it. I recently saw a lecture/interview with David Mamet at UT. He was asked how he came by the ability to write such amazing dialogue.

    Mamet said that it came from starting and running a theater company in Chicago. In those days, theater was like sports in that it was a populist entertainment. And starting your own small company was like starting a band here in Austin.

    Anyway, having your livelihood depend on your skills put the pressure on and watching the audience react to what you wrote and produced was a kind of immediate feedback. If anything didn’t work, he’d say, “Well, I’m never doing that again.”

    And so, I bring this up because audience response and feedback is incredibly important. And we sometimes say, “Oh, the audience is stupid. They’ve been made fat and lazy by a host of sports games and first person shooters.” But, as you say, the point is to make money doing this thing. If we cannot get a sufficient audience behind what we’re doing, then what we’re doing is probably not a wise endeavor.

  4. I don’t get it. Game Company? Conversations?

    My stock options never arrived so wtf? WHERE IS MY MONEY TREE?!?!

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