Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jamie Cheng, game designer, on a failed effort: "We didn't have a conviction of what we wanted to do"

This mistake story from the GDC 2012 "Failure Workshop" was captured by Kris Graft of Gamasutra, a gaming industry site:

Jamie Cheng of Eets and Shank developer Klei Entertainment talked about his studio's failure -- an online game called Sugar Rush. The studio worked on it for three years, did the art style for the game five different times, held three closed betas, and was only two weeks away from a full ship. But it never shipped.

Cheng said the game was originally called Eets: Sugar Rush, and had marshmallows fighting one another. It was greenlit by Nexon in Vancouver.

The game gradually became a mish-mash of ideas from the game developers and ideas from the publisher. It became diluted, and the game didn't really know what it was supposed to be.

Impending failure became clearer when Nexon Vancouver totally shut down, and with that, the backend for the game was gone.

But the studio still didn't want to give up, so it tried to convert Sugar Rush to a game called Scrappers for consoles. But it still didn't ship.

"We didn't have a conviction of what we really wanted to do," said Cheng "...We didn't know [how to work with a publisher] as an independent [studio]."

Klei eventually created and successfully shipped Shank, a game made with a much clearer creative vision.

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