Earlier today we featured remarks from David Reid, Vice President for Publishing at the newly forming NCsoft
West branch. During our discussion we talked about NCsoft's shift from a publisher of games big and small to one focused solely on AAA big-budget titles
. One of the individuals impacted by that decision was well known MMO industry commentator and designer Scott Jennings
. Sometimes known as "Lum the Mad", Jennings was part of a team that was dispersed
as a result of the creation of NCsoft West, and is now working at John Galt Games
(makers of Web Wars).
We asked Mr. Jennings to respond to Mr. Reid's comments, as an individual personally impacted by NCsoft's decision to move towards a AAA-only strategy. The designer had quite a few things to say about that decision. "It was my belief, and still is, that it is entirely possible to make smaller, less bloated titles that appeal less to the mass market and more to market niches that are underserved to date, which are easier to design and develop for when you aren't married to a $50 million+ budget."
Please click through to read Scott Jennings' full response to the NCsoft decision below the cut.Massively:
Mr. Jennings, we were wondering if you had any response to NCsoft's decision to move to a 'Triple-A all the way' footing, as regards game development?Scott Jennings:
NCsoft's decision to restructure itself around betting on "AAA all the way" titles is an interesting one, and not one I would agree with were I the one making decisions.
During my time at NCsoft I helped to champion a different development model, in many ways a reaction to AAA titles that NCsoft had gambled on that were less than great successes. It was my belief, and still is, that it is entirely possible to make smaller, less bloated titles that appeal less to the mass market and more to market niches that are underserved to date, which are easier to design and develop for when you aren't married to a $50 million+ budget.
As your interview noted, they're now moving in a different direction, and those of us who championed the more agile development model are now elsewhere. And they may not necessarily be wrong – NCsoft's successes as well as failures to date have been big-budget titles, so a retrenchment to "doing what we know" makes a certain amount of sense on some levels.
However, as a designer my interest is less in making more iterative versions of games that have come before and more in working on new and interesting challenges. So from a personal standpoint, working on smaller projects puts me in a happier place, and from a professional standpoint I believe strongly that smaller projects have been, and will be successful as well, both from a creative and financial standpoint.
Hopefully, the market is large enough that *everyone* can be right!