Thank You

There's a hashtag on Twitter - #ThankACreator. The idea is that you use it to call out someone who is responsible for making something that had an impact on you or your career. What with other items currently doing the rounds in the games press, now seems like as good a time as any to turn my hand to something along those lines.

So here I present to you a few people that I would like to publicly thank for what they have done.

Peter Molyneux

That's a canal boat. We pushed him in. It was hilarious.
I'll start with a real doozy. Almost a quarter of a century ago, this man gave me my break in the industry. With him, I worked on some truly amazing projects and learned a hell of a lot about how to design a game*. Was he the easiest person to work with? No. One of the most creative? Charismatic? Passionate? Exciting? Yes.

During my tenure, the biggest compliment he gave me was that he trusted me to talk to the press in his stead and demo games to other people. Consider this - the only other person he trusted to do that was Cathy Campos and we all know what happened as soon as she wasn't around to be his guide.

The current situation with the press is really messed up. A lot has been said - things like how he lied to so many people and is clearly a bad person. It should be understood that the man doesn't possess a malicious bone in his body.

Peter's single biggest problem is that he never says 'No'.

If someone asks if a game contains a feature that they would like, he doesn't want to disappoint them. So he says 'yes'. He can also have those "Wouldn't it be cool if..." conversations in his own head on the spot. This means that, sometimes, he'll just be getting excited about a potential new feature on the fly and his brain doesn't filter out that information before it gets to his mouth. Also, if someone attributes a particular design or mechanic to him, he doesn't correct them. Note that he doesn't go out of his way to claim responsibility for it, but he doesn't say 'no' and explain who actually came up with it.

It's never said with malice. The intent is never to deceive. He believes what he says when he says it. Like so many creatives, he occasionally lacks the resources to come true on his intentions and can be easily sidetracked by the next new idea. But it's never malice.

So yeah. Thank you Peter for giving me a chance and keep your head down until this all blows over.

Markus Persson

The man known simply as Notch, father of Minecraft and owner of a ridiculous LA home. You, sir, gain my thanks - not just for the many, many hours I sank into that game of yours, but for the way that, in spite of huge levels of both attention and money, you never let your ego get in the way.

If ever there was an example of how to pay it forward, I'd argue that Notch is right there. Made a stink load of money? Why don't I re-invest it in people trying to do the same thing that I did? None of this pulling-the-ladder-up-afterwards crap that others try.

Unless it's all an elaborate act for the public, he's never seemed to let it all go to his head. I can imagine he still has trouble believing what it is that happened.

Thank you Markus, for being incredibly level-headed, well-grounded and putting the other egos** to shame. Oh, and for Minecraft - that was pretty cool too.

Hidetaka Miyazaki

No other game in recent times has resonated more completely with me than Dark Souls. There are many facets to it, some of which I covered in an earlier post. Dark Souls conversations only come in too flavours. There are those who say "It's too hard - I don't like it" and then there are those who see beyond the difficulty and fully embrace the wonderfully engineered mechanics, tortuously intertwined level design and incredibly deep lore.

No-one is ever ambivalent about it - it's either not for them or it's the only thing they can think about.

I'm in the latter camp. Which is why I was so disappointed in Dark Souls II - a hard act to follow, but it wasn't a patch on the original. The reason? Certainly Miyazaki leaving midway through development to work on Bloodborne didn't help, but it felt like DSII made too many concessions and watered down the formula that made the first one such a success.

I know await Bloodborne with renewed fervour and can only hope that it doesn't let me down.

Either way, Thank you Miyazaki-san for bringing me back to console gaming and giving me plenty of material to talk about at conferences.

David Braben

When I was at school, all everyone could talk about was Elite. There were endless discussions about particularly lucrative trade routes, engineering failed jumps that landed you in Witch Space, which version was superior and, of course, what everyone's rating was.

I can also remember the guy in Esdevium Games over in Aldershot asking me what my ultimate game would be. I simply said Elite with multiplayer.

By all accounts, that's what Elite Dangerous is. I have a copy. A digital copy. It sits there, waiting for me to download it and play...

...but I have no PC - I'm now a fully paid up Mac owner. The only way I can sate my desire for space exploration, trade and piracy is to live vicariously through the various Let's Play videos on YouTube. Each one tears at me - taunting me with their icing stockings*** - and yet I cannot stop watching.

But still - Thank you David for making this game a reality. And thank you even more for making it in such a blatant fan-service way. Docking's too hard? Docking is supposed to be hard! This is Elite!

Gabrielle Kent

Gabby, chilling with the Aliens, post Develop 2013
"What genre-defining, addictive, life-stealing title has she worked on?" I hear you ask. Or perhaps "Who?"

For the uninformed, Gabby is a lecturer in game design at Teesside University. Actually, she's a bit more than that. She's also the person behind the Animex festival and, as you should all know by now, I do like me a bit of Animex each year.

I have been known to get in a bit of a downer with game design and academia. Mostly this stems from them being woefully out of date and out of touch. It's also the fact that most courses just seem to teach modelling, characters, story and level design with scant regard for mechanics and systems.

Gabby's lot don't do this. They learn proper, applicable gameplay stuff.

Thank you Gabby, for ensuring the next generation of game designers don't just fall into the same trap as an awful lot of the current crop. And a big thank you for putting up with me year on year at Animex****. 

The Old Guard

At the risk of getting all nostalgic and Old Boys Club, I'd also like to make a special mention to a couple of the chaps who were at Bullfrog when I first started.

Gary Carr, already a veteran back then, took me under his wing and explained how the industry worked. Sure, he did this with a can of Special Brew in one hand, but I learned plenty of things and he always had my back if things started getting twitchy.

Over the years of my career, I've probably worked with Glenn Corpes for about twenty of them in a variety of different studios. Peter aside, without Glenn there would be no Populous, Magic Carpet or Dungeon Keeper. Without Glenn there would be no Battle Engine Aquila and Weirdwood would not have even gotten off the ground. In short, without Glenn, my CV starts to look pretty damn empty.

So Thank you Gary and Glenn, for looking after me at the start and not disowning me once I became long in the tooth and a pain to work with.

Richard Reed

During my time at Bullfrog, I was very fortunate to be paired with one Richard Alan Reed. The Big Kahuna. Crusherfred. Our token septic, he was brought to task on a regular basis for everything that went wrong with that curious country. He took it with his usual, laid back, chilled out aplomb. In return, we taught him how to drink like an Englishman.

He was working on a game called Biosphere which he thought would make an excellent Bullfrog game. He was right - it would have. Sadly, it got kinda butchered along the way, but we still managed to release Gene Wars in its wake.

He was a brilliant coder and took it upon himself to try and teach me - not an easy task by any means. Somehow he managed to keep his patience with me even though all I ever seemed to do was break the build. He was a brilliant strategy gamer and was always tinkering with interesting ideas for new games. He was an amazing man who was loved by all who worked with him.

His final, unfinished project was incredible. Innovative and supremely playable - the people at Lost ToysMucky Foot and Lionhead at the time can attest to that.

Sadly, he was taken from us by cancer before he could finish it.

I never got a chance to thank him when he was alive but if, somehow, he is able to read this, I'd just like to say Thank You and I miss you buddy. If I get my way, your legacy will live on and I promise to do it the justice it deserves.

Myself, Shin and Rich - post E3 2005
*And how not to run a project.
** Mine included
*** Which makes no sense unless you happen to have been a Viz reader for one specific issue.
**** I suppose I should also thank Rhianna Pratchett for introducing us in the first place.


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