Insomniac’s Ted Price says the industry’s malaise mandated drastic changes to Fuse sci-fi game (interview)

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GamesBeat: The good thing, though, is that games are still getting in front of more people than ever. The number of games being played is in the billions, probably.

Price: Yeah. It’s true. What’s cool about that, and what’s cool about the change, is that you don’t have to be a multibillion-dollar corporation to have the answer, to figure out what it takes to reach that global audience. You can be a guy in his bedroom with a great idea, using off-the-shelf tools to build something that nobody’s ever seen before. That guy can change the world. That’s the promise that got me into games in the first place. I feel like, in many ways, it’s come full circle.

GamesBeat: You’ve ventured into Facebook. What did you think of that?

Price: It was a learning experience, for sure. In fact, it continues and it’s evolving. Yesterday we went into open beta on Kongregate with Outernauts. For us it’s exciting, because we learned a lot about what our players wanted when we released Outernauts on Facebook. We made a lot of big changes. Now we’ve brought a very different game, one that we think reflects those players’ desires, to Kongregate, which we think is an audience of players who appreciate the kind of game we have in Outernauts.

GamesBeat: How are you looking forward to the next generation of consoles?

Price: Well, I am looking forward to it. As a tech geek myself, I love the idea of having new and more powerful hardware. That’s something we thrive on. We’ve been a console developer for a long time. That’s exciting for us. I’m more curious to see how gamers respond, because it’s a different world. We have so many different platforms that we can experience games on today. The big question is, how are the larger console manufacturers going to address that? Have our habits changed enough to actually affect the way hardware is designed? I don’t know. We’re going to see pretty soon, I guess.

GamesBeat: What do you think about working with EA?

fuse 6Price: I may have said this earlier, but it’s been great to have events where we can show off progress with the game. We can bring together a lot of journalists from a long way away and say, “Here’s the game. Check it out.” It always will be an Insomniac. We own the intellectual property. EA is our partner and they provide great support when it comes to marketing, sales, quality assurance, localization, and distribution. That’s been what we expect from a great partner.

GamesBeat: The direction that it’s going, though, does this feel like an effort that’s as large as what you might have to do for next-gen games?

Price: I don’t know yet what we have to do for next-gen. I think every product we do is a struggle between implementing efficient practices that we’ve learned from the previous project and expanding the scope to meet consumer demand. That’s a challenge. We struggled over the years with scope because we know that players are insatiable. At the same time, we know that to deliver a great game, we have to pick just one or two things and do them better than anybody else.

We’ve missed in past games. We’ve had kitchen-sink games where we do a lot of things and we do them pretty well, but we don’t do them the best. We continue to strive to deliver an experience that’s he best at something. I don’t think we’re alone in that. I’ll throw one out there as an example of somebody that’s succeeded, and that’s Minecraft. Minecraft totally threw graphics out the window. Maybe it’s a stylistic choice, but… Notch and his team did something nobody else could do and they did it better, in terms of creating this procedural world, than anybody else ever has. That’s propelled them to success, and it’s awesome.

Anyway, it comes back to controlling scope and figuring out what makes your game sing. For me, the fact that the industry does change faster and faster is what provides a lot of the fun. It provides a lot of the stress too, but it’s absolutely never boring.

fuse 7GamesBeat: Some of your peers are retiring, but it sounds like you’re ready to keep going full steam here. The BioWare guys have retired. Mike Capps of Epic has as well.¬†

Price: Yeah, it’s crazy. I really enjoy what I do. In particular, this year has been a roller coaster for a lot of us — because of the industry, because of the mixed reactions that Fuse got when we came out with the tone shift. But I’m proud of our team. I’m proud of what we do. I’m proud of Fuse. I really enjoy being in a place where I’m surrounded by creative people who are coming up with cool ideas every day.

GamesBeat: Are you going to miss Resistance?

Price: Yeah. I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Resistance. That was, by far, our most difficult production. When we had to hit that launch date and come out with a brand-new IP. It was brutal. But it became a part of my life, and a lot of people’s lives at Insomniac. I wish it well.

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