Three Fields, three values
Roberts and Ward laid out their team’s design philosophy. It’s simple, and it’s one that anyone who makes games would like to see in the people designing their hobby’s products:
- Make great games.
- Have fun making them.
- Do the right thing each and every day. “When you can be part of bigger companies, you have great titles but ultimately don’t have great power.”
Hence, the name Three Fields (easy to see how it could mean three actual fields near their home base in the woods). “We wanted people to be skilled in three fields, which is a line from the script from the film Interstellar. Anne Hathaway says to Matthew McConaughey, ‘Come on our rocket and save the Earth,’ and he says, ‘Why would you take me?’ I’m just a farmer. She says, ‘No, you’re a test pilot and a farmer and a hacker. We look for people skilled in three fields.’
“So, I thought, someone is going to ask me … about the name of our company. I couldn’t think up screwdriver or gearbox or all these other mechanical-sounding game names … and I couldn’t not think of anything that doesn’t rhyme with a swear word as well” Ward said.
And when seeing Interstellar in the theater, Ward said, “And that line wasn’t in the film! So the guys I was working with look at me and said, nice job, good choice.”
Three Fields’ designers are interested in sound and code as well as design. No silos. “We believe the best software is made when everyone is around, looking on the screen and saying, ‘How do we make it better?’ And that can be, ‘Well, your stuff sucks,’ and, ‘Well, no, your stuff sucks,’ and it’s about collaboration and iteration [they’ve made more than 16,000 versions, Ward said] working together. Those things break down the more people you get.”
‘This must succeed’
Three Fields doesn’t have the money to visit the convention circuit. No PAX. No GDC. Not even any game jams. It had enough money to send Ward and Roberts for one trip to the United States to show off the game to the media — though Ward said that part of this light media schedule also comes from his heroes, the Stamper brothers (founders of what became Rare, one of the most important studios in the history of game design), who only gave two interviews their entire careers.
If Dangerous Golf doesn’t sell well upon its early June release (Ward said June 3), the studio doesn’t have a the funding to recover.
“We hope it will be a success. We don’t have any data on how downloadable games do — this seems to be like the nuclear launch codes,” Ward said. “This is my 21st year in the business and my 16th making games, we’ve been pretty successful, been working on PlayStation since the start of the PlayStation 2 in 1999. We’ve made a lot of games on PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and Xbox. It’s spectacularly hard, as independent developers and ourselves with a proven track record, to get a hold of individuals at [the platform holders].
The lack of indie-market knowledge, the new tech, the small team — it’s all made an exciting, difficult, and frightening journey for Three Fields.
“This has been a very challenging project to make because for an indie company, some of the stuff we’ve been doing is insane. We’ve been pushing physics very hard, more than we think we’ve seen in any other game,” Ward said.
And yes, they are scared — even with decades of blockbuster developments and the legacy of the outstanding Burnout series
“Me? I’m terrified, honestly, yeah,” Ward said.
But they have something else driving them: faith.
“We believe in ourselves,” Ward said.