Gamasutra had the chance to catch up with Graham Hopper, general manager of Disney Interactive Studios, and get an update on Warren Spector's Junction Point studio, its project, and how Disney's creative process is allowing Spector's creativity to flourish.
So: Warren Spector. What's up?
Graham Hopper: One of these days you'll find out.
Have to ask.
GH: Warren's hard at work. He has a team working on a great project. We're going to show it when it's right and ready. We're very encouraged by what we're seeing. I think you'll be very pleasantly surprised.
How big is Junction Point these days?
GH: I'm not sure of the exact number right now...
Is it still one team? Two teams?
GH: One team. Still in the process of building up. I think that when we acquired it, it was roughly 20 people. It's more than doubled since then, but I don't know the exact number right now.
Obviously one problem the games industry has struggled with, and I don't think it's necessarily yours, but in general, sometimes, a reason games suffer from a lack of polish or creativity is that development cycles don't allow for enough preproduction. The film industry, of course, is known for its long, long, long preproduction times. When it comes to a talent like Warren Spector and Junction Point that you're involved with, how much creative leeway do you allow for preproduction, iteration, evolution, stuff like that?
GH: A lot. In fact we try to do it as much as possible. Frankly, the bigger the game, the more preproduction time it needs. I don't think you can be in business and try to deliver high quality product -- and stay in business, and rush into production too soon. Because the odds of you doing something great at the end are minimized, and you'll eventually be out of business. The only way to do it is -- you have to give it the right amount of time.
The project that Warren's working on is something that we've had creative ideas about for a long time before we found the right guy to make it -- which was Warren.
Warren has taken that and changed it a lot along the way and made it better, and we've given him the time to do that. We're into a very, very extensive prototyping and technology phase on the game. Right now he's building levels. To get to that point took a long time. That's why we've been quiet. But that's what the game needs to be successful.
There are other games that we haven't announced we're working on that are on equally long gestation periods, and they just need them. The cost of developing new IP these days is so high, to try and save some money here and there by shortchanging that process doesn't make sense.
And frankly, I don't think it's fair to the people who work on the teams -- I think about this. If I'm working on a team and I'm going to bust my gut for two and a half to three years or longer on a project, I want to know that what I have to show for myself at the end of this is worthy of the sacrifice that I'm going to make.
I think we owe it to our teams to give them the time that they to need to be successful. There's always attention to cost and everything else, but at the end of the day wherever possible we defer to giving our people the time that they need. Great people create great things, but they don't do it on impossible deadlines.