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Peeking Inside Insomniac: A Conversation With Ted Price
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Peeking Inside Insomniac: A Conversation With Ted Price

November 14, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 6 Next

It's a balance that has to be struck, no doubt. Development is a series of compromises, whether it's technical compromises, or how much time, how much money, how many people you have to produce how much assets, how many levels, whatever.

TP: And there's, also, there's a balance between getting just stuck in analysis paralysis, too, where you could be discussing an idea forever, and you've never made any forward progress, and all the sudden you've missed your deadline.

So, at Insomniac, we are extremely deadline focused, and so we know that there is a time for discussion, and then there's a time for action; and I think we delineate between those times pretty well.

Are you guys still really heavily milestone-focused?

TP: Very.

So you guys are really traditional. Because there's a lot of discussion about -- at this point it's moved from people moving to Scrum, to people picking apart Scrum and throwing away the bits they don't like, and mutating it and stuff.

TP: I don't even know -- I mean, I could not define what Scrum is for you. I've never read anything about it, I don't know much about agile; I just know how we do it at Insomniac.

And that's probably a very narrow view, but it's worked for us, and we've managed to release triple-A titles consistently, every year.

So, I guess it's fun to hear about what the rest of the world's doing, and we can learn a lot, but we have people coming in from outside all the time, joining Insomniac, who bring their experiences, and help add to what we call "The Insomniac Way."

I see. And one thing I wanted to talk about, to get more general -- this comes up a lot, no doubt, and I don't want you to think think that I'm really fishing around, here, but you guys, at this point, I don't want to speak wrong -- but have you ever had a game that wasn't published by Sony?

TP: Yeah. Disruptor.

Disruptor. OK, that's what I thought...

TP: And in fact, Spyro the Dragon -- that was actually quote-unquote "published" by Universal Studios, and Universal sub-licensed the rights to Spyro to Sony.

And had it not been for that occurrence, we probably wouldn't be around, because Sony marketed the hell out of that game, and made it a household name.

But, for the last ten years or so, we have been working very closely with Sony. And, I know what you're getting at -- I mean, people ask me all the time, "So, do you consider going multiplatform? What are the drawbacks?"

There are questions, right? One obvious thing is, I would say, it's atypical for an independent developer to stick with one publisher almost exclusively for a decade. That's for sure.

TP: Yeah. Well, I mean, there are certainly benefits and there are drawbacks to it. The benefits are that our games tend to be associated with the hardware -- but that could be a drawback, too.

So, with Resistance: Fall of Man, because we were a launch title, we did get a lot of additional exposure simply because it was synonymous with the PlayStation 3. And it's hard to break into the genre; and it's cool that we were able to do it with a brand new entry.

Let me put it this way -- and, you're free to respond however you want -- my inference would be that if you had wanted to be acquired, by now you would have been. But you have not been.

TP: Absolutely. We definitely have been very vocal about maintaining our independence, and there's -- personally, for me? I really enjoy what I do, and I don't like being told by other people what to do; and I think a lot of people at Insomniac feel exactly the same way.

And a lot of people at Insomniac have come from other shops, where either they've been a part of a publisher, or they've been at a developer owned by a publisher, and they've told me that it can be frustrating to have a publisher acting with a heavy hand.

Our relationship with Sony is one where we develop autonomously. Sony certainly gives us great feedback on the games, but we're in control of the development process, and that is a great place to be. Especially with a partner as powerful as Sony.

Like you said, it does raise your profile, and certainly, Sony is going to market the hell out of your games, because they're high-quality and exclusive.

TP: But, then again, we see the other side too. We see games that are multiplatform succeeding wildly, and doing great, and that too is a fantastic place to be.

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