PD: I want to talk about autuerism. Do you think having individuals who are empowered as the name brand of the game, like, "This is a Howard Hawkes game." Do you think this has creative value, or at least marketing value?
GC: It's absolutely beneficial from a marketing standpoint. It's a two-edged sword if you're a publisher; because if this guy's name has recognition with the audience, that's another lever we can use to sell this game, but it also means he's going to ask for more money and more control in the future. There is a danger in having individuals recognized for their work in that sometimes those aren't really the people who did the work. I'm thinking of Alpha Centauri, which Sid Meier didn't really design.
PD: Right, Bryan Reynolds.
GC: Yeah, and we also need a more sophisticated appreciation for who are the key talents on game. In film, we know it's the director, we know it's the producer, we know it's the screenwriter and the major actors. It isn't clear who the major actors are in developing a game, but it's more than one person.
PD: One thing I really enjoyed about working with Mr. Bateman here is he made his personality a very transparent interface to the project. It reminds me of something Mark Healy told me - he's another scratchware auteur, the guy behind Rag Doll Kung Fu - and he told me he didn't see himself as working for Peter Molynuex when they made Dungeon Keeper and Black and White, more like he was working with Peter. He said they all were their own ingredients and Peter would just stir the pot. The question is: Is it better to be a "rockstar" game designer or a "humble" game designer, or is there synergy between those?
CB: Wow, what a question. I know what I set out to do with Fireball, and what I hope to do further down the line, is to create a core game design that is solid enough that other people can come to it and find their own creativity. So there are multiple levels of play before it gets to an audience. What I did with Fireball was I put out an open call and said, "Does anyone want to contribute to this?" and I got people like you and Maurizio. There was an enjoyment that you guys got out of playing with those tools and creating stuff with it. When the audience finally comes to it, they're going to experience these little individual art pieces that you all made for it. And that's fantastic. That's what I'm really exploring now - creating a core game design that allows other people to explore different kinds of play experiences and provide that to an audience.
PD: You give credit to the people who make the content. It's like auteur franchising.
CB: Yeah, that's one way of looking at it. That's what I wanted to do. I wanted to create a framework of design that would allow another group of people to come in and express themselves. I'm not trying to control the whole experience. I'm trying to facilitate something else happening..
PD: And on the other hand, we have Santiago who is trying to solve drama, maybe not from such a high level approach as Crawford. It's geared towards a specific context, and you're doing it all on your own. You're doing the art, the programming and the design. Do you see yourself as becoming like, "Hey, this is a Santiago Siri game," and you going on talk shows and stuff? What are your delusions of grandeur?