Develop Conference: Check-ups and arbitrary deadlines stop creativity, says Barry Meade

Devs should remove the pressures they put on themselves

Fireproof Studio’s head has urged developers to remove the pressures they place on themselves in order to think more instinctively and passionately about what they are making.

Barry Meade, who’s studio is behind the award-winning tablet hit The Room, said the pressure of frequent check-ups, deadlines and other external pressures make it extremely difficult for developers to remain focused on making their game as good as it can be.

Meade said being free from such pressures was a big reason why making The Room felt so right.

“It just all fell in to place. I’ve never worked on a game that was so easy to make,” he told the audience at the Develop Conference.

“In a big studio, there are a lot of other pressures besides just making your game. There is a lot of politics.

“The difference with making The Room was we didn’t have any outside pressure whatsoever.”

Meade previously worked at Burnout maker Criterion Games in Guildford, which is known for its consistency when it comes to high quality. The culture at Criterion, he said, was “if you’re going to make game, make it world-class, otherwise don’t bother”.

As well as pressure from the culture of the studio, it was the powers that be which Meade said take away the fun of the development process, which he feels is holding developers back.

“I think that removing all the levers of pressure that game developers put on themselves is a bloody good idea. It just adds so much pleasure to the process.

“At Fireproof, we’re trying to make the game development experience as simple as it can be.

“[Large studios] put in all these mechanisms to measure your progress. There are a million ways to check up on you and all of that just slows your progress, it just makes it much more difficult to make your games.

“You should just be able to play it and experiment. You can’t really do that when you’ve got lots of people checking up on you all the time and arbitrary deadlines.”

In his session, which was chaired by journalist Guy Cocker, Meade also discussed the formation of Fireproof.

He said he and his co-founders were originally part of the environment team at Criterion making all the tracks for the Burnout games. He and the others were fearful of being broken up and losing the knowledge and attitude they had built up together, so setting up on their own was their way of maintaining that stability.

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