CEDEC 2009: Media Molecule's exec producer laments disconnect between talented, frustrated designers and 'narrow' games

Reddy: “We need to recognise dev as a creative industry”

During her CEDEC 2009 talk on the building of ‘the LittleBigStudio’, executive producer and studio director Siobhan Reddy has called on developers to recognise the creativity inherent in game development and to nurture it.

"I really feel we’re at this strange point at the moment where I meet so many incredibly talented people who are frustrated with what they’re doing," she said. "That’s really confusing – how can so many great people be unhappy? But then you look at the top 20 games, and you see that a lot of them are the same – there’s a real disconnect there."

She encouraged creative people who have strong ideas to be motivated enough to take risks, and passionate enough to convince others of their vision.

"Try to find anyone you can who shares the same vision as you. If there aren’t any, consider doing it as a side project on your own. Great artists put themselves into their work, and we need to do the same – and the only way to do it is to be passionate about what you’re doing. In the end, it’s really down to the creative leaders in studios to allow risks to be taken."

Reddy, who joined Media Molecule in 2006, shortly after the company’s first meeting with Sony, also pressed how important it was to have a clear relationship with your publisher.

"We had a very clear drive to be totally transparent with Sony; we took time to explain to each other how we worked. It’s far better for the producers to know exactly what’s going on, to understand exactly where we are, than to deceive them with smoke and mirrors. It was a real warts-and-all relationship."

To that end, Media Molecule would submit video milestones to Sony rather than spending time polishing milestone builds. "We’d all worked places where a huge amount of effort – maybe one to two weeks worth, every six or eight weeks – went into putting together a milestone build and polishing it to impress the publisher. But that’s a real drain on resources, and it really distracts the team."

One of Reddy’s main themes was that, as executive producer, she views it as her job not to impose a process on the team but to adapt to how they work best.

"There’s no single development methodology that I subscribe to," she said. "The production team is responsible for making sure that the game hits the date set, but people have different methods of working that suit them best. Our job is to adapt to that, to give them the support they need. Don’t be a slave to the process. Don’t think that you can solve game creation as a software development problem. There isn’t a book on this planet that tells you to do these things."

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