The Thing30 Aug 2017
Paul Large, the ever amazing Art Director over at Ruffian Games, has put up some of the videos that were produced for The Thing, a collaboration between my old haunt - Ruffian Games - Microsoft & Universal Pictures.
I have mixed feelings when I watch these. I’d be lying if I said I was ever fully engaged in the project. I hated how we were being asked to make it, and I had absolutely no faith in Microsoft’s ability to, well, do fucking anything by this point. We were being shoved between junior producers that had barely scheduled lunch before working with us, and had a publisher side writer that spent longer arguing about the feelings of the NPCs than he did giving a single fuck about what the player might be thinking. It was rough and I was miserable, piss-whinging about it all the time. Although, we did get treated to a VIP jaunt around Universal Pictures in LA, which was a fucking hilarious day out…
As with anything to do with big companies, a lot comes down to politics. Despite having an EP over in Seattle who was extremely passionate about us, and what we were doing, he didn’t have enough capital inside MS to save it when the Xbone launch was a disaster. We got canned along with [practically] everything else that MS were doing at the time…
But the work that Ruffian did was easily the best we’d managed up to then, and there was a real enthusiasm and passion for the project. We all adored the license.
I learned a lot about how to tackle the design of a big project by watching the way Rich and the team carved things up. It was good, detailed work, and if we had of got it over the line I strongly believe it would have treated John Carpenter’s universe with the same reverence and attention to detail as Alien: Isolation did for the Alien franchise.
I moved to Finland to start up a little Ruffian satellite while this project was being worked on, so I missed the tail-end of the stuff that was produced in the studio. And I wasn’t there when the axe fell. It was a close call, the studio nearly went down, but it’s a credit to everyone there that it didn’t, and that it’s going from strength to strength.
AAA is brutal, even with the best of licenses. I honestly do not fucking miss it, not one little bit. But then, making games is brutal, even tiny projects on your own.