Berlin studio leads the charge with big-budget, hardcore browser games
voice of reason, but it’s really an honour to work with my team, because some of them are legends. My lead designer was one of the leading designers on Mirror’s Edge, for example. There are a lot of great people there, and I can trust them – I’m just there to help.
It was a big change in culture for the projects that already existed, and that was much more difficult, but being able to benefit from this new approach on DarkOrbit and Drakensang was amazing. DarkOrbit is seven-and-ahalf years old, right? And Drakensang is three-and-a-half years old. So there were many opinions about what the focus of the games was, and the vision for them. And on both projects, we had to do this kind of vision finding – which is maybe a bit strange to do when the project’s already live and super-successful. But if you don’t have a clear vision for the game, it’s going to be a very unfocused experience.
Jonathan Lindsay Which perhaps explains why you’ve held off from a concerted mobile push. JL
Yeah, we had to get our house in order, basically. And it’s really hard to get when you have a studio with hundreds of people in it and your core competency is browser games and games like Drakensang – it makes sense to focus on that if you’re not ready to scale and go get lots of mobile guys. And we weren’t, because we were going through a restructure. That’s why we bought Little Worlds Studio, because it’s a perfect way to get that knowledge.
The stereotypical view of browser game studios is that they release games often, but Bigpoint seems more focused. DO
There are two different approaches to this industry. Either you’re [firing games off] scattershot, and one game might be the hit, or you’re more of a sniper. What we, and also other companies who are striving towards being snipers, do is iterate a lot – internal prototyping through incubators. I used to work for EA, and we had this incubator: let’s try it out fast, let’s fail fast, and see what will work. It’s scattershot, but only internally.
And our games have much bigger budgets too. DarkOrbit, for instance, is several millions. It’s a team of 35 people for the past seven years – you can do the maths and work out how expensive that is. It’s a lot and [those games are] very successful because of that, because they’re much higher quality than the games that are just made rapidly.
The GameOfThrones team members sit under their house banners, while a hall decorated with swords provides a way to settle design disputes