: Exclusive Interview: Dave Jaffe And Scott Campbell

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Exclusive Interview: Dave Jaffe And Scott Campbell

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Happy Holidays to all! We give you this exclusive interview with Eat Sleep Play's founders, which is guaranteed to be a great read. Scott Campbell, Incognito founder, and Dave Jaffe, ex-Sony designer responsible for the likes of God of War are now in business together, and we wanted to chat. What's up with that new project? How do you view the PS3 and exclusivity? What's your take on innovation suffering in the recession? That and much more is below, and because these two guys have worked together many times - including the first two Twisted Metals back in the PS1 days - it only makes sense that they both decided to go the independent route together.

Check it out!

PSXE: Dave, what prompted you to leave Sony and start a studio of your own? Was it all you or did Sony have anything to do with the decision?

Jaffe: "They had a lot to do with it...they didnít pay me enough. Sony probably pays more consistent and more lucrative royalties than probably any other company that I know of, so I donít mean that like a slam against Sony; itís just a reflection of the way the industry works. You can contribute in a significant way like I did with God of War and theyíll pay you nice royalties, but then you look around at your peers and theyíve produced equally or even less significant titles, and theyíre putting more money in their pockets.

It began to make less and less sense to continue to be an in an environment that no matter how hard I worked, I wouldn't be able to do what I wanted to do; I'm 37 now and I'm not getting any younger, so why not grab for that brass ring? So then I began to talk to Scott Ė who sold Incognito to Sony for a nice chunk Ė and I started to realize that there are all kinds of benefits to owning your own company; things I never knew about before. You know, you can steer your ship wherever you choose to steer it. Look, everyone can go down; these days, everyone could be on shaky ground so if youíre going to be on shaky ground, you may as well follow your own destiny."

Scott, did you and Dave make the decision together to found the new studio? What are your long-term goals?

Campbell: "Yeah, we did make the decision together. Dave and I started working on the very first Twisted Metal; back in í95 and í96, and every time we work together it has been a great experience. He was always with Sony and I always was independent; I was with Singletrac and started Incognito. Then he got to a point where he said he wanted to go the independent route. So we did Calling All Cars together and started Eat Sleep Play. The long-term goals is an interesting topic, really; the business model when we first started Eat Sleep Play was that we wanted to focus on smaller, casual PSN type titles; games you could get on Blu-Ray or on the PSN. The thing thatís appealing about Eat Sleep Play is that Dave and I have experienced the value of owning an IP. Well, in the casual market, there is an opportunity sell your own game; create your own IP and establish it there, so this is still part of the business model.

It was just so refreshing to turn a game around really quick, Calling All Cars goes back to old-school, addictive arcade-style gameplay. But it only went to a certain audience Ė no matter how good the game is, sales will top out at like 300,000 Ė and we were like, itíll be tough to maintain the studio at that rate. So we decided to change a bit and to focus on something more medium-sized Ė not blockbuster huge, but medium."

PSXE: Analysts have predicted that although sales may not suffer in this recession, innovation might, due to publishers not wanting to forward the capital to small developers with new ideas. Do you agree with this, and because you and Scott are well established with Sony, do you think Eat Sleep Play is in a better position?

Jaffe: "Eat Sleep Play is just as susceptible as any other company; Factor 5, Free Radical; those guys went under. You know, it can happen to anybody. Hereís the way Iíve been envisioning it: itís like Steven Spielbergís "War of the Worlds," where people are just getting randomly picked off by those tripods and this guy is running down the street, just hoping to make it to the end. When he gets there, heís just grateful he made it down the street alive. Sometimes, it seems like thereís no rhyme and reason to any of it. Obviously, though, there could always be reasons why a company goes down, whether itís bad network or business decisions. So there are reasons why companies are still around and why companies die, but sometimes it just feels random. At Eat Sleep Play, we donít look at ourselves and say weíre economy-proof. Right now we have a really great deal with Sony and theyíre happy with what weíre doing.

But no, I donít buy that innovation thing, though...I mean, thereís a difference between an IP and innovation. This industry is the most fertile for creativity right now; I donít think innovation is going to suffer, but I think a new IP is going to be a little more challenging to get off the ground." (Jaffe goes on to speak at length about EAís Mirrorís Edge and Dead Space; the former specifically, in that the timing was wrong for its release, and it was definitely innovative although perhaps not as fun as it shouldíve been. Itís not one of his favorites, but itís clear itís a well-made game, although he couldnít get into the atmosphere). "I just think it would be unfortunate for EA to look at Mirrorís Edge [and its lacking sales] and use that as a reading of tea leaves and say, 'oh, we shouldnít have done that IP.' See, Sony wouldn't do that."

Scott talked about this same topic, but as he revealed certain things we promised we wouldn't talk about just yet, we are holding that back until they're ready to officially announce everything.

Some say that a developer can make a more graphically intense game if they just focus on the PS3, due to its extra power. Next yearís exclusives (Killzone 2, GT5, GoWIII, Heavy Rain, etc.) may prove this theoryÖwhat do you think?

Jaffe: "Iím not a technical guy, but I think thereís no arguing that theory. I think thereís a lot of truth in that, but the reality is itís not that important. Yeah, that may be true but whatís more important: getting a little bit better graphics or getting substantially more sales and more people buying your product? The value in this argument is so minor and of interest to so few people in the industry that itís not the real compelling reason to stay exclusive. There are business reasons to stay exclusive: I love working with Sony, for example, Iíve worked with Sony all my career. I donít know about Microsoft; all I know is working with these guys at Sony has been great. Theyíre business people but theyíre also artists and they want to try new things. I donít know how Home is shaking up...but itís still interesting; itís a neat attempt at something. Thereís definitely a philosophy that trickles down from on high at Sony that weíre not about following the herd. I think this is in Sonyís DNA. I like working with the company thatís going to allow the game the room to breathe and find its own voice; I love working for a company that gets what that means.

As for me, I think exclusivity does matter. Itís cool to have your system; itís the cast of characters of your network. For me, I just love to be part of something that defines the PlayStation experience. Yeah, Iím going to be able to enjoy a lot of different games when I have different consoles, but with the PlayStation, you know, these are my games. Thereís a unique fraternity thing going on that has a lot to do with your system, and I think thatís cool; it brings a little flavor to gaming."

Campbell: "I donít have anything compare it to Ė Iíve never had to do multiplatform Ė Iíve always had the luxury to focus on the Sony consoles. That theory is a lot more true with the sequels of first-generation PS3 titles; I saw screenshots of Uncharted 2 and that was just unbelievable; I just donít think the lesser consoles (on paper, I should say) could deliver that level of richness and detail. But I will say itís [PS3] a very challenging box to develop for. The problem you run into is the "creeping elegance" factor- you get something done like the shaders and you look at it, say you can do it better, then do it over and over, and you get into this pattern of, "we can do this better." It blows the schedule to hell. You also have to keep an eye out for what other developers are doing to exploit the hardware. It takes a pretty damn experienced team to deliver on that machine; but once you get that first version out, you know exactly what to focus on, know where you can do better, etc."

12/19/2008 Ben Dutka

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Comments (26 posts)

Aftab
Friday, December 19, 2008 @ 10:17:10 PM
Reply

Sweet!

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FLYING_APE
Friday, December 19, 2008 @ 10:28:17 PM
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holy sh*t ! i never knew you could get the big guns to do interviews... no offense guys well done *claps hand like a retard*

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Aftab
Friday, December 19, 2008 @ 10:34:40 PM

Dude, Jaffe said that GOW3 got him nervous!

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Ed_Wayne
Friday, December 19, 2008 @ 10:39:04 PM
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This was a good interview. I'm glad a cool site like this can get interviews with guys like that. I'm glad to hear that their game (100% sure it's Twisted Metal) is getting big to the point where it might be blu-ray only. I love PSN games (I have 20 of them) but nothing beats a nice, large, retail game.

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MirrorSoul
Friday, December 19, 2008 @ 11:29:58 PM

Yea I estatic for Twisted Metal, and if there coming to a milestone in January we could mabey get it next year.....mabey lol

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ec0li
Friday, December 19, 2008 @ 11:35:13 PM
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That was a great read! nuff said

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jlch777
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 12:16:16 AM
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Good article!!

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WaR_HaWk
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 1:15:45 AM
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i posted this interview on N4G.

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Scarecrow
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 1:38:05 AM
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PSXEXTREME interviewing David Jaffe and Scott Campbell!

Throws me back to the great days of the PSXEXTREME magazine.

Great interview, a big applause and thanks for this psxe!

You guys really keep me humbled as a gamer. Really love the work PSEX is doing and how they approach gaming.

It's funny, Dave and Scott would fit in so well with you guys haha. Same style of just "play games and just have fun with them, and most importantly be HONEST."

Cool stuff, really like how they approach games how they don't limit their creativity. I hope to see a badass action game. I spent most of my 2008 Winter, Spring, and Summer playing Warhawk more than any other game......yeah it's that addictive.

So if it's using an engine similar to that, man oh man.

Thanks a bunch for this, can't wait for the new game!

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robinhood2010
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 6:53:30 AM

PSEX?

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ArnoldK PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 5:40:23 PM

We have no relation to PS Extreme magazine. Never have. They were an awful publication where all of the reviews were paid off to be high.

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Scarecrow
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 6:56:44 PM

Oh =O
Hmmmm they were good, guess too good lol....
Getting paid and all? didn't know 'bout that.

Anyway I like this psxe better.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 2:31:06 AM
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Maybe they can get Jaffe to post here, that dude is pimp.

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www
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 3:48:16 AM
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I actually found myself getting nervous and sweaty and I was like, "why am I getting like this?" But it was because I was wondering, "how the fu** are we going to compete?

Yeah i've been there felt that,i remember back in graphics design class where i thought my project was the best until sum other guy shows up with something better.........u realize it just fu**s u up,u feel so bad.

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SHADOW [Moderator]
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 3:50:49 AM
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You just have to tease us don't you?

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miocardio721
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 3:53:57 AM
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Great interview!

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BigT_1980
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 4:45:00 AM
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Hey Ben, does David Jaffe and Scott Campbell actually read smaller gaming websites like PSXExtreme? Just curious. Great interview by the way.

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tramp
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 9:51:09 AM
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great interview guys,i hope these pull off something specail,not something jaw dropping but something fun and addictive.plz guys deliver

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JPBooch
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 9:59:29 AM
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Great read guys,I look foward to see what these two brain storn in the future. I felt especially proud about their nice words about Sony. At least they know what side their bread is buttered on.

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Qubex
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 10:41:14 AM

A nice way to put it mi thinks!

Q!

"i Am HomE"

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MetalHead09
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 3:32:28 PM
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great read. but can you put up that metal gear discussion sometime ben? i love anything metal gear and would LOVE to hear what jaffe and campbell had to say about it. i really hope they are working on a letal gear related game cause its bin a long time since ive done some car combat carnage.

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Jed
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 8:20:11 PM

you mean twisted metal?

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MetalHead09
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 10:30:20 PM

lol yea my bad sometimes i get things twisted.

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ArnoldK PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, December 20, 2008 @ 11:23:46 PM
Reply

I think you DID mean Metal Gear, because that's the convo Ben didn't include here as mentioned in the last paragraph.

Last edited by ArnoldK PSXE on 12/20/2008 11:24:27 PM

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King James
Sunday, December 21, 2008 @ 2:25:44 PM
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Wow! Great interview guys. Why can't all gaming interviews be that good? I gonna be honest. I wasn't checking for Eat Sleep Play prior to this interview. I had no idea Scott Campbell (the Incognito guy) was Jaffe's partner. I can't wait to see what game these 2 guys come out with. A game that uses the WarHawk engine has my attention!

Thanx, PSXE.

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rockleex
Wednesday, December 24, 2008 @ 7:12:18 PM
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I want that MGS4 conversation posted!!! >_<

...please? :P

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