Developer Pop Quiz is a weekly interview series in which we ask developers from around the industry the same 10 questions and post their responses.
If you own a Wii or DS then you should take note of one of the best studios developing games for both of those platforms, WayForward, whose latest title, "Batman: The Brave And The Bold The Videogame" comes out next Tuesday. That title's designer, Adam Tierney, was the latest developer to take our weekly Developer Pop Quiz and give us some insight into who he is as a gamer, what he thinks of the industry, and why he thinks modern games can learn from their predecessors.
Name: Adam Tierney
Title: Designer/Director of "Batman the Brave and the Bold the Videogame" for Wii
Job Description: Design/Director
First title worked on: "Sigma Star Saga" (GBA)
Most recent title worked on: "Batman: The Brave and the Bold the Videogame" (Wii)
What game has most influenced you, and why?
Boy, that's a tough question. My favorite games are "Ico," "Silent Hill 2," and "Rez" (in that order). But most influential would probably have to be something from the NES era. Maybe "Megaman 2" or "Double Dragon II," the latter of which helped shape our combat in "Batman: The Brave and the Bold the Videogame."
What are you playing right now?
Most recently, I've put over 40 hours into "Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker." What an incredible game that is! I'm a sucker for the series, and Kojima and crew did an incredible job boiling down the essentials of "MGS" into one of the smartest, most varied handheld games in years.
What was your first break in the games industry?
I dabbled in the GBA hobbydev scene for a while, before earning my first paychecks creating graphics for mobile games. The job that finally allowed me to finally quit my day job was animating "Tak 2" for GBA.
What's the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Always take the time to flesh out your designs completely, and don't head into production until you're sure what's on paper is golden.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I'm a huge film buff, so I think that's been a major influence on the games I've designed and directed. With "Batman: The Brave and the Bold the Videogame," we had over 400 pages of dialogue. So we combed through all the episodes to get the tone just right, in addition to pulling in bits from the previous Batman comics, films, and other cartoons. I'm very proud of the end result, which is a level of dialogue immersion you don't see in most action games.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned about game development?
It's all about the user feedback. Give the player that moment of pure satisfaction, and they'll play through whatever you throw at them to get back to it. "Peggle" has one of the single most satisfying gaming moments I've ever seen. It's addictive. If you're not adequately rewarding your player, they're going to tune out long before they reach the end of the game.
Who do you think will come out on top this console generation?
I love and play all three systems, as well as the Nintendo DS and PSP. So my allegiance tends to swing with what I’m playing at any given moment. The Wii’s obviously coming out on top in terms of system sales, but beyond that I think each system really does have its own strengths and audience. It’s one of the best console generations we’ve ever had, to be sure.
What do you think is the biggest problem current games suffer from?
I think most modern games are just too easy. I know it's because gamers are older now, and we have limited amounts of time in which to beat each game. But it seems like most games these days can be plowed through without difficulty, as long as you're willing to spend a few hours. What happened to challenge and learning from your failures?
What is the most important thing that has happened to gaming in the last 10 years?
I think the rise of the indie gaming scene has been pretty incredible. It's always been there, but the level of polish over the last few years has been very eye-opening. You have little, independently-financed titles like "Machinarium" that look and play better than multi-million dollar big budget games. The amount of creativity in the indie scene is really changing what games are now.
Where do you see gaming in 5 years?
What I want to see - and we’re already seeing it - is a continued evolution of storytelling in games. In "Batman," we put a huge emphasis on VO and storytelling, more than in any previous game I’ve been involved with. And of course you have landmark storytelling achievements like "Portal" and "Bioshock." I’d like to see that emphasis on storytelling in traditionally story-light game genres continue, to where the line between passive and active entertainment becomes blurred.