HAZE Script Writer Rob Yescombe
It’s hard to put exclusivity disputes to rest. What’s worrying is that there are disputes – anger and seriousness over the possibility of losing a game to the “competition.” There’s been buzz around Metal Gear Solid 4, Bioshock, and most certainly HAZE.
Free Radical’s script writer, Rob Yescombe, attempts to put the bickering to rest in this interview we held at Sony’s Playstation 3 Rooms.
What makes HAZE (and to a lesser extent Bioshock) more complicated than MGS4 and Final Fantasy XIII, is that it was originally announced for three platforms. Moreover, the game’s producer turned a presumed Playstation 3 exclusive, Assassin’s Creed, into a multiplatform game. Ubisoft don’t appear to be the exclusive type.
This begs the question, why did Free Radical choose Ubisoft as their producer this time around rather than Sony, or the previous Codemasters? Rob Yescombe had this to say of their decision:
Well their pedigree for shooters is pretty good. I mean, they’ve got a good gambit of things under their belt. And part of the pleasure of being an independent studio is you don’t have to work with the same guy every time.
It’s not that we’ve had problems with any other publishers, it’s just that in order for us to remain…er…vigilant in the market that we occupy, it’s important to know what it’s like working with various people. Ubisoft have been bloody great, I mean they’ve put us here [Playstation 3 Rooms, London.] This is nice.
Still, as a result of Ubisoft’s indecisiveness over console exclusives, there has been a continuous cycle of reports saying Haze is no longer exclusive, to it being a timed exclusive, and then to exclusive again. So what is the truth of the matter? I asked Rob whether HAZE really is Playstation 3 exclusive?
Why does everybody keep asking that? It’s a Playstation 3 exclusive. Buy a Playstation 3 and play it. I want it to be the reason people buy a Playstation 3.
That’s all well and good, but will this really put the rumours to rest? Couldn’t it just come out on another platform further down the line?
We’re a Playstation 3 exclusive. If by some magical wave of the wand that happens, I won’t be complaining. But we’re a Playstation 3 exclusive.
Rob has certainly put things into perspective. Like any good business decision, I presume it’ll all depend on the game’s sales on the Playstation 3. Still, as obvious as this sounds, people will still be talking about whether HAZE really is Playstation 3 exclusive. In reply to the sentiment that everyone is talking about HAZE’s exclusivity, Rob muses:
I find it so confusing that some people are so offended at the idea that it will be format exclusive. But it’s like people get angry about it. What are you angry about?
Indeed, what are people angry about? I expect most are annoyed by the conflicting reports from both news sites and Ubisoft/Free Radical themselves. It would help to know who’s decided on the gam’es exclusivity. Perhaps it wasn’t Ubisoft’s decision, but Free Radical’s choice to concentrate on one platform?
No, it’s not our decision.. It’s a publisher decision. And it’s not like this bizarre practice of gamers kind of demonising publishers like they’re some evil guy. Ubisoft have helped us out a lot on this game, in terms of being very supportive to the decisions that we wanted to make and to approve it.
They allowed us to delay it. You know people are so furious “Oh god, I pre-ordered this game and it’s delayed.” The fact of the matter is, what we want for people to do is not just to have a knee jerk buy at Christmas. You know, we want people to feel like they spent $50 and it was worth that money. You know, that’s what that delay was about.
In addition to delaying the game, changing focus from three platforms to just the Playstation 3 must have helped the game’s quality also:
Originally it [development] was kind of open ended. The fact of the matter is our pedigree at Free Radicial, when we were doing Timesplitters, all of that started out on Sony hardware. And so those guys have a lot of experience working in that realm.
Starting on any new hardware has its quirks, and Playstation 3 is no different, but it meant that we were able to hit the ground running maybe a little bit faster than some of the other developers that found it a bit tricky.
Hopefully such focus would enable Free Radical to concentrate more on the Playstation 3’s quirks, such as the Cell Processor:
Well, I mean, it’s something that those guys, the technical guys, are very capable of doing.
Even then, Sony’s technical wizards have been relied upon by some developers, especially before the arrival of improved Playstation 3 tools. So have Free Radical had any support from Sony’s techies?
Well to be honest with you, we haven’t really needed that kind of tech support. I mean, they’re willing and able to provide it, but we just haven’t run into that problem.
Which is pleasing to hear, since this is one game where the framerate won’t falter. Expect a locked 30fps on release. We all hope that this little interview has put HAZE’s exclusivity into context and will potentially put the bickering to rest. Then again, we’ll only be able to guess at why Ubisoft made this decision.