Splash Damage CEO: 'AAA or Bust'

GDC Europe 2009: Paul Wedgwood discusses about "being AAA in everything you do" and putting it all on the line to make great games.

COLOGNE, Germany--Though it started out as a humble mod developer for such games as Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Doom 3, Splash Damage now has a major publishing deal with Bethesda to release its own games. The first title under that agreement is Brink, a first-person shooter based on a highly modified id Tech 4 engine. With this in mind, Splash Damage Paul Wedgwood's GDC Europe session focused on the need to be "AAA" in the current development environment, from "hiring in people more talented than yourself," as Wedgwood put it, to creating "one of the best-run game developer Web sites in the UK."

From its origins in Wedgwood's bedroom to its current purpose-built office in London, Splash Damage's focus has been on investing in people. "For years we'd always recruited from the mod community, but when we decided to make console games, we needed people who were capable of making hits." Wedgwood listed the major components of his company's ethos: more talent, better facilities, an HR manager, better staff benefits, parties, training, better recruitment agencies, visa lawyers, and higher salaries. "This will attract and retain talent, and then the money will come," he concluded.

Paul Wedgwood delivering his advice.

Wedgwood also had some controversial advice for developers looking to set up their own studios. "Budgets are pointless," he said, alluding to the fact that he still doesn't fully understand how a balance sheet works. His conclusion: "Don't be a businessman. Management consultants are better than you, and you can get them for £25 ($40) a day through the British Chambers of Commerce," he advised. "Be transparent with publishers," he said, "And when you must budget, budget for growth."

Above all, Wedgwood advised budding developers to lay everything on the line to pursue what they believe in. "If you're running short of money, and you're being offered a movie license, you have to say no. If you have to put your house and your car on the line, then that's what you have to do."

Brink is set for a 2010 release date, and for more on the game, check out GameSpot's E3 2009 impressions.

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23 comments
Crystall3d
Crystall3d

i guess he was crying and blaming ID software for not fully supporting them with their engine?i might be mixing up wth someone else but the words he uses resemble him...

Ca9ine
Ca9ine

Paul is one of the stranger men, but he's right. The website and the Splash Damage community is something else, in a positive way. You can actually get to talk to the devs on the forums and IRC. No developer interacts that much with it's community. For those who think this is silly, then you fail to see where SD came from and how they rose up. Doom 3 multiplayer levels and W:ET... say no more.

andy_lyall
andy_lyall

It's an admirable point of view if a little naive and slightly misleading to new developers. Splash Damage were very lucky when the started out. The first title of theirs that I was aware of was Wolf:ET which was supposed to be a full expansion for Return to Castle Wolf which id software rescued after the single player component turned out to be truly appalling. Still ET was hugely popular (mostly due to it being free) and id gave Splash another shot at something they were already proven at in Quake Wars. It's a handy way to start a company and one that's not open to the majority of new development companies.

ignautius
ignautius

While this isn't exactly good business sense... I admire a guy who won't make excuses when he's making a game. I would support someone who says that we're actually going to make the BEST game we possibly can, because we believe in what we're doing with this game. A studio that doesn't just churn out crappy to get it on a shelf is okay in my book.

ZippyDSMLee
ZippyDSMLee

Ya but how many A-AAA titles are....A+........most are B+ if that with rabid fan boys and critics calling it A++++++!1111............ Just make a game that focuses for once on game play and control and not so much on textures,models and ooohhhh shiny.... I love my FPS's...but I so hate generic designs and lack of polish that permeates the frakking industry......

brian_13un
brian_13un

Hope it turn out to be great but I think it will not

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

And that's the problem with consoles. Nothing but what these people think are guaranteed "hits".

NuKkU
NuKkU

Big Talk for someone yet to prove himself yet if brink doesnt do well those words will come back to haunt him

monco59
monco59

Big talk for someone who's yet to prove himself or his studio outside the modding community.

monson21502
monson21502

good talk. but can you back it up with your future games?

KMLEPRECHAUN
KMLEPRECHAUN

Humorguy_basic Posted Aug 17, 2009 1:41 pm GMT If every games becomes a shooter variant, you can bet video gaming will decline! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is stupid on your part. The top 6 best selling 360 games are shooters 1) Halo 3 (8.1 million) 2) Gears of War (5 million) 3) Gears of War 2 (5 million) 4) Grand Theft Auto IV (4.074 million approximately) 5) Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (3.772 million approximately) 6) Call of Duty: World at War (3.35 million approximately The top 3 xbox games are shooters 1) Halo 2 (8 million) 2) Halo: Combat Evolved (5 million) 3) Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (3.005 million approximately) seven of the top 11 selling PS3 games are shooters, 4 of the top 13 PSP games are shooters, and 4 of the top ten PS2 games are shooters. You can clearly see that the consoles of today are very shooter oriented, and if these sales were not as high as they are, many companies would not be around to make the types of games you so desperately want, like cowboy RPGs.

murekkep
murekkep

Yeah and you made a simple A.

raahsnavj
raahsnavj

"hiring in people more talented than yourself," - That is the 'new' company motto I guess. It doesn't work in practice though because then you get a whole bunch of people making less than you wondering why you haven't been put to pasture yet and your wage redistributed to people with more talent. And the whole budget comment... yikes, this company is on the road to go under with the next flop.

Avenger1324
Avenger1324

"budgets are pointless" oh how that will come back to haunt you in the future. Control your costs or you will go bust like the myriad of other companies that have collapsed in the last couple of years.

Sambone757
Sambone757

We need more G O O D fps'! As bad as a good majority of them are, they are playing a key part in keeping the gaming industry afloat, and I definitely support the idea of getting more into the market.

duke-nukem11
duke-nukem11

no no no we need more first person shooters. more the merryer!

da_illest101
da_illest101

don't they know we have enough fps to play for the next year, seriously make something else for once

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

I am getting fed up with shooters. Where are the cowboy RPG's, where are the man versus dinosaurs RTS's, where are the gumshoe detective action-adventures, where are the comedy arcade games? If every games becomes a shooter variant, you can bet video gaming will decline!

metalkid9
metalkid9

I hope it turns out great. I'm getting tired of the unreal engine.