Gamespot just had a Q&A with Ken Lobb. Most of it is the general PR stuff you're likely to see in any Q&A ("This new game is going be great", "I think we are doing well".), but there's one passage that struck my eye:
"I think the primary way the industry has changed is that bigger more and aggressive games that require teams of 30 to 150 have gone from "Okay that's one in 100 games" (let's say a game like Shenmue several years ago) to now most games. You basically can't compete in the market unless you're working with a team that's 50 plus."
This is why, in my humble opinion, Ken Lobb is a moron, or at least his brain was somehow taken over by an alien force for about half a minute, as these words came out of his mouth.
All right, so how do you see games? Personally I don't see them as "art", but say you did. How many great works of art we made by 50, 20, or even 2 people? Not many.
Anyway, on to the main arguments for my thesis "Ken Lobb is a moron". Firstly, how about the web games out there that people have spent tons of time playing. I won't get into details, but you've probably enjoyed at least one shareware or flash game in your life, and if you haven't, find my "Flash Games" journal entry. No, they're not big games, but still, for one person who isn't doing it for money, quite a start. And let's not forget mods. Sweet, precious mods that are usually made by small groups and are sometimes more popular than the game itself.
Secondly, how about Ikaruga and Alien Homind? Both have scored over 8.0 here at Gamespot, and both were made primarily by less than half a dozen people. So why does it take 50 people to make a game? Because these big, bloated, corporations believe that more people working on something = a better game. But it's all lies, it results in an awkward disjointed game.
Let's look at Halo 2. Assuming they have the source code, couldn't half a dozen people make that? Hear me out; it's a good game, but it took 35 months to make this thing. Let's see how 6 people would do:
Let's say 2 people work on the multiplayer level design. Bungie probably spent millions of dollars making their painstakingly detailed levels, too bad most people would rather play Coagulation. Give 2 level designers 35 months, and they could make lots of actual fun levels, with simple designs (yet different in their own unique way). In this respect, two people could probably do a better job.
Graphics-wise, it wouldn't be the same, but close. We'll put 2 people in charge of graphics. Heck, the original Arcade version Ikaruga only had one (at least according to Game Spy), you'd think you could make some decent graphics with two. As for storyline, I'd say we should dedicate, let's say around zero people for that effort. Honestly, one of the graphics designers could pull out a better storyline than Halo 2's "ending coming soon" stuff. Don't you agree?
Since Halo 2 is quite similar to Halo 1 in gameplay terms, we'll put one person on gameplay programming. I'll be generous and say it'll take take two weeks to make the hijacking feature, and, say, a month for duel wielding (honestly, I don't think it'd take that long with proper knowledge of the source code... I'm being generous). With the other 33 and a half months, the game programmer could surely make the programming for the vehicles and weapons found in Halo 2.... honestly, I can't see that being horrendously difficult.
The last person... uh, sound? 35 months, one song in two months, heck, they aren't even songs, they're remixes. I'll admit, the instruments were pretty good in Halo 2, but they lost to Katamari Damacy (which, I must say, had very good music; good choice, Gamespot). Don't know if Halo 2 had live musicians or anything like that, but I'm sure one could make pretty good digital samples of those intruments. There's some good stuff going on at ocremix.org, and they're not even being paid!
In conclusion, Halo 2 could be made by 6 people. I mean, I hate Ken Lobb.
Disclaimer: Ken Lobb is probably not a moron, but I'm passionate about this issue, and it's an ignorant thing for him to say.