Interview with Rick Goodman

Closing thoughts...

Socvazius: What are you thoughts on the many interviews that youíve received in the past by so many different gaming publications?

Rick: : Well, itís pretty easy to conduct interviews on both sides, as far as time goes. So there are a number of organizations that definitely want to do interviews, and usually we donít have the time to do all of the interviews we want; but we get asked to do a lot of interviews, and theyíre always fun. But theyíre always at the exact same moment that the product is most in need of the biggest team to work the hardest hours.

So you have to make choices all the time, and thatís the one thing you learn [in the industry] that most gamers donít understand: that game development is a series of compromises. You have a fixed team, a fixed shipping window Ė that you can violate, Iíve violated the shipping window on pretty much every game Iíve ever done [Laughter] Ė but you have a target and itís better to hit the shipping window than to miss it. And if you miss it, you better be doing it for good reasons, not for bad. So there are so many compromises. When youíre a gamer, it looks much less complicated than that.

Itís a pretty complicated task. I think itís interesting too because itís a melding of artistic right-brained endeavors with engineering left-brained endeavors. Thatís the way I look at it, anyway. And those are very different: one is creative and artistic and boundless, and the other is schedule-based, technical design docs, put your estimate down, hit your targets. So they just donít want to mix. And when you buy the game, itís just like, ďoh, itís a game,Ē but internally there are very different things going on; that struggle to manage and to integrate the [right-brain and left-brain]. And I find that struggle to be very fascinating.

"And when you buy the game, itís just like, ďoh, itís a game,Ē but internally there are very different things going on; that struggle to manage to integrate themselves."

Zen: Itís like a strategy game by itself [Laughter]

Rick: Oh, it absolutely is. I think that is one of the reasons why the environment appeals to me. You could sit back as a full-time person at this company, just trying to figure out how to do things better. Not actually contributing anything [to the game] yourself, but saying, ďyou know, the way we did that, letís change it up and see if we can do it better.Ē You know, the same way that each time you play the Chinese civ, [you are] trying to get better and better and better at it.

There are so many variables, and every time you get done with a project and do a postmortem you say, ďwhat could we have done better?Ē The list is just as big as last time, which means you really didnít learn [from] the last time, even though you went through the process and said that you were going to learn from it. So itís a puzzle that I think will never be solved.

Dave: Game Developer Tycoon! [Laughter]

Rick: For me, Iíd love it if you guys came here and addressed the [same] questions that we have to face during the development [of a game] that the gamers never have to face or think about. Give them a perspective that they never see: how did we make this choice? Well, here are the tradeoffs, and theyíll say, ďoh, I guess thatís the tradeoff I wouldíve made.Ē Weíd talk to them about the pros and the cons, and how everything is a compromise, and how you can get an epic game, but perhaps not as in-depth as the Napoleonic War game.

But if you developed that game, youíd get the greatest Napoleonic War game and maybe it would sell. So what decision would you make as a gamer? And suddenly theyíll be thinking, ďoh, thatís a good point.Ē And as strategy gamers, Iím sure theyíd appreciate the pros and the cons, some of the interesting decisions we [have to] make.

Socvazius: Well, I suppose Iíve used up all of my questions, thanks for the interview!

Rick: Sorry to have used up your tape! [Laughter]

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