10 Questions with Star Wars 1313′s Dominic Robilliard
1. What game that you’ve played in the past has had the biggest effect on the way you make games today?
I think the game that’s affected me most in terms of how I do what I do now is Shadow Of The Colossus, and probably Uncharted 2, as well, rather than 3. Those games are kind of a permanent source of inspiration and influence in terms of how we try to do what we’re doing. You know, the whole question of influence is an interesting one, because it’s so important to being authentic as a creative – recognising what inspires you and influences you but then making sure you take it somewhere new. I always come back to those two games.
2. We’ve had motion control, 3D, cameras… what do you think will be the next big innovation in games?
It’s probably not a revelation to say cloud-based gaming any more, is it? Because it is out there. But I still look at that Gaikai service and it’s witchcraft to me [laughs] – so you know, I think that’s got the widest range of future applications, from my perspective as a gamer.
3. What have been the high and low points of your career so far?
Wow, high points – I think I’m at my highest point right now, and I’m certainly enjoying myself more than I have in the past. I think that’s because I’m making the game that I’ve always wanted to make, which is probably no surprise given that I’m the director. Low points – it’s got to be working on a game that doesn’t come out, putting your heart and soul into something that doesn’t see the light of day.
I’ve yet to meet a dev [with] any normal amount of experience who hasn’t worked on a cancelled game. It’s just one of those things that always happens in your career, and you have to kind of live with it. You’ve got children out there, basically, that never see the light of day [laughs]. That’s always a low point. It’s always tough to overcome those moments.
4. What matters more to you, review scores or sales?
I always see them in the same kind of bracket because they’re so connected, and proven to be connected. I don’t think it’s the sales – it’s not the money that it makes. It’s the aspect of how many people you’re reaching, and I think that being in the entertainment business and certainly here at LucasFilm, reaching a wide audience, and being accessible and entertaining to as many people as you can is really important. But making sure that all those people are having fun is obviously the most important thing, as well. So it’s both, but maybe from a different perspective from Metacritic and making money.
5. If you had to make one golden rule of game design, what would it be?
My instinct is like, ‘Do you do the kind of deep, philosophical thing, or something really simple?’ I just think it’s all about fun. You’ve got to be having fun and being entertained and engaged – and
I’m definitely of the mindset that games need to be entertaining and that can unpack into many different things, but I’m just going to stick with that [laughs].
6. If you were to sign a star dev from another team, who would it be and why?
I think the person I’d most like to work with on a project – just to see what the process would be like – is [Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus creator] Fumito Ueda.
7. If you weren’t a videogame developer, what would you be doing instead?
Well, I can tell you what I was doing before I got into games and it almost broke my heart: management consultancy. So I don’t recommend that [laughs]. That’s the path I was on before I bailed and went to Sega.
8. What’s your top tip for someone who wants to a career in games?
I get asked that a lot, and the climate for getting into games has completely transformed since I got into the industry. And now there are all kinds of great academic programmes that are coming up – not just in America, but in England as well – which is absolutely fantastic, because I think it’s getting [gaming] the recognition as a creative medium that it needs.
I’d recommend getting on those courses now and doing your research, but just make sure your point of contact with the industry is the part that inspires you the most. Quite often people – because they love playing games – are like, ‘I wanna make games’, but there’s a lot more to it than that. If you want to be a designer, my top tip would be to make sure that you learn a programming language. The most important thing about being a game developer is being as independent as possible, and the more you can do, the more you’ll be able to create.
9. You’ve got an unlimited team, unlimited time and an unlimited budget. What game do you make?
Wow. Unlimited everything. It would be something very similar to what I’m trying to do with far less than unlimited resources right now. I’m really drawn to the triple-A blockbuster experience, and I think that that is the right connection for this genre. That’s definitely what inspires me the most.
10. What do you think it will take for games to be accepted as part of mainstream culture?
I feel like they already are. If I’m out at the pub and games enter conversation, it doesn’t [necessarily] come from me. I’m sat with people who have nothing to do with the industry and they start talking about a game they’re playing on iPhone, and it kind of grows from there. I think it depends on what type of cultural influence people expect games to have, and then you can start talking about how far it’s got, but I think it’s definitely part of the culture right now.