In diesem Interview spricht Lukas Kure über seinen Job, das Spiel und was es bedeutet an einem so großen Franchise mitzuwirken.
Außerdem erzählt er vom Entwicklungsbeginn, als das was wir als Mafia 2 kennen noch ein Add-On für den ersten Teil werden sollte.
Zudem bestätigt er, dass es definitiv mehrere Enden geben wird!
Doch lest selbst:
Many people don’t understand exactly what a producer does. Can you let the community know what a typical day is like and what your responsibilities are?
There is no simple answer to this question and that’s probably also the reason why there’s no general awareness of this job. I’ll try to sum it up somehow and not get long-winded, but I apologize if that happens anyway. Basically, as a producer, you talk and write a lot but create no physical assets for the game content (unfortunately)… You’re responsible for the team and project you are working on; the product has to be finished, it has to correspond to the qualitative goals of the project and it has to be released to tconcliuhe market when it is able to bring good profit. I’m not trying to depict producers as businessmen; the term “manager” would fit better. Fortunately, I still spend most of my time with the team dealing with both pleasant and unpleasant issues that keep emerging all the time during development.
You need to have control and enough basic knowledge about everything the team is working on, but also an ability to keep your distance in order not to lose the global overview. I heard comparison once that producer is like a clown in the circus who spins the plates on the sticks. He must have all the plates spinning all the time. None of them should stop spinning nor fall down as that would be disaster for the show. Coordinating is the core activity you need to handle. Often, it is necessary to synchronize various internal and external teams and companies. However, as the teams are getting bigger and bigger these days, this is beyond your possibilities and this work is mostly dealt with by adding development (project) managers and producers who are responsible for specific teams and groups.
If you think about the game in your leisure time, your thoughts are of a different character than those of artists and coders. They focus on their field, while a producer thinks about what can become problematic and how to prevent it from happening in any one part of the whole project. If you ask a coder what exactly his work on this game was, he or she could say “I created a code for the animation system”; should you ask an artist, he or she could say “I created this interior or that car”. Unfortunately, if you ask a producer, he or she says only “Ehhh, errr…” and then produces a lengthy confusing answer like this one.
So far, what’s been the most challenging hurdle for you?
To be honest, I don’t keep any charts. There are tons of problems you have to deal with so you’re quite glad to gradually forget about them as the time goes so that they aren’t your nightmares anymore. However some of them haunt me in my sleep while I think of a plan how to resolve them.
You’ve had the game in development for five years. What kinds of things have been revised over this time?
It would take several pages to answer this question so I will try to speak only in general. In the beginning, we were working on an add-on for the original Mafia on the old generation of hardware, which we abandoned after some time and decided to work on a proper next-gen sequel with a new, even more thrilling and dramatic story which, as we are hoping, would motivate the players to finish the game several times (to see all possible conclusions) and whose game features would be fun across platforms.
The changes of target platforms and challenges with new technology have prolonged the development most. If you are switching from one hardware generation to the next, you have to revise almost all the game features, given the differences in performance. These changes lead to a revision of the design and the number of game features. We have been forced to change both render and physical engines more than three times for various reasons. Pathfinding has been a big problem too. We have always developed or selected technologies so that they would correspond to the goals we wanted to reach. Soon you will be experiencing the fruits of that approach.
How do you work with all the other producers on the project – from the dev studio’s producers to the publishing side? What’s your work flow look like?
Publisher producers are like customers‘ spokesmen. Our main task is to communicate and to make sure that all sides get all they need – special builds, information or whatever. Our job is to coordinate all design, QA, localization, marketing and PR efforts. We have scheduled video conference calls on weekly basis. We’re spamming our email inboxes and bug/issues databases.
Internal producers (gameplay producers) are responsible for gamers experience from gameplay perspective. The game must grab you and not release until you get everything we wanted to give.
Anyway, internal producers help directly with development. The external producers help too but most of the time also add more work which developers usually think that can be done “later”. But this entire “world” works as it should in the end. Developers always care more about their baby (the game) itself than about marketing or PR support (what information gets released where and who will write it or in which languages the game will be released).
How does it feel to work on a game that’s got such a huge fan following?
A simple answer: it is a very pleasant feeling which puts you above the problems you have to deal with, and it is very motivating for further work. You would like to please the fans with an even better game, expand the fan club, and not lose a single one from the already existing ones. I myself have no desire to become famous, but I would like as many people as possible to play our games and to enjoy them.
What is your favorite gangster movie and why?
Godfather and Goodfellas, definitely. I like the story, direction, and acting. The characters in these movies have a great charisma, and the story is credible and interesting. From the current movies American Gangster is worth watching, even though it cannot be compared with the above-mentioned ones. When I watch these movies, and I have watched them several times, I am always forced to concentrate on them and I don’t do anything else.
If you had all the money in the world, what is the first type of car you would buy and why?
Should I try to get closer to the era of Mafia I, it would probably be Ford V8. A classic car with a cool classic design. Concerning the era of Mafia II, I have no favorite car yet. If you ask about what I would buy now, I guess I have to disappoint you because I would not buy any classic or vintage car, as I don’t feel comfortable with the idea that it could fail me at some intersection… I prefer big, reliable, high cars from which I can see the front hood, and feel safer by being a bit higher above the ground. Those are not sports cars or trucks, as you could guess from the previous description. It is something in between an SUV or an off-road car.. Since the credit crunch is commencing I’m searching for hybrid SUV. These are available in US but not here yet unfortunately… For those readers who are younger, don’t think I’m strange… I owned a fast sport car but I’m getting older, and, you know, priorities change. A car is more of a tool for me now.
What do you want people to feel, think, or say, when they get their hands on the final product of Mafia II?
“Wow, that’s amazing. I really like the game and I enjoy it.” I also want the players to remember what the story was about; see flashbacks of interesting moments, and who was the main character and his friends. They should be able to remember a few years later what happened in the game, to remember that they played and enjoyed it, and not to confuse it with any other title. In the end its always the strong memories that tell how good the game is… Of course I want them to vote for the best game of the year, century and universe – as the other developers do… but now it’s our turn to create such game the people would vote for and that is the challenge we have committed to.
Give me the elevator pitch for Mafia II right now – how do you sell it to someone who hasn’t ever heard of it before?
Do you want to become a made man? Do you want to deserve the respect of becoming a valuable member of the Family? Do you want to live on and beyond the edge of society and make your own rules all the time? Do you want to get all the money you could ever desire and spend it any way you want? Do you want to get any car and woman you see? Do you want to become the true mobster? Then Mafia II is the game for you. It will make you LIVE, not “play” through the whole experience -including all the fear, tension, happiness, love and sadness that such life would bring you.