Patrick E. McLean : Just what it says on the tin.

Wasteland 2 and the Creative Process

Two weeks ago, I flew to Newport Beach and locked myself in a room with the rest of the Wasteland 2 design team. In this room was a three foot high copy of the complete game script, parts of which each person in the room had been writing for the last three months1. To give you an idea of how much material this really is, a movie script is an inch, maybe two at the most. To say that Wasteland 2 is going to be deep and interactive is an understatement.

We sat there for four days as all of the designers read through their levels. I have to tell you, these long days in the conference room at the Newport Beach Radisson – a room that looks and feels like the official corporate headquarters of the year 1984 – were absolutely magnificent. It was the creative process at it’s best. Good ideas got better. Bad ideas got reworked. And through it all the excitement in the room never flagged.

So here are my thoughts on a few of the elements that made it such a good experience.

What Made for Great Collaboration

1 – Everybody Listened

This is incredibly important. You can’t help make an idea better if you don’t understand it. And any feedback you might give without understanding is worthless.

2 – Everyone was Generous

Coming up with ideas is hard work. So when someone else takes their brain and helps you with your problem (not merely trying to make it there own) it’s very generous. And very magical. And you know when you are in this environment when the work gets better, but you can’t remember who’s idea it was.

3 – Everybody was Good

Sadly, this is not always the case. One of the primary reasons there’s not more great books or movies is that there is a shortage of talent in the world. People who are both talented, hardworking and play well with others aren’t as readily available as you might think. How wonderful it was then, that everybody involved had real talent, regardless of what they had or hadn’t done.

4 – Everybody took it seriously

I’m not going to say that we didn’t have fun. We did. In fact, we laughed our asses off. But throughout all of it, everybody had the sense that we engaged in the making of something that is going to be both good and (in the sense that this word can be applied to an entertainment product) important. The nature of the game and the kickstarter funding gives a tremendous freedom from corporate bullshit and a tremendous responsibility to the fans themselves. The people who funded this effort are the smartest, best, most demanding audience for this kind of game there is. To his credit, Brian Fargo takes this responsibility very seriously. And so did everybody else.

To Sum Up

I don’t believe in magic. I believe in process. If you’ve got a good process, you are going to have a good product. And I can report with full faith, that this process has been awesome. My only regret is that I’m not going to get to discover this game by playing it for the first time in perfect, child-like wonder and ignorance. But you will. Lucky you.

  1. It’s part of the reason why haven’t been posting much. See also, birth of first child. 

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