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The Future Of David Jaffe

A week before Twisted Metal for PlayStation 3 hits store shelves, it was revealed that longtime series creator David Jaffe was leaving developer Eat Sleep Play and creating a brand new studio in San Diego, Calif. We caught up with Jaffe in Las Vegas this week at DICE to talk about how he feels now that Twisted Metal is done and what his plans are for the future.

Game Informer: How do you feel physically and mentally after shipping Twisted Metal?

David Jaffe: On one hand I thought I would have been done had that “touchdown dance” about a month ago. I kept telling everyone I’m almost done. But it never ends. We’re on the day one patch and obsessing on the forums over people playing the demo. Until I leave Eat Sleep Play officially, which I haven’t yet, it will still be a full-time job.

In terms of saying the disc is done and ready to ship out to stores. I feel great. For Twisted Metal we really left it all on the field. We really did. It’s the best one we ever made. It’s the game I always wanted to make with [Eat Sleep Play Co-founder] Scott Campbell and the team. It represents a culmination so far of my growth personally as a game designer.

Of all the games you’ve been involved in, was this the most draining for you?

Yes, but that’s every game now. The only game that was a real breeze to make, and it was also our biggest failure, was Calling All Cars. That was really simple to make. By now I have enough experience to say, ‘Oh, you’re making a game, alright get ready, because it’s f*cking hard.” If you want to do it and push yourself, it’s just a hard job. I wouldn’t say [Twisted Metal] was the most, but it’s par for the course.

What’s happening with Eat Sleep Play?

We sadly had to lay off eight people. I never owned a company before. I never had to do this and frankly I wasn’t even there. I thought we were going to do it one day and Scott said for reasons out of his control we had to do it a day I wasn’t there. To me that’s the biggest story about this. 

I will be leaving the company. Scott has been itching to get into iPhone and Android games for a while. I love those kinds of games, but the article that ran in Salt Lake misrepresented me by saying I wanted to do casual games. I love those games, and one day I may want to make them, but I’m very interested in the browser space as well as the next-gen space. But I will be on Twisted Metal until the end of March at the moment and probably later. We’re working on patches and playing the game all the time and tuning things.

When did you decide you wanted to move on?

About a year and a half ago. Unless it was a really bad situation, which this wasn’t, I would never leave a game in mid-production. Certainly not a game I love as much like Twisted Metal. Scott and I wanted to make different games. We started realizing about this a year ago, and that’s when I had in my head this was going to be the last game I do with this amazing team.

What’s the future hold for the Twisted Metal franchise?

Right now there are no plans.  I always thought it was going to be a great game. But we weren’t nursing these illusions that we were making Call of Duty in terms of sales. If it’s a big enough hit I’m sure Sony won’t let it wither on the vine. But right now there are no plans at all.  There’s no DLC plans, there’s no sequel or expansion plans. We have to wait and see how it does.

What’s the future for David Jaffe?

I’m building a team in San Diego. The two things that have me really excited is a big new IP in the next-gen space and browser-based action game. There hasn’t been a game in the browser space in my opinion that speaks to players and gamers that I usually make games for. There has been a game or a monetization model that speaks to that crowd. I’m really excited about that space as well as next-gen. I have an IP in mind that I think can be a really cool new franchise

My plan right now is to get Twisted Metal out next week. Take two weeks off to do nothing. After that, then two to six weeks in hardcore design/pitch prep mode. At the best case, we’re about two months away, and at worse case about eight to ten months away, from revealing the company, the name, and the key people, etc.

How many people are you thinking about in terms of the size of your new company?

It depends, if we do the browser thing, my guess it will be between 24 and 40. But if it’s the big next-gen IP, we’re talking substantially more. 

For your new IP, were you thinking of going exclusive or multiplatform?

Anybody who knows who I am knows who I am because of the kindness and faith of Sony. So I’m certainly loyal to that company.  If they would like to have me I’d be honored and grateful to work with them. 

I’ve always been very open about being an Xbox and Nintendo fan, too. It’s more to the point about who’s the right partner. But again it’s very new. The equivalent is something like just logging into my new online dating account. I just signed up. There’s nothing right now.

How much did you learn from starting up Eat Sleep Play?

The top three things I learned from Eat Sleep Play are that it’s better to be scared and unsure and to learn to sit with that fear and be ok with it then to make hasty choices because you want to make a decision and be safe again. There’s not a single regret I have with Eat Sleep Play and I would do everything again.

I learned that as much as I have kicked and screamed in terms of not wanting to be a manager, there is still a role called ‘creative leadership’ and that was something I probably neglected in the past. Eat Sleep Play taught me that if you’re sitting in one of the chairs of decision making, it’s not just creative you also have to nurture and take care of other talents that work with you.

I think I also learned that games are both too big and I’m too much of a control freak to make them remotely before. Moving into late PS2 and of course PlayStation 3, having that gap of space between you and the team is not something I want to do anymore.

What happened with you and that GameTrailers interview?

I love those guys at GameTrailers, but they have four minutes of me talking about Twisted Metal. Pretty dry stuff. Then suddenly there’s clearly a cut, and then I’m talking about vulgar sh*t. I’m ok with that. I’m a big boy. That’s my responsibly, but they may have wanted to put it in context.

Let’s be clear, there’s nothing about what I said that was acceptable and I regret it. I let my guard down too much and I don’t talk like that. I cuss, I have a potty mouth, but I take issue with being called a misogynist or sexist. I am neither. I was thoughtless and probably offended a number of people in general. My biggest regret is there are women I love working with in the industry and the fact I may have offended them I feel terrible about that.

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