Stuart Black’s career in games development hasn’t progressed as smoothly as he would have liked. Since the release of Criterion’s Black in 2006, the well-known industry professional has struggled to make much of an impact. From Enemy Front to Bodycount, his projects haven’t turned out as planned. This is for a number of reasons.
In an interview with GI, Black has spoken about the ups and downs of working in such a competitive industry.
He begins by questioning his own ability.
“From a personal point of view, you really do start to question ‘what the hell am I doing wrong?’ You don’t get this unlucky all the time, I have to be doing something.”
Away from management meetings and big publishers, Black indicates he wants to focus on production.
“All I care about is making games. I really just want to make a really fucking cool game.”
Black was made redundant after a press tour for Enemy Front. He suggests a valid reason was never given for his dismissal, other than City Interactive wanting to change the direction of the game.
“I don’t really have an answer for why, nobody ever really talked to me about any problems either with how I work, the quality of the work that was being done. It was kind of the opposite, everybody was really happy with the work.”
“The only thing that I can think is that when I was off doing my thing in the States telling people there’s going to be a Dirty Dozen, Where Eagles Dare kind of vibe to the game rather than the Saving Private Ryan reverential vibe, and actually they were going ‘no, we actually want Private Ryan.'”
It’s a story that underlines Black’s frustration. Moving on to Codemasters, restrictions were once again put in place.
“When I joined Codemasters I didn’t do it to make Bodycount, I went there to make an open world cop game,” he says.
“I did about a year and a half pre-production before that became a little bit too rich for their blood.”
“It wasn’t my life ambition to make another shooter after Black, but it was something we could do relatively easily.”
Black indicates Codemasters weren’t working at their true potential when producing such products. In a market dominated by triple A games from Activision and EA, there is no room for mistakes.
“I don’t think their problems are in the ideas or the creative side, the problems are in production, in getting stuff made… You keep missing dates, assets don’t come in on time, and you just start having to shave that design down. And that tends to be where your quality goes as you go through the course of production, and why you end up with something that gets released and it’s not very good.”
After such disappointments, Black is looking forward to working on his own projects once more. He is beginning work in Guildford, a town that is full of development talent right now.
“It’s more freelance than studio. I’m open to working with anyone, developer or publisher, just not as an ’employee’, where any creative rights are automatically attributed to the employer.”
“I’m prototyping a game for potential release through Steam. A third person action/adventure thing about survival and creation in a fairly hard sci-fi context. Planning to have something to show in the new year. And I’m looking at a cute iPad/iPhone idea that Leading Light have.”
It’s great to hear Black still has a desire to make exciting new products. We wish him the best of luck.