PSOne Classic Syphon Filter, one of a small number of tactical 1990’s action games which inspired successive generations, was put together by a team of about 13 developers making the whole thing up as they went along.
When Syphon Filter launched in 1999, it was one of a kind; the closest rival to the third-person action effort was Metal Gear Solid. According to a retrospective on the PS Blog, former Eidectic staffer John Garvin said the team felt “mostly terror” as it put together the unique game.
“There were no, or few, games that we could draw on for inspiration. Most of the team had zero experience making this kind of game,” he said.
“The first Syphon Filter went through a few rough patches and came close to being cancelled several times as we missed deadlines, revamped mechanics, swapped levels around, changed the story and generally tried to figure out what the heck we were doing.”
Garvin said the team didn’t have to fight to achieve its original vision, because it didn’t have one.
“We were making it up as we went,” he said.
“The original concept of the player becoming a super spy was adhered to pretty closely, but everything else was worked out as we developed. A crazy way to make a game, but a process we made work because our team was only about 13 people.”
The full article, accessible through the link above, contains some great anecdotes about how Eidectic took shortcuts which would be unforgivable today, and points out a number of ways Syphon Filter broke new ground.