Dreadline: ex-Harmonix dev Kimura explains why he escaped industry ‘dominated by giant corporations’

By Dave Cook
10 January 2013 10:01 GMT

Dreadline is the incoming PC title by Eerie Canal, a new studio made up of ex-Harmonix artist Steve Kimura, and Irrational Games’ Bryn Bennett. Kimura has discussed with VG247 the reason why he and Bennett decided to leave their respective jobs in the triple-a market and go solo, embarking on the Kickstarter route like many other studios.

As part of a VG247 interview coming soon to the site, I asked Kimura and Bennett about their experience in the triple-a sector, and how their view of it has shifted now they work within the indie scene. The question was based on a line on the Dreadline Kickstarter page that reads, “We’re following our instincts, not a spec developed by a team of marketing experts.”

Said Kimura, “The whole entertainment industry is dominated by giant corporations that are only interested in turning piles of money into larger piles of money in the least-risky way possible. That’s why most of what you see in our popular culture is super boring.

“‘Following our instincts’ is mostly about having a loosey-goosey plan to follow our best ideas wherever they take us, embracing that uncertainty, and believing that it will result in something more interesting in the end that we might otherwise have ended up with.”

The game is an artful RTS/action RPG hybrid that sees a young boy and a group of monsters appearing seconds before real-world catastrophes to harvest human hearts, which sees them slaughtering residents of Pompei seconds before the volcano erupts, or the crew and guests on board the Titanic just before they hit the iceberg.

It’s an inventive pitch, and I asked the pair about another quote on their Kickstarter campaign brief which suggested that their creativity simply wasn’t being heard by their former employers.

“My best ideas almost never made it into the games I’ve worked on,” recalled Kimura. “That isn’t to say that all of my ideas were necessarily perfect for the projects. They weren’t really mine, so it was never really up to me in the end. It’s really disappointing that you can take teams of super creative and talented people, full of great ideas and loveable idiosyncrasies, and turn their output into a kind of slick and characterless product for the mass market.”

Bennett added, “There have been so many times when I’ve hear someone bring up a great idea for a game, then everyone loves it and laughs, and then someone says something like “OK, now really, what should we do.” Eerie Canal tries to do the first part, but not the second.”

I then asked Kimura if he’d ever return to triple-a development if Dreadline is funded on Kickstarter or not, to which he replied, “My days of working at AAA studios are probably over regardless of what happens with Kickstarter. The only thing for sure is that I can’t work forever without making a living somehow, but that my personal work will always be where my heart is.”

Stay tuned for the full Dreadline interview soon, and be sure to check out the game’s Kickstarter page here.

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