Titanfall: Heppe discusses pressures of studio & IP independence, team growth, more

By Dave Cook
20 March 2014 12:36 GMT

Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment now sits at 95 staff, and has retained its independence throughout the shooter’s development and release. In a new interview; Community Manager Abbie Heppe has discussed the pressures that come with being a large indie while trying to grow and pursue new goals.

It follows confirmation that EA has won the rights to Titanfall 2 and that the PC edition will receive a visual boost through partnership with Nvidia.

Speaking with OXM, Heppe was asked if the team ever felt truly comfortable during Titanfall development.

“Well, the guys had come from Infinity Ward, and they made a deal with EA after that all happened that we would own our own IP,” Heppe began. “I don’t know the monetary terms of the contract. And then we had to do vetting for an engine, and we had an office that was more than folding chairs and people sitting around on iPads, although that was a little before I got there.

“And then there was a lot of arguing about what the game should be and where we were going with it. But it wasn’t like in ten years maybe we’ll put together a game, it was a very driven [experience] – we need to make something as a studio, we’re independent, we’re not owned by EA, we need to step on it. But also there were a lot of expectations about where the team had come from. There was a lawsuit that happened during it, which was insane – that’s a stressful thing when you’re already stressed about living up to the expectations that are upon us.

“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves so I guess that’s sort of moot. Looking back on it, having gotten to the point when the game is out, is a surreal experience. I start to remember when those things happened and it feels like so long ago. It really – I think the size of our team helped even though we can’t do some of the things that larger studios can do just because we don’t have the hours of human labour – we’re small, we can communicate with each other easily, everyone sits together and there’s a lot of collaboration. The passion of the team carried through a lot of the harder parts.”

Elsewhere; Heppe stressed that Respawn’s hierarchy is fairly flat and that Vince Zampella’s door is always open. Suggestions and team input seems to be welcome at all times, and when asked to comment on Titanfall’s label as a ‘Call of Duty killer,’ Heppe replied, “We don’t pay any attention to it, honestly.

“Well, that’s not fair – we work in the video game industry, we’re not blind. But we don’t really – we’re just doing our own thing. People just want to focus on Titanfall, we don’t want to make someone else’s game. It’ll be interesting to see what influence Titanfall has on shooters, and if it makes any lasting contributions to the genre, I think that’s really cool, but we don’t do anything like – it’s not like keeping up with the Joneses!”

What do you make of Respawn’s success so far?

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