The Hot 100 Game Developers of 2009
60. Scott Warner
Warner worked on some of the best games to come out of the late, legendary Black Isle Studios, including Fallout 2 and Planescape: Torment. His most recent career tenure has been at Pandemic, where he lent design to Full Spectrum Warrior and Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction. Promoted to design lead for 2008’s Mercenaries 2, he and the team at Pandemic built a raw and bombastic emergent work that the market embraced.
59. Tatsuya Kando
Kando has been an artist and animator on some of the most important Square games of the past three hardware generations, including Kingdom Hearts, Parasite Eve, and Final Fantasy VII through IX. His career took a massive leap in 2008, however, with his directorial debut on The World Ends With You. A complicated but lovingly crafted RPG, Kando and his team’s efforts were rewarded with multiple handheld game of the year awards and sales that outstripped what were probably modest internal company estimates.
58. Brian Raffel
The venerable studio the Raffel brothers founded in 1990 continues to be a driving force in the industry. The company’s most recent release was 2006’s monster hit Marvel Ultimate Alliance, so it’s been several years since Raffel and his team have seen the limelight. 2009 sees the company return to the forefront of the industry however, as the company is working on three announced games. The first two, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Wolfenstein, are surefire license projects that will see release before the end of the year. But the third, Singularity, is the most compelling—it’s the first original IP from the studio in a very, very long time, and has a fresh new direction for the ever-popular time manipulation design mechanic.
57. Eric Holmes
Holmes has been the lead designer at Radical for nearly a decade, and is known primarily for his leadership position on the studio’s two Hulk games. Ultimate Destruction, the second Hulk game under Holmes’ care, is still considered a landmark in quality licensed games and a solid sandbox title in its own right. Holmes and the team at Radical have been building on that success, devoting the last few years to a new superhero sandbox title built on original IP. That game, Prototype, promises to be one of gaming’s biggest summer blockbusters.
56. Alan Wasserman
Director of Development
Rockstar San Diego
Wasserman is a graduate of Red Orb Entertainment and was present for the entirety of Angel Studio’s transition into Rockstar San Diego. So he has seen the development house through the entirety of its major franchise, Midnight Club, and Midnight Club: Los Angeles proved to be a solid performer internationally in 2008. Wasserman’s studio’s contribution to the gaming landscape in 2009 will be the western action game Red Dead Redemption.
55. JC Guyot
Jean-Christophe Guyot has a long history with Ubisoft’s most important franchises—previously Rayman, but more recently Prince or Persia. He was on the team for the original Sands of Time, and promoted to creative director for Warrior Within. He has been the creative director on the franchise ever since, and in 2008 successfully led the franchise through a complete re-imagining. The resulting Prince of Persia was one of Ubisoft’s marquee holiday titles, and one the company expects to sell well for some time.
54. Dan Tudge
Director and Executive Producer
Tudge was the president of his own company, Exile Interactive, for six years, and in that time his company leant art and other development support to Sega’s World Series Baseball franchise. Tudge closed the company in 2006 and accepted an offer to head BioWare’s new handheld division, where he directed the production of Sega’s flagship holiday DS title, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. Now he is leading the team on BioWare’s Dragon Age: Origins, an important return to fantasy for the RPG developer.
53. Glen Schofield
EA Redwood Shores
Schofield was a director at Crystal Dynamics during one of the studio’s most prolific periods, and led teams on titles in both the Gex and Legacy of Kain franchises. For the last several years however he and longtime collaborator Bret Robbins have been working at EA Redwood Shores—early efforts for the men at the studio include entries in the lauded and hot selling Lord of the Rings movie games. The game that cemented Schofield’s legacy, however, was 2008’s Dead Space, a work of passionate sci-fi horror that became the one of most commercially successful new properties of the year.
52. Katsuya Eguchi
Longtime Nintendo employee Katsuya Eguchi’s contributions to this industry are difficult to underestimate: he was a designer on the canonical Super Mario Bros 3, and directed games as important for the company as Wave Race 64 and Starfox. But he’s most frequently associated with Animal Crossing, a series he has worked on for about a decade. His design on the series has not changed significantly in the intervening years, which has irked longtime fans. Yet the game finds an ever-expanding audience, and in 2008 the game penetrated the public mind with a top-selling (and likely evergreen) Wii iteration. Clearly Eguchi’s design is an enduring (and endearing) one.
51. Hideki Kamiya
Kamiya’s role as the director of Clover’s unbelievable Okami has netted him nearly limitless goodwill from the market’s vocal minority, though his prominent role in the creation of Viewtiful Joe, Devil May Cry and Resident Evil don’t hurt anything. His 2009 creation, Bayonetta, is as market friendly as it is deliciously mad: as a stylish fast-paced action game featuring a witch who uses her hair as both her clothes and her weapon, it’s bound to be one the of the year’s strangest source of joy. If that description makes you skeptical, you may need to look at Kamiya’s pedigree again.