Interview: Ruffian Games
Dundee-based Ruffian Games would much rather talk about Crackdown 2 than David Jones, but sadly it’s not that simple. The founding head of Realtime Worlds confessed this month to being “a bit miffed” at Microsoft’s choice of developer for the sequel: Ruffian isn’t just on his studio’s doorstep, but home to many of his former employees. From Redmond’s angle, though, surely that makes it the perfect choice, especially when so much of its workforce was instrumental in building the original. After a successful reveal during Microsoft’s conference at E3, creative director Billy Thomson, producer Jim Cope, and executive producer Peter Connelly share their perspective.
How do you respond to David Jones’ remarks?
Peter Connelly The bottom line is that, at the end of Crackdown, we were in negotiations to get Crackdown 2 moving. But logistically the business stars wouldn’t align, and we respected Realtime Worlds’ decision to move on to APB. They’re a strong team, a great company, and still a great partner. But we’re super fortunate to have found Ruffian, who are the right people to take the franchise forward and build its next great game. We’ve absolutely no animosity towards [Realtime Worlds].
How did Crackdown 2 come about?
PC It’s hard to put a timeline on it, but we investigated several companies to try and do this game. You’ve got to be careful you don’t hand it off willy-nilly. You wouldn’t put a boxer into the UFC and you wouldn’t put a UFC fighter into boxing. But with the skillset Ruffian has and the horsepower, married with a lot of the creative from the previous game, it’s the perfect fit. It really kicked into gear last winter.
Is there some resentment of the fact you’re enjoying the series’ fame, whereas the original was treated with caution by Microsoft?
Billy Thompson That’s a tricky one to answer because, if you think about the first game, a lot of people say that Crackdown was a sleeper hit. I think that’s quite fair. But I wouldn’t say it’s fair to say we’re being better treated by Microsoft this time round – Microsoft backed us all the way on the first game, it just had bigger franchises to put its marketing weight behind.
How much of the original Crackdown team is working on the sequel?
BT Close to half of our team worked on the original game. We’ve got core members from every discipline who worked on it, the majority of the design team, and, depending on whom you speak to, some of the best coders and most talented artists. But there are still guys at Realtime we want to be friends with, so we don’t want to get dragged into a slanging match.
Jim Cope We still maintain a really strong working relationship with Realtime; they’re our neighbours in both personal and professional relationships, and we like that. But leaping to our defence, in a sense, we firmly believe we’re the right people to make Crackdown 2.