With the recently-released XBLA title Chime marking the debut of charity initiative OneBigGame, we decided to put some questions to founding member Martin de Ronde – on the challenges of getting the title to market, and plans for future releases.
Q: The OneBigGame initiative is stated to originate from a vision of a videogame industry ‘Live Aid’ or a charity movement. Can you give us a little insight into how this came into being?
Martin de Ronde: I was watching a documentary one night on the birth of Band Aid. It was great to see all these developers come together to use their music to do something good and I asked myself the question whether something like that wouldn’t be possible in the game industry. Game designers aren’t rock stars, but there’s millions of fans of Tetris, Mario and World of Warcraft. What if the creators of these games would create one big game together. That plan quickly turned into many small games. What would happen if the creators of big triple A games would have a go at small downloadable indie style games.
Q: After an ambitious unveiling at GDC back in 2007, has the team hit any major roadblocks in the interim?
Martin de Ronde: No major roadblocks or setbacks really, we just had to be really patient. Many developers working for us pro bono are simultaneously working on their commercial projects, with deadlines. So many of our games have been stop and go development processes, taking their time to be taken to completion. That’s been frustrating sometimes, but completely understandable. And it also meant we shot ourselves in the foot with announcing OneBigGame so early.
Q: Has the notion of charitable free labour been a tough sell to fellow developers given their notorious scarcity of free time?
Martin de Ronde: I wouldn’t call it a tough sell. Most people we speak to want to do it, they just need to find the time to do it. Again, we just need to be patient, flexible and think along with them. We try and hook up developers with each other sometimes even to alleviate resource problems.
Q: On that note, have any of the platform manufacturers been supportive of your goals with marketing or other aid?
Martin de Ronde: Yes, we’ve had discussions with all of them and they all want to help and support us one way or the other. Some in the form of marketing support, others in the form of waiving of royalty fees. So it’s been a good experience so far and hopefully we can release a good number of multiplatform titles the coming years.
Q: Development talent from Zoe Mode delivered your first project, Chime, but will we be seeing any collaborative cross-studio or cross-platform titles in OneBigGame’s future?
Martin de Ronde: As a matter of fact, that is already happening. Games from individual famous designers like David Perry and Charles Cecil have one disadvantage: one man can’t create a game anymore these days. So we’ve hooked them up with small studios to develop their games. But even Masaya Matsuura, who has his own studio NanaOn-Sha, is working with a studio to craft his game for us. In the future, we would even like to see big names working on one game together.
Q: How did Zoe Mode become involved in Chime? Was the idea generated by themselves or in collaboration with the OneBigGame organisation? Who were the key players?
Martin de Ronde: We approached them at GDC and their MD , Ed Daly was immediately enthusiastic. He invited me over to their offices in Brighton where I was introduced to Ste Curran and Ciaran Walsh, who had been working on this intriguing puzzle music game for a number of months. I was hooked on the concept immediately and so they started working towards a much more playable prototype in Flash. Soon they reached the limitations of that platform and asked me if I had any problems with going Xbox. We said yes and also started helping out finding artists
Q: Will Chime be ported to any other platform in the short-term?
Martin de Ronde: We will hopefully be able to announce one more version to be released by OneBigGame soon. After that, it’s all in Zoe Modes hands. Once the distribution rights revert back to them they can release a commercial follow-up on any platform. I can’t confirm anything yet, but keep checking out chimegame.com for the new announcements.
Q: Are plans for the PC-based OneBigGame portal still underway?
Martin de Ronde: Yes, we still have a number of Flash games in development, so we will release a portal soon. That word portal should obviously be taken with a pinch of salt as it won’t be heaps of games, just one game per few months that people can try and buy. More on that in the next few weeks as well.
Q: Finally, if you had to choose a dream team of industry luminaries to collaborate on a project for OneBigGame, who would you choose and what would they make?
Martin de Ronde: One team is very difficult. I would be really interested in people doing things they normally wouldn’t do. I would love to see Will Wright do a platform game, Shigeru Miyamoto do a shoot ‘em up and have Sid Meier do a fighting game. Or have them go back to their roots. Peter Molyneux’ Populous was based on Lego, what would happen if we’d ask him to build a game based around the concept of lego blocks. And what would id Software do with Commander Keen if asked to revisit for OneBigGame? Can Bungie go back to Marathon? Can Rockstar North make a non-violent game featuring flowers and pink colors for us? Those questions were in the back of our minds when we started OneBigGame and they still are. Hopefully we’ll see some of these crazy but fun ideas turn into reality over the coming years.
Many thanks to Martin for answering our questions, and if you’d like to find out more about OneBigGame, head on over here.