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State of Play with Brandon Bales: Kellee Santiago, Part Three

Brandon Bales's picture

Here's the final piece of our interview with Kellee Santiago of thatgamecompany, creators of Flower and the upcoming Journey!

In this episode, we discuss not only their forthcoming and beautiful new game, but also the workings of their unique company and their relationship with Sony.

Thanks again for watching! We've a new blog up at stateofplayshow.com; and come back in January for our interview with Jonathan Blow!

Category Tags
Platform(s): PS3  
Developer(s): thatgamecompany  
Key Creator(s): Kellee Santiago  
Series: Journey   Flower  
Articles: Interviews   Columns  
Topic(s): Games as Art   Business   Game Design & Dev  

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Thanks for the interview! Some hopefully helpful criticism.

Hi Brandon,

First off, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. It's great to see some in-depth one-on-one discussion with a developer. I look forward to seeing more of them.

I do have some constructive criticism though. Overall there seems to be too much fawning over the games and not enough tough questions. I think it's okay for the interviewer to express an opinion about the games, but I'd like to see some more investigative and unbiased journalism with more challenging questions, perhaps getting the developer to respond to and address criticisms.

Here is an example for the case of Kelly Santiago (this is something I've pointed out in the forums before): At a presentation at the University of Southern California she described the purpose of the player in Flower as "trying to find a balance between the elements of the urban and the natural". However, nothing the player can do in the game has anything to do with balancing anything. As the player, you're not trying to collect some flower petals but avoid collecting too many--you want to collect as many flower petals as possible. Finding balance is about equalizing opposing forces; the unique aspect of games is player choice, and yet there's no such choice or task in the game. I want to know how Santiago would respond to criticisms like that.

Also, I guess more specific follow-up questions would be nice. Why do they think a flat organizational structure fits their company? Or what are some specific advantages and disadvantages of it?

Again, nice job! I imagine there's a lot of pressure and I'm sure you did a bunch of prep work for it. Looking forward to the next one.

Yes, yes.

Thanks for your comments, O.

Indeed, I agree with your constructive criticisms. I do feel as though there might have been more to pull from this meeting (even though we went for an hour!), but my excitement for getting into their unique products and process came before those sorts of questions.

Each interview will, of course, be different; and I think you'll find some more varied ideas in the next two interviews we're posting.

Most importantly, thank you so much for watching. I really, truly appreciate it. More to come!

interview

I thought the questions were fine, because I felt it was understood from the get-go that this would be a more informal and non-traditional interview.

The only quibble I have is in your delivery, Brandon. Your questions and reactions I felt were on point... but, reflexively, throughout the interview, you would (and EVERYBODY does it) kindof nod and say 'uh huh, right', etc. You have to practice not doing that. Smile, nod, but don't start muttering 'yeah, uh huh, right' because when you do, it makes it seem like you're rushing the interviewee, or that what they're saying isn't as interesting as something else they could be saying, or you're giving them an out.... like, "Ok, that's enough of that." It creates tension. It's an almost interruption.

You weren't by any means doing it grievously, btw! It wasn't a PROBLEM. It's just something I think you could work on.

Errol Morris talked about when he was making 'the Thin Blue Line' that the most interesting answers he got to his interview questions were when he said nothing after an initial answer.. smile, nod,let the pauses go on a little, look like you're thinking. The interviewee will open up. The great thing about having an hour(!) is that you don't have to feel pressed. You've got all the time you need. As a cook, Im always fidgeting and worrying I'll be short of time to do everything that needs doing, but the workday never changes length. lol

Did I mention that I loved this interview, BTW? It's so heartening to see a indie interview show that isn't towing the company line. Kudos for a great job! I look forward to seeing more!

Uhms, Ahhs, and Cools

Rob!

Thank you so, so much for your continued support; it means a lot.

In fact, I have heard the comments about my semi-intrusions already. Hilariously, after reviewing this first hour time and again, I never took note of it, as I only heard the conversation. Once one of my good friends pointed it out, however, it became immediately obvious that, yes, it could be done with a lighter hand, er, voice.

The small "unfortunately" here is that our next few interviews are "in the can," as it were, so it won't be until the inevitable Season Two that I'll get a chance to refine my technique.

Thanks for your comments, concerns, and kudos. I want to keep making this show happen for a spell, so stay tuned. I'm gonna keep up the blogging on the site, as well - which is another new thing for me.

I'm so glad you like it! 'Til next time!
Brandon

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